Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got to Have a Luther Quote on Reformation Day

“Faith therefore must be purely taught: namely, that thou art so entirely joined unto Christ, that He and thou art made as it were one person: so that thou mayest boldly say, I am now one with Christ, that is to say, Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine. And again, Christ may say, I am that sinner, that is, his sins and his death are Mine, because he is united and joined unto Me, and I unto him.”

- Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Hat Tip: The Gospel-Driven Church: Happy Reformation Day!

Celebrate Reformation Day

As you celebrate (or don't celebrate) Halloween, remember that October 31st is also Reformation Day!

We celebrate today the day Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of his church in Wittenburg, where he was the Theology professor in the university, inviting debate on grace and faith against the Pope's indulgences. Here's a picture of the Wittenburg Castle Church where Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five theses along with a link to the complete text of this important Theological and historical document.

Luther's first theses was "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance." A good point to remember toady, or any day.

Update: Also a great day to pray for revival!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lifetime Learning

I spent today in an eight hour long seminar: "Continuing Professional Education" (CPE) in accounting. Fortunately for me, this one was not as boring as so many of them are. As a CPA I am required to take 40 hours of CPE a year. My profession believes that learning does not end with college graduation, or passing the CPA exam. Learning is a lifetime endeavor, a life long effort - at least for one's professional lifetime.

Being a disciple of Jesus is also a journey of lifetime learning. We never arrive, never graduate, and never quit studying and taking tests. Not this side of eternity anyway, and probably not on the other side either. We never become masters - there is only one Master- but can at best only hope to be journeymen and trained apprentices.

When I am 90 years old, if the Lord tarries and grants me long life, I hope that I am still reading the Bible, still learning, still seeking knowledge. No man or woman can ever know enough about the Truth, and the One who is Truth.

But we must also remember that it is not enough to just learn information and facts about Theology and the Bible. This is a special temptation to me- one that I must constantly be on the guard against. Knowledge that is not translated into belief, obedience and action is no true knowledge, and may be just bringing more condemnation upon ones self.

As the Apostle James said: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25 ESV).

If not very careful, we could (I could) easily become like those described by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:7: "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth."

May Jesus make me into a lifetime learner- a disciple - and not just a hearer but also a doer. Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Drunk in the Spirit?

Ever been "drunk in the Spirit"? I have. However, J. Lee Grady reminds us of the other side to the truth tension - Sloshed in the Spirit? It's Time to Get Sober. Here's part of what he said.
...With all of this emphasis on Holy Ghost intoxication, did anybody notice that the Bible clearly commands us to be spiritually sober?

If soberness wasn't mentioned in the New Testament, then I wouldn't be beating this drum so loudly. But I find numerous references, from both Peter and Paul. "But you, be sober in all things," is Paul's admonition to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5, NASB). He tells the Thessalonians, "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation," (1 Thess. 5:8).

Peter hammers the same point. He wrote, "Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13) and "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer" (1 Pet. 4:7).

The soberness here is not primarily a reference to abstaining from alcohol (although it's worth mentioning that believers who drink will find it more difficult to obey these commands). To be sober can be defined "to show self-control," "to be sane or rational," or "to be free from excess or extravagance." A sober Christian knows the heights of God's inexpressible joy, but he is never ruled by emotions, passions, lust or any other category of temptation that has the power to dull the spiritual senses.

When I look at the state of our nation today, and consider our spiritual challenges, it's obvious the last thing we need are Christians who are so sloshed in emotional euphoria that they can't pray intelligently and work diligently.

This is not a time for God's people to be incapacitated. We need to be thinking, planning, strategizing, researching and building—all using the Holy Spirit's wisdom. Yes, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit like never before—but He is not going to fill us so we can act like giddy freshmen at a frat house keg party. Let's put the childish things behind us. It's time for us to grow up and sober up.

Scary Halloween Costume #3

Will Your Anchor Hold?

Here's some good counsel from James Ryle on living The Anchored Life
How well is your life anchored in this shifting, titling world?

Some are carried about by every wind, and tossed about by every wave. The changing tides affect their ups and downs, and their ins and outs. But there is a better way to live; a way that is much less flimsy and unstable. You and I can live an Anchored Life.

When we are tethered to Truth, and full of a hope that goes beyond this world into eternity, we can face whatever comes our way with unflinching resolve. Each day is filled with purpose and revitalizing energy. Such is the power of Hope.
There's more at the link.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scary Halloween Costume #2

From: “Large Print Bible” Halloween Costume | The Sacred Sandwich


Found an interesting argument by J. D. Greear this week on how the word "enough" is the enemy of the Gospel. This is so good that I am going to quote a lot of it. Please click through to the link to read the whole thing.
The word "enough" is the enemy of the Gospel. The word "enough" about killed me spiritually.

For many years I have lived with a complex... Have I given enough? Do I love enough? Do I share Christ enough? Do I sacrifice enough? Should I be living in a downtown Durham project? Should I adopt 3 adolescent runaways from Russia? Should I be sharing our house with a homeless man? Should I give away 50% of my income?

Every time I have heard a new preacher with a new "cause" I have left thinking, "Do I have to do that to be a real disciple of Jesus? Am I doing enough?"

That is because many well meaning (though I think misguided Christian preachers) preach a message built on enough. Their message often appears to be, "Do you give enough to the poor to really consider yourself a good Christian? Why don't Christians in America die like Jesus' first followers? After all, good Christians... adopt, live poor, die martyr's deaths, win all their neighbors to Jesus, use only recycled cooking oil, drive hybrids... etc." I am forever left thinking, "If I were a real Christian, I'd be doing this or that..." (and, to be fair, it's not always the individual preacher's fault, sometimes it's how I misinterpret them--which has more to do with me... I seem addicted to works-righteousness and can turn anything into a new "standard" to reach.)...
He concludes:
The Gospel is not about what we are to go and do for God, but about what He has done for us. There are only two ways to approach God... one says, "I'll obey some standard, and because of that I'll be accepted." The other says "I've been accepted by what Christ has done for me, and I love in response.This is why the preaching of the announcement of the Gospel (that Christ has DONE all that is necessary to save us) is so absolutely essential for all Christian living. If you do not preach the announcement of acceptance because of what Christ has done, there is no way he can create free love. Legalistic preachers, no matter how "evangelical" or "radical" they seem to be, don't create love for Jesus in people, they create pride and guilt-despair. Because they don't preach an announcement of freedom, they preach an obedience of captivity. Paul said in 1 Cor 13:1-4 that "real Christianity" had nothing to do with "giving enough" or "dying enough" or "suffering enough" or "witnessing enough." He said it had to do with love, and love, as I'm saying, only grows in absolute freedom.

The only time the word "enough" ought to be used for the Gospel is in reference to what Christ has done for us. Those who understand this will live their lives in response, and their lives will be characterized by radical love.

The Gospel is not spelled "D-O" or "D-O-N-T" but "D-O-N-E." If you don't love and live radically, think about what Christ has done. Repent of the idols and saviors you have served in place of Him, and when you do , He will change your heart from one of selfishness to one of love.
Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scary Halloween Costume #1

“Youth Pastor” Halloween Costume | The Sacred Sandwich

If God Had a Cell Phone....

I put it off for a long time. For years I simply refused to get a cell phone. Why should I - no one ever calls me anyway?

Finally in 2002 I broke down and did it. I decided it would be good for safety reasons for my wife and I to be able to communicate if there was an emergency. Plus, it made things easier to call my office when on the road for business.

Once I did it I could no longer imagine life without the little contraption. It was very convenient to be able to check in at home or with the office anywhere I went. It did not take long for me to feel naked if I did not have a cell phone clipped to my belt. How could I live without it?! I have to be reachable! I have to be able to reach out and touch my loved ones! Now I am about to upgrade to a newer model. Cell phones are great - even when I don't use mine all that much.

I have often wished God had a cell phone - or email- or even a fax machine. It would be so nice to get direct messages from the Father, and have him be able to hear from me, on a constant regular basis.

Oh wait - I have prayer, I have the Bible. I have the Holy Spirit. Maybe what I HAVE is better than what I WISH for.

I wish I felt as naked without constant prayer, without Bible reading and meditation, as I do without a cell phone.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The False God of Self Sacrifice

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21)

Here's Tim Keller writing at the The Gospel Coalition Blog on how he discovered that even self sacrifice can be an idol.

It wasn’t until I began to search my heart with the Biblical category of idolatry that I made the horrendous discovery that all my supposed sacrifices were just a series of selfish actions. I was using people in order to forge my own self-appreciation. I was looking to my sacrificial ministry to give me the sense of “righteousness before God” that should only come from Jesus Christ. People make idols out of money, power, accomplishment, or moral excellence. They look to these things to “save them” — to give them the sense of purity, value, and acceptability that only Jesus can give. In my case, I was using ministry (and my own people) in this way.

Without the category of idolatry — a good thing turned into a pseudo-salvation — I would never have been able to see myself. Nothing but the concept of counterfeit gods could have blasted me out of my illusion of virtue and superiority. I thank God for this life-saving insight — though I still struggle mightily with the implementation of what I’ve learned.

Offense Against Idolatry

"This is how we go on the offense against idolatry. We tell everything that competes for our trust, fear, and affections that Jesus is greater. When we don't feel that He is greater in our hearts, we flee from the idols and ask God to show us the surpassing beauty of His Son. And then one day, this battle with idolatry will be over and done: 'But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is' (1 John 3:2)."
Greg Dutcher, You Are The Treasure That I Seek: But There is A Lot of Cool Stuff Out There, Lord! Page 101

Friday, October 23, 2009

Long Time No Confess

In light of the big announcement this week by Pope Benedict regarding a new way for Anglicans to be received into the Roman Catholic communion, I though the cartoon above as both humorous and apropos.

For news stories and commentary see here, here and here.

Cartoon from Disenchanted Anglican Congregations Invited to Adopt Catholic Brand « Thinking Out Loud

Free Tim Keller Sermon Downloads

Here's a link to over 150 sermons by Tim Keller available for download - for free!

Redeemer Free Sermon Resource | Redeemer Sermons

What a treasure trove. This may keep me occupied for a while!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What To Do When You Feel Far From God

Where the inability to feel God comes from and what to do about it.

1. Disruption of community.
2. Disillusionment with life.
3. Deprivation physically.

1. Pour out your soul.
2. Analyze your hopes.
3. Remember grace.
4. Preach to yourself.

(From Tim Keller’s sermon “Finding God.”)

Hat Tip: Andrew Piper - 22 Words

He is Not Our Errand Boy

"In our idolatry we make gifts out to be supreme gods, and make the Giver into the errand boy of our desires."

-Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes, p. 135.

Hat Tip: CROSS-eyed: The errand boy of our desires

Wings to Fly

From John Bunyan …

Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

(HT: Rick Ianniello, Already Not Yet)"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Continuing to Explore My Idolatries

Continuing on the subject of idolatry, here's some quotes form the Greg Dutcher book I wrote about on Monday - "You Are the Treasure that I Seek: But there's A Lot of Cool Stuff Out There, Lord!"

“Idolatry is an old-fashioned word, consigned to social studies classes and Clive Cussler novels. But what if it’s alive and well, even in America? What is it’s a problem of such epic proportions that our unawareness of it is only making it worse?....The battle against idolatry is a fight for our lives, the lives of others, and most importantly, the reputation of Christ himself.” (Page 16)

“Those infected with the idolatry syndrome have no hope of finding the life God originally intended for them. An existence spent exchanging God for counterfeits is destined for disaster, both in this life and the next. Those suffering from the syndrome never realize that the reason they feel so purposeless is that an idol cannot satisfy a heart designed to experience God.” (Page 31)

“Jesus Christ came into this world to rescue idolaters. The problem was that idolaters were not interested in Christ, the very embodiment of the thing they traded in: the glory of God…Instead we continued to cling to our counterfeits and substitutes.” (Page 38)
I'm thinking about joining "Idolaters Anonymous." Lord, have mercy!

Keller on American Idols

Tim Keller's new book is out! (Have I mentioned lately that I want this book?)

He has an interview about the book in Christianity Today Magazine at American Idols Christianity Today

Preaching and teaching in the heart of Manhattan, Tim Keller is no stranger to the allure of money, sex, and power. In Counterfeit Gods (Dutton Adult), the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church shows how these good gifts of God become idols. CT online editor Sarah Pulliam Bailey asked Keller how Christians can grow more aware of the temptation to bow down to these and other false gods.
CT Magazine also has published an excerpt form the book called How to Find your Rival Gods.
I am not asking whether or not you have rival gods. I assume that we all do; they are hidden in every one of us. The question is: What do we do about them? How can we become increasingly clear-sighted rather than being under their delusional influence? How can we be free from our idols so we can make sound decisions and wise choices that are best for us and the people around us? How can we discern our idols?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Antidote for Astounding Ignorance

Are Christians really this ignorant? Apparently we are, according to these George Barna statistics quoted at The Constructive Curmudgeon: Not Loving God with all our Mind :
"Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure."
What should be our attitude regarding this astounding revelation of ignorance. I agree with John Schroeder, who writes:

"What I find most fascinating is that there are many, many people out there that will look at those statistics and damn such people for eternity. Yet, if we sum up these statistics what we learn is that a large portion of the church has little or no theological understanding. So I look at such statistics and conclude that the church is doing a lousy job of teaching its members.

But more than that, if we do pronounce such people as damned, it seems to me we send them away when a better response would be to draw them in and try to teach them.

It seems to be that when Christ was among us, He did not spend His time amongst that that already had all the answers - the Pharisees and their ilk, but rather with those that were searching for the right answers. What's more, when Jesus was amongst us, He saved His condemning words for those that did have all the answers.'

Another Trip Around the Sun

Today is my birthday (53, for those who wonder). I am thinking this morning about some words written by one of the great philosophers of my generation - Jimmy Buffet.

Hear 'em singing Happy Birthday
Better think about the wish I made
This year gone by ain't been a piece of cake
Every day's a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun

I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go

(Lyrics to "Trip Around the Sun" by Jimmy Buffet, from the album "License to Chill").

Of course, I'm also thinking a bout a cheeseburger in paradise, but that's another story.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Exploring My Idolatries

I'm reading a good new book by Greg Dutcher (thanks Michelle & Zane) called You Are The Treasure That I Seek: But There's A Lot Of Cool Stuff Out There, Lord! The subject is the same as the new Tim Keller book that I am anxiously waiting for - Idolatry. Here's a good quote from the introduction to the book written by by John Frame:

"So when we find ourselves going against God's Word, it is helpful to ask the question, 'What idol am I worshipping?' That is a powerful question, because it exposes the heart. It asks us to inspect our motives...Thinking about idolatry helps us to measure ourselves accurately, to see how far we fall below God's standards. For sin is never a minor thing.."
Frame also says:

"When we see our sin as idolatry, we come to appreciate far more deeply what Christ has done for us on the cross. Idolatry is a problem we cannot fix, because it goes so deep. It places us under God's wrath and curse, and we can well understand why. Only god's free gift of salvation through Jesus can change our heart and turn it in a new direction."
I think I'm going to really enjoy this book. I also think it's going to really hurt! No one likes discovering what their golden calves are - but Oh how necessary the discovery is!

More to come as I read and digest the book.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Less Busy Heart

"The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love...and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure."

- Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life
Hat Tip: A Less Busy Heart (Josh Harris)

Enjoying Derek

Enjoying the teaching ministry of Derek Morphew from South Africa at Vineyard Church of Jackson this weekend. Derek is the International Director of the Vineyard Bible Institute. He is teaching on the Kingdom of God a a unifying theme of Scripture. I've heard it all before, but it makes you want to sign up all over again!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Need Prophetic Preachers

"Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God's position, and to tell us what is actually going on.... "

   -A. W. Tozer
This is an old quote from Tozer. I do not think he meant the same thing by "prophetic" that most charismatics mean when using the term. However, it's still a good word.

We need leaders who have Spirit guided insight into Scripture and Spirit empowered ability to impart it to others. We need leaders whose understanding of the world scene around them (micro and macro) is controlled by the Word, as opposed to those whose "understanding" of the word is controlled by the zeit geist - the spirit of this age.

Where are we going to find such leaders? More importantly, am I willing to let God make me into one?

Hat Tip: Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet: Quote of the Week for the Tozer quote

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here's Your Sign

Object Centered Faith

"One of the unhealthiest features of Protestant theology today is its preoccupation with faith: faith, that is, viewed man-centeredly as a state of existential commitment. Inevitably, this preoccupation diverts thought away from faith's object, even when this is clearly conceived—as too often in modern theology it is not. Though the Reformers said much about faith, even to the point of calling their message of justification "the doctrine of faith," their interest was not of the modern kind. It was not subject-centered but object-centered, not psychological but theological, not anthropocentric but Christocentric. The Reformers saw faith as a relationship, not to oneself, as did Tillich, but to the living Christ of the Bible, and they fed faith in themselves and in others by concentrating on that Christ as the Saviour and Lord by whom our whole life must be determined."

Taken from J.I, Packer, "Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification"

Hat Tip: Unhealthy Faith

Starting With Jesus

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle has been invited by the Washington Post to write a column on their religion pages. The first one is here: On Faith Panelists Blog: No 'Best Case' Way to Present God, but Many False Ways - Mark Driscoll:
"Q: What makes the best 'case for God' to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?


Christianity is not first and foremost about a sacred place to pilgrimage to, a philosophical system to ponder, a moral code to live, a religious tradition to honor, or an impersonal god to experience. Rather, Christianity is about a person who claimed to be the only God and said he would prove his unprecedented claim by living without sin, dying for sinners, and conquering death through resurrection.

So, as Christians, our aim is not to convince people of some god in general, but to introduce them to Jesus in particular..."
It's always a good sign when you start with "Jesus."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Repent

“True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of his love.”
- Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, October 13

Hat Tip: How to repent « Of First Importance: "

The Company of the Good Repenters

Christians have been called "believers, " disciples," and "Jesus followers." But have you ever been called a "repenter?" According to Timmy Brister at Heaven – Home of Gospel-Embracing Repenters « Provocations & Pantings we should embrace that title.
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Because heaven is a prepared place, our Christian lives should be characterized by rejoicing and anticipating being with the Lord. Because heaven is for a prepared people our Christian lives should be characterized by repentance and turning away from ourselves. Therefore, the Christian life is both one of rejoicing and repentance, at the same time. In fact, it could be said that, though we mourn over and hate our sin, our repentance should be joyful knowing that God has promised bring to fulfillment that which he began in us, namely the glorification of His Son in us. There is no genuine joy without thorough repentance, and genuine repentance ought to bring about increasing joy as sin is displaced and we draw nearer to Jesus.

We often call Christians “believers”. “We are a gathering of believers . . .” but Christians are also “repenters,” so why don’t refer to a gathering of repenters? Our response to the gospel at conversion is both – a repenting faith or believing repentance, and our response to the gospel from that moment on is the same. The more we behold Jesus by faith as seen in the gospel, the more we are transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another. If there are no degrees of glory being experienced on earth, then what, pray tell, would such a professing Christian claim to experience in heaven? The very degrees of glory we experience in the daily transformation of our lives through repentance and faith are meant to be a foretaste of the fullness of glory to be seen when we are “taken up into glory.” To miss it here is to forfeit it there.
In my study of the life of David in Samuel and Chronicles, I have concluded that the major difference between David and Saul, the difference that made Saul a failed king and David a man after God's heart, was that David was a good repenter. Saul, on the other hand, was like the character Fonzy on Happy Days; He could not say that he was wrong.

Martin Luther was right when her wrote as the very first of his 95 Thesis: "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance."

May I always be found in the company of the good repenters!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet Lego Job

Meet Lego Job; can you feel his pain?

Somewhere around you today there may be a modern day Job. Will you be like Job's wife and Job's three "friends"? Or will you see past and though his situation and stand with him in his pain?
"The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

Self Talk

Perhaps I need to talk to myself more often. At least, so said D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Spiritual Depression, pp. 20-21:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”
A good way to start would be to use the words of Psalm 42:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

So - Hey self, listen up!

Hat Tip: Why You Need to Start Talking to Yourself More – Justin Taylor

Monday, October 12, 2009

Doing Nothing

While we're at it, why don't we also give him the Cy Young Award, the Heisman Trophy, the WWE Title and the Miss World Crown - all equally deserved!

Over the past few years this once prestigious international award has been turned into simply a popularity contest among international liberal social elitists. What a shame.

Some Scrappleface Humor - Noble Prize Panel Hopes Peace Prize Boosts President Obama's Self Esteem

The Agenda Behind Abortion Rights

Here's a link to an excellent article by Albert Mohler on Abortion and the American Conscience He discusses the hidden agendas behind "pro-choice" advocacy. I recommend it in its entirety.

"The American conscience remains deeply divided over the question of abortion. Tragically, we have never experienced a sustained, reasonable, and honest discussion about abortion in the society at large. One step toward the recovery of an ethic of life would be an honest discussion about the actual agenda behind the push for abortion on demand."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Repentance Always

“[Repentance] is perpetual. . . . The Christian is a new person in Christ, but he is imperfectly renewed. He has died to sin and has been raised to new life. But this mortification and vivification continue throughout the whole course of his life on earth. We are no longer what we once were, but we are not yet what God calls us to become; and as long as that is the case we are called to an ongoing battle for holiness.

[ . . .] Repentance does not merely begin the Christian life. According to Scripture, the Christian life is repentance from beginning to end! So long as the believer is simul justus et peccator (at the same time righteous and yet a sinner), it can be no other way.

[ . . .] True repentance can never be reduced to a single act only found at the beginning of the Christian life. It arises in the context of our union with Jesus Christ; and since its goal is our restoration into the image of Christ, it involves the ongoing practical outworking of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection–what Calvin calls mortification and vivification–that is, being conformed to Christ crucified and risen.”

- Sinclair Ferguson, The Grace of Repentance, 20, 28, 30.

Hat Tip: Repentance is perpetual « Provocations & Pantings

Dogma and Drama

“We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine — ‘dull dogma,’ as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man — and the dogma is the drama. . . . This is the dogma we find so dull — this terrifying drama which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore — on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”

~ Dorothy Sayers, quoted by Michael Horton in The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Books, 2009), 63-64.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Dark Night of the Soul

Below is an excerpt from a good article by R.C. Sproul on The Dark Night of the Soul:

"The dark night of the soul. This phenomenon describes a malady that the greatest of Christians have suffered from time to time. It was the malady that provoked David to soak his pillow with tears. It was the malady that earned for Jeremiah the sobriquet, "The Weeping Prophet." It was the malady that so afflicted Martin Luther that his melancholy threatened to destroy him. This is no ordinary fit of depression, but it is a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him.

Spiritual depression is real and can be acute. We ask how a person of faith could experience such spiritual lows, but whatever provokes it does not take away from its reality. Our faith is not a constant action. It is mobile. It vacillates. We move from faith to faith, and in between we may have periods of doubt when we cry, "Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief."
After discussing several Scripture passges about discouragement and despair, Sproul concludes:

"This coexistence of faith and spiritual depression is paralleled in other biblical statements of emotive conditions. We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believers to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the roots of our souls, it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness. In like manner, we see that it is a good thing to go to the house of mourning, but even in mourning, that low feeling must not give way to hatred. The presence of faith gives no guarantee of the absence of spiritual depression; however, the dark night of the soul always gives way to the brightness of the noonday light of the presence of God."
I've been through some times like this; I can remember exact dates when they began and ended. I've watched my wife go through it also and suffered with her. Christians in general, and Charismatic Christians in particular, don't seem to know how to handle these experiences or how to help and support those going through them. It does not always just go away with a quick prayer and an encouragement to "look on the bright side" or "rejoice in the Lord, Brother!" You can't always command it away. Sometimes we just suffer, sometimes for long periods of time. I do know this: the Lord Jesus suffers with us in these times.

May the Lord be with any of my readers who are going through one of these times right now. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy will come in the morning.

I Want This Book!

Tim Keller's new book Counterfeit God’s will be published on October 20 (which just happens to be my birthday, if anyone is looking for an idea for a present!). Tullian Tchividjian has read an advance copy. Tuesday he posted this excerpt:

"What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry. When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it “codependency” but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, 'If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.'"

Hat Tip: On Earth as it is in Heaven » Blog Archive » Counterfeit God’s

I can't wait to read this book!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Twitter from St. Paul

The Way In Is The Way On

"...Tim Keller rightly argues, “The gospel is not just the A-B-C-‘s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.”
The gospel way of progress in the kingdom is repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. If the gospel is simply the A-B-C-’s, then repentance will be emphasized only at the point of conversion, and, much like the gospel, will be shelved and replaced with rededications and resolutions directed to self-determination rather than self-crucifixion, to looking inwardly for resources that are not there rather than looking to Christ whose gospel promises are everything we need for life and godliness.

What followers of Christ desperately need is transformation from the heart, not behavioral modification. Deep transformation is perpetual when repentance is regular, and repentance is regular when the gospel is central...."
Taken From :Repentance won’t be regular if the gospel isn’t central « Provocations & Pantings

The words above written by Timmy Brister are so true. Click the link to read the whole thing.

The second paragraph above describes what so much "deeper life" and revival teaching is really like: Attempts a life transformation that are not based on God's grace and initiative but instead on self determination and effort. No wonder they don't work! No wonder so much is lost, in the words of the Casting Crowns song, "between the Altar and the Door!"

The message of the Cross is not just how we get in - it is how we get on and get up!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tasting the Honey

Funny what you can do with a little imagination.

The "Out of Ur" blog has an interview with Jonathan Edwards (who has only been dead 251 years -but who's counting) on the subject of the New Reformed Movement. I did like this imagined quote from the great theologian and revivalist:

You’re saying that preaching doctrine leads to spiritual growth. Actually, I would say that preaching doctrine can lead to spiritual growth. But I think it’s a big mistake to assume that people will necessarily love and follow Jesus just because we preach sound doctrine. People’s hearts have to be touched. As I like to say, there’s a big difference between knowing that honey is sweet because you’ve read about honey in a book and experiencing the sweetness of honey by tasting it for yourself. The Devil has sound doctrine, and it hasn’t done him any good. We should help our congregations taste the sweetness of God. That’s when transformation happens.

Actually, I favor both knowing about the honey and tasting it! Truth and experience: What God has joined together, let not man put asunder!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Derek Morphew Conference - Anticipation!

I'm really looking forward to this conference at our church in two weeks. I've heard Derek Morphew teach on the Kingdom of God twice before, plus having read his book Breakthrough. Each time I want to get saved all over again!
If you are anywhere near Mississippi come join us!

A Tri-Perspectivalism Perspectrive on Church Leadership

Are you a "king," "prophet," or "priest?"

In the above question I am not using these terms in the way they have usually been used within the charismatic movement. The reference is to John Frame's concept of "tri-perspectivalism," further developed by Drew Goodmason and David Fairchild. Mark Driscoll and the Act 29 Network also use this concept in their church government principles.

The concept was recently mediated to me via Tim Keller (Tim Keller is now blogging!). Keller says:
John Frame's 'tri-perspectivalism' helps me understand Willow. The Willow Creek style churches have a 'kingly' emphasis on leadership, strategic thinking, and wise administration. The danger there is that the mechanical obscures how organic and spontaneous church life can be. The Reformed churches have a 'prophetic' emphasis on preaching, teaching, and doctrine. The danger there is that we can have a naïve and unBiblical view that, if we just expound the Word faithfully, everything else in the church -- leader development, community building, stewardship of resources, unified vision -- will just happen by themselves. The emerging churches have a 'priestly' emphasis on community, liturgy and sacraments, service and justice. The danger there is to view 'community' as the magic bullet in the same way Reformed people view preaching.
So, how does a church community become balanced between the three streams listed above? The answer surely is to be led by a group of elders with all three ministry emphasises represented among the eldership in personalities, giftings and understanding.

I do not endorse a "co-equality" attitude in church government that suppresses differences in authority within leadership. Neither do I support authoritarian leadership that suppresses unity and diversity of counsel. I support balance: balance between pastor and elders, between prophets priest and kings, and between teaching and shepherding. And I support Jesus being in ultimate charge: He is the Priest, The Prophet and the King!

What do you think?

Has Modern Conservatism Become a Cult?

Has Modern Conservatism Become a Cult?

A provocative question recently asked by influential blogger Joe Carter. Among other things, he said:

The American right has begun to mimic the left in adopting a perverse form of political syncretism. A decade ago we’d mock well-intentioned, but misguided, liberals for being so intent on advancing their cause that they’d gloss over the views of their nutcase, extremist radical allies. Now, we do the same thing without giving it a second thought. Indeed, if you point out that there may be something wrong with embracing the loony ideas of fringe cultists—directly as with Ayn Rand, or indirectly, as with W. Cleon Skousen—you’ll be accused of being, depending on how polite your accuser, everything from an elitist to a socialist dhimmi.

Despite the fact that these well-meaning conservatives fail to exhibit any discernment about the views they are imbibing, they become terribly offended when you question how they could accept such nonsense.

Christians, no matter what their political views or affiliations, should always remember that we serve another Master and another Kingdom. All idols, including political philosophies, must bow before Him!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Awaiting the Marriage Feast

I am looking forward to our church's baptism & communion service tonight!
"Every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we celebrate not only the redeeming purchase price paid by the Bridegroom but symbolically the marriage feast of the Lamb to which every believer is called."

- R.C. Sproul

Hat Tip: Becoming Part of the Bride | Ligonier Ministries:

No One Else

"...when we depend on anything smaller than Jesus for justification, love, mercy, cleansing, a new beginning, approval, acceptance, righteousness, and rescue we consign ourselves to “the restless futility of bewilderment” because nothing and no one but Jesus can provide those things we long for most."
Tullian Tchividjian

Hat Tip: Wilderness Fandango: Preach It!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Sentence

What do you think: Is this a simple and good summary of the Christian message in one sentence?
“The essence of the Christian religion consists in this, that the creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and recreated by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God.”

- Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol 1
Hat Tip: Christianity in a sentence « Of First Importance

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gospel Freedom to Be Honest About Yourself

“The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. These things don’t make it impossible to know who you are.

Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, ‘You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,’ will you be able to be honest with yourself.”

- Tim Keller, Journal of Biblical Counseling (Winter 2007)

(HT: Provocative Church)

From: Of First Importance

Support For Abortion Slips

Interesting (and hopeful) news at Pew Research Poll: Support For Abortion Slips (from The Corner on National Review Online )
In Pew Research Center polls in 2007 and 2008, supporters of legal abortion clearly outnumbered opponents. Now Americans are evenly divided on the question, and there have been modest increases in the numbers who favor reducing abortions or making them harder to obtain.

Conducted from Aug. 11-27 among a total of 4,013 adults, the new poll reveals less support for abortion among most demographic and political groups. The survey also finds that the abortion debate has receded in importance, especially among liberals. At the same time, opposition to abortion has grown more firm among conservatives.

No single reason for the shift in opinions is apparent, but the pattern of changes suggests that the election of a pro-choice Democrat for president may be a contributing factor.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Christian World is Changing

Interesting statistics on the current state of Christianity worldwide. What does this mean for American churches?

From Skye Jethani, concerning the state of Christianity in the world:

* Today there are more missionaries from Brazil engaged in crosscultural ministry than fromBritain or Canada.

* There are over 10,000 foreign Christian workers serving in Britain, France, Germany and Italy–and more than 35,000 in the U.S. Most of the missionaries in Britain are from Africa and Asia.

* “This past Sunday it is possible that more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called ‘Christian Europe.’”

* “This past Sunday more Presbyterians were in church in Ghana than in Scotland.”

* “Today, the largest Christian congregation in Europe is in Kiev, and it is pastored by a Nigerian of Pentecostal background.”

* “More than half of all Christian adherents in the whole history of the church have been alive in the last one hundred years. Close to half of Chrisitan believers who have ever lived are alive right now.”

* In 1900, over 80 percent of the Christian population was Caucasian and over 70 percent lived in Europe. Now, according to historian Dana Robert, “The typical late twentieth-century Christian was no longer a European man but a Latin American or African Woman.”

Copied from Forward Progress

End Times Disease

Do you have Eschatomania? How about Eschatophobia? Michael Patton will help you self diagnose at Parchment and Pen » The Forgotten Gospel of the End Times
One theologian has said that there are two extremes when it comes to studying eschatology (the doctrine of the end times): Eschatomania and Eschatophobia.

Eschatomaniacs talk about nothing else but the end times. With charts in hand they are ready to give the “Gospel of the end times” to whoever will listen. However, their “Gospel” is primarily concerned with issues of the Millennium, the timing of the Rapture, the details of the Tribulation, and the Anti-Christ.

Eschatophobics are a product—a reactionary product—of Eschatomaniacs. Because of the emphasis that many would place on the end times, believing that it is all there is, Eschatophobics shy away from any discussions, commitments, or teaching on the end times. It is seen as “unacademic” and counterproductive to the Gospel.

I believe that both of these extremes are unhealthy for the church and are taking its toll on Evangelical theology.

There's more at the link!