Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

The God Who Knows Despair

“Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment.

On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. In his death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken.

Why did he do it? The Bible says that Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation. He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”

        — Tim Keller,   The Reason for God    (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 30

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Does God Want Me Happy?

Is Joel Olsteen right? Does God want me (and you) to be happy above all else?  Not so fast, says Tim Keller:
“Is God committed to your happiness? Absolutely, and yet if you come to him to make you happy, you’re coming to a false god. If you say, ‘Well, I’m interested in this Christianity, and maybe I’ll come and bite on it if I can see it will help me reach my goals and make me happy.’ You’re not coming to God; you’re coming to a butler. Either God exists or he doesn’t exist. If he doesn’t exist you can’t come to him for happiness, right? But if he does exist, you have to realize you must come to him because he created you, and therefore, he owns you.

To not come to him and obey him would be an injustice. The only way to come to God rightly, the real God, is to come without conditions and to say, ‘Forget happiness. I owe you everything.’ There are only two ways to come to God. You can come to God on the basis of saying, ‘I owe you everything; you owe me nothing,’ or you can come on the basis of saying, ‘I’m going to come to you, but then you owe me a lot.’ The only way for you to know on what basis you have come is to see what happens in the bad seasons.

When things go wrong, do you get upset and say, ‘What good did it do me to come to church? What good did it do me to read the Bible?’ Do you know what that shows? You came to him on the basis of saying, ‘I will do this and this, as you owe me.’ In other words you’re saying, ‘My number one priority is happiness, and I’m using God as a way to get there’ as opposed to saying, ‘My number one priority is to serve God, and if happiness happens, great. To the degree it happens, great.’

Here is the irony: the less you’re concerned about your happiness and the more you’re concerned about him, the happier you get. This is not a trick. You can’t say, ‘Oh, great. I have it. I come to God, and I say this and this and this.’ You cannot bandy with the omnipotent and omniscient Lord of the universe. ‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.’ Happiness is a by-product.”

HT: Peter Cockrell

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bad Charismatic Habits

Yes. Yes. Amen and YES!  Nine Bad Charismatic Habits We Need to Break by J. Lee Grady:
I love the Holy Spirit’s gifts. But some of our “Spirit-filled” practices are questionable.

Anybody who has read this column before knows I’m unapologetically charismatic in my theology. I love the Holy Spirit, and I believe the New Testament calls us to make room for manifestations of the Spirit. The apostle Paul gave guidelines for the gift of prophecy; he saw dramatic healings; he experienced supernatural visions; and he told church leaders not to forbid speaking in tongues (see 1 Cor. 14:39). Paul was the epitome of charismatic spirituality.

But not everything we do today in the name of the Holy Spirit is a valid expression of His power. Over the past four decades, we charismatics have invented some lame practices that not only make us look silly but actually turn people off to our message. I figure we started these behaviors because of immaturity—and I can laugh about them because I’ve done some of them myself. But it’s 2013, and I think God expects more of us.

I realize this can be sensitive if you have one or more of these bad habits. But please pray over this list before you blast me for being critical....

Read his list at the link. I agree with every point.

No Discouragement Allowed?

"My soul is cast down within me" - Psalm 42:6. Discouragement - Hey, is that allowed for Christians? 

Sound words from Sinclair Fergusan at Ligonier Ministries:
From time to time over the centuries some Christians have taught, sometimes with tragic consequences, that a truly spiritual person never gets discouraged. To be cast down is, by definition, to be 'unspiritual.' Unless we are well-grounded in Scripture, it is very easy for us to be overwhelmed, confused, and even more discouraged by such teaching.

This teaching certainly seems logical: if the gospel saves us, it must save us from discouragement! It also appears to be wonderfully spiritual. After all, are we not 'more than conquerors through him who loved us' (Rom. 8:37)?

But this is not biblical logic, nor is it true spirituality. The gospel saves us from death, not by removing death, but by helping us to face it in the power of Christ's victory and thus to overcome it. So, too, with sin. And similarly with discouragement. Faith in Christ does not remove all of the causes of discouragement; rather, it enables us to overcome them. We may experience discouragement; but we will not be defeated by it.
Faith in Christ does not remove all of the causes of discouragement; rather, it enables us to overcome them.
Nor is this the biblical spirituality; it is a false 'super-spirituality' that ignores or denies the reality of our humanity. We live in frail flesh and blood and in a fallen world which, John says, 'lies in the power of the evil one' (1 John 5:19). There is much to discourage. Jesus felt that. To be free from the possibility of discouragements would be more 'spiritual' than Jesus—and therefore not truly spiritual at all.

Psalms 42 and 43 teach us the biblical approach to discouragement: we feel it, we recognize it for what it is, and we analyze the reasons for its presence.

Monday, April 22, 2013


"How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it."

             - Leslie Newbigin

Taken from Tweets by Thabiti Anyabwile  @ThabitiAnyabwil

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Revelation in Five Minutes

Can the Book of Revelation be summarized in five minutes or less? This video by Rick Chromey is actually pretty good. I recommend it as worth a view.

Hat Tip: Thinking Out Loud

Profess and Practice

We most humbly beg You to give us grace…
not only to be hearers of the Word,
but doers also of the same;
not only to love,
but also to obey Your gospel;
not only to favor,
but also to follow Your godly doctrine,
not only to profess,
but also to practice Your blessed commandments…
to the honor of Your holy Name, and the health of our souls.

- Thomas Becon, 1511-1567

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Process of Recovery

“For just as sin, addiction, and misery typically go together, so do confession, healing, and the long process of redemption. We need redemption not just from our sins and addictions but also from their miseries — particularly those miseries that occasion more sin and deeper addiction. As all recovering sinners know, this process of healing and liberation, this ‘conversion unto life,’ this set of lessons to teach us how to dance again will prove to be as cunning, baffling, powerful, and patient as addiction itself.”

— Cornelius Plantinga  Not the Way It's Supposed to Be
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1995), 149.

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Wrong Division

I don't think that's what Paul meant.

From: Searching For Grace

(Click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Built In Reflex

"Peter Kreeft, a philosopher, puts it this way" 'The opposite of theism is not atheism, it's idolatry.' In other words everyone is going to worship a god. We were created to be worshipers  as birds were created to fly and rivers were created to flow. It's what we do. The question for you is who or what will be the object of your worship..."

"...When you subtract the religious language, worship is the built in human reflex to put your hope in something or someone and then chase after it. You hold something up and then give your life to pursuing it. If you live in this world, then sooner or later you grow some assumptions concerning what your life is all about, what you should really be going after. And when you begin to align your life with that pursuit, then, whether you realize it or not, you are worshiping."

       - Kyle Idleman,  Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. pages 58-59

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eight Reasons for the Media Blackout on Gosnell

From Trevin Wax:
8 Reasons for the Media Blackout on Kermit Gosnell On Twitter and FaceBook today, #Gosnell is trending. The reason for the social media buzz is the strange silence of the mainstream media regarding one of the most gruesome murder trials in American history.
To put the Kermit Gosnell trial in perspective, consider other famous cases of child-killing. From Susan Smith to Andrea Yates, and most recently the horror of Newtown, we are accustomed to 24/7 news coverage of these types of tragedies.
Not so with Dr. Gosnell.
Here are the reasons why:
1. The Gosnell case involves an abortionist.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the abortionist must be portrayed as a victim of hate and intolerance, not a perpetrator of violence. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortionist” separate from testimony about dead women and children.
2. The Gosnell case involves an unregulated abortion clinic.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the clinic must be portrayed as a “refuge” for women in distress, not a “house of horrors” where women are taken advantage of. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortion clinic” away from negative connotations.
3. The Gosnell case involves protestors who, for years, stood outside 3801 Lancaster and prayed, warning people about what was taking place inside.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the protestors must be portrayed as agitators and extremists, not peaceful people who urge mothers to treasure the miracle inside them. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps the abortion protestors from looking like heroes.
4. The Gosnell case involves gruesome details about living, viable babies having their spinal cords “snipped” outside the womb.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the details of an abortion procedure are to be avoided. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from asking why such violent killing is unjust moments after birth, yet acceptable at any other time during the pregnancy.
5. The Gosnell case raises the question of human rights.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the discussion must always be framed in terms of a woman’s “reproductive rights,” not a baby’s “human rights.” But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from asking why “reproductive rights” should trump “human rights” – or why a doctor devoted to “reproductive rights” would (without any apparent twinge of conscience) violate human rights so egregiously.

Nine Things You Should Know About Gosnell Infanticide & Abortion Trial

From Joe Carter (Warning: Not for the squeamish)

Kermit Gosnell, 69, is an abortionist on trial in Pennsylvania for murder and infanticide. Here are 9 things you should know about the Gosnell case:
1. Gosnell was arrested in January 2011, charged with eight counts of murder: one patient who allegedly died under his care after a botched abortion, and seven infants supposedly born alive whose spinal cords Gosnell allegedly severed with scissors.
2. According to prosecutors in Philadelphia, Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants, and poor women, and made millions of dollars over 30 years performing illegal and late-term abortions in squalid and barbaric conditions. Gosnell took extra precautions with white women from the suburbs, according to the grand jury report. He allegedly ushered them into a slightly cleaner area because he thought they would be more likely to file a complaint.
3. Women paid $325 for first-trimester abortions and $1,600 to $3,000 for abortions up to 30 weeks. The clinic took in up to $15,000 a day, said authorities. Although abortions after the 24th week are illegal, Gosnell allegedly aborted and killed babies in the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy and charged more for bigger babies.
4. According to the grand jury report, the clinic reeked of animal urine and the furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Medical instruments found in the practice had not been properly sterilized. State officials have failed to visit or inspect his abortion clinic since 1993. Prosecutors also claim that Gosnell is not certified in either gynecology or obstetrics.
5. Prosecutors say that none of Gosnell's staff, including his wife, were licensed nurses or doctors and that a 15-year-old student performed anesthesia with potentially lethal narcotics.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shiela's Story

Awesome story by Shiela Walsh (singer and former co-host of the 700 Club) on her struggle with depression.
Like most of you I am deeply saddened whenever I hear that a fellow believer has succumbed to suicide. For me, as for a few of you, it will always hit closer to home. My father took his life by drowning when he was thirty-four, leaving my mother with three young children and questions that no one on this earth could answer. I grew up struggling with depression, believing that no matter how fast I ran or how hard I worked, my father’s final choice would be mine as well. I understood so little about mental illness during those years. For many who take their lives, the element of choice isn’t there anymore. The darkness is too dark, the pain too deep to even begin to reason.
One day in the early fall of 1992 I simply couldn’t fight anymore. I was co-host of “The 700 Club with Dr. Pat Robertson” but on the inside I was falling apart. I stood at the edge of the ocean in Virginia Beach and all I wanted to do was to keep on walking until the waves were over my head. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my mother receiving a call to tell her that once more she had lost someone she loved under the water. Instead I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for a month, diagnosed with severe clinical depression. For me, I felt as if I had gone to hell. I had been running from that place all my life. I had yet to understand that sometimes God will take you to a prison to set you free. In the ashes of my former life I discovered a life worth living, based on nothing I brought to the table, but on the fiery relentless love of God.
That was over twenty years ago and I am not cured but I am redeemed.

Passionate Pursuit

"If someone ever asks you  'What's so special about Christianity? What sets it apart from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or anything else?' your answer is found right here. Nowhere else do we find God in passionate pursuit of people...."

"...You can't understand the seriousness of idolatry without understanding the jealousy of God. Any you can't understand his jealousy without some understanding of his relentless, powerful love for you, because they are intertwined."

       - Kyle Idleman,  Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. pages 48-49

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Questions to Expose

11 Questions That Expose Idols - From Thomas Schmidt, quoting Darrin Patrick.
1. What do I worry about most?
2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
4. What do I do to cope? (What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?)
5. What preoccupies me? (What do I daydream about?)
6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? (Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?)
7. What do I lead with in conversations?
8. Early on what do i want to make sure that people know about me?
9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
10. What do I really want and expect out of life? (What would really make me happy?)
11. What is my hope for the future? 

We Grieve With Them

When the news broke on Saturday that Rick & Kay Warren's 27 year old son, Matthew, committed suicide  I grieved along with most Christians, and prayed for comfort and strength for the Warrens. My son is the same age as their son. I can't imagine the full horror of their pain. 

However, there are some, including some professed believers, who have used this tragedy to intensify their criticisms of Rick Warren, his teachings and his ministry. How insensitive and cruel can someone be? That form of spiritual bullying has no place among the people of God. No matter what you may think about Rick Warren's books, teaching and ministry, this is NOT the time for criticism.

Beth Moore's passionate, powerful written response, Sadness and Madness, said it best. Here is her conclusion.
But even now at the hardest moment of their lives the Warrens can teach something vital if we are willing to learn. Their heartbreak demonstrates what has always been true but has never been more profoundly overlooked: these who serve us publicly also suffer privately. They are not caricatures. They are not just personalities. They are people living on a painful planet with the rest of us.
The Warrens will come forth like gold. The enemy will not win. They will fight the good fight. They will finish the race. They will keep the faith.
I love the Body of Christ. I don’t want want to get cynical. I don’t want to sit around and hate the haters or I become one. But this morning I just want to say this. We can love each other better. Let’s do. People have enough hurt. Let’s be careful with one another.
Please read her whole article at the link.

Pray for Rick and Kay Warren. Grieve with them. They are our brother and sister. They are grieving  They need us.  The following note appeared on Rick Waren's Twitter feed last night:
Grieving is hard.Grieving as public figures,harder.Grieving while haters celebrate your pain,hardest.Your notes sustained us
May the Lord give them much comfort and grace.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Things We Chase

"Martin Luther famously stated “Sin is the self bending in on the self.” A fruitless cycle we find ourselves in, much like a dog chasing its own tail. When “self” is the motivation and goal, we run and run and only ever end up with something less than what we’re after. 

This is exactly the problem. We chase so many things for our own personal gain, and if/when we finally get them, it doesn’t actually fulfill us. Even if we think we’ve arrived and reached that long pursued goal, it doesn’t last long as something newer and shinier lies along the horizon."
           - Jamie Munson

Sunday, April 7, 2013


“Christ in heaven is our hope in glory, and Christ in the heart is our hope of glory. An anchor is useless unless fastened at both ends, and Christ has fastened one end in glory, which the Holy Ghost comes down and fastens the other end of the anchor in our hearts. In older times the anchor used to be brought in first and the ship came in afterward. So Christ has gone in as the forerunner within the veil, and we shall come in afterward.”

           — A.J. Gordon

HT: Of First Importance

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fallout From Radioactive Joy

“Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact?

The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.”

         — Lesslie Newbigin The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
                       (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 116

HT:  Of First Importance

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Not An Open Relationship

"The only relationship God is interested in is one that is exclusive and completely committed. He is not interested in an 'open relationship' with you. He won't consider sharing space on the loveseat of your heart...

....God is jealous for your heart, not because he is petty or insecure, but because he loves you. The reason why God has such a huge problem with idolatry is that his love for you is all-consuming. He loves you too much to share you."

       - Kyle Idleman,  Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. pages 43-44

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful thing. From Pete Wilson:
The moment you think you are owed or entitled to something, you stop being grateful for it.
Your spouse.
Your house.
Your job.
Your kids.
Your friends.
That moment that made you laugh so hard your side hurt.
That sunset that made you stop and take a picture.
That moment of worship where you felt God’s presence so strongly.
Each and every moment. Each and every person.
Life is a gift.
Grace is a gift.
Be thankful.

Do It Yourself Idolatry

"Remember your commandments.

First: no other gods.

Second: no making other gods to worship.

The profound wisdom of that second commandment is that anything in the world can be hammered into an idol, and therefore can be a false god, if misplaced at the top spot of our affections It's DIY idolatry: choose from our handy assortment of gods, mix and match, create your own....

...Anything at all can become an idol once it becomes a substitute for God in our lives."

    - Kyle Idleman,  Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. pages 25-26

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


“There are differences in the ways the New Testament writers present the facts, but there can be no doubt that for the New Testament writers as a whole it was the cross that was at the heart of the faith. In the literal sense of the term it was ‘crucial’.

We are saved, not by some fine theory and not by some blinding revelation and certainly not by our own best effort, but by Christ’s atoning death.

Therefore, any really serious attempt to understand the Christian way must begin with the cross. Unless we come to see what the cross means we do not understand Christianity.”

               — Leon Morris   The Atonement

Hat Tip:  Of First Importance

Always the Issue

"Idolatry isn't just one of many sins; rather it's the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggles you're dealing with, eventually you'll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethroned, and the Lord God takes his rightful place, you will not have victory.

Idolatry isn't an issue, it is the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods. Deal with life on the glossy outer layers, and you might never see is.; scratch a little beneath the surface, and you begin to see that it's always there, under some other coat of paint. there are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always idolatry."

         - Kyle Idleman,  Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. page 22

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interpreting Christianese

For a laugh (and possibly a scare) read How to Interpret Christianese.

What a humorous and unfortunately amazingly accurate dictionary of American evangelical church culture!

Gods at War

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time should easily be able to determine that one of the themes I am very interested in right now is idolatry - How discovering, understanding and confronting the idols we (I, you) worship is a major key to spiritual freedom and victory over sin. No one breaks any of the other 8 commandments until they first break numbers 1 and 2. This was a major theme in Mark Driscoll's book which I recently reviewed, and it came up in Keller's book on Galatians.

I was intrigued and excited when I heard that Kyle Idleman's new book dealt with this message.  His first book, Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, was a bestseller and one of the best books I read back in 2011. I'm now reading the new one, Gods At War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart. What's it about? From the back cover:
"..there are false gods at war within each of us, and they battle fore the place of glory and control in our lives. What keeps us from truly following Jesus is that our hearts are pursuing something or someone else. Behind the sin you're struggling with, the discouragement you're dealing with, the lack of purpsoe you're living with is a false god that is winning the war for your heart."
Expect a lot of quotes to be posted.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Something to Avoid

I'm Five Years Old Today!

...in blogging years, that is. Today "The Journeyman's Files" is five years old. I guess I'm almost ready for kindergarten! Here's a link to my very first post on April 1, 2008.

Thanks to all who have been on this journey with me from early on, and to those who have joined along the way. The journey continues!