Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grace for the Sluggish Heart

What do you do when your heart is sluggish, and you feel somewhat Worship Challenged.   Here's some good counsel from Bryan Mowrey at Confluence to follow the example of King David.
I find David in the Psalms to be incredibly helpful. David is a man well aware of God's grace, but there were times in his life where he just forgot, and he needed to remind himself of God's goodness, which is exactly what Psalm 103 is all about. This Psalm starts out, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits." David is essentially saying, "Come on soul. Why are you so sluggish? Why do you sleep before this God? Wake up soul! Remember His benefits, which are many." Then David begins to list out all of the benefits he can remember: He forgives sin, heals diseases, redeems, crowns with love and compassion. He satisfies our desires with good things, justice for the oppressed, He has made His ways known. He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Will no accuse, will not harbor anger forever, and will not treat us as our sins deserve...thank you Jesus!

David, in this midst of reminding himself of all God's benefits, can no longer contain His worship and begins to encourage everything around him to bless the Lord. "Bless the Lord all you nations! Bless the Lord all you angels! Bless the Lord all you birds; see creations, beasts of the field, moon, sun and stars! Let everything and everyone bless the Lord!"

So, if you find that your heart is sluggish toward God, take a moment to remind yourself (like David) of all of God's grace in your life.

Remembering Luther’s Stand on Reformation Sunday

On Reformation Sunday, it's always good to remember what the great reformer Martin Luther actually said and stood for.  Here are his famous words before Emperor Charles and the German Diet in the City of Worms.
Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scripture or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. [He then added in German] Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen
 Hat Tip:  Chris Castaldo » Blog Archive » Luther’s Stand

Here's the scene from the movie Luther, starring Jospeh Fiennes ( a great film, BTW):

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good Marriage Advice: Things Not to Say to Your Wife

"Seven Reasons Why I Believe the Gifts of the Spirit Still Exist Today"

Any one who knows me or reads this blog knows that I believe in the continuance today of all the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament, but also believe that many of the present day models for expressing said gifts are faulty and in need of scriptural correction.  That is why I prefer the descriptive term "continualist" to the more common "charismatic," which carries a lot of connotative baggage in many circles.

On the subject of the continuance of the gifts, there was a great post this week by Scott at the "To Be Continued..."  blog entitled Seven Reasons Why I Believe the Gifts of the Spirit Still Exist Today.
If it came down to why I believe all gifts of God, including those in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4:11, still exist today, I think I could summarise it in seven specific points. So here they are:

1) God is an actual living, personal being
2) Christ is a charismatic prophet and so is his body
3) The Spirit continues the same work of Christ
4) The positive affirmation in Scripture that such gifts would continue
5) Faulty exegesis of the normal passages brought up by cessationists
6) The amount of times God actually spoke through and used those who were not prophets or apostles
7) The great testimony of the charismata in church history
I have not quoted all his exposition for each of these seven points, you can read it at the link. But I can say it is well spoken and I agree with him. In conclusion, he says:
So, suffice it to say, I find it extremely hard to argue for the cessation, or ceasing, of the gifts of the Spirit. For me, there is an overwhelming biblical, theological and historical positive case for the continuation of such.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Still Refuse to Choose!

Below are some words of mine from an old post from 2008.- Can We Avoid a Charismatic Civil War? I noticed someone had viewed it yesterday, and went back to look myself.  You know, I.still believe this - and think it is worth repeating.

Some choices should not be made.  Sometimes, when asked (or tempted) to choose between two alternatives, the proper thing to do is to say yes to both!

As I have said earlier, some choices should not be made.
  • Some choose good theology and doctrine, some choose personal experience; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose the Spirit, some choose truth; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose individual spirituality, some choose community; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose knowledge about God, some choose knowledge of God; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose orthodoxy, some choose orthopraxy; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose commitment to a church family, some choose openness to all believers; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose ministry models open to all believers, some choose gifted and trained leadership; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose catholicity, some choose evangelicalism; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose charismatic gifts, some choose fruit in changed character; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose loving God, some choose obeying God; I refuse to choose.
  • Some choose ministry within the church, some choose ministry to the world outside; I refuse to choose.
I refuse to make choices where God did not intend me to choose. I refuse to say yes to one and no to the other, when God says yes to both. I refuse to separate things God put together. I refuse to divide things God wants held in tension. What God has put together, let not man put asunder!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Supper

 From:  Pumpkin Art - The Sacred Sandwich:

Shaped by the Good News

"...all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can’t really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel’s content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live."
From: The Gospel Everyday – Tullian Tchividjian:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keller on Social Justice

Tim Keller's new book Generous Justice is out! Kevin DeYoung has an interview with Keller about the book here- Interview with Tim Keller on Generous Justice.. Another must read on my list!

DeYoung says:
Keller treats his subject carefully and with the necessary nuance (be sure to read the footnotes). Just as important, his passion (and God’s passion) for the poor and vulnerable comes through in a contagious way. Both those on fire for “social justice” and those suspicious of it will benefit from Keller’s latest.
Keller's book thesis in summary:
I read the Bible and I’m overwhelmed with the amount of Biblical material that expresses concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. My main gifting is evangelism and I’ve never had extensive experience in a poor community or country. So I reason—if I can see all of this in the Bible, despite the fact that I’m not especially oriented to do so—it must be important to God. I’m passionate about it because I’m passionate to be shaped by the Bible.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Why we need to hear it over, and over, and over, and over...
"The hope in hearing the old, good news is that it would perpetually break new ground in our lives. Our hearts are like a jungle. There is untamed wilderness and darkness that has not yet been brought, as it were, under the rule of the One who has laid claim to it all.

We need to hear the gospel again and again so that the old, good news of Jesus Christ would reach into these unchartered territoties of our lives and fly the flag of its dominion. This is how we are "being saved." This is what it means to be overcome by the gospel."

From Jonathan Parnell at Desiring God

Monday, October 25, 2010

Word & Power

Loved this post by Jared Wilson at The Gospel-Driven Church based on 1 Thessalonians 1: 5  ":... our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power ..."
The "but also" is an and, not an or.

The gospel is a word, a message, an item of news about something that happened. It comes in word. It comes as more than word, but certainly not less.

The gospel comes in word and takes hold of some in power, by the grace of God through the power of the Spirit.

The Church historically has fallen for equal and opposite errors in regard to the gospel and its power.

Some know the gospel is word but don’t think it’s power, so we try hard to manipulate people to make decisions. Thus additional verses of "Just As I Am," emotional pleas for raised hands, impulse-tugging scare tactics. We believe someone's decision for Christ hinges on our effectiveness in the invitation.

Some know the gospel is power and so become stingy with the gospel as word, so they abdicate responsibility to share the word. They figure since election is true, God will take care of saving people apart from mission.

Both overreactions are wrong; both ignore Scripture and even disobey it. The gospel comes in word and power. Let’s be faithful in our role and trust God to be faithful in his.

Dedicated Baby

My 4 1/2 month old grandson, Ethan, was prayed over by his parent's pastor in dedication to the Lord this Sunday.  We we pleased to be there as very proud parents and grandparents.

Lord, bless this boy so that he will grow up to know you, please you and honor you all of his days.  Give his mom and dad great wisdom to raise him right. Amen!

(and isn't his little suit just cute as can be!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He's Watching You

Hat Tip:  Anne Jackson at

The Weird Life of Faith

Recently mega-church pastor and best-selling author Frances Chan resigned from his church to pursue a new adventure in living by faith.  Is that weird?  Here's Frances Chan on - How is My Life Weird?
"Chan declared to an arena packed with 13,000 young Christian leaders that he wants his life to fit in the Bible and that there is nothing weird about believing in the Holy Spirit and following the calling of God.

“When I don’t think biblically, I go nuts. I just go, ‘This is crazy,’” said Chan, founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., last Thursday evening. “But whenever I read this book (the Bible), I think my life fits perfectly.”..."

"...While acknowledging that his life is crazy by most people’s standards today, Chan explained how un-radical his life really is by comparing it with the early disciples.

“If you put my life’s story in the book of Acts, chapter 12, [it would be] James killed, Peter imprisoned and Francis went to Asia,” said Chan to the laughter and applause of Catalyst attendees.

“Whoa, that is radical. He is so weird,” joked Chan, who says he’s been accused of subscribing to “poverty theology” because he gives away about 90 percent of his income and has donated all his book royalties to charities.

Continuing, the popular Christian speaker challenged those in the audience to compare their lives to the Bible and see if it also fits. He said it is more weird that some Christians change churches because of the service time, the music style, or the fight they got into with someone.

“Think biblically ’What is weird?' 'Who is weird?‘ based on the scripture and whether we fit in it,” Chan stressed. “So many things don’t make sense. I got to look at scripture and go ‘Does my life make sense?’ I want my life to fit in this book one day.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Introvert's Role Model

You never know who God might choose to use!
"For instance, one middle-aged candidate didn't pass his denomination's assessment process; they thought he was too introverted and couldn't engage unchurched people. (They also rated him as a 'mediocre preacher'.) Upon further prayer and conversation, they revised that decision. He went on to plant a thriving church in the northeast. Today this pastor has launched an entire network of dynamic new church starts. That's the story of the introverted, bookish, 'mediocre preacher' named Tim Keller [pastor of the 5,000+ Redeemer in NYC]."

-Matthew Woodly, "A Calling Confirmed", Leadership Journal
There's hope for us bookish introverts!

Hat Tip: Who should plant a church?

More on Tim Keller

Character Matters!

Which matters most for ministry success: Character or Gifting?  I like what Michael at CHARISMATICA had to say:
We have seen a lot of gifted major ministers failing and falling in the last couple of years within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. I won’t bother to name any since I am sure anyone reading this article probably thought of a couple of them immediately.

‘Gifting’ is so emphasized and such a major part of the Charismatic and Pentecostal moves of God that it seems to almost over-ride character at times. Then the problems come.

We have seen just in recent years alone how certain major charismatic leaders and healers have been protected and their failures hidden from view by those in awe of their extraordinary gifting. Then comes the ‘train wreck’ and everyone who knew better comes out of the woodwork.

You would think that we would learn from the past but it doesn’t seem to work that way for some reason. For example, just after WWII there were a whole slew of major healing ministries that went from town to town in America and did some incredible miracles. They were gifted in a major way but there was no accountability and character was a major problem.

Nearly everyone of those incredible ministries ended up failing and/or teaching weird or false doctrines. It was a major setback for the American church and kept healing and spiritual gifts out of the mainstream for nearly 15 years.

In the same time frame God rose up Billy Graham, a man of extraordinary character. There were a dozen or so ministers from the same time period that were far more gifted than Billy but he excelled in character, was faithful, and God honored him and we all honor him today after a whole generation of incredibly fruitful ministry.

The point is –character matters.

We need both gifting and character for the American church to rise up and become the culture changing agent that it is called to be in bringing on a new era of revival and awakening.
So which matters most: character or gifting?  From both Scripture and history we'd have to loudly shout CHARACTER!  (But best of all, why not both)

A Really Scary Halloween Costume

 Humor Hat Tip:  The Sacred Sandwich:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Memorable Encounter with Francis Schaeffer

Long time readers of this blog (are there any?) should know that Francis Schaeffer is one of my heroes. Saw this story by Bruce Little about An Encounter with Francis Schaeffer and thought it was worth sharing.
I remember hearing Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) in person, several weeks before his death, at a large gathering on the campus of a Christian University. Schaeffer was of particular importance to me. At the time, in April 1984, I was attending a graduate seminar on Schaeffer so it was perfect timing. Just a few years before, I had first felt the force of Schaeffer’s thought through reading his books, and now I was having the opportunity to hear him in person as he was on a speaking tour promoting his latest book, The Great Evangelical Disaster. I have vivid memories of that night. I watched as he was helped to the platform and then remained seated even while he spoke. By this time cancer had so weakened him physically that standing was out of the question. In fact, at that time I was told that his diet consisted mainly of milkshakes.

After Schaeffer delivered his lecture, the audience was invited to ask questions. I remember one young man who began his question by reviewing some of what Schaeffer had just noted (and as many young men tend to do, he tried to impress the crowd with his knowledge, struggling to put his mini-speech into the form of a question). And alas, after the young man launched a rather dramatic presentation of his insights, he concluded by picturing the Church in the tenth round, bloody and beaten and on its knees. Then, at last, he asked his question. He wondered if there was any hope the Church could win given his analysis of the situation.

Dr. Schaeffer leaned forward and brought the microphone to his lips. A hush came over the audience as it awaited the response. Then Schaeffer said, “If we do it to win, we have lost already. We do not do it to win, but because our risen Lord has commanded us.” What an answer! I have told this story so many times I embarrass myself, but the power of that response moves me each time I think of it. In fact, I often have been encouraged as well as challenged by those words. And for this, I am forever grateful for that night I heard Dr. Schaeffer. That was 26 years ago, not so long when you think about it, but it has been long enough for the name of Francis Schaeffer to fade from the evangelical memory. My hope is that Francis Schaeffer’s life and ministry will not fade from memory, but will instead remain present to our minds as a model of faithful witness. Perhaps this blogpost will be the catalyst for some of our readers to read Schaeffer’s works and benefit from them.
He's been dead 26 years, and I still miss him!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Next 30 Years

Today is my 54th birthday, and I am feeling a little nostalgic.

Last Friday night I visited the campus of my Alma Mater, Mississippi College, to attend a Homecoming weekend gathering of alumni from the 1970's. Two thoughts that struck me hard that night were (a) How young the current college students look, and (b) How old my fellow 70's alumni looked! (just kidding).  It really was good to talk to several old friends.

As I wandered the campus before the event, remembering events and thoughts from over 30 years ago, I asked myself how I would have acted, what I would have done back in 1978, if I could have known then what the next 30 something years would look like for me. You know, there is no way to really answer that question. I'm glad I did not know.

But my Lord did know. He knew my future then - both what I now (in hind sight) consider my struggles and failures, as well as what I call my triumphs and successes. They were, and are, all in His hands. Maybe He considers my successes to be fluff, and my perceived failures to be character building triumphs?

He also knows what the next 30 years will look like.  I'm glad He won't tell me - I am content to leave it all in His hands, and take it day by day.

Here's to the next 30 years.  May He be glorified in them all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

EscapingThe Black Hole

Stephen Altrogge at The Blazing Center has posted some good stuff on "Escaping The Black Hole of Condemnation"  -Part 1 and Part 2.
I can’t believe I fell into that sin. How can God possibly forgive me? I shouldn’t even call myself a Christian. Will I ever get the victory? I’m such a miserable failure. How can God accept me?

Have you ever felt like this? Most of us have been there. The black hole of condemnation. We can feel hopeless, depressed, discouraged. We grieve over offending God. Our sin stings. And we often regret the pain we inflicted on others or consequences brought on ourselves. Sometimes we can be filled with regret for years of sin or failure.

The greater the sin, the deeper our grief can be and the deeper the hole of self-reproach. We can believe we must do penance or punish ourselves. Or that it’s wrong to have any joy or to try to remove the weight of our sorrow from our backs.

We hear Scriptures like “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8.1), yet still feel condemned. We know technically we’re accepted by God, but just can’t believe he really loves us now. We feel like if we let go of our guilt, we’re not really sorry for our sin. How do we escape the swirling vortex of condemnation?
Stephen gives us the following steps to escape condemnation:
  • Know where condemnation comes from
  • Focus on Jesus
  • Fight to believe the gospel
  • Trust God's Character
  • Grieve Appropriately
  • Beware Self Pity
  • Give Thanks
  • Get Back Up
  • Trust God to Finish the Job
Good stuff, and well worth reading.

Good News, Not Good Directions

“What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?”

J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World, 57

Hat Tip:  Of First Importance

Sunday, October 17, 2010


“The gospel brings me explosive news: my search for approval is over. In Christ I already have all the approval I need.”

- Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 56.

Hat Tip: Rick Ianniello

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soak Deeply

“The gospel cannot soak deeply into us unless it is addressing our ongoing need for it.”

- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006), ii.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Frog Bible Study

A little Bible study on Exodus 8

From:  The Sacred Sandwich