Friday, August 31, 2012

The Fatal Love Affair With Control

If you are not reading Tullian Tchvidjian's new LIBERATE blog, you should be! From a recently posted excerpt from his forthcoming book Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free:
All of our attempts (well intentioned as they may be) to minimize suffering reveal our universal, fatal love affair with control and law. If I can just recast suffering in a diminished role, then I will hurt less. Or conversely, if I just do the right thing or just obey enough, God will be pleased, and I will hurt less. Neither approach takes God into much consideration. He is a passive bystander at best in either scenario. And both approaches stand on the premise of you and me possessing power that we simply do not have. Yet the knowledge of our limitations does not stop us from exhausting ourselves—indeed, from destroying ourselves—in our tireless attempts to grab the reins. The breadth of human impasse is the opposite of minimal. Yet as Paul Zahl wrote:
An old joke is repeated year after year in the graffiti on public buildings. Someone writes for all to see, “Christ is the answer.” After it someone has added, “But what is the question?” The addition is perceptive…. Is there a real problem to which the atonement of Jesus Christ offers a solution? What is irremediable about the human condition that it should require a death for healing to occur? The extreme nature of the solution, one person’s death for the “salvation” of others, presupposes an extreme need on the part of the others.
The cross makes a mockery of our attempts to defend and deliver ourselves. God provided a shocking remedy that both reveals and addresses the depth of our illness, our “sickness unto death.” Indeed, despite our efforts to contain, move past, or silence it, that ol’ rugged cross stands tall, resolutely announcing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things, Paul said, even misused Bible verses and the men and women who misuse them. Instead of diminishing our pain, then, these words proclaim the corresponding and overwhelming gratuity of our Redeemer.
I'm so looking forward to this book!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Marriage Advice - From the Ones Who Know!

MARITAL ADVICE: Couples Video from Carl Barnhill on Vimeo.

This video was used as part of a message on marriage by Pastor Chip Henderson at Pinelake Church in Brandon, MS this past Sunday (8/26/12). It contains advice from three long-married couples about how to have a successful marriage. One of the couples is my parents, who have been married for 62 years. I think my Mom & Dad define a good marriage!

Don't let the world and the media tell you that divorce is inevitable. A life time marriage is more common than you think. It can be done!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Defender of the Vulnerable Ones

How would you introduce God to a friend who does not know Him?
Why should we be concerned about the vulnerable ones? It is because God is concerned about them. It is striking to see how often God is introduced as the defender of these vulnerable groups.
Don’t miss the significance of this. When people ask me, ‘How do you want to be introduced?’ I usually propose they say, ‘This is Tim Keller, minister at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.’ Of course, I am many other things, but that is the main thing I spend my time doing in public life.
Realize, then, how significant it is that the biblical writers introduce God as ‘a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:4-5). This is one of the main things He does in the world. He identifies with the powerless. He takes up their cause.
             - Tim Keller 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Seal of Samson?

More archaeological evidence for a Biblical character?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist Press ) -- A small stone seal unearthed in Israel is likely the first archaeological evidence of the Old Testament judge Samson, say the co-directors of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Center for Archaeological Research.
While not involved in the excavation that led to the discovery, center co-directors Daniel Warner and Dennis Cole said evidence characterizing the find makes it plausible that the seal supports a story of a young boy killing a lion with his bare hands.
About half an inch in diameter, the seal depicts a human figure -- perhaps with long hair -- fighting what appears to be a lion-like animal with a feline tail. The seal dates to the 12th century B.C. and was excavated at the Beth Shemesh site in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem. Archeologists found the seal with other items on the floor of an excavated house near the Sorek River, the ancient border between Israelite and Philistine territories. Seals were used in biblical times by those of wealth and influence as proof of authenticity. 
"My initial assessment based upon what has been published to date would be that once again we have an artifact that does not contradict the biblical text, but in fact affirms it," said Warner, New Orleans Seminar associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology. 
Excavation directors Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University do not claim that the figure on the seal is of the actual biblical Samson. Rather, they believe the seal probably indicates that a story was being told in 12th century B.C. of a hero who fought a lion.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Fulcrum of History

"The death of Jesus of Nazareth as king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel’s destiny, the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns."

        - NT Wright, Simply Christian

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z 
(Wright's book is a good one, BTW)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Exotic Creatures in New York City

From the New York Times, comes a fascinating anthropological study of a truly strange branch of humanity: religious people practicing sexual chastity in New York City. 

What a strange bunch! The article reads like a story on Animal Planet about exotic animals, including a unique football playing animal named Tim Tebow.
Trinity Laurel moved to Manhattan at 21 to pursue a modeling career. Raised in a Christian home, Laurel was a virgin when she reached the city, and says she has “remained pure” while living here since.

Not all of her friends can relate.

“They’re like, ‘How do you do that?’ ” Laurel, now 28, said. “People are almost fascinated.”

Welcome to New York, Tim Tebow. Now that the Jets have broken training camp and Tebow, a famous chaste Christian, becomes a full-time New Yorker, it has become a common, and mildly amusing, pastime to fret about the temptations he might face or the potential loneliness he might suffer.
Read it to see what the world thinks about you, if you are practicing Biblical morality.

Hat Tip: Get Religion

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Twitter Harvests

RT : “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.” –Thomas Merton

 RT @DailyKeller The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.

 RT : Because of Jesus we don’t have to be afraid to die, and we don’t have to be afraid to live.

 I wrap up this work day moved to tears over Scripture. Only 1 book can hold our fascination for decades. Only 1 glorious word-breathing God. @BethMooreLPM

RT : Some people come in your life as blessings, others come as lessons.

Sometimes people come into your life as a blessings ... and some come into your life as lessons @Self24

 RT : The very thing that makes a Christian—namely, the Gospel—is the same thing that grows a Christian.

RT : When you realize your acceptance is because of Someone else's achievement you are free to fail.

RT : You will never forgive anyone more than God has forgiven you

Jesus doesn’t come like the false god-men of this age and say, “bow to me!” Jesus comes as the true God-Man and says, “dance with me.”  @BrianZahnd

Eight Prayers

Eight ways to pray for America during this trying time, by J. Lee Grady
I’m not giving up on this country. Here are my prayer points for a national revival.
Many Christians today are deeply discouraged about the condition of our country. I can understand the concern: We are divided politically, stagnant economically and failing morally—and weird weather patterns, gun violence and global financial fears have darkened the gloom. Some people have thrown up their hands and prayed, “Lord, rapture us out of here!”
But I’m not ready to bail out, and I don’t think God is wringing His hands over Europe’s bank crisis, Obama’s health care plan or the ongoing drought in the Midwest. I’m not ignoring the seriousness of our dilemma, but losing hope is not the solution. God’s plan under the New Covenant is redemption, not judgment. He invites us to agree with Him for that miracle—and when He answers by fire from heaven, America could be changed in a day.
So instead of fretting about the devil’s strategies, heading for the hills or condemning America to hell, I’m praying for a miracle of grace. Several big miracles, in fact. Here is my short list of prayer goals. I invite you to agree with these requests. Please add more of your own.
 Read the list at the link - and PRAY!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dodson on Discipleship

Last month I was quoting from the book Gospel-centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson. Here's a video of Dodson teaching at Grace Bible Church on July, 22 2012 about the content of his great book.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Tarry Till You're Better....

  1. I'm deeply needing these words today:
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.
Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

Come Ye Sinners, Poor & Needy by Joseph Heart

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Twitter Highlights

More highlights from my Twitter feed:
Jesus gave us the incredible gift of freedom through his work on the cross. Don't use his gift to keep on breaking his heart with your sin.RT @StephenMiller

RT : Teach the next generation to wash their hearts w the word Instead of their mouths w soap. Luke11:41

 RT : Reputation is who people 'think' you are. Character is who God 'knows' you are. Luke11:42-52

RT : Father, change my perspective; that I might see the world through YOUR EYES

RT : The cross is as powerful today as it was on Resurrection Sunday.

 When you forgive someone that doesn't deserve it, who hasn't even acknowledged a wrong; you mirror what Jesus has done for you. RT @jeffredding

RT : "But God, who comforts the downcast ..." (2 Corinthians 7:6). He doesn't despise the downcast. He comforts them

How many times has Jesus said of me, as he said to the Emmaus disciples, "How dull you are!" (Luke 24:25) . .  RT @lensweet

RT : Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right, it makes you free. - Stormie Omartian

 RT : You cannot get the Scriptures in you unless you are in the Scriptures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting the Big Story

A summation of the grand story of the Bible, from Lifeway's "The Gospel Project":
God’s Word to You: A Summary of the Bible

In the beginning, the all-powerful, personal God created the universe. This God created human beings in His image to live joyfully in His presence, in humble submission to His gracious authority. But all of us have rebelled against God and, in consequence, must suffer the punishment of our rebellion: physical death and the wrath of God.

Thankfully, God initiated a rescue plan, which began with His choosing the nation of Israel to display His glory in a fallen world. The Bible describes how God acted mightily on Israel’s behalf, rescuing His people from slavery and then giving them His holy law. But God’s people – like all of us – failed to rightly reflect the glory of God.

Then, in the fullness of time, in the Person of Jesus Christ, God Himself came to renew the world and restore His people. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law given to Israel. Though innocent, He suffered the consequences of human rebellion by His death on a cross. But three days later, God raised Him from the dead.

Now the church of Jesus Christ has been commissioned by God to take the news of Christ’s work to the world. Empowered by God’s Spirit, the church calls all people everywhere to repent of sin and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. Repentance and faith restores our relationship with God and results in a life of ongoing transformation.

The Bible promises that Jesus Christ will return to this earth as the conquering King. Only those who live in repentant faith in Christ will escape God’s judgment and live joyfully in God’s presence for all eternity. God’s message is the same to all of us: repent and believe, before it is too late. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.
 Hat Tip:  Trevin Wax

Monday, August 13, 2012

Listen Before Speaking

I recently enjoyed Jonathan Dodson's book Gospel Centered Discipleship . He has a new e-book out called  Unbelievable Gospel: How to Share a Gospel Worth Believing.  Here's Dodson on learning to listen before speaking in evangelism:
Think about the last time you tried to "share the gospel." What was going through your head? Were you angling to find an opening to mention Jesus (only to later congratulate yourself for mentioning his name)? Or perhaps you were more intentional, looking for an opportunity to lay out the gospel over lunch or coffee? In these instances, we often look to speak before waiting to listen.
Francis Schaeffer was asked what he'd do if he had an hour to share the gospel with someone. He responded by saying he'd listen for 55 minutes and then, in the last 5 minutes, have something meaningful to say. In other words, he listened in order to speak the gospel.
Our evangelism is often unbelievable because we don't listen at all. All too often the gospel we share is an information download, not a loving articulation of how the good news fits into the needs, fears, hopes, and dreams of others' lives. We content ourselves with "name dropping" Jesus, which gets us a √ in performance-based Christianity---unless, of course, we mention the cross, which bumps us up to a √+. This kind of evangelism, however, is more about clearing our evangelical conscience than compassionately sharing the good news with fellow sinners. Very often our gospel is unbelievable because we are motivated by unbelief in the gospel.
Much more at the link.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why Me?

Tim Keller on asking "Why Me?" when you are suffering:
When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question "Why me?" was a natural one. Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, "Why me?"
Suffering and death seem random, senseless. The recent Aurora shootings—in which some people were spared and others lost—is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents—the list is long. As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question—but each is wrong, or at least inadequate....
What are the four wrong answers? Click through to the link and find out!

Hat Tip: Steve McCoy

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I am not a perfect man. I don't have a perfect life. I don't act from perfect love. I don't live perfect dreams. I don't have perfect faith.


..I serve a perfect Father God, who sent a perfect Savior, who made a perfect sacrifice, to bring me a perfect salvation, to keep me in perfect security, to give me a perfect hope, to ultimately bring me someday to perfect sanctification - all of this arising out of his perfect love.

...and that's just perfect!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Twitter Highlights

Highlights from my Twitter feed:
RT : You were made BY God and FOR God. Until you understand that, life will never make sense.
RT : Live your life with such action and passion that no one else will be able to define you. You will have defined yourself.
I get to worship God this morning because of his faithfulness to me- not because of my faithfulness to him. RT @KimTchvidjian
RT : If you have prayed 1000 times and your prayer is not yet answered ... Pray again - God isn't turned away
RT : No sin can run faster than the grace of God. However far we go out, Grace always goes one step further.
: “: If you want to live in the past, go back all the way to the cross.”
"God has not forgiven us merely for our own benefit. God has broken the cycle of vengeance and expects us to do the same." 
RT : The gospel doxologically declares that I don’t need to save myself, defend myself, justify myself, or fix myself.
RT : Jesus doesnt love you because you're good.He loves you because He's good.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gabby's Testimony

The Christian testimony of Olympic gymnast and  double Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas can be found here and also here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Final Healing

There's healing.....and then there's HEALING! The great story below is from Thinking Out Loud:
“Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer.

Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.

That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, “He died.”

Campolo felt terrible.

But she continued, “Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God.

He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him.

It was an awful thing to be in his presence.

But the lady told Campolo, “After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”

And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, “He wasn’t cured, but he was healed.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Would You Rather be Blessed or Strengthened?

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chron. 16:9 NIV)

Some Bible translations use the word "bless" in this passage, instead of "strengthen" as in the NIV.  We all want God to put his eyes on us to bless us. However, we usually interpret that to mean that God will get us out of our tough time: out bills paid, our relationships healed, our sicknesses removed. This passage in Chronicles, within its context of the story of King Asa, reminds us that sometimes God's promise of blessings is only a promise to give us strength to endure a trial, not a promise to get us out of the trial in the way we would like him to. Look what happened to the Prophet Hanani in this very story!

Michael Patton has a good commentary on this verse here. Read it.......if you dare!

I must choose to accept that sometimes I am blessed by strength to endure and by his presence with me in the pain, and not by removal of my problems. I wish it was always otherwise, but both Bible and experience say that this is often the way he does things. And.....It really is enough!

Tim Hawkins: God Bless You, Chick-Fil-A

Here's Tim Hawkins singing "God Bless You Chick-Fil-A."  I sang along with him!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Christophobic Chicken Wars

The parking lot at my local Chick-Fil-A was full to overflowing this morning. I plan to eat their chicken later today. What do you think about the whole Gay marriage vs chicken controversy? The comment below is from Trevin Wax:
If you’re like me, you’re weary of the excessive politicization of nearly everything in American culture.

Can’t we just enjoy Oreo cookies without making a statement about gay rights? Or savor a chicken sandwich without fear of being labeled a hater or homophobe?

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite....
Very interesting. Read it all at the link.