Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adoption = Call to Ministry

Tripp: Your adoption into the family of God was also a call to ministry..." That doesn't mean you need to quit your day job.

Lacking Nothing

ElyseFitz: Those who "lack nothing" are not those who have everything they might desire but those whose faith has been tested thru suffering.


@timchestercouk: "Sanctification is the progressive narrowing of the gap between confessional faith and functional faith."

Fighting Fear of Man

Mark Dever:

"If you fear the Lord, you can deal with your fear of man. But you cannot please God if you live to please men."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Christian View of the World

Christian attitude toward world is complex: "You have to cherish the world at the same time you struggle to endure it." Flannery O'Connor

Functional Gods

PaulTripp What I can't live without, making me doubt God's love when it is absent, is a functional God-replacement, directing my heart more than him.

The Life of the Cross

PastorTullian Tim Keller: "Any person who only sticks with Christianity as long as things are going his or her way is a stranger to the cross."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gospel Math

@PastorTullian on mathematics of the gospel: Jesus+Nothing=Everything; Everything-Jesus=Nothing.

Praying with Eyes Open

A few times that I've watched Matt Chandler preach, I've noticed that he often (or maybe always) prays with his eyes open. So as he's preparing to pray at the beginning or end of his sermon, rather than shut his eyes he is looking at his congregation as he prays.

This struck me as a bit odd, but I wonder if it should. Does anyone else regularly pray with your eyes open? What do you think of this practice? Are there any biblical statements about shutting our eyes when we pray?


In my sermon yesterday, I mentioned that every longing we have ever experienced is, at bottom, a longing for the return of Jesus. Though I didn't say it, I had this quote from C.S. Lewis on my mind:

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; more often I wonder whether we have ever desired anything else.

Top on the To-Do List

Elyse Fitzpatrick:

What's on your "to do" list today? "We have thought on your steadfast love, O God."


Spurgeon: "Fashion is the law of multitudes, but it is nothing more than the common consent of fools."


As I mentioned last week, I've been posting a fair amount on Twitter, as I find good short quotes in my reading and re-tweeting some thoughts of others.

One problem with Twitter is that the posts aren't archived (or at least I haven't figured out how to do it), which means, for instance, that the quote I really liked from Elyse Fitzpatrick two months ago is very difficult to find today.

So I've decided that I'm going to be posting those tweets that I want archived here on the blog too. Let's just saying I'm bleeting -- a mixture of blogging and tweeting. That way if I want to find one of those quotes for a sermon or some other purpose, I should have better chances of finding it. I'll still be posting on Twitter too, but I suppose the best of Twitter (at least according to me) will be here too.

This is going to increase the number of posts on the blog (especially as I try to get some of my favorites from the last few weeks all up on the blog), but they'll be short (140 characters at most) in length so they won't take long to read.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Excuse the Twitter lingo:

RT @PastorTullian Dave Harvey: A good ambition becomes a selfish ambition when it's our only ambition. It's called idolatry.

My question: what if your only ambition is to magnify Christ?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hoops Redemption

What a cool article from the Wall Street Journal about former NBA player Manute Bol (tall guy on the left, for the sports-challenged), who recently passed away at the age of 47. As a kid I watched Bol swat shots and rain 3's for years; I never would have imagined we'd spend eternity together in glory.

Here's a few quotes from the article:

Bol reportedly gave most of his fortune, estimated at $6 million, to aid Sudanese refugees. As one twitter feed aptly put it: "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals."

When his fortune dried up, Bol raised more money for charity by doing what most athletes would find humiliating: He turned himself into a humorous spectacle. Bol was hired, for example, as a horse jockey, hockey player and celebrity boxer. Some Americans simply found amusement in the absurdity of him on a horse or skates. And who could deny the comic potential of Bol boxing William "the Refrigerator" Perry, the 335-pound former defensive linemen of the Chicago Bears?

Bol agreed to be a clown. But he was not willing to be mocked for his own personal gain as so many reality-television stars are. Bol let himself be ridiculed on behalf of suffering strangers in the Sudan; he was a fool for Christ.

Read the whole thing here.

The Gospel & Dragon Fights

"We fell into sin as a race because we were beguiled by a dragon (Gen. 3:1). God promised to send a warrior who would crush the seed of that serpent (Gen. 3:15), and He has done this in Jesus Christ. In sum, the gospel is the story of a dragon-fight. The serpent of Genesis is the dragon of Revelation (Rev. 20:2), and we are called to rejoice that the dragon has been slain. In contrast, we have reduced the gospel to four basic steps toward personal happiness, and we are much farther from the truth than our fathers were when they told their glorious stories. This is another way of saying that dragon-lore is truer than therapy-speak."

-- Doug Wilson, Future Men

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tweets & Blogs

Because of time constraints, I think my Twitter feed has been more exciting than the blog lately. 140 characters make for short, quick posts, which is about all I have time for right now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is this Fair?

In the song You are Holy, the guys sing this:

I will sing to
And worship
The King who is worthy
I will love Him, adore Him
And I will bow down before Him
I will sing to and worship the King who is worthy
I will love Him, adore him
I will bow down before Him

While we're singing that, the girls get to sing this:

He is Lord of Lords
He is King of Kings
He is mighty God
Lord of everything

He's Emmanuel
He's the great "I AM"
He's my Prince of Peace
Who is the Lamb

He's the living God
He's my saving grace
He will reign forever
He is ancient of days

He's the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End
He's my Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, and friend

Where is the justice in this? They get to sing about the greatness of God, and I get to sing about me? I think next time we sing this song, I'm just going to be bold and sing the ladies' part. Is that a lack of submission to church authority?

Chandler on Homosexuality

I'm posting this here because I want to watch this at some point, though I don't have time to this week. I think Justin Taylor is right when he says:

It seems this is increasingly becoming a difficult subject to handle well. Some pastors harp on this issue in a disproportionate, condemnatory way. Others, swinging the pendulum in the other direction, don’t want to appear insensitive or right-wing and thus avoid it altogether.

He says Chandler deals with the subject head-on without being a jerk. If you have time, check it out and let me know whether you agree.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If God...

"If God is for us, and if God is God, then it is true that nothing can succeed against us."

John Piper, Future Grace, p. 116

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are You Still Trying to Prove Yourselves?

A set of questions from You Can Change, intended to help you discern whether you are functionally trusting in Christ to be your justification:

Do you ever get angry or brood because you want to prove you're in the right?
Does your Christian service feel like joyless duty?
Do you ever feel the pressure to perform?
Do you serve others so you can feel good about yourself or impress people?
Do you worry that you won't make the grade in life?
Do you enjoy conversations about the shortcomings of others?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Magnifying Christ

You may have seen this post from Chris Brauns, as it seems to be making the rounds at some of the blogs I frequent. But in case you missed it:

Here is a summer science project. Do this one at your own risk.

Choose an afternoon when the summer sun is burning down, get a magnifying glass and a pile of some dry combustible material. Dried leaves will work just fine. Gun powder will be more exciting.

Put the burning material down on the sidewalk and then use the magnifying glass to focus a beam of sunlight onto the material. You will be amazed at how quickly smoke begins to curl away. My boys and I do this and we think it great. Jamie rolls her eyes.

You know: the magnifying glass does not provide any power of its own. It serves only to direct the power of the sun. But, when it does, it brings light to a burning focus and things ignite.

That is what the local church is supposed to do. By itself, the church, God’s people, do not offer any power. But, a church is like a magnifying glass that God uses to focus and direct His power. Paul says in Ephesians 3:10 that God is pleased to make declaration of Himself both to people and the Heavenly realms by means of the church.

Maybe in your life, the presence of Christ does not seem powerful. You keep waiting for change and power to ignite in your life but it’s just not happening. If that is the case, then try another experiment this summer. Look for a church that centers on the Lord Jesus and His Word. Put yourself right underneath the magnifying glass on a warm Sunday and wait for Spirit and Truth to ignite in your heart.

The only qualification I'd make is in the last sentence, which gives the impression that connecting to the church is something that happens only on Sunday. I trust the author doesn't really mean it that way, but that's sort of how it reads. Church is not a building we go to once a week; it is the gathering of God's people, sharing their lives together in word and witness.

If we want change and power to ignite our lives for Christ, attending a meeting on Sunday is a good start. But it's the community of Christ that is God's display people to the world, not just the Sunday worship service.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Cross and Criticism

I'm not sure that I can stress too strongly my enthusiasm for Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson's book, Counsel from the Cross. Anyone involved in giving advice or counsel to others ought to give this book a read. Here's a quote from the chapter titled, "God's Love and Our Hearts":

"If you find it difficult to take criticism, it's because you haven't believed what the cross says about you. The cross is the most blatant statement of criticism ever displayed. It says that you deserve to die. You deserve to be stripped naked and humiliated and then to receive the righteous wrath of a just God for all eternity. That's what we all deserve.

But we have been given grace, forgiveness and relationship with him. You would need to defend yourself from criticism only if you didn't have a Savior who loved sinners. If you are defensive, you are missing the gospel."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Would Paul have prayed in Jesus' name?

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says,

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

So if Paul had a Jewish family over for dinner, do you think he'd pray in Jesus' name?

Or, more close-to-home, if I have my Jewish family members over for dinner, should I be explicit in naming the name of Jesus when I pray? Or, out of respect for the fact that they do not worship Jesus, should I simply give thanks to God without mentioning Jesus?


"Self-righteousness is being more aware of and irritated by the sins of others than you are conscious of and grieved by your own." - @PaulTripp

Christian, Your Slate is Not Clean

It's often said that one of the benefits of Christ's death for sinners is that He gives us all a clean slate, meaning that He has washed away our sins, and they can no longer condemn us.

That is good news, as far as it goes. But the gospel brings us good far greater than a clean slate. Because of Jesus God gives us a slate with a lot of writing on it; things like this:

I always do the things that are pleasing to God.

I am so focused on doing the will of God that it is my daily food.

I don't seek my own will, but God's will instead.

I have kept all of God's commandments.

I live in such a way that my life brings holiness to others.

I love others and lay down my life for them.

I live in such a way that people around me know that I love my heavenly Father more than anything else.

All this, though it seems manifestly untrue in your life, is indeed true of you and written on your slate because it is true of Jesus, and by faith you have been united to Him. His perfect obedience and righteousness is yours, just as your sin and judgment has become His, and was punished once for all on the cross.

So, Christian, your slate is not clean. It has a lot of writing on it, and that is really good news. If all I got from Jesus was a clean slate, I'd surely mess that slate up again quite quickly. By grace, my slate is filled with Christ's perfect obedience.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Be Happy, Christian!

At age 17, Jonathan Edwards wrote his first sermon, titled Christian Happiness. The basic message was very simple: Christians should be happy.

Why so? Edwards expounded on his premise with three points:

Point 1: Our bad things will turn out for good.

Point 2: Our good things can never be taken away from us.

Point 3: The best things are yet to come.

That's a pretty good outline for a teenager! You can read the entire sermon here.

Noah Wasn't Righteous

I actually don't agree with that statement, since Genesis 6:9 clearly says that he was a righteous man. Nevertheless, Mark Driscoll makes an interesting and important observation about the story of Noah in this 4-minute clip (if reading in RSS reader, you might need to click through to view the video).

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

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't Forget to Groan, 6/12

Mary Hoefflin, left, and Lauren Densic hug amid tornado debris on Main Street in Millbury, Ohio, on June 6. Authorities say tornados and thunderstorms that swept through the Midwest overnight killed a number of people in Ohio, destroyed homes and damaged a high school gymnasium.

(Why should we groan?)

Total Depravity

Genesis 6:5,

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

That's pretty deprave; and that's pretty total.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Big Ten...No, Big Eleven, No Big Twelve?

Apparently Nebraska is joining the Big Ten, which causes a real dilemma: what's going to happen to the coolest logo in college athletics (notice the hiding 11 in the T)?

The Most Misused Verse in the Bible?

"If we are faithless, he remains faithful."

So I've heard it said (and not doubt said it or thought it myself), that even when we act faithlessly and disobey Him, He is still good to us despite our lack of faith. R.C. Sproul takes the passage that way, as do many others. And I hate to disagree with someone as knowledgeable as Sproul, but I think this interpretation misses the point of Paul's statement.

Don't get me wrong; I do believe that though we constantly fall short of living perfectly for His glory, God does continue to shower us with good things and we are assured of His commitment to us through our union with Christ.

But I don't think that's what Paul is saying in 2 Timothy 2:13. The words immediately before the phrase I quoted above read: "If we deny him, he also will deny us." If we deny Him with persistent unbelief, He will deny us; we'll perish in our sins and be lost. That is what verse 13 is repeating: "If we are faithless (the tense of the verb indicates persistent, continual unbelief), he remains faithful," not to us, but to Himself, as the next words indicate: "For he cannot deny himself." God's ultimate commitment is to Himself, and therefore His holiness compels Him to damn the faithless, not remain faithful to them.

At least that's the way I read it. What do you think? Is Sproul right, and I am the one who is misusing this verse?

The Gospel, Work and Rest

In the same material from which I posted this quote earlier in the week, I found this one:

Apart from the gospel people remain restless in their work and labored in their rest. The gospel enables people to rest while working because the work that justifies them was accomplished in Jesus -- they don't need to work to give them significance any longer. The gospel also enables people to truly rest while not working, because they know that God is always working -- they don't have to worry that their lack of work will stop the world from spinning.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to talk to Satan and his Demons

According to John Piper, based on 1 Peter 3:22, which reads, "[Jesus] is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him":

"You are subject to Jesus. Jesus reigns at God's right hand and you are under him. You can do nothing without his permission. You are a cat on a chain. You cannot touch me unless he lets you. And he will only let you to the degree that your touch will turn for my good and for his glory."

The Survival of the Church

David Prior:

"Pastors and preachers move on and die; only a church built on Jesus Christ survives."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Support DG

Because I have been so blessed by Desiring God's commitment to spread their resources with incredible generosity, I can't help but pass on this invitation:

The Work of a Minister

I think the most important statement in the Bible on the nature of pastoral ministry has got to be Ephesians 4:11-12,

"And he 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 job of a pastor isn't to do all the ministry; it's to equip every Christian to do ministry.

I wonder how that reality ought to affect the pastor's schedule?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Understanding Full-Time Ministry

I posted this quote yesterday on Facebook and Twitter, but I just can't help myself; this is one of my new favorite quotes:

"Every believer is called to full-time paid ministry – God just chooses to route our paychecks through different sources."

I wonder how the Church might change if this was the attitude of every member of Christ's Body.

The quote comes from this material published by Soma Communities, in Tacoma.

I Can Do All Things...

(Full disclosure: the following was inspired by this post from Jared Wilson)

As a young Christian who worked at a Christian bookstore, I saw a lot of posters, bookmarks, etc. that had this verse beside an athlete doing something spectacular:

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

The idea seemed to be that you could be the best athlete in the world because Jesus is your strength. But if Philippians 4:13 had any application to the sports world, I think the context of the passage makes it obvious which one of the guys in this picture that verse was meant for:

No, Philippians 4:13 isn't supposed to make LeBron excited about how wonderfully he can dunk a basketball. It's supposed to help Stackhouse run down the court with his head held high, even though he just got humiliated in front of several thousand people.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." I.e., I can be publicly shamed and still find joy and contentment, because I am loved by the Maker of Heaven and Earth at the cost of His own Son, and His love is more precious than my personal pride and dignity.

So put that verse on a coffee mug, or a sports poster, and find strength in suffering well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Missional Church

If the video of Michael Horton talking about the workplace was a bit too long for you, here's a much shorter video on a different subject (though there is significant overlap).

What do you think of the two different paradigms for church described in this short video?

Christians and the Workplace

JT posted this video on his blog, of Michael Horton talking about the significance of the workplace for our lives as Christians:

Christ and the Workplace from Westminster Seminary California on Vimeo.

As I wrote on Friday, most Christians have not thought deeply enough about a doctrine of work. Horton gives us solid, biblical wisdom here. Check it out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 5th, 2004

This president passed away:

This horse lost his bid at a Triple Crown:

And, most importantly (for me, anyway!), this picture of Christ and the Church was formed, until death parts us:

Happy anniversary to my beloved:

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.

By the grace of God, I've found one.

A Culture of Evangelism

What is that? Mark Dever explains in the introduction of his book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism:

What do I mean by a culture of evangelism? I mean an expectation that Christians will share the gospel with others, talk about doing that, pray about it, and regularly plan and work together to help each other evangelize. We want evangelism to be normal— in our own lives and in our churches.

I certainly want that kind of culture in my own heart, and in the church I have the privilege of serving. Dever's little book is a great resource in cultivating an environment of evangelism.

You can read the Foreward, Introduction and Chapter 1 here.


Rick Warren controversy aside, this really looks like an exciting conference. The DG crew does an outstanding job of using the arts to make much of Jesus:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jim Joyce and Armando Galaragga, Part 2

Yesterday I expressed wonder that government officials feel compelled to intervene in a botched call during a baseball game.

But I didn't address the rich pointers to the gospel that this story has provided. Gospel themes of human imperfection, justice, contrition and mercy are on display in this interesting story. This post from Erik Raymond does a nice, concise job of helping us think Christ-exalting thoughts about this baseball story.

I trust that especially the sports fan who frequent this blog will enjoy Raymond's post.

Don't Waste Your "Secular" Work

The conclusion of John Piper's chapter, Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5, in Don't Waste Your Life (the chapter begins on page 131):

"In conclusion, secular work is not a waste when we make much of Christ from 8 to 5. God’s will in this age is that his people be scattered like salt and light in all legitimate vocations. His aim is to be known, because knowing him is life and joy. He does not call us out of the world. He does not remove the need to work. He does not destroy society and culture. Through his scattered saints he spreads a passion for his supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. If you work like the world, you will waste your life, no matter how rich you get. But if your work creates a web of redemptive relationships and becomes an adornment for the Gospel of the glory of Christ, your satisfaction will last forever and God will be exalted in your joy."

I'd give the entire chapter a read; I don't sense that Christians do enough thinking about how their "ordinary" work can display the worth of Jesus.

The Cross and the Kingdom

I appreciated these words from Greg Gilbert on the necessity of keeping the message of the cross and the Kingdom of God knit together:

By all means, preach about the kingdom, talk about Jesus’ conquest of evil, write about his coming reign. But don’t pretend that all those things are glorious good news all by themselves. They’re not. The bare fact that Jesus is going to rule the world with perfect righteousness is not good news to me; it’s terrifying news, because I am not righteous! I’m one of the enemies he’s coming to crush!

The coming kingdom becomes good news only when I’m told that the coming King is also a Savior who forgives sin and makes people righteous—and he does that through his death on the cross. Ignore that, downplay it, shove it out of the center of the gospel, and you make the whole thing not good news at all, but a terrifying message of judgment to rebellious sinners.

I hope that in my talking about the Kingdom rule of Jesus, I never divorce the message of the Kingdom from the message of substitutionary atonement found in Christ'd death on the cross.

I am thankful that Gilbert does not throw away the baby of the Kingdom with the bathwater of "the social gospel", which is all about healing the world of injustice and no message of forgiveness of sins through Christ's wrath-bearing sacrifice.

To hear more, listen to his talk from the Together for the Gospel conference.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Regarding the blown call in last night's Tigers-Indians game that took away a perfect game from Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga:

Michigan lawmakers got into the act on Thursday, lobbying Selig to reverse the call and recognizing Galarraga as having thrown a perfect game. Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued a proclamation declaring that Galarraga had indeed pitched a perfect game, while U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell said he'd introduce a congressional resolution asking Major League Baseball to overturn the blown call.

The state government has nothing else to do?

Agree or Disagree?

"Every discussion where His name (Jesus) is not heard is pointless."

Anticipating the Great Celebration

Flyers fans are surely thrilled after last night's finish. Since I haven't followed this team over the past few years, it's hard for me to get as excited about them as I was about the Phillies in 2008. Nevertheless, it really was a thrilling end to the game; I even stayed up late to watch it, so you know it must have been exciting.

But as I watched the roar of the crowd and their exuberance in the thrill of victory, I couldn't help but feel a deep longing for the day when that kind of roar and joyful celebration is aimed at the Son of God, who was slain for the sins of the world. If people can get this excited about athletes they have never met and over a game that really makes no impact on our lives, what will the response be when we see our Savior celebrated throughout the entire cosmos?

Don't Forget to Groan, 6/3

Guatemalan Luis Perez mourns over the coffins of his wife and his two-year-old son, who died along with nine other people, when a landslide destroyed their home in Canaan, in the northern outskirts of Guatemala City.

(Why should we groan?)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Church is a Model Home

A quote from Harvie Conn:

On a tract of earth's land purchased with the blood of Christ, Jesus the Kingdom developer has begun building new housing. As a sample of what will be, he has erected a model home of what will eventually fill the urban neighborhood. Now he invites the world into that model home to take a look at what will be...

The church is the occupant of that model home, inviting neighbors into its open door to Christ. Evangelism is when the signs are put up saying, "Come in and look around." In this model home we live out our new lifestyle as citizens of the heavenly city that one day will come. We do not abandon our jobs or desert the city that is; we are to "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which" God carried us in exile (Jeremiah 29:7)

I love the idea here of the church living out its mission and inviting others to see the power of the community He is forming through the gospel. I only wish Conn would make clear that evangelism involves communicating the gospel message with words, and not merely living in a way that reflects His kingship over us.

I suspect Conn assumes this, but these days, that just can't be assumed. Too many today want to live out the mission of Jesus without heralding Jesus as the sin-bearing, wrath-removing Savior of all who repent and trust in Him.

A Little Guessing Game

The founders of one of most well-known institutions of higher learning wrote this as their mission statement:

"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed, to consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sounds knowledge and learning."

Anyone have a guess as to which college this is?