Friday, April 30, 2010

More Sermon Spillover

Yet another quote that probably will not make it into Sunday's manuscript...though I really love this one from David Prior in his excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians:

"Paul looks at the Corinthian church as it is in Christ before he looks at anything else that is true of the church. That disciplined statement of faith is rarely made in local churches. The warts are examined and lamented, but often there is no vision of what God has already done in Christ."

Oh that my church would be one of those rare churches in which we see one another as we are in Christ before we look at anything else!

Your Prayer Life

Thanks to JT for posting this convicting challenge from @johnwbryson:

If Jesus answered all your prayers from the last 30 days, would anything change in THE World or just YOUR world.

Bible Memorization

Yesterday I was working on memorizing Habakkuk 3:17-19,

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.

I have been familiar with these verses for a long time, but I have never committed them to memory. It seemed to me that personally and pastorally, these would be good verses to have firmly rooted in my mind and heart.

Not surprisingly, I found myself having a pretty good day. It is hard to get irritated or anxious about trivial things when the mind is musing on words like these all day. I know I've not been memorizing enough Scripture lately, so I've recommitted to putting some key passages to memory.

I've got a few in mind, but what are some that you would suggest?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tim James: English Only?

What do you think God's attitude is toward this commercial:

Sermon Spillover

I don't think that this quote from Charles Spurgeon probably won't make it into my final manuscript for this Sunday, but it was an encouraging reminder anyway:

"I believe in the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure that He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doing Sports to God's Glory

Regular readers of this blog know that I thoroughly enjoy sports. So it surprised me that in the 14 months I've been keeping this blog I haven't mentioned Stephen Altrogge's book Game Day for the Glory of God.

I won a free copy of this book from Stephen nearly two years ago in a contest he did at his blog determining the ten greatest moments in sports history. Here's a description from the publisher:

Scripture calls Christians to do everything for the glory of God. That means every thought, every word, and every deed are to be done in a way that brings pleasure and honor to him. Believe it or not, this includes playing, watching, and talking sports! But most of us fail to recognize how sports fit into the big picture of a God-glorifying life, unable to imagine that the God who created the universe might actually care about Little League games and Monday Night Football.

So how do we play, watch, and talk sports for God's glory? Game Day for the Glory of God seeks to answer that question from a biblical perspective. Sports fan Stephen Altrogge aims to help readers enjoy sports as a gift from God and to see sports as a means of growing in godliness.

I think the book is ideal for junior high and high school athletes, but it is also an excellent book for fathers to take their younger children through, to help them get a grasp on how to engage in sports (either viewing or playing) in a God-exalting manner.

Whatever Happened to Lauryn Hill?

At the time of Lauryn Hill's 2001 MTV Unplugged performance, she was one of the biggest musical stars in the world. Her first CD had earned five Grammy awards and sold over 18 million copies worldwide. The unplugged performance was her return to the music scene after a three-year hiatus.

Has anyone heard this CD? Its lyrics are so filled with biblical truth that it is practically a Christian CD (as the video below illustrates). I'm not saying she's the most adept theologian on the planet, but there is still a great deal of food for thought. As I listened to this message, I was amazed that this was promoted by and shown on MTV. But I don't recall anyone in the Christian music industry picking up on her apparent spiritual awakening. Since then she's pretty much dropped off the scene again.

From time to time I wonder, whatever happened to Lauryn Hill? Songs like this make me wonder whether I'll meet her in the resurrection some day (I've included the lyrics below):

Oh Jerusalem yeah, oh Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem...

Realizing that there's no place else to go
And there's nobody I know who can help me
Text book solutions are so improbable
Cause everybody else is just as empty
Naked as the day that I was born, I tried to hide
...behind education and philosophy
Hopeless explanation to describe a situation
I can't see because the world's on top of me
Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me
From the body of this death
Freeing me from dust, and the superficial trust
Of an enemy that seeks to take my breath
Failing to connect, cause I'm morally defect
By reason of the God inside my head
Causing me to see, only what pertains to me
Believing I'm alive when I'm still dead
Limited to earth, unable to find out my worth
Cause I... can't see past my own vanity
If I'm not included, then I just have to remove it
From my mind because it has to be in sanity
Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me
From the body of this death
Can I even factor, that I've only been an actor
In this staged interpretation of this day
Focused on the shadow, with my back turned to the light
Too intelligent to see it's me in the way
What a paradox, having God trapped in a box
All this time professing to be spiritual
Naturally pretending, that I'm actually defending
God through my facade don't need material

Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem, keeping thee from perfection

Submit to truth, leave the deception of thy youth
So we could walk in the council of authority
Forget the proof, our generation so aloof
Only follow in the steps of the majority
Trust in the Lord, with all thy heart
And lay not to thine, oh an understanding in all thy ways
Acknowledge Him, and He shall correct our paths
Be not wise in thine own eyes and you can follow him
We judge and condemn, just as ignorant as them
Who religion tells us that we should ignore
Perpetrating we're in covenant with Him
Exposed by the very things that we adore
We grin and shake hands, then lay ambush for the man
Who has a different point of view then us
Infuriated cause he doesn't understand
Bringing up those things we don't want to discuss
Why still do evil, we don't know how to do good
Walking on in darkness running from the light, ey
Led to believe, because we live in neighborhoods
Telling us what's going on will be alright
Oh so repressed, so convinced that I was blessed
When I played with my game of Monopoly
Oh to suggest, that my life is still a mess
Who reveal the pride I'm hiding is what's stopping me

Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem keeping them from perfection

Abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bare
...fruit of itself except in the vine
I am the vine, ye are the branches, He's in live in me
And I in him, the same bring forth much fruit
Without me, you can do nothing
Oh Jerusalem, you're traditions have deceived you
I've chosen you, you haven't chosen me
Do whatsoever, you asking my name he may give to you
But in vain they call my name
teaching doctrines just the same
Justified among themselves
But God know with the heart, what man esteemed as smart
Is an abomination to Emmanuel
Just repent, turn from selfish motivation
So iniquity will not cause your demise
Make you a new heart and a new spirit
...for why would he die
Oh Jerusalem, please tell me why
I have no pleasure in the death of him to die
Says the Lord God where forth turn yourselves and live
It's not the talkers, but the walkers and his word
Are the only ones the Father will forgive

Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem, providing you no protection

Oh Jerusalem...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's Wrong with the World?

Christians believe that the simple answer to that question is: sin. But sometimes we are a bit fuzzy on how to explain or define sin. And especially in our culture, which stresses personal autonomy and independence, the Christian doctrine of sin, and the broader Christian worldview of which that doctrine is a part, is very unpopular.

It is harder to grasp and treasure the riches of Christ's redemption without a firm grasp of sin. So for a primer on sin that will help you understand and explain what is wrong with the world, I'd recommend this essay by Cornelius Plantinga called Sin: Not the Way It's Supposed to Be (you can also view it as a 23-page PDF file).

It is basically a condensed version of Plantinga's book by the same title. But this essay gets to the heart of the book's content in a shorter and more accessible form. It may seem morbid or unnecessary to read 23 pages on what sin is, but I found this essay well worth the investment of time.

Don't Forget to Groan, 4/27

Young Indian ragpickers search for valuables and recyclable materials at the city's largest legal municipal waste landfill in Mavallipura village on the outskirts of Bangalore.

(Why should we groan?)

How Many Days Old Are You?

In his sermon from Lamentations 3 this past Sunday, my friend Jason used the occasion of one of our members' 40th birthdays to highlight how many "new mornings of mercy" God had been faithful in this man's life.

A few years back, I calculated how many days old I was, as a way of celebrating God's daily mercies to me. For a couple of years, I entered that number each new day in my journal as I began devotions as a way of reminding myself of God's unfailing mercies, which are new each and every morning.

For some reason I stopped doing it, I think because I found this website, which allows you to enter in your date of birth and see how many days old you are. Because I knew I could easily find the number without having to do a lot of math, I just stopped keeping track myself. But I think I need to revive that "tradition" of mine, because it was a precious, daily reminder of God's unmerited goodness to me.

So today I punched in my date of birth, and as of this morning I have experienced exactly 11,902 new mornings of God's mercies.

Visit the site, plug in your date of birth, and let me know how many days of mercy God has showered upon you.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I saw this on Thabiti's blog and found it kind of humorous, though it also teaches a good point: let's be sure that we understand and explain what we are talking about when we use common Christian vernacular. Both non-Christians and young Christians may have no idea what we are saying if we do not thoughtfully help them to understand what our words mean:

Seventeen Years Later...Still Waiting for Answers

The sermon, Being Pro-Life Christians Under a Pro-Choice President, is just as relevant now as it was seventeen years ago, when it was originally preached by John Piper. In it, Piper mentions eight ways that a Pro-Life Christian can honor a Pro-Choice president. The seventh way is "Expecting Straightforward answers":

We will honor you by expecting from you straightforward answers to straightforward questions. We would not expect this from a con-man, but we do expect it from an honorable man.

For example, are you willing to explain why a baby's right not to be killed is less important than a woman's right not to be pregnant?

Or are you willing to explain why most cities have laws forbidding cruelty to animals, but you oppose laws forbidding cruelty to human fetuses? Are they not at least living animals?

Or are you willing to explain why government is unwilling to take away the so-called right to abortion on demand even though it harms the unborn child; yet government is increasingly willing to take away the right to smoke, precisely because it harms innocent non-smokers, killing 3,000 non-smokers a year from cancer and as many as 40,000 non-smokers a year from other diseases?

And if you say that everything hangs on whether the fetus is a human child, are you willing to go before national television in the oval office and defend your support for the "Freedom of Choice Act" by holding in your hand a 21 week old fetus and explaining why this little one does not have the fundamental, moral, and constitutional right to life? Are you willing to say to parents in this church who lost a child at that age and held him in their hands, this being in your hands is not and was not a child with any rights of its own under God or under law?

Perhaps you have good answers to each of these questions. We will honor you by expecting you to defend your position forthrightly in the public eye. You have immense power as President of the United States. To wield it against the protection of the unborn without giving a public accounting in view of moral and scientific reality would be dishonorable. We will honor you by expecting better.

Read all eight, so that you aren't tempted to sin in doing #7.

Should I Really be Impressed by This?

At the recommendation of Matt Chandler, I recently picked up a copy Larry Osborne's book, Sticky Teams. On the opening pages there are close to 40 endorsements of the book and of Osborne's ministry. This one particularly stood out to me:

This is possibly the best book on leadership ever written. Everyone should buy multiple copies.

That is high praise for a book! Then I looked at the name of the person who gave this endorsement:

Carolyn Osborne, Larry's Mom

Does that count? I mean, is Mom really an objective analyst of leadership books to know that this is the best book on leadership ever written?

I'm not so sure about that endorsement...but I do respect Chandler's ministry and what he has done at the Village, so I am eager to get reading this one.

And if I ever publish a book, I can expect a powerful endorsement from Susan Lazarus, Larry's mom.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Work & Rest

As I finish up my vacation, I thought I'd post a sermon I listened to awhile back on the theme of work and rest. These are topics which, though they occupy such a large part of our lives, are often neglected by pastors in their preaching.

This sermon by Tim Keller was a blessing to me when I listened to it. Let me know what you think of it if you choose to listen...

Friday, April 23, 2010

You've got 2/5 of a your part well

Francis Chan:

Suppose you are an extra in an upcoming movie. You will probably scrutinize that one scene where hundreds of people are milling around, just waiting for that two-fifths of a second when you can see the back of your head. Maybe your mom and your closest friend get excited about that two-fifths of a second with you....maybe. But no one else will realize it's you. Even if you tell them, they won't care.

Let's take it a step farther. What if you rent out the theater on opening night and invite all your friends and family to come and see the new movie about you? People will say, 'You're an idiot! How could you think this movie is about you?'

Many Christians are even more delusional than the person I've been describing. So many of us think and live like the movie of life is all about us...

But it's not. Life is not about you, or me. It's about God. Chan continues:

We have only our two-fifths of a second long scene to live. I don't know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. That is what each of our two-fifths of a second is about.

Play your part well today; do everything to call attention to the loveliness of Christ, not yourself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Self-Knowledge Comes through God Knowledge

R.C. Sproul:

"Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Marks of an Evangelistic Life

Despite what I wrote last week about our use of the word evangelism, I really am desirous that I myself and my church would grow in our passion for evangelism (in the traditional sense of the word).

Along those lines, I was challenged by these insights from Thom Rainer (via Kevin DeYoung) on the habits of evangelistic Christians:

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.

Would you add anything to the list?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vacation Reading

Vacation is about some intentional family time, so I decided to make my vacation reading family-oriented as well. If you would pray that some of these truths would sink deeply into my soul and change me for His glory and my family's good, I'd be grateful:

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'll be getting some rest this week with my family, which means no internet or email for me. I have scheduled a few posts to go up through the week, but things will be a bit lighter than usual.

I'll plan to pick up normal blogging on Monday, April 26th.

Don't Forget to Groan, 4/17

On April 14th, residents of China's remote Yushu County, located on the Tibetan plateau, were awoken by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake. Chinese state media now says the death toll has risen to 1,144. Rescuers continue to search for survivors as homeless residents work to recover what they can and set up shelter from the freezing overnight temperatures (see more photos here).

(Why should we groan?)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's Wrong with America

Despite what this pastor says, I have a hard time thinking it's the way men go to the bathroom:

I have this tagged under "humor", but I'm not sure that it's actually funny. This guy is serious.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Suffering and Sanctification

Speaking of the trials and hardships that Christians are called to endure, Hebrews 12:11 says:
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Suffering trains us. In You Can Change, Tim Chester uses a classic 80's movie to illustrate:

In the film Karate Kid, the young student is assigned a series of tasks by the old master. He thinks they're all meaningless and irrelevant -- painting the fence, waxing the car, and so on. But eventually he discovers the repeated hand and arm movements have given him strength, reflexes and agility -- everything he needs to be a great karate fighter!

Often the events of our lives appear to be meaningless and irrelevant. But all the time God is training using grace and godliness...Sinful desires can lurk in our hearts unnoticed because those desires are neither threatened nor thwarted. But suffering stirs the calm waters of latent desires. It reveals the true state of our hearts.

What a great reminder...who thought the Karate Kid could be so edifying!

Together for the Gospel Video

If, like me, you would have liked to be at the Together for the Gospel conference this past week, you can check out the video from all the sessions here.

I spent some time this morning watching Matt Chandler's talk from yesterday morning and was, as I expected, very edified. If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, just the last 5 minutes where the guys pray for Matt will strengthen your resolve to suffer well for Christ's glory. That said, the whole video is certainly worth your time:

T4G 2010 -- Special Session -- Matt Chandler from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Forget to Groan, 4/15

A woman cries outside her gutted house after a fire at a slum area in New Delhi on April 8.

(Why should we groan?)

Rethinking Evangelism

When you hear the word "evangelism" what enters your mind? You probably think of sharing the good news of Christ's life, death and resurrection, with an unbelieving person (or people) in hopes of another person would be converted and saved by God's grace.

And while I long for this as much as any Christian, I wonder if that understanding of evangelism is too limited. In Romans 1:15 Paul writes, "I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome." The Greek word translated "preach the gospel" is the word euangelizo, which most literally means, "to evangelize." So Paul writes that he is eager to evangelize those who were in Rome.

Nothing extraordinary about that, right? But who exactly is Paul so eager to evangelize? He says, "you also who are in Rome." And he's already told us a good bit about these people: they are loved by God, and have been called to be saints (v.7). They are those whom Paul thanks God for, because their faith is being proclaimed in all the world (v.8). They are those whom Paul is eager to visit so that he might be encouraged by their faith (v.11-12). They are his "brothers" (v.13).

In other words, Paul is eager to evangelize these Christians. The evangel -- the gospel -- is not merely the news people need to be converted and brought to faith. It's also the very same news that Christians need to grow up in faith and be strengthened day by day after their conversion.

So let's be zealous about evangelism, Christians. Only, let's not limit our evangelism to non-believers. You and I need the gospel every bit as much as they do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jimmy Rollins' Calf... unimaginably less important than his soul.

I was inclined to feel bummed when I heard J-Roll would probably be out for a few weeks with a strained calf. The Phils' are off to a great start, and Rollins had looked terrific in the first week of the season. I hope the injury doesn't affect Rollins' productivity, or the Phillies' early success.

But I was quickly reminded of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5, which I preached on a few weeks back: "From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh..." The above paragraph regards Rollins only according to the flesh.

He is more than a baseball player, isn't he? He's a human being made in God's image, who will spend eternity either enjoying God's presence or experiencing His righteous judgment. If I care about Rollins' productivity on the field, shouldn't I care infinitely more about the condition of his soul?

I should not assume that simply because Jimmy points his finger to the sky after a base hit, that he knows Jesus in a saving way. And even if he does, should I not be more concerned for his Christian witness as an athlete than how many weeks he will miss with his injury?

So yes, hurry back Jimmy. You're a big part of Phillies' history, and you make them go day in and day out. But if it's not done in Christ's name and for His glory, it's all in vain. So my preeminent concern for you is not when you return to the Phillies' lineup, but that you know and love Jesus above all things.

Church Autonomy: A Good Thing?

I was looking through the most recent issue of Christianity Today and saw a full-page ad for an organization called Speak Up. It read:

The doors of the church are being bound. The growing intrusion of government into the affairs of the church poses a profound threat to church autonomy and even to our most basic religious liberties -- freedom of speech, freedom to exercise religious beliefs, and freedom of access. Pastors must be willing to speak up to reclaim and secure the right of the Church to be the Church.

It then gave its website link for people to visit.

I'm not sure what to make if this. I am a pastor, so they are speaking to me. They say I "must" speak up to secure the Church's rights. And yet my first thought on reading this was, "The Church's autonomy is being threatened? Should I care about this?"

It's not that I don't care at all, but I am much more concerned about the Church's purity and witness than I am about it's autonomy. And I could certainly be wrong, but it seems to me that the Church in America might not be so impotent and conformed to this world if its autonomy was threatened even more. I don't see government being the biggest threat to the Church; I think nominalism is by far the greater danger.

The more the Church is oppressed and hindered by the government, the more nominal, unregenerate Christians will be compelled to leave the Church, and thus the Church will be a more pure witness to our Savior and King, Jesus Christ.

But those are just my first thoughts. Leave a comment and help me to think it through some more...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Awe Factor

I think some of you have seen this before, but this video gives these figures a different perspective:

Why I Recommend Books

As I wrote yesterday, I love books and frequently recommend books on this site. Periodically I've been asked why I make such a big deal about books. Isn't the Bible sufficient? Why distract people from the Scriptures and point them to fallible men and women who write about what the Bible has to say? Why not go directly to the Scriptures ourselves?

Here's the short answer:

Yes, the Bible is sufficient. I love the Bible, and desire that others find great joy in the Bible. But one of the things the Bible tells us is this, in Ephesians 4:

"And [God] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..."

The Bible says that God has appointed teachers who are particularly gifted at handling the Scriptures, and that these teachers have been appointed to build up Christ's body by the use of their God-given gift.

These teachers teach through different forms (preaching being a main one that is mentioned in the Scriptures), and one way that teachers build up Christ's Body is by writing books. While I devote much of my time to the spoken word through preaching, the written word is especially useful because sentences and paragraphs can be read and re-read, enabling the mind to ponder more carefully the truths being communicated.

So, yes, I love the Bible. And yes, like the Bereans in Acts 17, test everything you read in books by the inspired, infallible Word of God. But if you love the Bible and regard highly its authority, then you should love books too. For the very Bible you cherish so much tells us that God has given teachers to His Church. If you neglect books, you neglect one valuable means that God has given us by which we might grow into maturity in Christ

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yet He Wants Books!

I know I recommend a lot of books, and sometimes that has led people to question whether I minimize the importance and preeminence of the Bible. Why all this talk about books?

I want to say a little something on that tomorrow, but for now here's a quote from Charles Spurgeon along these lines. It is from a sermon he preached on 2 Timothy 4:13, which reads:

"When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments."

Yes, he actually preached an entire sermon on this verse! In it, he said:

He is inspired, and yet he wants books!

He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!

He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!

He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!

He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!

He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!

The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.

Just Do Something!

That's the title of a book by Kevin DeYoung that I read a few weeks ago. If you've ever wondered how to discern God's will in areas like what job to take, where you should live, etc. this is a short, biblical, edifying book. Here's the publisher's description:

Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God's will don't work. It's time to try something new: Give up.

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through. Too often, he writes, God's people tinker around with churches, jobs, and relationships, worrying that they haven't found God's perfect will for their lives. Or—even worse—they do absolutely nothing, stuck in a frustrated state of paralyzed indecision, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting for clear, direct, unmistakable direction.

But God doesn't need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He's already revealed his plan for our lives: to love him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.

No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something.

There is a lot of goofy stuff that is written about this subject, and DeYoung sifts through the goofiness and gives us solid, biblical wisdom on what the will of God is and how we should go about doing it. If you, or someone you know, struggles with a concern for finding God's will for their life, this is a good read.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Changed by the Gospel

This morning I had the privilege of preaching from Colossians 3:1-17 on how God continually, gradually, changes us into His image through Christ.

No writer outside the Bible has influenced my understanding of the dynamics of biblical change more than Tim Keller. I am immensely grateful to God for how He has used Keller's grasp of the Scriptures to help me understand my own heart and the power of the gospel to change my heart.

For those who want to read more, I recommend this article from Keller called The Centrality of the Gospel. The article unpacks this basic, summary statement:

The Christian life is a process of renewing every dimension of our life-- spiritual, psychological, corporate, social--by thinking, hoping, and living out the “lines” or ramifications of the gospel.

Check it out and let me know what you think...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Besides the fact that it's reminding some of you of this:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Church Being the Church

Quotes like this make me glad that I chose to give to the relief in Haiti through my local church, for the benefit of local churches over there:

"Voodoo has been in my family, but the government isn't helping us. The only people giving aid are the Christian churches."

Veronique Malot, a 24 year-old Port-au-Prince resident, who joined an evangelical church days after the January 12th earthquake.

Jury Duty

A few weeks ago, Michelle received a summons for jury duty. Because she cares for two small children, she was able to opt out of her responsibility in this.

But when we received the summons in the mail, both of us had the same thought: why do people hate jury duty so much? Michelle said that if not for caring for the kids, she would have happily carried out her commitment. Yet I hardly ever hear anyone say anything positive about it. In fact, when I googled "jury duty", the first hit was an article on how to get out of jury duty!

The way I see it, jury duty is a gift of God's common grace. To sit on a jury is to do something God-like, in the sense that we image forth God's justice and righteousness by our pursuit of justice and peace in the court. God has appointed judges, juries and other governing authorities to be ambassadors of His perfect justice in the world.

Yes, because of sin, the system is flawed and frustrating many times. But this does not negate the privilege we have to be a part of the judicial process.

So why do we hate it so?

What Kind of Detective are You?

A question from Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson's book Counsel from the Cross:

What phrase most accurately describes you in terms of your relationships with others:

a) Sin detective: Do you find it easy to point our others' sins and failures?

b) Grace detective: Do you love to point out evidences of God's grace in others' lives, even when they fail?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don't Forget to Groan, 4/8

With floodwaters rising inside her home in Novy Sverzhan, Belarus, on March 27, Nina Yaroshevich puts on rubber boots to make her way around. A nearby river flooded some 150 homes.

(Why should we groan?)

What is Man?

Traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), you would circle the earth seven times in one second and pass the moon in two seconds. At this speed, it would take you 4.3 years to reach our nearest star and 100,000 years to cross our galaxy.

There are thought to be at least 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. It would take 2,000,000 light years to reach the next closest galaxy and 20,000,000 to reach the next cluster of galaxies. And God is so great that He marks off the heavens with the breadth of His hand (Isaiah 40:12)!

In light of all this, is it not simply breathtaking that this God takes thought of you and me?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Calling Out for Dad

I was playing outside yesterday with Halle while Michelle was out having some "alone time" and Felicity was napping. Actually, I was reading a book while Halle played in the driveway, but she was quite content to play on her own!

Anyway, she was running around and playing quite happily by herself, until she moved toward the garage to get something. Suddenly she began to call out for me, "Daddy, Daddy!" She sounded a bit concerned, so I went to check it out. It turned out she was concerned about a buzzing noise she was hearing. There was a bee in the garage, and it was freaking her out a bit.

I thought nothing of this, until I read the following this morning in Tim Chester's You Can Change (I know I've said it before, but if you want to read a book on the dynamics of biblical change, I urge you to pick up a copy of this one!):

"A child will play happily in her own little world. But as soon as she senses danger, she'll look around for a parent. This is how it should be for the child of God. As soon as we sense danger (temptation/sin), we should look up to our heavenly Father for help."

That is what happened yesterday in my driveway. My little girl sensed danger, and she called out for me. And if we want to do battle against sin, we would be wise to make prayer our default reaction the moment we experience the danger of temptation.

Hope for our Hurts

Tim Chester:

For all eternity your past experience of evil will enhance your eternal experience of glory.

And there's Scripture to back that up:

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Baseball Fans...

Did you catch this play from yesterday's White Sox game?

Monday, April 5, 2010


Since becoming a Christian ten years ago, I've been told on more than one occasion that the word "Easter" is derived from a pagan fertility goddess (hence the bunnies and eggs).

But, as David Koyzis writes, that may not be the case:

There is still no general agreement on the origin of the word, but it has been suggested that it may come, not from the name of a goddess, but from eostarun, the Old High German word for the dawn itself. (Our word east obviously has similar origins.) In fact there are some remarkable similarities between the words for resurrection, Easter and dawn in several Indo-European languages. The common meaning underlying these words is a rising of some sort.

If our own word Easter originally meant sunrise, then perhaps it was fittingly applied to the Rising of the Son of God from the dead by our Teutonic forebears. And if this is so, then it seems that we English-speakers do after all have a most appropriate name for the feast of Christ’s Resurrection.

Piper and Warren, Part 2

Last week when I mentioned John Piper's invitation to Rick Warren to speak at Desiring God's National Conference in September, a commenter wanted to know a bit about who Rick Warren is and why there would be concern over him speaking at this conference.

I hadn't responded yet to that comment, but after reading this post from Tim Challies, I think he answers better than I could have. It is fair-minded and charitable, and I believe it's wise and discerning, as I would expect from Challies.

If there's still a lack of clarity about Warren, let me know and I will try to respond in some more detail.

More Silliness from Matt Chandler

Last week when I posted something from Matt Chandler, it provoked a more heated response than we've ever seen on this blog.

Here's something else from Chandler; it's got nothing to do with evolution this time. Rather, he is talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And while I'd refrain from using the words "silly" or "idiot" in talking with someone about the resurrection, I do think that what he has to say is worth considering:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why We're Not Giving Away a Car (or an iPod) Tomorrow

A lot of churches do, and they are probably sincere in their desire to share the good news of Jesus with those who might not be inclined to go to church. But we're not doing it. Instead, we're just going to tell people about Jesus. Jared Wilson explains why:

1. It creates buzz about cash and prizes, not the Easter event. Nobody wants to interview these pastors because they want them to talk about the resurrection. They want them to talk about the loot.

2. It identifies the church not with the resurrection, but with giving toys away.

3. Giving toys away is not parallel to Jesus' providing for the crowds. Jesus healed people and fed them. This is not the same as giving un-poor people an iPod.

4. It appeals to greed and consumerism. There is no biblical precedent for appealing to one's sin before telling them to repent of it. This is a nonsensical appeal.

5. Yes, Jesus said he would make us fishers of men, but extrapolating from this to devise all means of bait is not only unwarranted, it's exegetically stupid. The metaphor Jesus is offering here is just of people moving from the business of fishing to the business of the kingdom. There is no methodology being demonstrated here. (But the most common one would have been throwing out nets anyway, not baiting a hook.)

6. But seriously, how lame is it to "lure" people some place to create a "captive audience"? Sure, they know they're coming to church. But it's a disingenuous offer. The message of the gospel is not made for Trojan horses.

7. It demonstrates distrust in the compelling news that a man came back from the dead!!

8. It demonstrates distrust in the power of the gospel when we think we have to put it inside something more appealing to be effective.

9. We are just now seeing the data emerging from research of years of this kind of marketing/evangelism attractional church stuff, and the results are not good. I have no doubt these churches are going to see decisions this weekend. I'd be extra interested in how discipled these folks are in a year or two years or three. Hype has always produced "decisions." Would anyone argue that after 30 years or so of this approach to evangelism the evangelical church is better off?

10. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Eternal Suffering Packed into a Few Hours

This 3-minute video is worth your time to celebrate the precious value of the death of the Son of God:

Them's Fightin' Words

The unexpected comments on yesterday's post from Matt Chandler reminded me of these "fightin' words" from world-renowned boxer Mike Tyson:

"All praise is to Allah, I'll fight any man, any animal; if Jesus were here I'd fight him too."

You'll have your chance, Mike. But I wouldn't go there if I were you.

On this day in which we remember Jesus bearing the judgment we deserved for our sin, how grateful I am that at the cost of His own life, Jesus turned a rebellious enemy like me into a friend.

I was once just as blind and foolish as Mike Tyson, and it's only by the grace of God that I have come to see glory and beauty in the face of Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord, for this indescribable gift!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Something is Wrong...You Know It

Matt Chandler:

I think I was about 11 when I figured out that there was something wrong in the world. There was a girl in my school, Judy Haskell, who was a year older than me. She was as healthy as we were, she bounded, played, had a great time. She started feeling sick, went to the doctor, had leukemia, put up a pretty good fight for awhile and then died.

Now although to this day I understand the biology involved in disease, something in me screams, "It shouldn't be happening". Like this week I'm in the ICU in Children's Hospital with a three year old little boy, we're asking God for a miracle and I understand the biology in the disease, but it doesn't stop something in me that says it shouldn't be happening.

And I'd just like to point out the silly in the secular because South Park does such a good job of pointing out the silly in Christianity. If natural evolution is really what's going on here and that's the real story, why are we trying to cure anyone of anything? Because wouldn't it be that nature has decided that it's your turn to die so we can evolve? So why are we spending trillions of dollars on trying to heal diseases when nature, for some reason, is trying to off some of us?

I mean, we're going, "We've got to cure cancer. We've got to cure AIDS." Well how do you reconcile that if there is no God, if there is no Imago Dei? If something hasn't gone wrong, why are you trying to fix it? Why are we in Darfur? Why are we digging water wells? What are we taking food over there? "Well, there's oppression."

Well wait a minute. If it's just natural selection then that belief system says in order for us to be all that God would have us to be, the weak have to die, they have to be oppressed and killed by the strong.
So you know it, and I'm not just talking about Christians. Everybody knows something is wrong here.

John Piper and Rick Warren

John Piper has invited Rick Warren to speak at Desiring God's 2010 National Conference in Minneapolis (and Warren has accepted). To be perfectly honest, given what I know of Piper and Warren, one might have thought this to be an April Fool's joke; but it isn't.

Last night, Piper explained the decision, which is sure to cause many Reformed-type people to question (or downright attack) him. There is a lot of very engaging, thought-provoking content in this clip. Check it out and let me know what you think: