Sunday, November 30, 2008

Won at Great Cost

In a discussion of Ephesians 4 this past week, Darryl Dash said the following profound statement about the importance of preaching and teaching the Word of God. The bold print on the last sentence is mine. No wonder the Apostle James (James 3:1) said that not many should be teachers!

Paul has been talking in Ephesians 4 about Jesus as a victorious king who has taken the place of victory, and has given gifts to his people from the plunder. What does the risen Christ give the church after plundering Satan? Christian leaders. Not just Christian leaders, but leaders who have one thing in common: they are teachers. They all have some role in unpacking what God has done through Christ, of teaching and communicating the good news.

If we are honest, I think a lot of us would say we had hoped for something else from the plunder. If Christ is going to go to all the trouble of defeating Satan, and if he wants to give gifts from that plunder to the church, couldn't he have chosen something else?

But that's what Jesus has chosen to give. Leaders who teach God's Words are gifts from Jesus to his people, won at great cost at the cross.

From Darryl Dash - Preaching out of season - Darryl's Blog

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better: Number 6

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

Number six is:
Read Heavy Books - It can be intimidating to stare at some of those massive volumes or series of volumes sitting on your bookshelf, but be sure to make time to read some of those serious works. A person can only grow so much while living on a diet of easy-reading Christian Living books. Make your way through some Jonathan Edwards or John Calvin. Read Grudem’s Systematic Theology or David Wells’ “No Place for Truth” series. You will find them slow-going, to be sure, but will also find them rewarding. Commit to reading some of these heavy volumes as a regular part of your reading diet. Consider joining in one of our Reading Classics Together efforts to add some interaction and accountability in reading one of the classics of the faith

Saturday, November 29, 2008

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better: Number 5

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

Point number five is:
Read with Discernment - Though books have incredible power to do good, to challenge and strengthen and edify, they also have the power to do evil. I have seen lives transformed by books but have also seen lives crushed. So do ensure that you read with discernment, always comparing the books you read to the standard of Scripture. If you encounter a book that is particularly controversial, it may be worth ensuring that you can reference a review that interacts critically with the arguments or that you can read it with a person who better understands the arguments and their implications. You do not need to fear any book as long as you read with a critical eye and with a discerning mind.

My Blog's Typealyzer Results

I ran this blog's web address through the Typealyzer website, which is supposed to classify the personality type of a blogger by analysing the content of his/her blog. Here's what it said about me. Sounds pretty accurate to me, even including the negative stuff.
The analysis indicates that the author of ttp:// is of the type:

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to
understand what they are talking about.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What Not To Wear

And what will your preacher be wearing this Sunday?

From : What Not To Wear The Sacred Sandwich

Lost in Our Goodness

“Here, then, is Jesus’ radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life.”

- Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 43

From : Of First Importance

"How Can A Person Grow Spiritually in the Next Year?"

Michael Spencer intrigued me this week with his panel discussion between representatives of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and Southern Baptist traditions on the answer to the question: How Can A Person Grow Spiritually in the Next Year?

I also love the name of his panel - "The Liturgical Ganstas." Here's hoping the "Ganstas" return frequently to the IMonk website.

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better: Number 4

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

Fourth on his list is :

Read Interactively - Reading is best done, at least when enjoying serious books, when you work hard at understanding the book and when you interact with the author’s arguments. Read with a highlighter and pencil in hand. Ask questions of the author and expect him to answer them through the course of the text. Scrawl notes in the margins, write questions inside the front cover, and return to them often (and, if the questions remain unanswered, even seek to contact the author!). Highlight the most important portions of the book, or the ones you intend to return to later. As Al Mohler says, “Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled.” I have found that writing reviews of the books I read is a valuable way of returning at least one more time to the book to make sure that I understand what the author was trying to say and how he said it. So interact with those books and make them your own.

Interview with “The Naked Pastor:”

Michael Spencer has up an interesting interview with David Hayward, Vineyard Pastor and creator of the "Naked Pastor" cartoons. Well worth reading.

See » Blog Archive » David Hayward, “The Naked Pastor:” The IM Interview

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bailout Needed

Best sign seen at a football game today-

"Congress: Bailout the Detroit Lions."

Update: "Geeks on Caffeine" agrees

Thanksgiving Prayer

Hat Tip for Cartoon: RedState

Let Us Give Thanks

Psalm 7:17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 50:23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Psalm 86:12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Getting Christmas Back

While we are celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday in the USA, Lars Walker at Brandywine Books wrote some good stuff on "How to Get Christmas Back."

You will never get the magic of Christmas back by making the holiday longer. You'll only get it back by making the holiday deeper.

The people who invented Christmas actually believed that God became man. That means that all our highest aspirations, dreams and hopes are not fantasy, but fact, and that Ultimate Truth came down to hang out with us a while. And then died for us. And then defeated death.

When you get that, you'll get Christmas back.

Hat Tip: The Thinklings

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better: Number 3

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

Number three on the list is:
Read Deliberately - Similar to reading widely, ensure that you read deliberately. Choose your books carefully. If you neglect to do this, you may find that you overlook a particular category for months or even years at a time. Al Mohler, a voracious reader, divides books into six categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature and has some project going within each of these categories at all times. You can draw up categories of your own, but try to ensure you are reading from a variety of the categories on a regular basis. Choose books that fit into each of these categories and plan your reading ahead of time, so you know what book you will read next and you know what you’ll read after that. Anticipation for the next book is often a motivating force in completing the current book.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reference Rainbow

When Christoph Römhild, a Lutheran pastor in Hamburg, Germany, sent Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student Chris Harrison a list of 63,779 cross-references between the Bible's 1,189 chapters, the two became enthralled with elegantly showing the interconnected nature of Scripture. Each bar along the horizontal axis represents a chapter, with the length determined by the number of verses. (Books alternate in color between white and light gray.) Colors represent the distance between eferences. Graphic by Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University

Doctrinal Phone Calls

Anybody ever made or received a call like this? I doubt it.

Hat Tip: Out of Ur Conversations for Ministry Leaders

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better: Number 2:

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

Tim's second point is:
Read Widely - I’m convinced that one reason people do not read more is that they do not vary their reading enough. Any subject, no matter how much you are interested in it, can begin to feel dry if you focus all of your attention upon it. So be sure to read widely. Read fiction and non-fiction, theology and biography, current affairs and history, Christian and non. You will no doubt want to focus the majority of your reading in one broad area, and that is well and good. But be sure to vary your diet.

The Weaker The Better

We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 CO 4.7).

God is glorified amid human frailty. When Christ was crucified in weakness, God unleashed redemption on multitudes. The weaker you are, the better for God to display the gospel’s power through you.

From: The Blazing Center

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

As Far As East Is From West

“…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

God removes our sins an infinite distance. Forgotten by God. Expelled by blood. Our guilt followed our sins and no longer follows us. The chasm that was once between us and God, now between us and sin. Yesterday’s sin of anger? Totally gone. Nothing left to keep me from God.

Hat Tip: The Blazing Center

Pilgrims: The Next Generation

10 Tips to Read More and Read Better - Number 1

Tim Chailles has written a list of 10 Tips to Read More and Read Better. His blog is one of my favorite sites. I really like his points on reading ( not to mention that I am an addicted reader and bibliophile) so I am going to quote one of his ten points each day for ten days. I encourage all my readers to put this into practice.

The Number one tip for becoming a better reader is simply: Read.
Read - We start with the obvious: you need to read. Find me someone who has changed the world and who spent his time watching television and I’ll find you a thousand who read books instead. Unless reading is your passion, you may need to be very deliberate about setting aside time to read. You may need to force yourself to do it. Set yourself a reasonable target (“I’m going to read three books this year” or “I’m going to finish this book before the end of the month”) and work towards it. Set aside time every day or every week and make sure you pick up the book during those times. Find a book dealing with a subject of particular interest to you. You may even find it beneficial to find a book that looks interesting—a nice hardback volume with a beautiful, embossed cover, easy-to-read fonts and beautiful typography. Reading is an experience and the experience begins with the look and feel of the book. So find a book that looks like one you’ll enjoy and commit to reading it. And when you’ve done that, find another one and do it again. And again.

Obama Supports College Football Playoff System

President-elect Barack Obama has said something that I actually agree with, and the temperature of the infernal regions has adjusted downward accordingly.

Per The Washington Post:

In an interview with "60 Minutes," Obama addresses a subject college football fans have debated for many years, and says he will use his influence to create such a system.

"If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system," he tells CBS' Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast Sunday. According to Obama's proposed system, eight teams would play over three rounds to settle the national champion.

"It would add three extra weeks to the season," he said at the conclusion of a wide-ranging interview. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z

Monday, November 24, 2008

Warning for Married Preachers

All married preachers who want to maintain HHCM should probably watch this video and maybe this one too.

Three Kinds of Blogger

The Daily Scroll asked the question: What kind of blogger are you?
Jonathan Bowers wisely observes that there are three kinds of bloggers:

“Innovators. These are the really smart and creative folks who have ideas sprouting like dandelions and just pluck one up and give it a puff of digital wind each day.

Harvesters. These are the bloggers who drive their combine over the blogosphere every day (or hour) and pass on whatever crops they find to be tasty. Their primary task is pointing to other people’s posts.

Personalizers. These are the people who share their lives for anyone who is interested.”

(HT: Crimson Window)

I'll never be much of a Personalizer. Up until now I have blogged mostly as a Harvester. I hope that someday I can achieve at least a touch of Innovator status.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remembering C. S. Lewis

In memory of C. S. Lewis who went to be with his Lord 45 years ago yesterday. May you enjoy Narnia forever, Brother Lewis.

Clive Staples Lewis
Nov. 29, 1898 - Nov. 22, 1963

Presence of Summer in Winter Seasons

"For just as spring break is a taste of summer time in the midst of the semester, so also the kingdom of God is present in the midst of history, as we taste of its blessings now, and look forward to the summer time of God’s kingdom when Christ returns, the Holy City the New Jerusalem descends, and the whole creation is restored in new heavens and the new earth. Amen, come Lord Jesus.”

- David Naugle,The Gospel of the Kingdom of God” (A chapel talk delivered at Dallas Baptist University on April 2, 2004)

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

This quote, and the one in the immediate previous post, expresses the concept of inaugurated eschatology; the belief in an eternal Kingdom of God which is already here in down-payment form but awaiting its final consummation. Eternal life, the quality of life of the Age to Come, begins now but is completed at the final resurrection.

So much of the Bible makes better sense once you get this concept.

Like A Movie Preview: Foretaste of the Banquet

"With the coming of the Spirit, the church has a foretaste of the salvation of the kingdom: the kingdom "banquet" has been prepared by the work of Christ, but it waits for a future time, when all the guests have been assembled (Luke 14:15-24). Yet those who follow Christ have already begun to taste the power of salvation that will accomplish there renewal of all things. As the church enjoys this foretaste of the banquet to come, it becomes the prime exhibit of what the future kingdom will look like. Think here of a film preview, a few minutes of actual footage from a film not yet released. This trailer is shown so that the potential audience can catch a glimpse of what the whole film will look like once it is ready to be shown in its entirety. One important function of the church is thus to be a picture, a brief representation, a sample of what the future in God's kingdom will be."-

Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen The Drama of Scripture, p. 200.
Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z: The Church is Like A Movie Preview

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Blog Supports H.H.C.M.

The picture above comes from Mark Driscoll's blog as part of the promotion of his Song of Solomon preaching series (which is quite good, BTW).

David Matthias at The Road to "Elder" ado.. wonders when the HHCM T-shirts will start appearing, and imagines weird conversations.
"Are you into this new rage, HHCM?""Yeah it is amazing!""Where can I find some?""After being at the altar""Eh?I mean where do I look for some?""In your own bedroom""No I mean where can I buy some?""You can't. Find a nice girl, buy her a ring, commit your life to her then it is all yours""Woh, that sounds intense"

All in favor of HHCM shout Amen!

The Journeyman shouts Amen! (Currently celebrating year 29 of HHCM with no end in sight)

A List for Suckers

Jared at The Thinklings has a list of "Things that are for suckers."
Emails from Nigerian princes
"The Bachelor"
Vin Diesel movies
Raisins in Chex mix
Nearly everything the guy at the oil change place says your car needs
95% of the stuff on Facebook
Raking leaves
"Play Guard" at the video rental place
Bottled water
If you're a dude, paying more than $15 for a haircut

I can agree with all of his list except for Walmart - I love Walmart. And I also rake leaves - but only because I have to! Ditto on TBN and double ditto on more than $15 for a haircut.

A Demonstration of Character

From Thinking Out Loud comes this inspiring true story- A Sports Role Model You Should Know

J.P. Hayes may be the most admired rule-breaker in America.

“This is a great story for sports and honesty in sports,” said Mike Golic on ESPN Radio’s show Mike and Mike in the Morning.

Hayes, 43, a middle-of-the-road pro-golfer, realized that he had mistakenly used a non-regulation ball for just two strokes in a PGA Tour qualifying tournament last week in Texas. Since the ball was unapproved for competition, Hayes admitted his mistake — and was disqualified.

“I violated a rule and I had to take my medicine,” Hayes said. But Hayes didn’t really have to turn himself in. No one filmed it. No one else saw it and no one would ever have known about the two shots with a prototype golf ball.

“No one would have known, but I knew,” he said. “And I have some people looking down on me that would have known, so that was the decision I had to make.”

Character, they say, is what you do when no one is watching. While that’s a powerful mantra, it’s easier to say than to live by. And for a player who was working hard to earn a PGA Tour card, admitting his mistake put a full-time spot on the line.

Hayes’s decision to turn himself in is a discussion dominating the world of sports. In a world where NASCAR drivers say, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,” baseball players take illegal steroids to enhance their performance and coaches make illegal films of their opponents, Hayes could have kept quiet.

“The lessons kids are being taught today, when you talk about sports, is how to get away with things in general,” said Damon Hack, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. “Often young players are taught it’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.”

Hayes also refuses to place blame on his caddy, who mistakenly gave him the prototype ball from his golf bag. He considers it a personal oversight.

…J.P. Hayes paid a price for turning himself in; he lost a chance to qualify for the 2009 PGA Pro-Tour. But even though he no longer can compete, he has no regrets.

“I am proud in that situation that I reacted how I should of,” he said.

This guy deserves attention and admiration. He should be held up as a role model for our kids and grand kids. Don't know if he is a Christian or not, but with that kind of attitude toward integrity I would not be surprised to hear that he is. Reminds me of Eric Liddell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Star Trek Babies?

Fellow Star Trek fan and conservative writer and speaker Jonah Goldberg at The Corner on National Review Online apparently isn't burning with anticipation for the new Start Trek film. He quotes other fans who have seen the theater trailer and call it "Star Trek Babies", "'Lost' in Space," "Felicity: Star Fleet Academy," and "Star Trek 90210."

Further comments from Jonah's e-mail in box at Trek's Sucktacularity or Lack Thereof.

Oh well, guess we'll find out who's right next May.

Pro-Life Good News

From Christians in Context comes this pro-life Good News from Serbia

MADRID, November 13, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish daily "La Razon" has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former "champion of abortion." Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after spending 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic said he "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name."

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” the Dominican saint told him.

"Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions," the article stated.

Praise the Lord!

Rational Systems vs. Biblical Faithfulness

At Parchment and Pen C. Michael Patton asks whether Calvinism or Arminianism is the more rationally consistent Theological system. Surprisingly to me, he concludes that Arminianism is more rationally consistent and harmonious, but (unsurprising to me) that Calvinism is more Biblically faithful.
I believe that the Arminian system sacrifices biblical integrity for the sake of intelligibility and doctrinal harmony. The Calvinistic system allows tension and mysteries to remain for the sake of Biblical fidelity.

I have had people say to me (often) that they are not Calvinists because the system attempts to be too systematic with all its points for the sake of the system itself. I think that it is just the opposite. The Calvinistic system creates more tensions than it solves, but seeks to remain faithful to God’s word rather than human intelligibility.

Now that I think about it, his position makes sense. Biblical fidelity with mystery sound both more right and better than a forced logical consistency that ignores difficult Scripture passages that do not fit the system.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Bob at In the Clearing: On Wellness talks about preaching the Gospel to yourself. Sounds like a good example to follow.

"Hey Self! Jesus died so you can be free, forgiven and whole. Get your eyes off yourself and put your eyes on Him. Repent and believe the Good News!"

You know, I actually feel better now. Maybe with a little practice I can actually believe it.

Thanks Bob!

He is Near

Good words of wisdom from John Acuff at Thinking Out Loud

I have heard roughly 1 million pastors reference the verse, Philippians 4:6-7, in sermons about worry.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And it makes complete sense, because it’s a great verse. I’ve said that one over and over again through the years as I’ve wrestled with my own worries.

But I’ve never heard anyone mention the four words that come before it. I’ve never heard anyone talk about the incredibly short, but in my mind, incredibly powerful sentence that precedes, “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Have you? If you’re familiar with that verse and have memorized it before, do you know the way the verse before it concludes? I honestly didn’t until a few weeks ago.

The four words before Philippians 4:6 are “The Lord is near.” The verses say, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious …” I love that. When we pray that verse out loud when we’re under the burden of worry, when the skies are dark and we are so anxious we can barely stand and we cry out to God, I think we should start with “The Lord is near.”

We’re not praying to a far off God. We’re not presenting our requests to a long distance lord. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. That’s such a great reminder. Instead of starting with us, “Don’t be anxious about anything,” what if we started with the Lord? What if we started our pray with, “the lord is near” and ended it in verse 7 with “in Christ Jesus?” What if we had God bookends on that prayer about worry?

Would that change the way we thought about worry? It has for me.

eHarmony Capitulates

Sad news reported by Ecclesiophilist: eHarmony to Launch Same Sex Dating Site

eHarmony to Launch Same Sex Dating Site

Reuters reports that the online dating site eHarmony will soon launch a new same-sex dating site as a result of a legal settlement. eHarmony was started by evangelical psychologist Neil Clark Warren. One can only imagine that this is the first of many such legal actions to be brought against companies that began with evangelical values.

It is disappointing that eHarmony took this action. I don't know any of the details of the legal settlement. However, it is sad to see a company begun by a high-profile evangelical pressured into taking an action which is diametrically opposed to long-standing biblical convictions which have characterized evangelicalism. I can only imagine the sadness Dr. Warren must feel over this outcome.

I am not certain who makes all the decisions at eHarmony. I don't know how much Dr. Warren is involved in the corporate decision making process. I don't want to come down too hard on him without knowing the details. Yet, personally, I think it would have been a victory if eHarmony just shut down rather than cave to the cultural pressure from the same-sex lobby.
The enemies of the family will never stop. But the real enemy is not the people who filed the lawsuit or the decision makers at eHarmony. The real enemy is the ultimate deceiver and liar and his minions.

Time to pray - big time.

See also : Christianity Today's report and Mark Steyn at The Corner

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!!!

Hat Tip: nakedpastor

Have You Repented of Your Good Deeds?

“…What must we do, then to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness — the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope and trust in things other than God, and that in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of these things.”

~ Timothy Keller in The Prodigal God, 2008 Dutton; pp
77-8; see also Prov. 16:2

Hat Tip: Thinking Out Loud

A Prayer to the Triune God

A prayer to the Triune God

Hat Tip: Tim Chailles

Three in One, One in Three, God of my salvation,

Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,

I adore thee as one Being, one Essence,
one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom.

O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;

O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
shed thine own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my

O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered
my heart, implanted there eternal life,
revealed to me the glories of Jesus.

Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable,
so wondrous, so mighty to save the lost
and raise them to glory.

O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep,
jewel, portion;

O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;

O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of
grace thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me,
subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.

O Father, thou art enthroned to hear my prayers,

O Jesus, thy hand is outstretched to take my

O Holy Spirit, thou art willing to help my
infirmities, to show me my need,
to supply words, to pray within me,
to strengthen me that I faint not in

O Triune God, who commandeth the universe,
thou hast commanded me to ask for those
things that concern thy kingdom and my soul.

Let me live and pray as one baptized into the
threefold Name.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Everything but the Wallet

Significant Books: My Top Ten List

Earlier this month Zach Nielsen asked the question whether it is better for mental and spiritual health and progress to read broadly and widely, or to have a few books (10 or so) that you read over and over to totally digest. For his thoughts see Take Your Vitamin Z: A Radical Change in Reading Habits?

I've been reading Christian books for about 39 years, since I was 13 years old. As an avid reader, my first reaction to his question was "why not both?" However, he did start me thinking about what books have have the greatest influence on my thought and Christian experience. Then I decided the perhaps better question is "what books would have the greater future positive impact on my life and ministry if I read them over and over and deeply absorbed their spirit and content?"

The list below is my first attempt at answering that second question. It is, of course, limited to books that I have either read or know enough about to think they should be in this list. Ten years ago I would have made a different list; ten years from now I will probably also make a different list. I also realize my list contains only works published in the 20th and 21st centuries, and is sorely deficient in classics form the early church, the Reformation, the Puritans, etc. The list is in alphabetical order by title - not sure how I would rank them by other criteria such as importance, difficulty, etc. And finally, reading all of these would be meaningless and useless if one did not first and continuously read, meditate on and absorb the Bible.

1. Francis Schaeffer Trilogy: Three Essential Books in One Volume by Francis Schaeffer (I know I cheated by using this one volume collection to get these three books on a list of only 10 - so sue me)
2. Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
3. Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom by Derek Morphew
4. God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul by Gordon Fee
5. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
6. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
7. The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott
8. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
9. The Gospel of the Kingdom by George E. Ladd
10. The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

The one book on the list I am not sure about is Fee's work on the Holy Spirit- although it is a great book. I wanted something on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts that is written with some scholarship and not just experientially based, and that was the only book I could think of right now. And of course I could have used Grudem's Systematic Theology, but I have not read it yet and I own and have read Bible Doctrines

Anybody else got a list?

Holiness Coming Down in Grace

“Biblical holiness begins with the Holy. But the holy, by its very nature, can be approached only when we come as sinners. He is never accessible to us as consumers. We come in sackcloth and ashes, not as buyers. Indeed, we cannot approach the Holy at all on our own terms. We must see that the Holy has first approached us in Christ and, through him, reconciled us to himself.

The revelation of the Holy would be unbearable were we to see it in any other way than from within Christ. In Christ, what we are seeing is God’s holiness in its action on our sin. Without Christ we would have to bear that judgment in ourselves What we see instead is holiness coming down in grace and, in Christ, going forth against our sin in triumph.”

- David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 240.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Download "Porn Again Christian"—For Free!

Mark Driscoll has provided a free download of his blunt and plain-spoken pamphlet for men struggling with pornography: "Porn-Again Christian." Anyone fighting this battle or helping someone else fight it can click on this link for details: Download Porn Again Christian—Free! TheResurgence

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giving What You Have....

Hat Tip: Internet Monk

John Chapter 4 Retold

John at Jesus the Radical Pastor has published a series of hilarious and thought-provoking re-tellings of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan women at the well (from John chapter 4), with Jesus' style and message changed to imitate various contemporary characters. Enjoy - and think about the implications.

Jesus as a Fundamentalist
Jesus as an Emergent Talker
Jesus as Oprah
Jesus as one of the Sopranos

Update 11/18/08 Jesus as a Televangelist

Thinking Biblically About Social Network Websites

I've pulled some excerpts/insights from the blog of Justin Buzzard, a pastor at Peninsula Bible Church in California. He was writing about Facebook specifically, but the comments can apply just as well to My Space, Twitter, Classmates, Plaxo or any other social network site (or for that matter to blogging!) From Buzzard Blog: Thinking Biblically About Facebook. Note that these are excerpts, not full quotes. You should follow the link to read the whole thing.

9 Potentially Negative Uses/Dangers of Facebook

1. The trend of using status updates to complain...
2. Measuring your worth/identity by number of Facebook friends/Facebook interactions...
3. Greater concern over forming Facebook (virtual) friends rather than real friends...
4. Diminishment of face-to-face time with people/enjoying and working on real relationships...
5. Dual identities... Being someone online who you’d never be in person...
6. Hurting and excluding others (intentionally or unintentionally)...
7. Facebook and online life can make you more distracted, changes how you think/attention span...
8. Can tempt you away from your calling/work...
9. Thinking about yourself more than you already do...

6 Ways to Love God and Love Others Through Facebook (Leveraging)

1. Can get back in touch with old, far-away friends in an easy way, showing them how you’ve been changed by Jesus...
2. Can use Facebook as an extension of face-to-face relationships/can be used to enhance time with people...
3. Can use Facebook to think about yourself less and others more...
4. Can use Facebook to sharpen/discipline what you do with your time...
5. Can use Facebook to quickly announce/make great things happen: events, face-to-face time...
6. Can use Facebook to influence other people for Jesus. Create a new culture with your status updates: use to influence, love, encourage, teach, and challenge people towards greater love for God and other people...

Prayers for Secret Muslim Believers

Michael at Charismatica offers this sample Prayers for Secret Muslim Believers. I agree and say amen.

Sovereign Lord,

We pray for believers across the Muslim world who have chosen to follow Christ, often at great personal cost.

Strengthen those who lead congregations, that they may be faithful to the call of God to build the church in the Muslim world. Give courage to those who face intimidation, discrimination, imprisonment or torture for their faith in you. And bring peace to the Muslim world, so that your church may grow and flourish freely.

We also pray for Muslims all over the world who are seeking the truth about God. Bring alongside them someone who will share the love of Jesus so that they can know God for themselves.

We ask this that your church may advance, to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


“An idol is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that ought to be worshipped."

- Augustine
Hat Tip: The Thinklings

Pray: Anti-Christian Violence In India

Pray for our fellow believers in India who are currently experiencing a wave of anti-Christian violence and great persecution -See this Christianity Today report at India's Anti-Christian Violence

-In Orissa State, 65 identified people have been killed and 85 are still unaccounted for. Among those killed were one man buried alive near the village of Rudangla; several people burnt to death and others cut into pieces.
- 117 churches of all Christian denominations destroyed. Not a single Hindu temple has been destroyed – despite allegations of retaliation by Christians.
- Approximately 5,000 homes destroyed.
- An unspecified number of Christian businesses destroyed, with the loss of livelihood for their owners.
- 54,000 people displaced from their homes, forced to take shelter in 14 State-sponsored Relief Camps in Kandhamal District; together with many hundreds living in non-State camps, including 2 ‘camps’ in densely overcrowded buildings in Cuttsack town.
- It is estimated that about 20,000 are still living in the jungle or have fled to big cities. Some may be living with relatives elsewhere.
- In addition to the violence in Kandhamal District, 2 other Districts, Japati and Baragras District, have also experienced similar atrocities, including killings, looting and burning of churches and homes. 2 Relief camps have been established for approximately 2,700 people who have had to flee their homes.

Improving our Communication of the Gospel

From Spurgeon at Miscellanies comes these good suggestions for Improving our Gospel Communication

1. Study the Gospel

It may be that the content of messages could be improved. And for this the solution is fairly straight: Read Scripture and read excellent books on the cross. What better way to saturate our words with grace than by filling up our hearts and affections with appreciation for what Christ has accomplished for me on the cross!?

Thankfully there are dozens of excellent books on the gospel. My friend C.J. Mahaney—the author of my personal favorite book on the gospel, Living the Cross-Centered Life—has published a list of recommended books on this topic of supreme importance. Reading these books frequently, and slowly enough to be personally affected by the gospel on a regular basis, will fill your soul with love for the cross and that will be communicated.

But I would caution us from thinking that the key to better communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ is only about speak more frequently, affectionately, clearly, or eloquently about the gospel. I think there are two other critical factors that help determine (promoting or limiting) the effective transmission of the gospel to others.

2. Assault Legalism

We are all prone to think God is pleased with us to the degree we pleased him during the week. If I didn’t do so well, I’m more likely to be shut off from the gospel and words of grace. And if your hearers do not understand the depth and severity of legalism in their hearts they will be gullible to a hardness towards the grace of God (and may not even know it). A while ago I posted an outstanding excerpt from Sinclair Ferguson on the importance of ministers preaching strong indicatives (the gospel) to support the imperatives (commands) of Scripture. I encourage you to read it.

Because the simple truth is that if we think God’s approval of us pivots upon our spiritual performance—and not what Christ accomplished on the cross—our appreciation for the gospel will never seriously affect us.

3. Communicate Christ’s Affections

Paul tells the church in Philippi that he loves them with the affections of Christ Jesus. His exact words: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:8). Paul’s affections towards the Philippians is an extension of the affection of Christ to the saints. Which means (if I’m reading this correctly) that ministers have an opportunity to communicate, to some (obviously) imperfect level, the affection of Christ to their people.

A genuine Christian who is unfamiliar with the joy of Christ and the gospel may (notice I said may) have a pastor that does not reflect, model, and communicate a Christ-centered love to them. Those people with loving, caring, humble, sacrificial pastors who tell them how much they love them—and from an unconditional love unhinged from their responsive performance—will more likely be familiar with the unconditional love of Christ displayed in the gospel.

So could it be that a church unfamiliar with the unconditional love of Christ—as displayed in the gospel—have not experienced the affection of Christ through their pastor?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Preacher Humor - It's a Joke!

If you are not going to talk about sin and the Cross, you might as well tell some good jokes.

Hat Tip: The Sacred Sandwich

The Heart of the Problem

From a post at The Sola Panel comes this "heart-warming" story:

An eminent and well-known English preacher was approached by a congregation member who complained about some aspect of church life. It may have been that he didn't feel welcomed, or that he was finding it hard to make friends and fit in; it could have been that he was finding the service dissatisfying or the preaching too long; it could have been that the music was not to his taste or that his family was not being catered for to his satisfaction. The details of the complaint have been lost in the telling and re-telling of the story.

The preacher listened to the complaint, paused, and then replied with five words that cut straight to the heart of not only the man's problem, but the problem with all grumbling and complaining in church. He simply said, “It's not about you, stupid!” and walked off.

Well, maybe I would have (hopefully) said it in nicer words, but he was and is right. It's not about me, nor about you: It's all about Him. The sooner we all learn that the better off we'll all be.

Less Leadership - More Servanthood

Like this post from Darryl Dash at Darryl's Blog:

Also found this article today, sent to me by Mike Murdoch:

Not a week goes by before another leadership book or three crosses my desk. In a pile of recent church books sitting in front of me sits The Soul of a Leader, The Leadership Dynamic, and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership...

In our culture, leadership has become a "cult" — in the sense of an obsessive or faddish devotion. And Christians have been initiated into it. Besides the books that sit before me, there are many others authored by big-name pastors — or former pastors, since some pastors have managed to parlay their leadership insights into whole careers. Christian colleges are all about "developing future leaders." And there's the famous Leadership Network. And Leadership journal. And on it goes...

Leadership is but only one of the gifts. And it's not by any means the most important. Any man or woman who imagines otherwise is, to not put too fine of a point on it, a fool. When it comes to spiritual gifts, St. Paul never suggests that is it something one should strive for — he thinks prophecy is much more important (1 Cor. 14:1). And when Jesus talks about the topic, he tells his followers to reorient their priorities completely: think less about leadership and more about servanthood.

Reminds me of a phrase one of my early mentors in ministry frequently used: "Never appoint someone to be a chairman unless you have observed him voluntarily and cheerfully being a chair man." In other words, a servant heart before a leadership position.

Best Sellers

USA Today has published a list of the Top 150 best sellers of the past 15 years. Any surprise that Harry Potter dominates the top 10? I've read only 3 of the top 20: Who Moved My Cheese?, The Purpose Driven Life and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Purpose Driven Life appears to be the only Christian book in the top 20. I wonder if they count sales in Christian bookstores?

Hat Tip: Gina Dalfonzo at The Point: Open book thread

Friday, November 14, 2008


' Nuff Said.

Star Trek Movie Spoilers

Some more plot spoilers on the new Star Trek movie have been leaked this week, including a picture of the new version of the Starship Enterprise (as shown above). I wish they'd left the ship exactly the same, round nacelles and all. Oh well, we can't have everything I guess.

For the plot spoilers, see the following sites:
Den of Geek
Empire Online

Also: Big Reactions to New Enterprise

Have I mentioned lately that I cannot wait for this movie? Warp factor five, Mr. Sulu, ahead to May 2009!

Investment Concerns?

Overheard countless times in the last two months: “I am concerned about the poor performance of my investments and savings.”

Not heard even one time in the last two decades: “I am concerned about my poor performance in laying up treasure in heaven.”


Hat Tip: Dan at Moths, Rust Cerulean Sanctum

Identifying Your Idolatries

Here is one question to help you identify idols in your heart today:

Fill in the blank: "If only _________, then I would be happy,
fulfilled, and secure."

The Peacemaker, page 115

Hat Tip: CROSS-eyed: Identifying Idols

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Consolidated Holidays

It does seem like they all blend together and go on forever, doesn't it?

Hat Tip:


Two good quotes on keeping the election in right perspective.

From Bob at In the Clearing: Somebody needed to say it . . .
So Phil Johnson did: I object to the fact that the average evangelical could not give a coherent, biblically sound summary of the gospel or a theologically accurate explanation of justification by faith—but they are more worried about an Obama presidency than they are about the disintegration of their own testimony. Yes.
The Journeyman says amen to that.

From A Pastor's Perspective at The Point:

...I am convinced that what happened last Sunday morning at your church and mine is actually more important than what happened on Tuesday {Election Day]. I can understand why it doesn't seem like that to the world, but I wonder why more Christians don't act like it's true.

The Journeyman says amen to that, also.

Lessons from a ‘Failed Church Plant’

From Mike Edwards at Part of the Story come lessons from a ‘failed church plant’ I think any effort for the Lord that produces such good lessons is not really a failure, but just another step on the journey of following Jesus.

I won’t go into great detail, but what I will offer here is a brief list of some of the key reasons I believe our ‘church plant’ failed (emphasis on the ‘our’ and ‘church plant’). I do this to both warn potential church planters who may read this and to share what we’ve (and by we, I mean ME) learned in the process that will strengthen us for kingdom work now and in the future. These are very brief and I’m happy to talk more via email or the comments.

  • Plant GOSPEL identities, not programs or services: The reason I put ‘failed church plant’ in quotes is because I do not believe we actually set out to plant a church ( and as if the work of God ever fails). We set out, like most church planters, to actually plant a service or some type of program that we hope one day will help us to graduate to being or launching a real church. Nothing could be further from the truth. All we can do is plant the gospel AS the church (and embody the identities it gives us as learners, family and missionaries) and only God can grow that church.
  • Plant TOGETHER, not alone: Jesus led his ministry with others. Paul was always accompanied and helped in ministry by other faithful men. Setting out to plant or lead an apostolic ministry by yourself is suicidal. Outside of making sure we understand and apply the gospel faithfully, this is the greatest practical lesson I have learned and the mistake I want to avoid in the future. Planter–you need a committed team; even if it’s a small one. Further, you should have a solid group of believers that can encourage and commission you to the work.
  • Be faithful, not cool–It is popular in many church planting circles today to plant a cool, hip church in the name of relevance. You get extra bonus points for being uber-sexy if you plant “in the city” as well. While we most certainly must embody the truth of the gospel in every context, we must remember that faithfulness is to be prized and the truth is always relevant.
  • Be humbled, not overconfident: You can have the best laid plans and the best looking proposals, but without true gospel humility, you are destined for a fall. It’s just that simple. By all means, we should make responsible plans to shepherd people and do the work we’re called to, but structure must always submit to the Spirit.
  • Live it as a family FIRST, don’t use your church as a crutch: If the church, as God’s people, are to be learners, family of God, and missionaries, your family should be able to demonstrate how they are growing more in the Word, how your marriage and parenting is grace centered and how you are loving your neighbor as yourself in word and deed. You can’t hide behind your church plant for long.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The OnStar Study Bible

Hat Tip: The OnStar Study Bible The Sacred Sandwich

I'm really enjoying the humor from "The Sacred Sandwich." This one gave me a good chuckle.

Monk Wars

From Kelly Randolph at Ecclesiophilist comes this simultaneously humorous and depressing report. From the Ecclesiastical Wierdness Files
In what has to be one of the strangest stories of the day, rival monks had a brawl at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The fight broke out between Armenian (not arminian) monks and Greek Orthodox monks when the Armenian clergymen marched in an annual procession commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus. The Greek Orthodox monks said the Armenian monks had no right to march through the church, so they blocked the group from marching. Israeli police rushed in to break up the fight.

OK, let me get this straight. Two groups of guys who supposedly revere Jesus Christ decided to beat each other up on the very site where Jesus is reported to have died for our sins and rose from the dead. And this fight broke out while one of the groups was celebrating the discovery of the cross that was used to crucify Jesus.

Silliness tends to break out when so-called Christians have more reverence for religious relics, holy sites, and ecclesiastical authority than they do for Jesus or the things He taught. Lest we think that this kind of nonsense only takes place among the Catholic groups, we need to remind ourselves that many a Baptist business meeting has broken out into verbal brawling over things as trivial as colors of carpet and who is going to be in charge of the potluck this month.

There are certainly times when Christians differ over substantial issues. Sometimes these disagreements are hotly debated. This is appropriate when gospel issues are on the table. But more often than not, Christians fight over things that have little biblical significance. Such arguments are driven more by personalities and power-grabs than by a passion for Christ's kingdom.

Sadly, the outcome of these brawls has devastating consequences for the testimony of the church in the world. The irony of clergymen fighting in the very place they celebrate as the empty tomb of the resurrection is not lost on a watching world. Let's not waste our energy fighting about silly, trivial things. We have real enemies to fight. Not least is the enemy of pride and self-importance which prods us to raise ourselves and our cause above everyone else.

The story was also covered by Ben Witherington, who commented:
It may be hoped that the parties involved in this disgrace will repent, and then apologize to each other. In the meantime the Jesus who died on the cross on this very spot shakes his head and says--- "I died for this? I died so my followers could behave like this?" I think not.

So lets review: 1) the Muslims opened and shut the doors of this church yesterday; 2) the Israeli Jewish police came and stopped a fracass in the foyer of this church; and what did the Christians do while Jews and Muslims were watching--- 3) THEY PUNCHED EACH OTHERS LIGHTS OUT!!!
Father, forgive us, we do not know what we do.

10 Ways to Pray for the President-Elect

J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine wrote the following about 10 Ways to Pray for Barack Obama You do not have to like him or agree with him or have voted for him in order to pray for him. I think I heard somewhere that we were commanded to pray for those in authority.

Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, the Bible says “the nations are like a drop from a bucket” to God (Is. 40:15, NASB). That includes the United States. We may boast about being “the greatest nation on earth,” but He who sits in heaven has a different perspective. Let’s take a big sigh of relief now and remember that God is sovereign.

I’ll admit this election did not turn out as I had hoped. I supported McCain primarily because I am pro-life and I prefer his small-government mindset. But now that the election is over, I’m not going to harbor bitterness toward Obama supporters or go into attack mode. Obama has been elected president of this country, and that means I have a biblical responsibility to support him in prayer—even if I challenge his policies.

Whether you voted for Obama or not, you need to pray for him. Here are 10 ways I plan to intercede for him regularly:

1. Pray for Obama’s protection...
2. Cover his wife and daughters in prayer...
3. Pray that Obama will govern with God’s wisdom....
4. Ask God to keep our president humble. ...
5. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him....
6. Ask for the spirit of reconciliation....
7. Pray that Obama will adopt pro-life convictions. ...
8. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president ...
9. Pray that Obama’s door will remain open to the church. ...
10. Pray that our nation will enjoy God’s peace and blessing during the Obama administration....

There is more detail and discussion behind each prayer topic at his original post at Fire in My Bones blog. Let's keep praying.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

Today is Veterans Day in the USA. With grateful hearts we thank all those brave men and women who have served the nation and the cause of freedom, from 1776 through Operation Iraqi Freedom. God bless you all.

God Bless Reluctant Leaders

We should bless men and women who have done their level best to escape leadership but who have been compelled to return and put their hand on the tiller. We should expect anyone who remains in a formal leadership context to experience repeated bouts of flight, doubt, surrender, and return. Why would this be God's plan? Why does God love the reluctant leader? Here is one reason: the reluctant leader is not easily seduced by power, pride, or ambition.
Dan Allender in Leading With a Limp, p18.

I've read this book. It has some good insights.

Hat Tip: Reformissionary: The Reluctant Leader

Brit Hume Retiring

One of my favorite newsmen, Brit Hume of the Fox News Channel, is retiring soon. I've always found Hume to be very "fair and balanced," to borrow a phrase.

Why retire now, you might ask? Hume has said:
I certainly want to pursue my faith more ardently than I have done. I'm not claiming it's impossible to do when you work in this business. I was kind of a nominal Christian for the longest time. When my son died (by suicide in 1998), I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me. If a person is a Christian and tries to face up to the implications of what you say you believe, it's a pretty big thing. If you do it part time, you're not really living it.
From another interview:
And since my son died, I have been, really, I felt rescued by God and by Christ. I have an intense desire to pursue that more ardently and have it be a bigger part of my life than it has been.
God bless Brother Brit, Let us all pray for him.

Thanks to Between Two Worlds: Brit Hume for the Brit Hume quotes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bible: Slip, Sliding Away…

I'm posting the material below from John Frye's Blog "Jesus the Radical Pastor" The Bible: Slip, Sliding Away… in it's entirety without any comment other than I feel very convicted. I think he is right. Ouch!

A good, upright Christian reached for the well-worn, well-read Bible. The Bible by itself shifted away from reach. Startled by this the Christian thought That’s odd. Reaching out again to take the Bible, it slid away again and leaped from the table to the floor. This alarmed the Christian. What is going on here?! The Christian moved to retrieve the Bible. The Bible this time flew up and slapped hard against the Christian’s face. The Christian, stunned almost to oblivion, sank to the floor where the Bible fell.

The Christian heard a voice speaking in deeply loving, yet fiercely firm words, Stop! You must stop now. Do not read me anymore. I must read you!

The Christian’s mind crashed inward creating a searing, agonizing pain. Stammering, the Christian spoke through fear and tears, But I was told all my life to read you. I have always wanted to do right. I am a very, very good person. The Bible lay still, the object of Christian’s gaze.

In an a lightning bolt of faith, Christian saw penetrating eyes. The Bible had eyes! Bowing with hot tears the Christian realized I am the object of the Bible. I thought I possessed it. Yet, I now know its desire is to possess me. Whispering in wonder, Christian repented with these words, God, I don’t own You or Your truth. I thought I had a Bible. It was mine. I was so proud that I was an enlightened one in this unclean world of darkness. I sit here now in the thick darkness of my own goodness. All along You wanted Your Word to have me, to read me. O God, I am sorry.

Feeling very strong arms of an invisible embrace, the Christian fell over and slept soundly.

Christian Sexual Questions Answered By Mark and Grace Driscoll

Back in September I noted that Mark Driscoll was starting a preaching series through the Song of Solomon entitled "The Peasant Princess," dealing with the touchy subject of sexuality in Christian marriages. I've listened to some of the sermons and think he is doing a good job. I've also thought (selfishly) "better him than me."

Mark allows his listeners to e-mail or text in questions during his sermons, which he answers from the pulpit (what a brave man!). On this subject, he invited his wife Grace to join him in handling the questions. Some of the questions were perhaps a little too explicit and or complex to handle from the pulpit, so the Driscolls dealt with them in blog posts.

Zach Nielsen has pulled together links to the blog posts Christian Sexual Questions Answered By Mark and Grace Driscoll
Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace are answering often ignored questions about sex on the Mars Hill Blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I am thankful to the Lord so so much, and thankful to Trevin Wax at Kingdom People for writing these words to help me express my gratitude.

Father Almighty,
as I look back on your work in my life over the years,
I cannot help but be overcome with gratitude
for your mercy and providence.
You have blessed me with Christian family and friends.
You have given me a place to serve your people.

Forgive me, Lord, for often failing to thank you.
Forgive me for the times I have tried to write
the story of my life apart from your will.
My stubborn will and relentless pride
stand in the way of following in in the steps of your Son.
And yet you have redeemed and renewed me
and taken away my guilt and shame.
Help me to live in light of your work in me,
remembering who I am in Christ,
and trusting in you to carry on the work you’ve begun in me.
Thank you for saving me and keeping me in your love,

In Jesus’ name,

Christian Music's "Certain Sound"

Yesterday I linked to a post on the History of Worship Music. Today from Christianity Today via -Patrol Magazine comes the Question "does Christian music have a certain (bland) sound?"

Last week, Christianity Today music guy Russ Breimeier, in a newsletter I somehow failed to get, talked about something we at Patrol have debated for several years now: the “sound” of Christian music. That unmistakable sound that outs a passing song on the radio as Christian music, even when you’ve heard only a few seconds—seconds that didn’t happen to include any lyrics. Many, many friends have confirmed their possession of this awkward sixth sense, the ability to spot a Chris Tomlin or MercyMe or Casting Crowns single after hearing approximately 2.5 seconds of strumming. Breimeier asked for affirmation from his newsletter readers, and planned to report the findings the next week (today).

It really is a shame that we missed the memo, because dude, this is totally like what we specialize in. Here’s how I would describe it: utterly and completely soulless. Production with no heart, guitars obviously being strummed by passionless studio musicians who get paid by the output, a sort of pleasureless concoction of light-rock’s meager elements. Music that is made for a company to sell records or a person to sell their ministry, or any scenario where music is displaced as the primary focus. If you happen to catch any vocals, they’re even more of a tipoff: unbridled earnestness, more about the actual subject of the song than the “hey, I’m singing pop music and it’s awesome” factor. How can one detect all of that in about 3ish seconds? I have no idea, but I know it is more than possible.

I have not noticed the "soulless" sound of Christian music. Maybe that's just because I'm not a musician and do not have a trained musical taste.

What do you think?

Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio - Prayer, Meditation and Suffering

Found another interesting new blog this week written be Allen Mickle and called Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio

Welcome to Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio. This blog is devoted to the study of pastoral theology. Here we look at areas of pastoral theology including preaching, counseling, pastoral oversight, spirituality, and anything else that would be of an interest or a help to pastors. The need for pastoral theology that is rooted in the Scriptures is much needed in our age of professionalism, business savy, marketer pastors. We have much to learn from the Scriptures about being a shepherd of God’s flock. Lord willing, posts will be made here by myself and guest bloggers that will help to offer biblical, theological, and historical insight into the work of the pastor.

The name of the blog, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio, comes from Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) reflections on the way to do theology and in essence, the way to serve Christ in the pastoral ministry. These three Latin words mean prayer, meditation, and suffering (this third word’s translation is hotly debated). Essentially, the pastor (and all believers) are growing and serving the Lord through constant communion with Him in prayer, the study and reflection on the Scriptures, and in temptation, trials, suffering, and spiritual affliction. The cross of Christ, the center of Luther’s theology, motivates us to serve Christ through these three main ways. Therefore, it seemed fitting when talking about pastoral theology to take a note from Luther and his reflections on the importance of prayer, meditation, and suffering in the life of the pastor.

Lord willing, posts will be edifying, challenging, and encouraging to those interested in or are serving in pastoral ministry. Guest bloggers with much more maturity and ability in the Word will contribute here to help make this a true resource to pastor’s everywhere.

I hope some good stuff comes forth from this site, and I will be watching.