Sunday, June 30, 2013

piper quotes

For those that enjoy Piper and quotes, here's 20 Tweetable John Piper Quotes by Jared Totten:

  1. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
  2. All heroes are shadows of Christ.
  3. Sin is what you feel and think and do when you are not taking God at His Word and resting in His promises.
  4. Sin is what you do when you are not satisfied in God.
  5. Prayer causes things to happen that wouldn't happen if the prayer doesn't happen.
  6. Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for.
  7. Satan wants you, and God wants you. The one with sadistic hate. The other with sacrificial love.
  8. God does not kill joy. He kills sin. That is, he kills what will finally kill all joy.
  9. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, life will be hard, risks will be high, and your joy will be full.
  10. A God-centered God created a God-centered cosmos that he saves by a God-centered cross.
  11. The end of the creation is that God may communicate happiness to the creature.
  12. Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak.
  13. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.
  14. I measure Your love for me by the magnitude of the wrath I deserved and the wonder of Your mercy by putting Christ in my place.
  15. The climax of God's happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His people.
  16. The goal of preaching is the glory of God reflected in the glad submission of his creation.
  17. The cross is not a mere event in history; it's a way of life! "Take up your cross daily" Jesus said!
  18. Relativism no longer means: your claim to truth is no more valid than mine; but now means: you may not claim to speak the truth.
  19. Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't.
  20. Strong affections for God, rooted in and shaped by the truth of Scripture - this is the bone and marrow of biblical worship.

doma and our witness

Russell Moore shares thoughts on how the DOMA ruling should/should not change our witness.

The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country. The court voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and remand the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Proposition 8 case, holding that California’s Proposition 8 defenders didn’t have standing. The Defense of Marriage Act decision used rather sweeping language about equal protection and human dignity as they apply to the recognition of same-sex unions. But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel?

In one sense, nothing. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is calling the cosmos toward his kingdom, and he will ultimately be Lord indeed. Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That’s why the gospel rocketed out of the first-century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which were hardly Mayberry.

In another sense, though, the marginalization of conjugal marriage in American culture has profound implications for our gospel witness. First of all, marriage isn’t incidental to gospel preaching.

There’s a reason why persons don’t split apart like amoebas. We were all conceived in the union between a man and a woman. Beyond the natural reality, the gospel tells us there’s a cosmic mystery (Eph. 5:32).

God designed the one-flesh union of marriage as an embedded icon of the union between Christ and his church. Marriage and sexuality, among the most powerful pulls in human existence, are designed to train humanity to recognize, in the fullness of time, what it means for Jesus to be one with his church, as a head with a body.

Same-sex marriage is on the march, even apart from these decisions, and is headed to your community, regardless of whether you are sitting where I am right now, on Capitol Hill, or in a rural hamlet in southwest Georgia or eastern Idaho. This is an opportunity for gospel witness.

For a long time in American culture, we’ve acted as though we could assume marriage. Even people from what were once called “broken homes” could watch stable marriages on television or movies. Boys and girls mostly assumed they had a wedding in their futures. As marriage is redefined, these assumptions will change. Let’s not wring our hands about that.

stetzer on doma

Ed Stetzer does the DOMA roundup ...

Most of the roundup today is related to yesterday's DOMA decision. My blog post, "Prop 8, DOMA, and the Christian Response," included my thoughts. Here are others.
First, let me point to something I think was helpful—President Obama's statement included a reference to the religious liberty concerns of Christians (and Muslims, Mormons, the Dali Lama, and many others).
Of course, the challenge is that he made similar comments about the Affordable Care Act protecting religious liberty and, as I wrote here, that has not been adequately protected.
While on the subject, let me add that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of such protections (for pastors), though the number declinces as you look across professions.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

small groups and mission

I love the notion that if your goal is community, you will kill it. If your goal is mission, you will achieve  community along the way.

Missional living allows us to live out the call God has given us and be ambassadors to a broken, hurting world. It's not about doing service projects. It's about living incarnational lives that show Jesus to everyone we come in contact with. 
But living incarnationally can be challenging if you don't have support, so Carter Moss shares why he believes small groups are the perfect place to support missional living. Group members can learn about, try it out, and grow in incarnational living together.

same-sex marriage interview with jesus

I think Joe Dallas did a nice job with this fun piece:

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on same sex marriage, the question of what defines a marriage becomes more relevant than ever, and no doubt we’ll see a host of talking heads discussing the issue. I’m wondering how it would play out if Jesus was interviewed on the subject, so just for fun and, hopefully, a little clarity, here’s my take on how the interview would go based on what the Lord has already said about life, humanity and marriage.

Interviewer: Now, Jesus – uh, do you prefer being called Lord?

Jesus: You call me master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. (John 13:13)

Interviewer: Or Christ? God? Savior?

Jesus: I am He. (John 18:6)

Interviewer: OK, so your popularity is higher than ever, and people look to You as the final authority. Tell us, then, where do You stand on gay marriage?

Jesus: From the beginning He created them male and female. (Mark 1:5)

Interviewer: Surely that’s a throwback to the Old Testament, though. Isn’t the old law of Moses a bit antiquated for today’s discussion?

Jesus: Think not that I came to destroy the law. I came not to destroy it, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 10:34)

Interviewer: Aha! Then doesn’t it say in Leviticus that homosexuals should be put to death? Is that what You’re advocating?

Jesus: Let him that is without sin cast the first stone. (John 8:7)

Interviewer: That would be nobody.

Jesus: It is as you say. (Luke 23:3)

Interviewer: So You’d prefer we stick to the traditional Ozzie and Harriet style family arrangement? How would that play out in 2012?

Jesus: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. What God has joined together, let no man set asunder. (Mark 10:7-9)

Interviewer: That’s it? Stuck for life? What if both the man and the woman are miserable together?

Jesus: I say unto you, if a man put away his wife for any cause other than fornication, he causes her to commit adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

Interviewer: You probably just lost at least half of our listeners.

Jesus: This is a hard saying. Not every man can receive this saying. (Matthew 19:11)

Interviewer: No, and not every person will agree with it, either. In fact, based on what You just said, a lot of people would call for Your resignation.

Jesus: Everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. (John 3:20)

Interviewer: Well, You’re promoting a pretty rigid definition of family, not to mention morality. I mean we’re all sexual creatures. I can’t help but be turned onto a beautiful woman when she walks by. Surely You don’t have a problem with that?

Jesus: If a man looks upon a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Interviewer: Now you lost me. I do that almost every day.

Jesus: Son, be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven. (Matthew 19:2)

Interviewer: That’s nice, but a lot of gays and lesbians don’t feel very forgiven by You or Your followers. What would You say to those who claim that God doesn’t condemn them for being gay?

Jesus: Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

Interviewer: So You’re not against them?

Jesus: God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

Interviewer: Perhaps, but the world is coming to understand that homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality. Most educated people agree on that.

Jesus: Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold. (Matthew 24:11-12)

Interviewer: But aren’t you condemning something that goes to the very nature of so many people? Whether we’re gay or straight or bi, isn’t that just an indicator of what’s truly inside us?

Jesus: For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man. (Matthew 15:11)

Interviewer: So You would call on people to simply deny who they really are rather than simply be themselves and relate in the way that’s most natural to them?

Jesus: If any man come after Me, let Him deny Himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Interviewer: Even if that means saying “no” to a person’s most basic desires? Would you really ask that of anyone, even Yourself?

Jesus: Foxes have holes, and the birds have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. (Matthew 8:20)

Interviewer: I’m sure You realize that even now people are blogging about Your words. You’re going to lose a lot of support because of Your positions.

Jesus: Woe unto you when all men speak well of you. (Luke 6:26)

Interviewer: But what would You say to those who believe in You but also identify themselves as gay, and are in same sex relationships?

Jesus: Why do you call me ‘Lord Lord’ and do not what I say? (Luke 6:46)

Interviewer: A lot of Your followers agree with You, but You’ll notice they’re getting a lot of heat for it. Anything You’d like to pass on to them?

Jesus: Let not your hearts be troubled. If they world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. (John 14:1; 15:19)

Interviewer: And You’re still accepting new converts?

Jesus: Come unto Me all ye that labor and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)


Michael Kelly posts The Tree of Life in a Barren Land:

Standing alone in the desolate savanna of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park, this acacia tree attracts animals from all around to its shade, as is seen by the hundreds of worn trails directed toward it…

This picture reminds me of the words of Jeremiah 17:

“The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water; it sends out its roots toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

That’s what you see here. Green in a sea of brown. Growth in a land that’s dead. Signs of life in the midst of a desert. When everything else around gives way to the heat and the dirt and the wind, the tree remains. And that “remaining” calls out to everything around it, and everything around it comes.

They come curiously, wondering how such a thing could still remain in a land so hostile and dead. They come, skeptical at first but still asking where the source of life is. They come, and they find shade.

prepare for worship

Helpful words on worship by Stuart Townend:

Preparing to Worship

Worship has been described as the highest calling and privilege in the Christian’s life. When we come together it is an opportunity to celebrate all that God is and all He has done for us. It’s an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Him and one another, to experience His love afresh, and to be changed by the power of His Spirit.

Now put like that, you would imagine I would be straining at the leash to get to church every Sunday morning! But I have to confess that the reality is often very different. I may have succeeded in getting myself to church on time (I’m ashamed to say I sometimes even fail on that score!), but my mind can be distracted by other concerns, and my expectations of meeting with God can be, frankly, low. Even when I’m standing at the front leading, I can be more preoccupied with making sure we play the songs well and that the people enjoy the songs, than that I lead them into a meaningful encounter with Christ.

So whether we are standing at the front or in the congregation, how can we ‘raise our sights’? Here are three guiding principles that have helped me down the years: revelation, response and encounter.


Worship begins with God. That may seem an obvious statement, but it’s something we can miss. We live in an alarmingly self-oriented society, where the bottom line to every choice we make, from relationships to religion, seems to be: “…but does it make me happy?”

If we’re not careful we can bring this attitude into church, and even into our worship. We can come looking for the experience, for the ‘warm feelings’, or looking for God to lift the weight of our burdens and make us feel better. And, of course, none of these things are wrong in themselves. But when they take centre-stage in our thinking, we put ourselves in the place that God should be. Worship needs to be focused on what God requires, not on our own needs or desires.

So what does this mean in practice? Well, the best way to stay God-focused is to sing songs, read Scriptures and pray prayers about Him! I believe that, although we have many new songs that effectively describe our feelings as we worship and respond to God, we need more songs that are about HIM. If you lead worship, look for songs that declare the truth about God, about His character, His actions, and what He has done for us.

But it’s not enough that we just say and sing things that are true. We need to have an expectation that God will REVEAL the truth of these things by His Spirit. When I lead a song, I’m praying that the truth of the words will grip people’s hearts and minds in a fresh way, dispelling the lies that can so subtly invade our thinking and undermine our faith: lies like, ‘God can’t love me’, ‘I’m too sinful to be accepted by Him’ and ‘my situation is too difficult for Him to help me’. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. As we put truth into people’s minds and mouths through songs, prayers and scriptures, pray that the truth of how God sees us liberates us from the lies of how we see ourselves.


So truth is important in our church worship. But it isn’t enough to fill our minds with good things. It’s possible to have all the biblical knowledge in the world, but still have a hard heart towards God. We are called not only to declare truth, but to respond in wholehearted worship.

When Jesus says in John 4 that God’s worshippers must worship in spirit and truth, the word He uses for ‘truth’ is interesting. Although it does refer to correctness and accuracy, it also means “truthfulness” or “honesty”. In other words, what goes on outwardly during worship needs to be reflected in what is going on inwardly – and vice versa. Just going through the physical motions of worship, such as singing, clapping and dancing (Isaiah 29:13, quoted in Mt 15:8) is not enough if our hearts are not engaged with God . But at the same time, if our hearts are filled with joy and adoration, part of our worship involves using our bodies to express it. What is in the heart must be expressed in the outward actions. So how can we cultivate more expression in our congregation?

Well, the best way is by example. There’s something about seeing someone expressing their worship that inspires other people. Similarly, when we look bored or detached (even if we’re not) we can inhibit others. And that’s true whether we are standing at the front or in the congregation


So we begin with God, not ourselves. And we respond in an honest, expressive way to God and His goodness. And then, perhaps the most amazing thing we find when we worship is that God is active! As we give ourselves to Him, He has His own plans and purposes that He wants to fulfil among us; he wants to speak to us, to change us, to have fellowship with us. And this is why I strongly believe in the prophetic in the context of corporate worship: whether it’s a shared ‘picture’, a spontaneous prayer, a full-blown “thus saith the Lord” prophecy, or even starting a song that wasn’t ‘on the list’.

I don’t have space here to explore how the prophetic should be weighed or filtered, and I’m not saying that a ‘pre-prepared’ contribution can’t be powerfully prophetic. But I do think that an encounter with God is a dynamic, two-way thing, and we should have an expectation that God will lead us in our worship, sometimes in a direction we didn’t expect or plan for. And as that happens, we need to cultivate hearts that are ready to change, ready to be moulded and shaped by the loving hands of God as we offer ourselves wholeheartedly in worship.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

mueller on whatever comes

As always, wise words from Walt Mueller. Here he shares his thoughts as he prepares for the SCOTUS decision relating to 'gay marriage'.

With the Supreme Court set to rule on Gay Marriage issues today, my head is spinning. Gay marriage, homosexuality, same-sex attraction. . . these are difficult, complex, and confusing issues. They are also very recent social issues, which means that we really haven't had that much time to process and think about them. And, as the issues unfold at seemingly breakneck speed in both the culture and the lives of real people - people we know and love - we can hardly keep up. Just when you think you're getting your head and hands around things, you once again feel like you're having to catch up as new developments emerge.

I know that these are timely and extremely important things that matter deeply. My Christian faith dictates that I wrestle through the issues, all the while prayerfully seeking not "my will" on the matters, but "Thy will." Things get even more confused as within the body of Christ "thy will" gets interpreted and understood in so many different ways. I've been reading like crazy in an effort to solidify my thinking. Still, it's so complex and confusing.

This morning, I decided to "regroup" in anticipation of whatever news comes from the Supreme Court today. I decided to blog a few thoughts on the "this I knows" . . . conclusions that I have reached at this point. This is not exhaustive or complete in any way, shape, or form. I could - and probably should - add much more in terms of explanation. But here goes. . .

First, no matter what decision the Supreme Court makes, one thing will remain unchanged: God is in control of all of this. The Sovereign God of the Universe is still the Sovereign God of the Universe. The world is horribly broken and filled with horribly broken people and institutions. Nobody and nothing is the way it's supposed to be. Consequently, nothing should be surprising. God is working out His divine will and plan and in that I can rest.

Second, perhaps the biggest thing at stake in this debate for followers of Christ is the way in which we choose to follow Christ. Our divisions in the church and the paths we choose to follow in our efforts to discover God's will says much about who we are and the authority on which we choose to build our lives. For me, I want to endeavor to put all my personal opinions and biases aside as best as I can, and then humbly seek God's will and way in His word. I want to have a responsible hermeneutic, engage in good exegesis, and seek the wisdom of the saints throughout church history. I don't want to pigeon-hole God into my biases, opinions, and desires. I know that will always happen to some extent, but that's no excuse for not reckoning with one's own biases.

Third, I believe that we need to subject our own personal feelings and experiences to Scripture, rather than vice-versa. The latter practice is not only increasingly widespread, but it will destroy us. In my reading I've read three books by professing Christians who have had to deal personally with same-sex attraction and it's been interesting to see how they engage with Scripture and emotions. Wesley Hill (Washed and Waiting) and Rosaria Butterfield (The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert) view their emotions and experience through the lens of Scripture and come to the conclusion that their same-sex attraction is a result of the brokenness in the world and it's their cross to bear in faithful obedience to Christ. It is not the way it's supposed to be. Justin Lee (Torn) views the Scripture through the lens of his emotions and experience. His story is compelling and his argument will play well in today's world. He concludes that he is the way he's supposed to be and he opts for a monogamous faithful relationship. We can either reconcile our lives to the Scriptures, or we can reconcile the Scriptures to our lives.

Fourth, we cannot eliminate the first three chapters of Genesis from our discussions. In fact, they are foundational. They are at the root of God's shalom. They are at the root of the way things are supposed to be. They establish and define marriage. They are at the foundation of Christ's understanding of marriage. The one-man one-woman order and design is what is established by God and assumed throughout the Scriptures. Go ahead and read the aforementioned books. You'll see that the inclusion of the Genesis narratives shapes conclusions. . . as does the omission.

Finally, we need to love. We need to love God and we need to love our neighbor. I fear, however, that those who endeavor to do both responsibly and well with the purest of motivations will be labeled as "intolerant" or "homophobic." Both of those terms are highly charged and horribly misused. A phobia is a fear. I don't fear same-sex attraction. I don't fear homosexuals.

This will be an interesting day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

conversation rules

Uh oh ... I am found wanting ...

Editor’s note: The excerpt below comes from a book published in 1875: A Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette by Cecil B. Hartley. Hartley’s rules may be over 100 years old, but they’re just as true today as they ever were. There are some real gems here — some of which truly gave me a chuckle.

  1. Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dexterously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry…Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if I were president, or governor, I would,” — and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.
  2. Retain, if you will, a fixed political opinion, yet do not parade it upon all occasions, and, above all, do not endeavor to force others to agree with you. Listen calmly to their ideas upon the same subjects, and if you cannot agree, differ politely, and while your opponent may set you down as a bad politician, let him be obliged to admit that you are a gentleman.
  3. Never interrupt anyone who is speaking; it is quite rude to officiously supply a name or date about which another hesitates, unless you are asked to do so. Another gross breach of etiquette is to anticipate the point of a story which another person is reciting, or to take it from his lips to finish it in your own language. Some persons plead as an excuse for this breach of etiquette, that the reciter was spoiling a good story by a bad manner, but this does not mend the matter. It is surely rude to give a man to understand that you do not consider him capable of finishing an anecdote that he has commenced.
  4. It is ill-bred to put on an air of weariness during a long speech from another person, and quite as rude to look at a watch, read a letter, flirt the leaves of a book, or in any other action show that you are tired of the speaker or his subject.
  5. In a general conversation, never speak when another person is speaking, and never try by raising your own voice to drown that of another. Never assume an air of haughtiness, or speak in a dictatorial manner; let your conversation be always amiable and frank, free from every affectation.
  6. Never, unless you are requested to do so, speak of your own business or profession in society; to confine your conversation entirely to the subject or pursuit which is your own specialty is low-bred and vulgar. Make the subject for conversation suit the company in which you are placed. Joyous, light conversation will be at times as much out of place as a sermon would be at a dancing party. Let your conversation be grave or gay as suits the time or place.
  7. In a dispute, if you cannot reconcile the parties, withdraw from them. You will surely make one enemy, perhaps two, by taking either side, in an argument when the speakers have lost their temper.
  8. Never, during a general conversation, endeavor to concentrate the attention wholly upon yourself. It is quite as rude to enter into conversation with one of a group, and endeavor to draw him out of the circle of general conversation to talk with you alone.
  9. A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind is generally modest. He may feel when in everyday society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them. He will discuss with frank simplicity the topics started by others, and endeavor to avoid starting such as they will not feel inclined to discuss. All that he says will be marked by politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.
  10. It is as great an accomplishment to listen with an air of interest and attention, as it is to speak well. To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker, and it is in the character of listener that you can most readily detect the man who is accustomed to good society.
  11. Never listen to the conversation of two persons who have thus withdrawn from a group. If they are so near you that you cannot avoid hearing them, you may, with perfect propriety, change your seat.
  12. Make your own share in conversation as modest and brief as is consistent with the subject under consideration, and avoid long speeches and tedious stories. If, however, another, particularly an old man, tells a long story, or one that is not new to you, listen respectfully until he has finished, before you speak again.
  13. Speak of yourself but little. Your friends will find out your virtues without forcing you to tell them, and you may feel confident that it is equally unnecessary to expose your faults yourself.
  14. If you submit to flattery, you must also submit to the imputation of folly and self-conceit.
  15. In speaking of your friends, do not compare them, one with another. Speak of the merits of each one, but do not try to heighten the virtues of one by contrasting them with the vices of another.
  16. Avoid, in conversation all subjects which can injure the absent. A gentleman will never calumniate or listen to calumny.
  17. The wittiest man becomes tedious and ill-bred when he endeavors to engross entirely the attention of the company in which he should take a more modest part.
  18. Avoid set phrases, and use quotations but rarely. They sometimes make a very piquant addition to conversation, but when they become a constant habit, they are exceedingly tedious, and in bad taste.
  19. Avoid pedantry; it is a mark, not of intelligence, but stupidity.
  20. Speak your own language correctly; at the same time do not be too great a stickler for formal correctness of phrases.
  21. Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word or look such errors in those around you is excessively ill-bred.
  22. If you are a professional or scientific man, avoid the use of technical terms. They are in bad taste, because many will not understand them. If, however, you unconsciously use such a term or phrase, do not then commit the still greater error of explaining its meaning. No one will thank you for thus implying their ignorance.
  23. In conversing with a foreigner who speaks imperfect English, listen with strict attention, yet do not supply a word, or phrase, if he hesitates. Above all, do not by a word or gesture show impatience if he makes pauses or blunders. If you understand his language, say so when you first speak to him; this is not making a display of your own knowledge, but is a kindness, as a foreigner will be pleased to hear and speak his own language when in a strange country.
  24. Be careful in society never to play the part of buffoon, for you will soon become known as the “funny” man of the party, and no character is so perilous to your dignity as a gentleman. You lay yourself open to both censure and bad ridicule, and you may feel sure that, for every person who laughs with you, two are laughing at you, and for one who admires you, two will watch your antics with secret contempt.
  25. Avoid boasting. To speak of your money, connections, or the luxuries at your command is in very bad taste. It is quite as ill-bred to boast of your intimacy with distinguished people. If their names occur naturally in the course of conversation, it is very well; but to be constantly quoting, “my friend, Gov. C,” or, “my intimate friend, the president,” is pompous and in bad taste.
  26. While refusing the part of jester yourself, do not, by stiff manners, or cold, contemptuous looks, endeavor to check the innocent mirth of others. It is in excessively bad taste to drag in a grave subject of conversation when pleasant, bantering talk is going on around you. Join in pleasantly and forget your graver thoughts for the time, and you will win more popularity than if you chill the merry circle or turn their innocent gayety to grave discussions.
  27. When thrown into the society of literary people, do not question them about their works. To speak in terms of admiration of any work to the author is in bad taste; but you may give pleasure, if, by a quotation from their writings, or a happy reference to them, you prove that you have read and appreciated them.
  28. It is extremely rude and pedantic, when engaged in general conversation, to make quotations in a foreign language.
  29. To use phrases which admit of a double meaning, is ungentlemanly.
  30. If you find you are becoming angry in a conversation, either turn to another subject or keep silence. You may utter, in the heat of passion, words which you would never use in a calmer moment, and which you would bitterly repent when they were once said.
  31. “Never talk of ropes to a man whose father was hanged” is a vulgar but popular proverb. Avoid carefully subjects which may be construed into personalities, and keep a strict reserve upon family matters. Avoid, if you can, seeing the skeleton in your friend’s closet, but if it is paraded for your special benefit, regard it as a sacred confidence, and never betray your knowledge to a third party.
  32. If you have traveled, although you will endeavor to improve your mind in such travel, do not be constantly speaking of your journeyings. Nothing is more tiresome than a man who commences every phrase with, “When I was in Paris,” or, “In Italy I saw…”
  33. When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may enquire of a mother, “Who is that awkward, ugly girl?” and be answered, “Sir, that is my daughter.”
  34. Avoid gossip; in a woman it is detestable, but in a man it is utterly despicable.
  35. Do not officiously offer assistance or advice in general society. Nobody will thank you for it.
  36. Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation, but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking you have no other conversation.
  37. A lady of sense will feel more complimented if you converse with her upon instructive, high subjects, than if you address to her only the language of compliment. In the latter case she will conclude that you consider her incapable of discussing higher subjects, and you cannot expect her to be pleased at being considered merely a silly, vain person, who must be flattered into good humor.

the exodus of exodus

It is considered a landmark announcement, proof that the cultural winds are shifting in favor of the acceptance of homosexuality by the evangelical community. Exodus International, a ministry devoted to helping people overcome same-sex attractions is shutting down. Alan Chambers, the ministry's president, is apologizing for much of the hurt he believes the ministry has caused the LGBT community.

Chambers, who now rejects the view that sexual orientation can be changed through the Gospel, wrote that he believes there is a sense in which his apology is for the whole church. "[I]f the church is a body, with many members being connected to the whole, then I believe that when one of us does right we all do right, and when one of us does wrong we all do wrong," he said. "We have done wrong, and I stand with many others who now recognize the need to offer apologies and make things right." [1]

But Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention takes umbrage with Chambers' apology, arguing: "I think there is a tendency to see Exodus folding as a parable of Christian capitulation and ethic. That is not what is happening. Instead what you have is an organization that has some confusion about its mission and purpose...What is not happening here, is an evangelical revision of a biblical sexual ethic." [2]

Peter LaBarbera, who leads Americans for Truth About Homosxuality, would agree with Moore. When OneNewsNow recently asked LaBarbera about Exodus shutting down, he said, "I think Alan Chambers, who basically ruined the organization, had no choice because the affiliates were leaving. All the people who support the truth that homosexuals can change and overcome this perversion through Jesus Christ were leaving Exodus." [3]

LaBarbera, who called Exodus' closing one of the greatest tragedies he had witnessed in the pro-family movement, also shared where he believes the ministry made its fatal mistake. He said, "Homosexuality is about behavior, and behaviors can be changed with the help of God and through Christ...That's what Exodus used to be about. But once they started talking about so called 'gay sexual orientation,' as if this is the inherent state of somebody's being, they got in trouble." [4]

LaBarbera makes a critical point that raises a fundamental question: Is the concept of "sexual orientation" biblical? It is my contention that this expression, which finds its source in modern psychology and is so easily bandied about, doesn't have a biblical leg to stand on.

The Scriptures say, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis. 1:27). When Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of his day about marriage and divorce, a passage certainly related to human sexuality, Jesus referenced the same Genesis passage repeating, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'" (Mark. 10:6).

The point is that the language of "sexual orientation" is an imposition today on much of what the Bible says about sexuality. According to the Bible no one was born heterosexual or homosexual, each was born ether a male or a female biologically. Heterosexual or homosexual behaviors are sexual acts, with heterosexual acts blessed and sanctified in some cases and condemned in others, while homosexual acts are condemned one hundred percent of the time.

It's interesting that the concept of "sexual orientation" is based strongly upon one's feelings. How does one know that one is gay? Conventional wisdom says because of the way one feels. Numerous are the individuals who have said, "I've felt that I was gay since I was a child." But if one felt that he or she was a squirrel, would that qualify as proof that one was justified in risking life and limb by climbing trees and eating only nuts? The entire concept is nuts and symptomatic of a postmodernist relativity out of control.

The Bible often speaks about feelings, thoughts, and urges. And what are such but emotions and processes of the intellect that 2 Corinthians 10:5 commands must be brought in subjection to Christ's Lordship.

Jesus said, "From within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean,'" (Mark. 7:20-23). Here Jesus describes a "sinful orientation" that is the inner nature of every person and demonstrates itself in outward behaviors unacceptable with God – acts that estrange a person from God. 

The apostle James forewarned about arguments like "sexual orientation" saying they are the same as blaming God for evil. It appears similar arguments were apparent even in his day. He wrote, "When tempted no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James. 1:13-14). To blame homosexuality on heredity is no less than to blame the Creator for one's failure – an argument which is unconscionable.

To those who would contend the Bible is silent about "sexual orientation," let it be said this is because no such notion is based in truth. It is a broad term developed in modern times to provide credence for the growing number of sexual perversions. Even the polygamists and the pedophiles want to get on board.

There is one final point that also ought to be noted. Chambers said something in his apology quite telling. He said regarding the convictions that he and his wife hold: "Our beliefs do not center on 'sin' because 'sin' isn't at the center of our faith." [5] This author begs to disagree with that point of view. Unfortunately, without a clear understanding of sin, there is no need for faith – no need for Christ – no need for a Savior – no meaning to grace.

Central to the message of Christianity is that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious ideal for life (Romans. 3:23). Apart from repentance, the remission of sin, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ to transform a life to live according to God's standards, the Gospel becomes no more than a soppy code of self-help. What distinguishes it from any other religion or moral force is its promise that Christ suffered, died and rose again not simply to eliminate sin's shame and condemnation, but also to remove its power.

To water down this message with outside worldly, unbiblical influences, is to risk the loss of Christian identity and collapse, which is exactly what happened to Exodus International.

Indeed this is a landmark event. And every Christian denomination, church, church school or university, organization and ministry, should take note with fear and trembling. Exodus International took flight from its own promised land of deliverance and exists no more.


[1] "The Expanded Public Apology from Alan Chambers,", 20 June 2013 expanded-public-apology-from.html
[2] Anh Do, Kate Mather, Joe Mozingo, "'Gay Cure' Ministry Exodus International to Close,", 20 June 2013 0621-exodus-international-gays-20130621,0,1731583.story
[3] Charlie Butts, "Supporters Flight from Exodus Cited as Reason for Shutdown,", 20 June 2013, shutdown#.UcS6HZzm1I0
[4] Ibid
[5] "The Expanded Public Apology from Alan Chambers,", 20 June 2013 expanded-public-apology-from.html

Sunday, June 23, 2013

a sign

RC Sproul in What is Baptism?

Baptism is a sign of God's promise to regenerate His people, to liberate them from the moral bondage of original sin, to cleanse their souls from guilt and purify them so they can enter into a saving relationship with Him.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


"A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor."

for his glory

John Piper in Finally Alive:

Everything good that God has made and that God sustains is ruined when it is not done in reliance on God’s grace and in pursuit of God’s glory.


the greatest OT prophet

RC Sproul in What is Baptism? on John the Baptist:

"Who was the greatest prophet in the Old Testament?" Some say Elijah; some say Isaiah; others insist on Jeremiah. Finally I say, "No, the greatest prophet in the Old Testament was John the Baptist." We sometimes forget that while we read about John the Baptist in the New Testament, he lived before Jesus inaugurated the new covenant in the upper room on the night of His betrayal. So the economy of the old covenant extended from the beginning in the garden of Eden to the time of the Last Supper. Thus, John the Baptist belonged to the period of the Old Testament, and Jesus said of him, "Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11).

While John was the greatest Old Testament prophet, it was his task to announce the end of the period of Old Testament redemptive history, for the kingdom of God was about to break through. In the Old Testament, the arrival of the kingdom of God was an ambiguous future event. But John began his message with a radical note of urgency. He cried out, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). He was saying that the kingdom of God was not in the distant future, it was about to arrive.

John used two metaphors to illustrate the urgency of the hour. First, he said, "Even now the axe is laid at the root of the trees" (Matt. 3:10a). It wasn't as if the woodsman had just gone out into the forest and started to chip away at the bark of a tree, but he still had to swing his ax another thousand times before he could bring it down. Rather, the woodsman had already cut down to the very heart and core of the tree. John was saying that with one more blow from the ax, the tree would come down.

Second, John said, "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:12). The winnowing fork was a tool used by grain farmers to separate the wheat from the chaff. After the grain was threshed, that is, the seeds were separated from the husks, the farmer would use a large fork to toss piles of seed into the air so that the wind would blow away the lighter chaff, the final small pieces of the husks. The chaff would blow away, but the heavier seeds would fall back into the pile. John was saying that the farmer was not just thinking about separating the wheat from the chaff, nor was he walking to the barn to get his winnowing fork. Instead, the farmer's winnowing fork was in his hand and he was about to begin the final step in the processing of his harvest. The moment of separation, the crisis moment that would divide the good wheat from the useless and undesirable chaff, was about to happen. John was saying, "Israel, your King is about to come, the Messiah is at hand, and you're not ready."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

holy love

John Stott brings out the glorious reality of the holy love of God when he says,
“The vision of God’s holy love will deliver us from caricatures of him. We must picture him neither as an indulgent God who compromises his holiness in order to spare and spoil us, nor as a harsh, vindictive God who suppresses his love in order to crush and destroy us. How then can God express his holiness without consuming us, and his love without condoning our sins? How can God satisfy his holy love? How can he save us and satisfy himself simultaneously? We reply at this point only that, in order to satisfy himself, he sacrificed — indeed substituted — himself for us.
‘Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand –
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land…
O safe and happy shelter!
O refuge tried and sweet!
O trysting-place, where heaven’s love
And heaven’s justice meet!’”


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

why baptism

R.C. Sproul in What is Baptism?

We do it first because Christ commanded it, but also because it conveys the sign of the promise of God of salvation by faith and all of the benefits that flow from that. When a person is baptized and comes to faith, if he later worries about the loss of his salvation, he can recall his baptism - not because the baptism guarantees his salvation, but because it reminds him of the unfailing promise of God to preserve all those who are engrafted into Christ.

homosexuality is confusion

Excellent post, although I did need a dictionary, by Doug Wilson:

Comes now word that Germany has (perfectly legal) barnyard brothels, where pimps get to rent out the livestock for sexual purposes.

We are not surprised to find that Scripture prohibits this kind of thing. Adam searched for a helper suitable to him among the animals, and there were none. God established His image in male and female together (Gen. 1:27), and thus we see that a particular set of perversions (such as homosexuality and bestiality) are attempts to strike at this image of God. God inhabits eternity, and sinful man cannot reach Him, as much as he would like to. But he thinks he can reach the image of God that He established down here — and so these perversions are actually sexual iconoclasm.

When the images are graven images and hence unlawful (Ex. 20:4), iconoclasm can certainly be a good and godly thing (2 Kings 23:24). But when the images and icons were fashioned by God Himself from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7) from the rib of the man (Gen. 2:21-22), and after that, fashioned by God in the womb of every mother (Ps. 139:15-16), to attack that image is impudence and rebellion.

So it is bad then. But what kind of bad?
“Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion” (Lev. 18:23).
The Old Testament, famously, abominates a number of things. But the sin of bestiality here is not just described as an abomination. It is described as confusion. One other sin is decribed that way — the sin of having sex with your daughter-in-law (Lev. 20:12).

It is tebel, confusion. It is sinful, of course, and an abomination, of course. But it is also confusion. It is dislocated and out of joint. It is a muddled monstrosity. It is demented.

So in what might appear to be a lurch, I would like to lay the responsibilty at the feet of David Hume and Immanuel Kant. When this sort of thing happens to a nation, and that nation’s politicians, statesmen, leaders, poets, seers, editorialists, song-writers, bloggers, and magazine publishers don’t feel they have any basis for coming back and saying, “No, of course not,” when they don’t think they have any place to stand in order to say, “Thou shalt not,” it is time to look upstream and blame their philosophers.

Hume pretended to an utter skepticism, and Kant pretended to have fixed that problem, but without actual reference to the unknowable “noumenal” realm, things as they actually are, but which is forever closed off to us. The Almighty God had somehow abandoned us to live inside our own heads (an unhealthy place to be, however phenomenal it feels). We have just now begun to realize just how far our leaky little boat of intellectual sophistication has drifted. He who says A must say B, but more than this, he who cannot say A must eventually say B, whether he wants to or not.

I will go out on a limb. Unless we get back to Thomas Reid’s common sense realism, or something very much like it, taking care to ensure that our philosophy is grounded explicitly on God’s revelation to us in Christ, we will continue to be hosed. Speaking of iconoclasm, all the statues of the big boys need to go over — Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, the lot. Why? It is confusion.

All our difficulties arise from the fact that we don’t believe we have any authoritative basis for saying this, and not that. We have let all the boundaries go blurry in our sham pretence of epistemic humilty — and at the end of the process we are forced to act like we don’t know the difference between a woman and a heifer.

You might object and say that I am acting like everyone in Germany is going to these places. No, not at all. But I am saying that a tiny handful is doing this, and that the rest of the civilized world has nothing whatever to say to them. We are speechless. Schrodinger’s cat has our tongue. Please, no angry comments saying that I don’t understand quantum theory. It is a metaphor.

Relativism is not just a thought experiment any more. The internal core of the West is almost completely rotted out. I would say to the solons of dithering relativism that it is time for them to have the courage of their convictions, but that would be oxymoronic, wouldn’t it?

bible errors

Well done post by Megan Almon:

If God is real, and if the Bible is “God’s word,” there’s a lot at stake when it comes to its reliability. So is the Bible riddled with errors or is it a reliable revelation of God?

I’m a nervous flyer.

Airplanes just freak me out. But fly I must from time to time, and so I place my trust in a hunk of brilliantly engineered metal, several computers, and pilots I’ve never met.

But let’s say I had reason to believe that the aircraft I’m supposed to board is faulty.

Guess who’s feet are staying on the ground?

If God is real, and if the Bible is “God’s word,” there’s a lot at stake when it comes to its reliability. Big question things. Life and death things. Eternal things.

“Does it err?” is the question of the day and, sadly, the answer from academia and modern culture—even in Christian circles—is ever increasingly “Yes.”

But if the “Check Engine” light starts flashing on something that’s stood the test of time as well as Scripture has, it makes sense to diagnose the claimed problem before walking away altogether.

It may be that the errors are coming from somewhere else.


When someone claims that the Bible contains errors, I automatically ask, “What kind of errors?”

The answer determines the direction of the conversation.

Oftentimes, the issues lie with seeming scientific inaccuracies or alleged contradictions in the text.


It was during the Enlightenment of the 18th Century that scientific works began to be as detailed in writing as they are today. Though that was a good advancement, it is unfair and unwise to hold a book penned thousands of years ago to post-Enlightenment writing-style standards.

Inerrancy simply means that the Bible does not err in what it intends to communicate.

When Joshua reported that the “sun stood still” on the day the Israelites defeated the Amorites (Josh. 10), he wasn’t offering an exhaustive scientific evaluation. The writer’s intention was to describe what he witnessed.

While the Bible isn’t a science manual, it does not disagree with science.

Whether or not the sun can remain in the same place in the sky for a day leads to a different conversation (i.e., one that centers around the miraculous), but it doesn’t demonstrate that the Bible errs in what it is communicating.

As for the question of miracles, if an omnipotent God exists, why can’t he manipulate his own natural laws to accomplish something? If the claim is that God doesn’t exist, then it is that presupposition that excludes a supernatural explanation of the Joshua event, not scientific inaccuracy.

While the Bible isn’t a science manual, it does not disagree with science. Even the Genesis account squares nicely with scientific cosmology. (Keep in mind that the author’s intent was simply to communicate that God created the universe out of nothing.)


If the objection is “contradictions,” it’s important to remember what is meant by the term.

“Contra” means “other.” The Law of Non-Contradiction states that “A” cannot be both “A” and “Not A” at the same time and in the same sense.

What are often called biblical contradictions are not contradictoryat all by definition. They are actually paradoxes or are simply a matter of mystery.

Is there a contradiction between Matthew 26:34 and Mark 14:30? In one, Jesus says Peter will deny him before the rooster crows the next day. In the other, Jesus claims Peter’s denials would happen before the rooster crows twice.

But a mystery does not make a contradiction.

Some cry foul between “once” and “twice,” but no contradiction is present, only accounts that vary in the amount of detail included.

Some look no further than the Trinity before playing the contradiction card. The claim goes “1+1+1 cannot equal 1!” But that is a misunderstanding of the doctrine.

The Trinity is paradoxical, not contradictory. It claims that God is one essence and three persons. In other words, God is not three and one in the same sense.

Finally, if the Bible is as it says it is—a revelation from an infinite God to finite human beings—some mystery is inevitable. But a mystery does not make a contradiction.

There is much in the fields of science and history that remains mysterious, but the mystery factor doesn’t necessarily make those things untrue—it just means we lack full knowledge at this time.


Paul, in his final letter to Timothy, admonishes the younger disciple with these words:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

John even makes an ontological connection between “the Word” and Jesus, shocking his Greek audience when he said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 1, 14). In other words, God’s words are tied directly to his very being.

If the true author of Scripture is God—if the Bible is divinely inspired, as it claims to be —biblical inerrancy logically follows

Sunday, June 16, 2013

lewis quotes

20 tweetable CS Lewis quotes ...
  1. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. 
  2. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
  3. If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
  4. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
  5. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.
  6. The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
  7. We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
  8. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
  9. God can't give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.
  10. Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
  11. There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.
  12. True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
  13. Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth 'thrown in': aim at Earth and you will get neither.
  14. Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.
  15. Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people's minds under the cover of fiction without their knowing it.
  16. He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.
  17. The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
  18. In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.
  19. God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.
  20. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.