Monday, February 28, 2011

from the inside out

From the Inside Out

A thousand times I've failed still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again I'm caught in Your grace

Your will above all else my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing You praise

In my heart and my soul I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise become my embrace

To love you from the inside out

Everlasting Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out Lord my soul cries out

Sunday, February 27, 2011

how he loves

John Mark McMillan - How He Loves

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And the heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Thanks David Crowder ...

it's not advice

Bob Hyatt Spencer posts the below, Tim Keller: "The Gospel is not advice." In it he rightly notes that 'our churches are ... flooded with advice instead of news." Spot-on. My small group recently discussed Colossians 2.6-3.4 in which I was obligated to highlight the difference both in content and effect of the indicative versus the imperative. There's nothing wrong with the imperative but it must be outweighed and driven by the indicative. We too often reduce or altogether forget the indicative - very, very sad.
Keller, in the second chapter of King's Cross, makes the point several times that the Gospel is not advice but news. He must feel it is necessary to make this point because our churches are so flooded with advice instead of news.

Two weeks ago I went to a church in which the preacher talked about removing the obstacles from our lives that keep us from serving in the church. In that same church, at the start of communion, as the ushers passed out the little quarter-swallows of apple juice and tiny flakes of “bread,” an elder of the church talked to us about how God had spoken to him during his quiet time about . . . the need to have a quiet time. The elder then tried earnestly to impress upon us the importance of having our own special quiet time each day. No one ever seemed to think that maybe communion might be precisely the time to stop thinking about what we should do, and start thinking at last about what Jesus has done for us. In other words, rather than talking about quiet times, actually being quiet.

What I mean to say is, we're flooded with advice. So far, my on-again/off-again search for a new church home has been pretty disappointing on this score. No news, lots of advice. Either it's we should defend the faith and return America to its Christian roots, or we should be more generous, or we should examine our lives to see if we are pleasing to God, or we should remove the obstacles to service because the church needs us, or . . . well, you get the pictures.

I have no mind to be a church basher or a professional critic, but I will say this. By and large, people in the church accept this sorry status quo because they like it that way. I get the feeling that if a church service was focused on the announcement that Jesus Christ is Lord of all creation, they would walk away feeling they haven't been helped or strengthened in any way. I have seen Christians move happily from one system of advice to another with great enthusiasm. Seven steps to this, four steps to that, now let's everybody do this, now that, and each new set of principles is of course most definitely “life-changing.” And they hop on each of these bandwagons without the slightest sense that there all this seems deeply divergent from the New Testament model of discipleship.

In an interesting article about accountability groups, Tullian Tchividjian says this:

Paul understood that Gospel-driven change is rooted in remembrance. What Paul did for the Colossians is what we all need our Christian brothers and sisters to do for us as well: remind me first of what’s been done, not what I must do.

Tullian also quotes Sinclair Ferguson:

Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality, that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only when our piety forgets about us and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety be nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even the first disciples did not understand the this-changes-everything nature of the good news, and none foresaw the cross as anything but a horrible defeat and failure. To understand the nature of the victory Christ won on our behalf is at least one part of discipleship, and it is one task of the church to teach exactly that understanding and its implications for all of life.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

wax on the gospel

Trevin Wax posted a really good article, The Gospel as a Three-Legged Stool. As is common with Wax, very well done. Here's the meat of it.
The Gospel Story

First, there is the gospel story, the overarching grand narrative found in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us about God’s creation of a good world which was subjected to futility because of human sin. God gave the Law to reveal his holiness and our need for a perfect sacrifice, which is provided by the death of Jesus Christ. This same Jesus will one day return to this earth to judge the living and the dead and thus renew all things. The gospel story is the Scriptural narrative that takes us from creation to new creation, climaxing with the death and resurrection of Jesus at the center.

The Gospel Announcement

The second leg of the stool is the gospel announcement, namely that God – in the person of Jesus Christ – lived a perfect life in our place, bore the penalty for our sin through his death on the cross, was raised from the dead to launch God’s new creation, and is now exalted as Lord of the world. The announcement centers upon Jesus and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Our response to this announcement is to repent of our sins and put our complete trust in the work he has accomplished on our behalf.

The Gospel Community

The third leg of the stool is the gospel community. Our response to the gospel announcement (repentance and faith) is not a one-time event, but a lifelong expression of gratitude that wells up from the bottom of our hearts and overflows into love for God and his beloved community. We are shaped by the gospel into the kind of people who herald the grace of God and spread the news of Jesus Christ. God has commissioned the church to be the community that embodies the message of the gospel. Through our corporate life together, we “obey the gospel” by living according to the truth of the message that Jesus Christ is our Savior and the Lord of the world.

How They Relate

Here’s how the relationship between the gospel story, announcement, and community work:

STORY: Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration. This is the grand narrative of Scripture that provides context for the announcement.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Jesus Christ. The announcement of his perfect life, substitutionary death, resurrection, and exaltation is made within the context of the Story.
COMMUNITY: The gospel announcement calls for the response (repentance and faith) that God uses to birth the church. The church is the embodiment of the gospel. Though the church is not the “good news,” it puts on display the good news. Thus, the church is a result of the gospel, but I want to reiterate that it is a necessary result.
As noted, excellent ... yet I would add a fourth leg, i.e., power or demonstration. Along with proclamation (announcement), we need demonstration. The Kingdom of God comes in power. Jesus came to procure this, to proclaim it (Lk 4.18-19), and to demonstrate it. As his disciples, we do all but the former. He inaugurated His Kingdom, we participate in it.

sharing life

I am big into small groups (kinships, koinonia groups, cell groups, mission groups, and now as we call them at Northstar - GoLoveLive groups). It's not hard to 'do' small groups. David Rudd just posted a simple list of tips for building community ... prepare to be underwhelmed. That's right - there's nothing fancy here. The point is; get up and live life together. As Rudd notes, "life is a better life when it is lived together."
  • Get-to-know-you time
Time for prayer
  • Be vulnerable
  • Party
  • Mission projects
  • Open your home
  • Tell your story
  • Be there for each other
  • Eat

piper on augustine on dealing with sin

From John Piper, No, No, Augustine! I love it!
In Augustine’s Enchiridion, chapter 46, which I am listening to in spare moments, he says this: "Here lies the necessity that each man should be born again, that he might be freed from the sin in which he was born. For the sins committed afterwards can be cured by penitence, as we see is the case after baptism."

This is, if I understand him, misleading at best.

Not that I want to minimize the significance of 1 John 1:9 (“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”). But to speak of new birth as being the way we are freed from pre-baptismal sin, and then penitence as the way we are freed from post-baptismal sin, is to create a two-phase dealing with sin that contradicts the way the death of Christ works—propitiating every sin of God’s elect, past, present, and future.

Here is the great evidence. Follow John’s reasoning in 1 John 2:1–2: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

In verse 1, John urges us not to commit any future (!) sins. But then he says if we do commit any future sins, we have an advocate in that case with the Father.

Then in verse 2, he bases the effectiveness of that advocacy on the finished, once for all, propitiating work of Christ. “He—this wonderful advocate—is the propitiation for our sins.”

Therefore, the very same propitiation that took the sting from our pre-baptismal sins also has taken the sting from our post-baptismal sins. My future sins are not dealt with any differently than the sins of my youth.

“The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). All sin.

pronounced just

Great quote from Michael Horton in The Christian Faith:
“Legally pronounced just and claimed by God, engrafted into his Son, believers bear fruit that is not the result of their imitation of Christ’s life but of their being incorporated into Christ and his eschatological resurrection-life in the Spirit.”


Friday, February 25, 2011

poopie list

The Poopie List:
  1. GHOST POOPIE: The kind where you feel the poopie come out, but there is no poopie in the toilet.
  2. CLEAN POOPIE: The kind where you poopie it out, see it in the toilet, but there is nothing on the paper.
  3. WET POOPIE: The kind where you wipe your butt 50 times and it still feels unwiped, so you have to put some toilet paper between your butt and your underwear so you don't ruin them with a stain.
  4. SECOND WAVE POOPIE: This happens when you're done poopie-ing and you've pulled your pants up to your knees, and you realize that you have to poopie some more.
  5. POP-A-VEIN-IN-YOUR-FOREHEAD-POOPIE: The kind where you strain so much to get it out, you practically have a stroke.
  6. LINCOLN LOG POOPIE: The kind of poopie that is so huge you’re afraid to flush without first breaking it into little pieces with the toilet brush.
  7. GASSEY POOPIE: It's so noisy, everyone within earshot giggles.
  8. DRINKER POOPIE: The kind of poopie you have the morning after a night of drinking. Its most noticeable trait is the skid marks on the bottom of the toilet.
  9. CORN POOPIE: (Self-explanatory)
  10. GEE-I-WISH-I-COULD-POOPIE-POOPIE: The kind where you want to poopie, but all you do is sit on the toilet and fart a few times.
  11. SPINAL TAP POOPIE: This is when it hurts so badly coming out you'd swear it was leaving you sideways.
  12. WET CHEEKS POOPIE: (The Power Dump). The kind that comes out of your butt so fast, your butt cheeks get splashed with water.
  13. LIQUID POOPIE: The kind where yellowish-brown liquid shoots out of your butt and splashes all over the toilet bowl.
  14. MEXICAN POOPIE: It smells so badly your nose burns.
  15. UPPER CLASS POOPIE: The kind of poopie that has no odor.
  16. THE SURPRISE POOPIE: You are not at the toilet because you think you are about to fart but...oops...a POOPIE!!!
  17. THE DANGLING POOPIE: This poopie refuses to drop into the toilet even though you know you are done poopie-ing it. You just pray that a shake or two will cut it loose.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

patton on ordo salutis

Michael Patton wrote this great post, DOES REGENERATION PRECEDE FAITH? Except for his introductory remarks, I copied it t here. I found his analysis helpful and I agree with his conclusions. If you think the same, drop by his blog Parchment & Pen and tell him so.

Many (if not most) Reformed theologians subscribe to an ordo salutis that places regeneration before faith. Their model ... looks like this:


... It is my purpose ... to briefly evaluate the Reformed ordo salutis with respect to regeneration proceeding faith.

First, I will state their position, giving it biblical and philosophical defense. Second, I will deal with problems that arise from the position. Finally, I will evaluate the position.

Statement of the Position

As stated above, most Reformed theologians believe that regeneration necessarily precedes faith. They would not, however, make the sequence a temporal one, but logical. Temporally, it may be stated that all of the events in the ordo salutus stated above happen at the same time. But Reformed theologians would see a necessary logical order in these components of salvation. John MacArthur put it this way: “From the standpoint of reason, regeneration logically must initiate faith and repentance. But the saving transaction is a single, instantaneous event.” Regeneration is seen as a sovereign act of God by which He causes a person who is spiritually dead to become spiritually alive. WE sometimes call this “monergism.” This act is not in anyway dependent upon man. Reformed theologian Anthony Hoekema puts it this way: “Regeneration must be understood, not as an act in which God and man work together, but as the work of God alone.”

Why do Reformed theologians insist upon an ordo salutis in which regeneration precedes faith? There are two primary reasons. First is because of their strong stance on total depravity. Second is because certain Scriptures seem to support the view.

First we shall deal with regeneration’s relationship to total depravity. According to Scripture, man is unable to do any good whatsoever. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah also states that just as a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can man change his evil heart (Jer. 13:23). Paul also states in Romans 3:10–11, “There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” There are two primary Scriptures that would be used to defend this belief:

Eph.2: 1–3; “But you were dead in you trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

1 Cor. 2:14; “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (emphasis added).”

The convincing argument is then made that if man is in such a position that he is evil (Jer. 17:9), does not ever seek to do good (Rom. 3:10–11), and that he cannot change his position (Jer. 13:23), how can anyone expect him to do the greatest good and accept the Gospel? Furthermore, man is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1). A dead person cannot respond to the Gospel any more than a blind person can respond to light. As Best puts it, “What is good news to a dead man? As light cannot restore sight to a blind man, so the light of the gospel cannot give spiritual light to one who is spiritually blind.”

Finally, a non-spiritual person cannot receive the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). How can anyone be expected to receive the Gospel, which is spiritual, in an unconverted state? The person must first become spiritual—the person must first be regenerated. Sproul sums up the logic, “If original sin involves moral ability, as Augustine and the magisterial Reformers insisted, then faith can occur only as the result of regeneration, and regeneration can occur only as a result of effectual or irresistible grace.” A good illustration to describe this way of thinking is physical birth. As a baby cries out only after it is born, so also believers cry out in faith only after God has regenerated them.

There are also many other Scriptures that seem to explicitly teach that regeneration comes before faith.

Acts 16:14; “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond [regenerated her] to the things spoken by Paul” (emphasis added).

Lydia, here, is portrayed as a woman who had her heart opened to receive the Gospel before she received it.

John 1:12–13; “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born [regenerated], not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (emphasis added).

The will of man is here shown to be uninvolved in the regenerating process of God.

Rom. 9:16; “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs [or strives], but on God who has mercy” (emphasis added).
Again, the will of man is taken out of the picture in the saving process of God.

Problems with the Position

The problems connected with believing that regeneration proceeds faith are primarily biblical. Even Erickson, a moderate Calvinist who does not subscribe to the Reformed ordo, states, “It must be acknowledged that, from a logical standpoint, the usual Calvinistic position makes good sense. If we sinful humans are unable to believe and respond to God’s gospel without some special working of his within us, how can anyone, even the elect, believe unless first rendered capable of belief through regeneration? To say that conversion is prior to regeneration would seem to be a denial of total depravity.” Erickson and others, however, do oppose the Reformed ordo. Bruce Demarest, another moderate Calvinist, supports the opposite position that regeneration is initiated by faith, “God grants new spiritual life by virtue of the individual’s conscious decision to repent of sins and appropriate the provisions of Christ’s atonement.” Those who, like Erickson and Demarest, affirm this would even state that regeneration is entirely a work of God, and that man cannot, by nature, respond to the Gospel. Therefore, some initial, or preparatory, work of God is necessary to make man able to respond to the Gospel. Erickson and Demarest believe that this preparatory work is God’s effectual calling, not regeneration. In response to this calling, man initiates faith and conversion, and then he is regenerated.

In this scheme, the effectual calling can be likened to the Arminian understanding of prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is the way that Arminians can hold both to total depravity and human choice. Even they recognize that man, left in his natural condition, must be made alive in some sense in order to have the ability to respond to the Gospel. The only difference between Erickson and Demarest’s scheme is that the spiritual awakening brought about by the calling is always effectual whereas previenient grace is not.

Nevertheless, the reason why those Calvinists who stand with Erickson and Demarest as well as Arminians would stand opposed to the Reformed ordo is because certain Scriptures seem to suggest that faith is a necessary component for regeneration. Norman Geisler, in his bookChosen But Free, emphatically denounces the Reformed position stating, “As anyone familiar with Scripture can attest, verses allegedly supporting the contention that regeneration proceeds faith are in short supply.” He then goes on, “It is the uniform pattern of Scripture to place faith logically prior to salvation as a condition for receiving it.” Among the passages he sites are:

(1) Rom. 5:1; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith is here stated to be the source of justification. But most Reformed theologians place justification after faith as well (see chart). They do not equate regeneration with justification. Geisler seems to have misunderstood the Reformed position at this point.

(2) Luke 13:3; “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

But this does not speak to the issue of regeneration. Geisler’s statement, “Here repentance is the condition for avoiding judgment,” would also be affirmed by those who hold the Reformed position, for they would state that repentance logically proceeds justification which results in salvation. Therefore, this verse presents no conflict with the Reformed ordo. Again, Geisler seem to have misunderstood the Reformed position.

(3) 2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

This, again, cannot be used to suggest either ordo. It is difficult to see why one would use such a verse to support their position. The verse could have as well stated, “God wills all to be regenerated.” This would not prove that regeneration comes before faith!

(4) John 3:16; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

This verse does teach that belief in Christ is the instrumental act in salvation, but it says nothing about when the act of regeneration occurs in the process.

(5) Acts 16:31; “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

The order here is presented as faith first, then salvation. An initial, unbiased reading of this verse would suggest to anyone that faith is a condition of salvation. Of all the verses put forth above, only the last presents some merit in suggesting that faith precedes salvation, but not regeneration. I will explain below.

Evaluation of the Reformed Position

If one is to adhere faithfully to the doctrine of total depravity, understanding that man is unable to come to God on his own, he or she must insist that there must be some initial act of God by which He enables a person to accept the Gospel in faith. The Reformed position explained in this study, in my view, is the most consistent and biblically defendable position. The option that God’s effectual calling is that which enables a person to come to faith and thereby be regenerated is attractive but difficult to substantiate. The Scriptures do not anywhere indicate that faith comes before regeneration. In fact, one may state that salvation in the general all-encompassing sense (predestination, atonement, calling, regeneration, faith, and justification) is completed after faith, and therefore remain faithful to the plain reading of the text that suggests faith is before regeneration. For he or she would not then be suggesting that faith is before regeneration, but that faith logically occurs before the savific process is complete. In other words, the word salvation would be used to describe the entire complete package with all of the ordo (excluding sanctification and glorification) included. This would be a good way to explain the last Scripture (Acts 16:31) stated above and remain consistent to the Reformed position.

But Scripture nowhere suggests that faith initiates regeneration in the restricted since. Grudem’s statement is helpful at this point:

“The reason that evangelicals often think that regeneration comes after saving faith is that they see the results . . . after people come to faith, and they think that regeneration must therefore have come after saving faith. Yet here we must decide on the basis of what Scripture tells us, because regeneration itself is not something we see or know about directly: ‘The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8).”

Previously I mentioned my dilemma concerning God’s requirement of faith and nothing else for salvation. This study has helped me to get a better handle on the issues that are involved. I have come to the conclusion that I am in agreement with the Reformed camp concerning theordo salutis. I believe that regeneration is a sovereign act of God by which He places a new life within a person so that the person naturally responds in faith. At the same time, I am not entirely dogmatic about this. I hope that as I continue to study Scripture, I will gain more insight.

Charles Wesley painted the picture beautifully of the Reformed ordo salutis in one stanza of the great hymn “And Can It Be.” (Though, I know, he was must certainly speaking about prevenient grace.)

Long my imprisoned spirit lay [alienation from God]
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night [total depravity].
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray: [regeneration (Reformed) or prevenient grace (Arminian)]
I woke—the dungeon flamed with light! [enlightening]
My chains fell off, my heart was free, [salvation]
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. [faith]

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

capitalism and cows

A simple guide to capitalism ...
  • TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM -- You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
  • AN AMERICAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.
  • FRENCH CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
  • A JAPANESE CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon(tm) and market them world-wide.
  • A GERMAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
  • A BRITISH CORPORATION -- You have two cows. Both are mad.
  • AN ITALIAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.
  • A RUSSIAN CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.
  • A SWISS CORPORATION -- You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
  • A HINDU CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You worship them.
  • A CHINESE CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.
  • AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION -- You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.
  • ENRON CORPORATION -- You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.
  • ARTHUR ANDERSON, LLC -- You have 2 cows. You shred all documents that Enron has any cows, take 2 cows from Enron for payment for consulting the cows, and attest that Enron has 9 cows.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

coffee break

Need a coffee break ... now ...

5277421414 C8D02984E5

Shirt available by Rodrigo ...

tolerating enemies

We all know it, 'love your enemies' (Mt 5.43-44; Lk 6.27, 35;). Along with a small number of others, this a favorite verse of our enemies. Most non-believers know this one. And it has always been real popular with the liberal Christian crowd. It is most often heard whenever one attempts to deal with sin that another does not think is sin. This tactic is sadly effective in that is detracts from any discussion regarding the actual point at hand. Of course it also exposes the one employing it as someone who fails to understand the nature of sin, the nature of redemption, and the power and grace of God to accomplish His promises ... but pointing that out would also be 'unloving'.

RC Sproul writes:
The Bible teaches, from Genesis 3 onward, the antithesis. Antithesis is a rather fancy theological term that simply affirms that the people of God live their lives in the context of the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. While we are called to love our enemies, we are called to recognize them as enemies. Though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, we are at war. We are called to be set apart, distinct, separate from the world around us. One could even translate ekklesia, which is usually translated “church” in our English Bibles this way, “the called-out ones.” We seem to have forgotten the antithesis in our day, strategizing that if we will become more like the world we might make a difference, that the way to be salt and light is to mask our savor and cover our light. We are of the light, and they of the dark. We are of our Father in heaven, they children of the Father of lies. We are, by the grace of God, the friends of God. They are, by nature, His enemies.


The difference, the antithesis, between us and the world isn’t that they have sin issues while we do not. The difference is two-fold. First, our sins have already been covered. Jesus died for them, and the Father is not angry with us. Second, we are committed to finding them out, rather than hiding them. Isn’t it gracious of God then to give us the glaring shamelessness of the world to make our own sins more known to us? May He in turn give us eyes to see.

DA Carson speaks on the intolerance of tolerance. (HT:CB)

G.K. Chesterton famously said that, “Tolerance is the virtue of people who don’t believe anything.”

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

eskimo baptism

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national geographic photos

I wish I was a good photographer ...

and many more ...

joyce on herself

I love people who happen to love Joyce Meyer. I do not share their sentiment. I find her disturbing at best - and because she disturbs me at so many levels, I don't listen to her or read her enough to discuss my thoughts intelligently with my loved ones. But Chaplain Mike just penned and excellent piece, The Bad News of Self-Righteousness, that summarizes well the impressions I had from my various snapshots of Meyers. If you are wresting with trying to put your finger on just what's wrong with her message, you might give this a read.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

we love the law and the gospel

Michael Horton proclaims the Gospel ...


jumper cables and more

A guy goes into a nice restaurant bar wearing a shirt open at the collar and is met by a bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to gain admission. So the guy goes out to his car and he looks around for a necktie and discovers that he just doesn't have one. He sees a set of jumper cables in his trunk. In desperation he ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot and lets the ends dangle free. He goes back to the restaurant and the bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says, "Well, OK, I guess you can come in -- just don't start anything."

This mushroom walks into a bar and starts hitting on this woman... She, of course, turns him down. Not willing, to give up, he pleads with her... "C'mon lady, I'm a fun guy..."

This horse walks into a bar and the bartender says "Hey, buddy, why the long face...

These two strings walk up to a bar... The first string walks in and orders and the bartender throws him out and yells "I don't serve strings in this bar... The other string ruffs himself up on the street and curls up and orders... The bartender shouts, Hey, didn't you hear what I told your buddy?" String says "Yeah." Bartender says, "aren't you a string?" ... String says, "No, I'm a frayed knot..."

This grasshopper walks into a bar, and the bartender says "Hey! We have a drink named after you!" The grasshopper replies "Really? You have a drink named Steve?!"

This baby seal walks into a bar and the bartender says,"What'll ya have..." The seal says, "Anything but a Canadian Club...

This skeleton walks into a bar and says, "I'd like a beer and a mop..."

A man walked into a bar and sat down next to a man with a dog at his feet. "Does your dog bite?" he asked. "No." A few minutes later the dog took a huge chunk out of the man's leg. "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite!" he said indignantly. The other guy replied, "That's not my dog."

A neutron walks into a bar. "I'd like a beer" he says. The bartender promptly serves up a beer. "How much will that be?" asks the neutron. "For you?" replies the bartender, "no charge"

Descartes walks into a bar, and the bartender asks "Would you like a beer?" Descartes replies "I think not" and POOF! he vanishes...

A three legged dog walks into a bar and says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw..."

A hamburger walks into a bar, and the bartenders says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve food here..."

A termite walks into a bar and says, "Is the bar tender here?"

A snake slithers into a bar and the bartender says, "I'm sorry but I can't serve you." "Why not?" asks the snake. The bartender says, "Because you can't hold your liquor..."

Baby seal walks into a club... what a tragedy...

A guy walks into a bar. "OUCH!" he said...

Two peanuts walked into a bar, and one was a-salted...

Two vampires walked into a bar and called for the bartender. "I'll have a glass of blood," said one. "I'll have a glass of plasma", said the other. "Okay," replied the bartender, "that'll be one blood and one blood lite..."

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, 'I think I've lost an electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first says, 'Yes, I'm positive...'

Two cartons of yogurt walk into a bar. The bartender, a tub of cottage chesse, says to them, "We don't serve your kind in here." One of the yogurt cartons says back to him, "Why not? We're cultured individuals."

a man walked into a bar, sat down, and ordered a beer. As he sipped the beer, he heard a soothing voice say "nice tie!" Looking around he noticed that the bar was empty except for himself and the bartender at the end of the bar. A few sips later the voice said "beautiful shirt." At this, the man called the bartender over,"Hey...i must be losing my mind," he told the bartender. "I keep hearing these voices saying nice things, and there's not a soul in here other than us." "It's the peanuts" answered the bartender. "Say what?" "You heard me" said the barkeep."it's the peanuts... they're complimentary."

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist;s Novocain during root canal work because he wanted to transcend dental medication.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak got chilly so they lit a fire in the craft but it sank proving once and for all you can't have your kayak and eat it too.

Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina; one went to Hollywood and became a famous actor while the other stayed behind in the cotton fields never amounting to much and became known as the lesser of two weevils.

There was a man who entered a local paper's pun contest. He sent in ten different puns hoping at least one of the puns would win but, unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One goes to a family in Egypt and is named Amahl while the other goes to a family in Spain and is named Juan. Years later Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother and upon receiving the picture she tells her husband she wishes she also had a picture of Amahl. "But they're twins," says her husband, "If you've seen Juan you've seen Amahl."

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing around in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. About an hour later the manager comes out of his office and asked them to disperse. "But why?", they asked as they moved along. "Because," said the manager, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

It was a doctor's regular habit to stop off at a bar for a hazelnut daiquiri on his way home and, aware of his habit, the bartender would always have the drink waiting for him at precisely 5:18 PM. One afternoon as the end of the work-day neared the bartender was dismayed to find he was out of hazelnut extract but, thinking quickly, he threw together a daiquiri made with hickory nuts and set it on the bar. The doctor came in at his regular time, took one sip of the drink, then exclaimed: "This isn't a hazelnut daiquiri", to which the bartender replied, "No, I'm sorry, it's a hickory daiquiri, doc."

A hungry lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat when he came across two men; one was sitting under a tree reading a book while the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him proving even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

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united with him

“What a wondrous thing it is that even though Jesus Christ has been exalted to the throne of God, absent from us in the flesh, we may nevertheless only now be united to him in a manner for more intimate than the fellowship enjoyed by the disciples with Jesus during his earthly ministry. Having united himself to us in our flesh, in our sins, in our suffering and death, he now unites us to himself in his new-creation life by his Spirit.” ~ Michael Horton, The Christian Faith


Friday, February 18, 2011

a year of biblical womanhood

Diane Montgomery tackles Rachel Held Evans' thoughts on pursuing a year of Biblical womanhood. As Evans puts it, "Think of it as John Piper meets Martha Stewart meets Julie & Julia meets A Year of Living Biblically. Just enough crazy to interest everyone." I for one pray that Evans will experience more than Biblical womanhood and would experience a life-changing encounter with the God of Glory.

Montgomery makes some spot-on observations of Evans based on public lectures and he blog. Montgomery writes of Evans:
During her lecture at Truett, Rachel said, “I can kinda see the appeal” in thinking that the Bible is a blueprint for how women are to live their lives. It would do away with tension and controversy but “we would all look the same.” She has “not found in the Bible a blueprint for how to be woman, how to be a wife, or how to be a person of faith.”

A blueprint shows what a building’s structure should look like but it doesn’t always give the details of things like interior design or landscaping. There are some things all Christians should do like, love one another, not lie or cheat, love the Lord and obey him,etc. But things like career choice, music preference, favorite hobby, and sense of humor are different for each person. God’s made us all unique and special, but our structure should be the same and it should come from God’s Word alone. It doesn’t come from man’s questions or experiences. It comes from God’s perfect words to us in Scripture. Rachel sees it a little differently.

She says, “The Bible always has to be interpreted, and my interpretation is only as inerrant as I am.” ... “If the Bible was a list of do’s and don’ts then there would be no reason for us to communicate with the architect (God) or communicate with each other.” ... “God wants us to struggle with the Bible because He wants us to be drawn in to community with one another and with Him. Faith isn’t about being right; it’s about being a part of a community.”
And then rightly confronts Evans and the populist view of Scripture:
We must be careful to examine these statements in accordance with the Word (1 Jn. 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). What does the Bible say about faith? Faith is shown as: Us believing in Christ, the Word, and obeying His commands even we don’t understand them fully (1Cor.2:4-6; 15:1-4;1 Tim.6:20-21).

If the Bible doesn’t show us how we’re to live our lives, if it isn’t God’s way of talking with us, teaching us, training us in righteousness (2 Tim.3:16-17), then what is it for? If we’re only going to interpret it incorrectly because we’re flawed humans, then why love it or follow it? Thankfully, the Lord knew we were errant when He inspired the Scriptures that’s why He gave Christians the Holy Spirit, who is able to help us tackle the tough issues and give us discernment (Jn. 14:26, 16:13; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 2:12-14).

There’s times of doubt and dislike, but if we truly believe in God, if we’re truly followers of Christ, we need to be careful of our attitude towards God’s Holy Words. He will reveal His truths to us through His Word (Ps. 25:14). It will never help us to trivialize or make a joke of Scripture, to try and prove it doesn’t work, or show that we’ve evolved past its old-fashioned practices. We must instead approach it with the utmost humility. When struggles arise with the Bible, go to God first. He’s got all the answers (2 Sam. 22:31, Ps. 18:30) and He’s there to help you through the problems (Ps. 19).
Montgomery then addresses the approach Evans has chosen to experience Biblical womanhood:
My other concern is the project for ”biblical womanhood.” Some of her endeavors include calling her husband Master for a week because “there’s a passage in 1 Peter that says she called him Master.” 1 Peter 3:5, which is referring to Sarah’s submissive heart and her model as a holy woman to all Christian women. It does NOT say we should call our husbands lord or master. We’re to be submissive but not subordinate to our husbands.

To display “biblical modesty,” Rachel will dress in long skirts, grow her hair out, and wear no makeup or jewelry for what she calls “frump month.” This, however, is not biblical womanhood. We shouldn’t dress in a way that might encourage a guy’s eye to check us out (Matt. 5:28) but God doesn’t say we have to be covered from head to toe, wear no makeup, and be “frumpy.” He does say that we shouldn’t make our main adornment to be things of material worth but of a gentle, quiet spirit and a submissive heart to the Lord (1 Pet. 3).

She took an interesting viewpoint on Prov. 21:9 and 25:24, which says what it’s like for a man to live with a quarrelsome wife. Rachel decided to act this out for a month by having a “jar of contention.” Every snarky comment meant time spent on her roof in penance. However, the verse says nothing about the wife having to pay for her quarrelsome attitude by sitting on the roof, nor does God want Christians to pay penance for their sins. We can repent of our sins but we’ll never be able to pay for them. Our works are as filthy rags which is why Christ had to pay for our sins by dying on the Cross (Isa. 64:6)!

There’s also a to-do list for Rachel’s Proverbs 31 month. While I appreciate the cleverness, the interpretations completely miss the metaphors and can sometimes come off as mocking. Proverbs 31 isn’t meant to be a to-do list. It’s meant to show the heart and righteous attitude of a woman who’s seeking God’s glory and the good of those around her. It’s part of God’s desire for women’s lives. It’s God showing how much women are capable of when He’s at the forefront of our lives.

When we continually question the validity of His Word, we’ll continually doubt His plan for us. God cares for and values women. He’s even talked to women specifically through verses and passages about how to glorify Him. When we see God’s Word as His best for us, then we’ll see that biblical womanhood isn’t stifling, exhausting, or keeps us in bondage to men. True biblical womanhood, which follows all of God’s mandates, is freeing, beautiful, makes us stronger, and helps us become closer in communion with the Lord!

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Prov. 16:25

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Ps. 19:7.
Here's what I know. I'm married to a "Biblical woman" and she is such because of a heart overflowing with the Spirit, a passion to glorify God in all she does, and love for God expressed in one form by obedience to His holy commands (found in Scripture). I think Evans is starting off on the wrong foot but I believe God may speak to her and change her through it. I pray that it would be so.

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Andy Naselli offers this reminder to the question, 'Should Christians Tithe?'

That’s question 38 in this book: Thomas R. Schreiner. 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2010. 256 pp. Here’s how Schreiner summaries his answer (p. 221):
Even though tithing is not mandated, there is no call in the New Testament to hoard one’s possessions or to live selfishly. Believers are commanded to support those who proclaim the gospel (Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:6–14; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). Those who are blessed with wealth are to enjoy the good things God has given them, but they are also to be generous to those in need (1 Tim. 6:17–19). The New Testament clearly teaches that wealth is dangerous because it can seduce us so that we stray from the Lord. God is to be our treasure, and hence believers are to give generously and freely. For most believers in the West, that means giving more than a tithe. Still, the tithe itself is not mandated by Scripture, and Scripture is our rule and authority rather than a tradition that requires believers to tithe.
Related: What We Should Do with Our Money (esp. the resources at the bottom of the post)

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

lil il

Article-0-0D2A02B9000005Dc-581 306X423

Any similarity to a certain North Korean dictator is entirely deliberate.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

awaiting consummation

“All other institutions serve good and honorable purposes at present, but they await termination at the day of Christ’s return. The church, in contrast, awaits Christ’s return as a day of consummation, when as the bride of Christ she will take her place at the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Eph. 5:22–32; Rev. 19:9–10).” ~ David VanDrunen; Living in God's Two Kingdoms


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

the iFather

Mzl.Ntslkbpc.320X480-75Bless me iPhone for I have sinned ...

"Designed to be used in the confessional, this app is the perfect aid for every penitent. With a personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected profiles, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament, this app invites Catholics to prayerfully prepare for and participate in the Rite of Penance. Individuals who have been away from the sacrament for some time will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool."

This app has been approved by Bishop Kevin Rhoades! See the list of features here. All for under $2!!!

Mobile forgiveness - you can't put a price on that.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

can we agree on what we disagree on?

I appreciate Something We Can All Agree On by Kevin DeYoung.

Most "christians" claim some level of connection between their theology and ethics to Scripture. There is however disunity regarding the authority of Scripture. DeYoung provides the following quotes as examples.

Peter Kreeft (Roman Catholic):
Most Protestants reject all Catholic doctrines they cannot find explicitly in Scripture–for example, Mary’s Assumption into heaven–because they believe sola scriptura: that Scripture alone is the infallible authority. This is the fundamental reason behind all the differences between Protestant and Catholic theology. (Catholic Christianity, 20).
Gary Dorrien (Liberal Protestant):
The essential idea of liberal theology is that all claims to truth, in theology as in other disciplines, must be made on the basis of reason and experience, not by appeal to external authority. Christian scripture may be recognized as spiritually authoritative within Christian experience, but its word does not settle or establish truth claims about matters of fact. (The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism, and Modernity, 1900-1950, 1)
Michael Horton (Evangelical Protestant):
Ultimate authority always resides outside the self and even outside the church, as both are always hearers of the Word and receivers of its judgment and justification. The church is commissioned to deliver this Word (a ministerial office), not to possess or rule it (a magisterial office). Thus, the authority is always transcendent. Even when it comes near us, it is never our own word that we hear (Ro. 10:6-13, 17). (The Christian Faith, 194)
Any other distinct yet helpful groups?

the gifts in the church

Len Hjalmarson writes this great piece on the gifts and the Church and leadership:

How does God rule in the church? William Stringfellow hits it on the head for me in this quotation:

“To affirm, as St. Paul does so strenuously, that the gifts are bestowed for the increase and edification of the church, and thence, for the enhancement and versatility of the Church’s servanthood or priesthood on behalf of the world, is to disclose the political significance of the gifts and their uses (1 Cor.14:13-20). Each and every charismatic gift is concerned with the restoration or renewal of human life in society.” An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land

In other words, Ephesians 4 is not a strange parenthesis, but follows on from Ephesians 1. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. He rules from the right hand of power, and in giving gifts that rule is extended. Jesus rules his church through the charisms of the Spirit.

That puts a rather different slant on church “governance,” does it not? To fail to recognize, empower, equip and release the gifts of the Spirit in our midst is to fail to recognize the living Head of the Church and his ongoing rule in it. And that rule is not merely for the sake of the church, but rather as the firstfruits of the new creation, we extend God’s kingdom as we serve in the church and in the world as the new humanity, created anew in Christ. We are priests wherever God places us in the world.

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From Theological Word of the Day ...


(Latin, the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit)

The belief that the Spirit who inspired Scripture also authenticates and proves its divine origin through the Scripture itself. This is especially emphasized by Calvinists. Cf., Heb. 10:15; 1 John 5:7-8

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

the united kingdom and more

Now I understand, God didn't want to be bothered by micromanagement ...

Everything you ever wanted to know about Great Britain, England, the United Kingdom, Canada and beyond ... all the way to Tuvalu ...

christian twilight zone

Pastor Rod Serling on being a Christian is like living in the Twilight Zone ... where do you live?


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

death by caffiene

How much caffeine can you drink before killing yourself? Just enter your weight and drink of choice here and off you go ...

5409352962 88B6F55Df3

don't judge too quickly

It's been a long time since these floated around ... time to re-enjoy the "Don't Judge Too Quickly" videos ...

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spray painter

Yes - I'm sorta creative like this ... super fast spray painter ...


“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” ~ John Bunyan, Prayer


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