Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recommended Biographies

I want to deepen my reading by reading more biographies. Who are the people of faith that you wish to explore? Who seems to have written the best biographies of Christian leaders?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good News and Bad News!

Here is the bad news. As of January 1st 2009 this website will no longer be updated.

Here is the good news. As of January 1st 2009 I will be regularly posting on the **New** Borrowed Light. I'll give you the link as soon as it is finished.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Decade in Blogworld 12/12

It feels about like a decade since I have posted anything. I am trying to determine if I will even bother blogging anymore. I am either going to take it more serious or give it up all together. Here are a few links to chew on:

Russell Moore challenges parents to discipline their children. "In short, a parent who will not discipline is denying the doctrine of hell." Read the rest here. (HT: JT)

Josh Harris offers his preaching notes to us.

These words by Carl Trueman need to be read: Here We Go Again

My favorite rapper, Flame, has been nominated for a Grammy.

Finally, an Amillenial Eschatology Chart

Matt Schmucker gives advice on pastor's dealing with discouragement. You should read it, with a name like Schmucker it has to be good.

I love Iain Murray. He has new audio available on the Puritans.

Thabiti gives advice on a member responding to a divisive elder

I don't think this one will be toned down for awhile. Tom Ascol again responds to David Allen.

Justin Buzzard gives us 20 books to read in your twenties. I've got three years left and have read six of them.

Tony Reinke explains what legalism is

Kirk Wellum has some great thoughts On Churches.

This article has been floating around in various places. It was orginally in Sinclair Ferguson's excellent book In Christ Alone. And has been posted for us to view on the Ligonier website: Santa Christ?

Wow:
(HT: Timmy)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today in Blogworld 11/29

I won't post the picture here--but with having some Native American heritage something about this pic resonates with me.

Great D.A. Carson interview (at least I'm assuming it's great--haven't had the chance to listen yet) over at Church Matters.

This was a neat story about 3 time Super Bowl Champion Je'Rod Cherry: Cherry Hopes Hollow Ring Will Save Children.

Steve McCoy hooks us up with new Tim Keller audio on Preaching to the Heart.

If you are near the St. Louis area this sounds pretty cool: A Global Networking Dialogue.

The Resurgence has posted free media of a recent Parenting Conference with Tedd Tripp.

This post generated some heat. Tom Ascol discusses three events that widened the divide between the SBC and Calvinism. Be sure to read all of the comments.

Here's a promo for the latest book all of your friends will want for Christmas--give it a few months and maybe your church will be having a seminar:
(HT: Riddleblog)

Precious Remedies Chapter 2.7

Remedy #7 and Devices

"By making the soul bold to venture upon the occasions of sin"

In other words Satan tempts us to flirt with sin. This is Satan tempting us to walk by the harlot's door while assuring us that we will not enter in. For remedies:
  • Dwell upon those scriptures that do expressly command us to avoid the occasions of sin, and the least appearance of evil. (1 Thess. 5:22)
  • Consider that ordinarily there is no conquest over sin, without the soul turning from the occasion of sin. (In other words the alcoholic probably will not quit drinking until he stops visiting bars)
  • Consider that other precious saints, that were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven, have turned from the occasions of sin, as hell itself
  • Consider that the occasions of sin, is an evidence of grace, and that which lifts up a man above most other men in the world.

Quick Thoughts:

Since reading this chapter a couple of months ago the Lord has used this section frequently to combat sin in my life. If Satan can get us to walk by the harlot's door, to sit with the drunkard, to dwell upon evil thoughts, etc. then he will soon have us ensnared by those things. The advice Brooks gives in this chapter is wonderful. The thing that has stuck with me most is remedy number two: We will not get conquest over sin until we forsake the occasion for the sin. If you know when you are more apt to fall it is a good idea to avoid those situations. Simple, yet profound.

Extracted Elixir's:

"We must shun and be shy of the very show and shadow of sin, if either we tender our credit abroad, or our comfort at home." (66)

"God will not remove the temptation, except you turn from the occasion." (67)

"To rush upon the occasions of sin is both to tempt ourselves, and to tempt Satan to tempt our souls." (68)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Precious Remedies Chapter 2.6

Device #6 and Remedies


"By persuading the soul that hte work of repentance is an easy work, and that therefore the soul need not make such a matter of sin."


It is worth repeating Brooks' explanation of this device: "Why! Suppose you do sin, saith Satan, it is no such difficult thing to return, and confess, and be sorrowful, and beg pardon, and cry, 'Lord, have mercy upon me!' and if you do but this, God will cut the score, and pardon your sins, and save your souls. By this device Satan draws many a soul to sin, and makes many millions of souls servants or rather slaves to sin." To combat this device consider:
  • That repentance is a mighty work, a difficult work, a work that is above our power.
  • The nature of true repentance. By this Brooks means, 1) The formal act of repentance is a changing and converting. 2) The subject changed and converted is the whole man. 3) The terms of this change and conversion, from which and to which both heart and life must be changed; from sin to God.
  • That repentance is a continued act
  • That if the work of repentance were such an easy work as Satan would make it to be, then certainly so many would not lie roaring and crying out of wrath and eternal ruin under the horrors and terrors of conscience, for not repenting; yea, doubtless, so many millions would not go to hell for not repenting, if it were such an easy thing to repent.
  • That to repent of sin is as great a work of grace as not to sin.
  • That he that now tempts thee to sin upon this account, that repentance is easy, will, ere long, to work thee to despair, and for ever to break the neck of thy soul, present repentance as the difficultest and hardest work in the world.

Quick Thoughts:

This is, perhaps, one of the most important sections in the entire book. If one comes to understand that repentance is a work of grace and is not an "easy" thing to do then it disarms Satan of one of his favorite weapons. How often have you taken sin lightly becasue you assumed that you could repent later? Recently, I had the opportunity to counsel a teenager that was flirting with the things of the world. This person was very close to forsaking the gospel (at least for a season in her mind) and run after the pleasures of the world. I used some of Brooks' thoughts here as well as numerous Scriptures, helping her see that such a decision puts her on really shaky ground. How do you know God will allow you to come to repentance? May we tremble at the prospect of sin.

Extracted Elixir's:


"Thou art as well able to melt a [diamond], as to melt thine own heart; to turn a flint into flesh, as to turn thine own heart to the Lord; to raise the dead and to make a world, as to repent." (56)

"Repentance for sin is nothing worth without repentance from sin." (57, footnote)

"Every sin strikes at the honor of God, the being of God, the glory of God, the heart of Christ, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of a man's conscience; and therefore a soul truly penitent strikes at all, hates all, conflicts with all, and will labor to draw strength from a crucified Christ to crucify all." (58)

"Repentance is no transient act, but a continued act of the soul." (61)

Friday, November 21, 2008

This Week in Blogworld 11/21

Timmy Brister considers the irony (?) of Paul Washer preaching at FBC Woodstock only a couple weeks after the John 3:16 Conference.

Calvinists are often considered to hold to their particular soteriology because of "rational reasons", Michael Patton challenges this with Calvinism is the Least Rational Option.


John Piper tells us how to approach God when feeling rotten.

Colin Adams gives us 10 Ways to Ruin a Day Off. I think I have broken most of those--I wonder if the list is different for those in vocational ministry?

You can download Mark Driscoll's book Porn-Again Christian for free.

How can a miscarriage be used by God to rip idolatry out of our hearts? Read here.

Bob Kauflin Encourages Spontaniety with our worship at church.

CJ continues his series on procrastination.

Thabiti asks Do You Enjoy Your Church Gatherings?

Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Pastor's:



(HT: Thabiti)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today in Blogworld 11/14

Registration is now open for the 2009 DG Pastor's Conference. (Not sure if I will get to attend or not--although I know that I want to). The topic this year is Evangelism.

CJ offers Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator.

Michael Patton asks, Can You Marry the Wrong Person?

Amidst all the accusations Michael McKinley offers a few reasons why Obama may not be the Antichrist.

Great quote, here, by Thomas Oden on the relevance of irrelevance.

Ancient Rome at Google Earth. (HT: JT)

Todd Burus gives a good summary of the recent John 3:16 Conference. Check out his other links as well.

John Hendryx (I think it's Hendryx) asks whether or not the Mosaic Covenant is Works or Grace?

Colin Adams peruses the RTS reading list for students to find 61 Essential Books.

Any idea what Ecclesiastical Myopia is? RC Sproul will tell you...and trust me...this really is a very insightful article.

Are they Unchurched or Unsaved? What does our language reveal about our beliefs? Trevin Wax posits an answer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Precious Remedies Chap 2.5

Device #5 and Remedies:

"To present God to the soul as one made up of all mercy."

This device is one that is fairly obvious to see in our current church climate (especially speaking of the Western world). "Go ahead and sin", says Satan, "God is a God of mercy." Satan tricks us into only seeing God's mercy and not his wrath. For remedies consider:
  • That it is the sorest judgment in the world to be left to sin upon any pretence whatsoever.
  • That God is as just as he is merciful.
  • That sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men's heads and hearts.
  • That though God's general mercy be over all his works, yet his special mercy is confined to those that are divinely qualified.
  • That those that were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven, did look upon the mercy of God as the most powerful argument to preserve them from sin, and to fence their souls against sin, and not as an encouragement to sin.

Quick Thoughts:

At first glance the first consideration may seem to not fit. However, when you really understand what Brooks is saying it becomes clear. If God does but "wink" at your sins it is a most horrible condition. This is a mark of not being a child of God and though he "winks" now he will come in wrath later. The rest of the devices are reminders that God is just towards sin and also that his mercy is to be used not to continue sinning but as a motivator to turn away from sin.

Extracted Elixir's

"A soul given up to sin is a soul ripe for hell, a soul posting to destruction." (50)

"When mercy is despised then justice takes the throne." (51)

"There is nothing in the world that renders a man more unlike to a saint, and more like to Satan, than to argue from mercy to sinful liberty; from divine goodness to licentiousness. This is the devil's logic, and in whomsoever you find it, you may write, 'This soul is lost.'"

"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today in Blogworld 11/10

Phil Johnson sets the record straight on James White and Hyper-Calvinism.

Timmy Brister sums up the Anti-Calvinist John 3:16 Conference.

Bill Mounce discusses whether Philippians 1:6 can be used to give assurance to a believer.

I was unaware of this new blog by Timmy Brister called Sowing Grace. Check it out.

What if Starbucks marketed like a church:
(HT: Brent)

Precious Remedies Chap. 2.4

Device #4 and Remedies

"By presenting to the soul the best men's sins and by hiding from their soul their virtures; by showing the soul their sins, and by hiding from the soul their sorrows and repentance."

What Brooks means by this is that Satan will show us the sins of such great saints (such as David in his adultery, Noah in his drunkenness, Peter in his blasphemy, etc.) so that when we look at them we can say, "See there is a man that struggles just like I, and he turned out okay". However, what we fail to see is the pain of David losing his son, the shame of Noah, the bitter weeping of Peter. We see them in their restored state and forget the deep hurt that brought them to that precious condition. For remedies consider:
  • That that the Spirit of the Lord has been as careful to note the saints' rising by repentance of sin, as he has to note their falling into sins.
  • That these saints did not make a trade of sin. (They were not habitual sinners)
  • That though God does not, nor never will, disinherit his people for their sins, yet he has severely punished his people for their sins.
  • That there are but two main ends of God's recording of the falls of his saints. 1) To strenghten the weak by their example 2) To provide an example lest we also fall in the same manner.

Quick Thoughts:

Again with piercing insight Brooks uncovers one of the devices of Satan. How often may we be tempted to look at the fraility of this dear saints, acknowledget that they (and we) are but dust, and then sin accordingly. Our authors advice is also quite fitting. He reminds us of the Scripture's speaking of their repentance and also reminds us that these falls are not the usual behavior of these mighty men of God. His third point may sound foreign to our contemporary ears--yet we do see throughout Scripture that God will discipline his children.

What do you think about this remark by Brooks? "God is most angry when he shows no anger. God keep me from this mercy; this kind of mercy is worse than all other kind of misery."

It is also worth noting a story Brooks quotes from Clement concerning Peter. "Clement notes that Peter so repented, that all his life after, every night when he heard a [rooster] crow, he would fall upon his knees, and, weeping bitterly, would beg pardon of his sin."

Extracted Elixirs:

"Ah, souls, you can easily sin as the saints, but can you repent with the saints?" (46)

"The saints cannot sin with a whole will, but, as it were, with a half will, an unwillingness; not with a full consent, but with a dissenting consent." (47, ed. note)

"It is a mercy that our affliction is not execution, but a correction." (48)

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Burning of a Strawman


The John 3:16 Conference is currently in session. It is being hailed as the "majoritarian Southern Baptist response to the "Building Bridges" and "Together for the Gospel" conferences." If you are looking for live-streaming or updated feeds or anything of the sort you will not find it. If you want a DVD or CD, do not expect to get it free online. You've got to pay.


This could have been a good thing. It could have been a serious engagement with the issues of Calvinism and Arminianism. There are good questions to ask. My first impressions (Andrew Lindsey is live-blogging it on Challies.com) are that this is another attack on a straw-man. It's not too difficult to tear down the "heresy" of Calvinism when you redefine it and make it nothing short of heretical. If I ever am able to get my hands on more than just Andrew's notes perhaps I will attempt a response--or link to responses by far more skilled writers.

Precious Remedies 2.3

Device #3 and Remedies

"By extenuating and lessining of sin"

Satan puts degrees upon sin and makes them seem not as bad as they really are. "Ah! saith Satan, it is but a little pride, a little worldliness, a little uncleanness, a little drunkenness, etc." (38) For remedies consider:
  • That those sins which we are apt to account small, have brought upon men the greatest wrath of God.
  • That the giving way to a less sin makes for a committing of a greater.
  • That it is sad to stand with God for a trifle.
  • That there is great danger, yea, many times most danger, in the smallest sins.
  • That other saints have chosen to suffer the worst of torments, rather than they would commit the least sin.
  • That the soul is never able to stand under the guilt and weight of the least sin, when God shall set it home upon the soul.
  • That there is more evil in the least sin than the greatest affliction

Quick Thoughts:

Brooks' advice here is rather simple--that which you consider to be small is actually quite large. It may start small but will make room for the greater sins. If sin as an offense to God then a "small" sin is an offense just as a "great" one. The modern church, myself included, should hear this well. While we lambast such atrocities as homosexuality, pornography, abortion, gambling, etc. (and we should) let us not forget to also have fervor in rooting out of our midst pride, greed, slander, gluttony and all other forms of "respectable" sins.

Extracted Elixir's:

"Satan will first draw thee to sit with the drunkard, and then to sip with the drunkard, and then at last to be drunk with the drunkard." (39)

"The debates of the soul are quick, and soon ended, and that may be done in a moment that may undo a man for ever." (40)

"Little sins often slide into the soul, and breed, and work secretly and undiscernibly in the soul, till they come to be so strong, as to trample upon the soul, and to cut the throat of the soul." (42)

"Oh! how should this make us tremble, as much at the least spark of lust as at hell itself; considering that God the Father would not spare his bosom Son, no, not for the least sin, but would make him drink the dregs of his wrath." (45)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Today in Blogworld 11/06

There are about a million links on the Obama election and pre-Obama election. You can find those elsewhere. There is one that you absoultely must check out. It was written by Dr. Wyman Richardson, it is a true/false test that puts all of this election stuff in perspective. Please read it, especially if you are discouraged. Okay, actually one more that is a good read: Dan Phillips' Lament for America

Funny story posted by Josh Harris about Terrorist and the Time Changes.

This one is funny, I'd post the video but I am substitute teaching again and cannot post videos. It's a new techonoly to take your preaching to the next level. Watch it here.

Speak of preaching great words from Piper a few days ago: Is it true and is it precious? Preach what is both. If it is true, preach it with authority. If it is precious, preach it with passion. Read the rest...

Great reminder from William Gurnall on Christ's Love for Tempted Saints.

Precious Remedies Chap 2.2

Device #2 and Remedies

"By painting sin with virtues colors"

Brooks is saying here that this device of Satan is to paint a different picture of sin that what it really is. "Pride, he presents to the soul under the name and notion of neatness and cleanliness, and covetousness to be but good husbandry; and drunkeness as good fellowship, and riotousness under the name and notion of liberality, and wantonness as a trick of youth." (34) For remedies:
  • Consider that sin is never a whit the less filthy, vile, and abominable, by its being colored and painted with virtue's colors.
  • That the more sin is painted forth under the color of virtue, the more dangerous it is to the souls of men.
  • To look on sin with that eye [with] which within a few hours we shall it. (In other words, look at sin with the eyes of dying man)
  • Seriously to consider, that even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colors upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood, of the Lord Jesus.

Quick Thoughts:

Call sin what it is. Satan is in the business of toning down sin and our flesh is comforted by such a thing. Our hearts shun conviction when we paint gossip as a "prayer concern". Is it "having an affair" or is it committing adultery? Brooks, is encouraging us to not join Satan in painting virtue on things that cost Christ his life. Consider what that "little sin" that you are trifling with has cost the Lord. Yes, it is not only for the "gross" sins that Jesus has died but also for the "respectable" ones.

Extracted Elixir's

"A poisonous pill is never a whit the less poisonous because it is gilded over with gold..." (34)

"...look upon sin now as you must look upon it to all eternity." (36)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices Chap. 2.1

Chapter 2 is a rather long chapter. I will be breaking it up into each device and give the remedies, a brief discussion, and then a few notable quotes. These devices are particularly those that Satan uses to draw the soul to sin.

Device #1 and Remedies

"To present the bait and hide the hook"

In other words Satan presents the pleasure of sin but not the painful after affects. "There is an opening of the mind to contemplation and joy, and there is an opening of the eyes of the body to shame and confusion. He promiseth them the former, but intends the latter, and so cheats them--giving them an apple in exchange for a paradise, as he deals by thousands now-a-days." (29) For remedies:
  • Keep at a great distance from sin, and from playing with the golden bait that Satan holds forth to catch you
  • Consider that sin is but a bitter sweet
  • Consider that sin will usher in the greatest and saddest losses that can be upon our souls
  • Consider that sin is of a very deceitful and bewitching nature

Quick Thoughts:

This is a fitting first device because it seems to be the one that Satan most often employs. He makes sin look sweet and hides the destruction it brings. I have witnessed countless youth dabble with sin only to find themselves ensnared by it. Brooks' remedies are also helpful. If we would consistently remember to call sin what it is, remove the pretty looking bait, and observe the hook, then we would be less likely to fall into these traps Satan sets before us.

Extracted Elixir's (I know it's a stretch!)

"Adversity hath slain her thousand, but prosperity her ten thousand". (30)

"If there were the least real delight in sin, there could be no perfect hell, where men shall most perfectly be tormented with their sin." (32)

"Sin so bewitches the soul, that it makes the soul call evil good, and good evil..." (33)

"...a man bewitched with sin had rather lose God, Christ, heaven, and his own soul than part with his sin." (34)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices Chap. 1

The main observation that Brooks hopes to prove in this book is that, "Satan hath his several devices to deceive, entangle, and undo the souls of men."

In the first chapter Brooks aims to merely prove his point. To do this the author takes us to a few choice Scriptures. From Ephesians 6:11 we see the following observations taken from the word 'wiles':
  • "It signifies such snares as are laid behind one, such treacheries as come upon one's back at unawares...the word signifies an ambushment or stratagem of war..."
  • "It signifies such snares as are set to catch one in one's road."
  • "It signifies such as are purposely...and craftily set for the taking of the prey....Satan doth more hurt in sheep's skin than by roaring like a lion."

From 2 Timothy 2:26 we observe:

  • "The word for 'taken captive' signifies being taken alive...[it is] properly a warlike word..."
  • Satan hath snares for all manner of people. The wise and simple, the hypocrite and the upright, the rich and the poor, etc.

From Revelation 2:24 we observe:

  • That souls can be so deceived that they believe their opinions to be from the depths of God but they are really from the depths of Satan.

Next time we will begin looking at the several devices Satan uses to draw the soul to sin.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Today in Blogworld 11/02

Ok, saying "Today" in blogworld is a bit deceptive but here are a few links for you to consider.

The audio for the Total Church Conference is now available. I may have linked to this before--but this appears to be more audio.

Here is a great offer for The Reformation Study Bible. Give any donation to Ligonier and get a free Leather Reformation Study Bible.

Jared Wilson gives us his 95 Theses for the American Church.

My favorite Christian rapper, Flame, gets a shout out from his college dean Denny Burk.

Abraham Piper gives 22 ways for new bloggers to improve.

John Piper reminds us that Bad Times are Good for Missions.

Great talk by Paul Washer:


HT: John

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Off to the MBC Annual Meeting

If I didn't put you to sleep with the title...I will be gone for the next few days to the MBC's Annual Meeting. I will provide some thoughts on it when I return. I won't be blogging for the next few days because my laptop is broken. Hope all is well.

UPDATE: The Annual Meeting was pretty uneventful. Others have better commentaries on the meeting than I do. As for me I'd rather listen to paint dry.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/24

The latest 9Marks E-journal is now available. The topic is Counseling and the Local Church

How Does a Pastor Redeem the Time?: CJ interviews Jeff Purswell

Nathan White provides for us more quotes from Obadiah Sedgwick's Christ Counsel to His Languishing Church. (Man, I have got to get this book).

Timmy Brister provides the links to the Total Church Conference. (If you check these out before next week, drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think).

You can get a free copy of Sproul's Chosen By God by going here.

Are our churches filled with nominal Christians? (HT: Transforming Sermons)

What constitutes suffering for Christ? CJ and Lig Duncan Interview Piper.

Bob Kauflin tells us 10 Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs.

This Piper quote is going on my wall as soon as I get my laptop back. "If it is true, preach it with authority. If it is precious, preach it with passion." Read the rest.

You can't tell me you've never wanted to do this:

(HT: Douglas Wilson)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free ESV Study Bible

I will be giving away a free ESV Study Bible to anyone who goes here....buys three...and then gives me two. And what is better than all of those other offers this one will not expire. Anytime you buy three and give me two I will give you a free ESV Study Bible. Simple as that.

Or if you don't like my offer you can go to Abraham Piper's blog and and try to win one the hard way. My way is much easier though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/20

Some of my Reformed-minded readers may be wondering how the ESV Study Bible stands on issues such as monergestic regeneration. John Hendryx gives an outline and comes to this conclusion: the notes from editors of the ESVSB unambiguously affirm divine monergism in regeneration.

The Ligonier Pastor's Conference is providing free bilingual audio. (HT: Founders)

Sad news today. Christian aid worker Gayle Williams was gunned down in Kabul. (HT: Tullian)

Folks that admire the writing of John Piper will be happy to hear of these recent DG additions. Also resources are availabe from the recent Fall Conference on Job.

Mondays with Mounce: Translating the Imperfect.

J.I. Packer is a one-point Calvinist. Before you choke on your meal read the article first. (HT: Buzzard)

I am not a fan of Howard Stern (in fact very much opposed) but this is enlightening:

(HT: Brent)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/17

Russell Moore reminds us that Jesus Didn't Die for a Campus Ministry. (HT: Trevin Wax)

Ligonier Ministries highlights some of RC Sproul's great children's books.

Michael Spencer has some funny suggestions for the newest study bible. (HT: Abraham Piper)

This Timmy Brister responds to Steve Lemke thing is getting pretty interesting.

Nathan Finn provides Abraham Booth's advice for pastoral ministry.

Great stuff from CJ Mahaney interviewing Piper: Pornography, the Hearth, and Sermon Prep.

Michael McKinley offers suggestions on Developing a God-Centered Church when Most Attendees are New Believers

Newsweek features a sad but true article: The Pornification of a Generation

I had no clue that McCain (0r at least his writers) had such a great sense of humor. This is 9 minutes long but it's pretty funny. It's good to see Senator Marx Obama having such a good laugh too. (HT: DJP)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/14

I sure did not think that I would be reporting this today. The Browns marched all over the defending champion Giants! Go Brownies.

Why Not Destroy the Devil Now? John Piper answers.

JT is calling his blog readers to fast for the sake of the defenseless

The blogworld seems to be pretty dead today--I guess everybody is reading their ESV Study Bible. (I'm doing sermon prep without a new Study Bible). Ray Ortlund Jr. Steve Camp. Tim Challies. Tony Reinke. And I'm sure there are many reading their ESV's today that are not blogging on it.

Admirers of Jonathan Edwards will appreciate this; in correspondence with the launch of the JE 2.0 website high-res images of Edwards manuscripts have been released. (HT: Tony)

My wife absolutely loves this skit. I also find it quite hilarious:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Faithful or Fickle?

I posted this at the new Reforming Youth Ministry site as well:

In his classic work on Spiritual Depression, Martin Lloyd-Jones writes, “Do not think in terms of bargains and rights in the Kingdom of God. That is absolutely fatal. There is nothing so wrong as the spirit which argues that because I do this, or because I have done that, I have the right to expect something else in return”. (129)

In this context Lloyd-Jones is addressing those that believe, “if we pray for certain things, we are bound to have them, for instance if we pray all night for revival we must have revival”. In our day the church is inundated with such philosophy. Peruse the shelves of your local Christian bookstore and you will find countless titles that promise and “If-then” fix-all in your relationship with God. And yes, those of us that are Reformed-minded are not immune to this. Who of us has not been tempted to think that if we have good doctrine and solid Bible teaching then God will honor His Word and souls will get saved?

If my previous post is read through the lens of “bargains and rights” then it will be grossly misunderstood. Reading through such a lens one would come to the conclusion that if we have biblical student ministry then we will inevitably produce solid twenty-somethings. If you read through such a lens you might get fired up by the statistics and go on a quest to make the student ministry at your church more biblical. And that would certainly be a good thing. However, this is what could happen:

  • Rather than going up because you are doing things biblically, your attendance actually begins to drastically dwindle. If you are still looking through the lens of “bargains and rights” then you will quickly assume “well, that didn’t work” and will abandon the biblical approach for something else that “gets results”.
  • God blesses your ministry exponentially. You observe marked spiritual growth in your teenagers. Your attendance increases. Teens are coming to know Christ. Your student ministry has become biblical. Looking through the lens of “bargains and rights” you will inevitably conclude—in a spiritual sounding way of course—that God blessed you because you followed these steps. Pride will begin creeping in as you start getting book deals and have people asking “how do you do ministry”.

How then should you read the last post and everything else that is forthcoming? Read it with a goal of faithfulness. Rather than having a “bargains and rights” mentality have an “even if you don’t” mentality. In Daniel 3 we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They are faced with the option of being faithful to God alone in worship and risk their lives or preserve their lives and become guilty of idolatry; they chose faithfulness. Their words in verses 16-18 is a reflection of an “even if you don’t” mentality. This is their response to King Nebuchadnezzar’s threat of throwing them in the fiery furnace:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Did you notice that? We expect that God will deliver us. We have faith that God will reward our faithfulness by a miraculous display of his power. God will protect us. And then you see the “even if not” mentality shine through. If I can be allowed to paraphrase, “King, even if God, for His good pleasure, decides not to preserve us we are still going to be faithful to Him and not you.” Regardless of results we must be faithful. What does an “even if you don’t” mentality look like? This is what could happen:
  • Rather than going up because you are doing things biblically, your attendance actually begins to dwindle. However, because you have an “even if you don’t” mentality you press on in faithfulness to God. You may never have high attendance or have any of the typical marks of successful ministry. Your ministry may have the fruit of Isaiah (see chapter 6) instead of the fruit of Jonah. Yet, you will also get the reward of Isaiah instead of Jonah—“well done good and faithful servant”.
  • God blesses your ministry exponentially. You observe marked spiritual growth in your teenagers. Your attendance increases. Teens are coming to know Christ. Your student ministry has become biblical. Because you have an “even if you don’t” mentality your “success” results not in pride but in humble awe that God would shine His mercy upon you. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego people start asking about your God instead of about your opinion (3:28).

What will it be? Will you have an “even if you don’t” mentality or will you view ministry through the lens of “rights and bargains”?

Did I Do the Right Thing?

Last night my wife went out to eat with her mother and a two of our youth group girls (I stayed home). My wife ordered a pizza with some red pepper stuff on it. The red peppers were too hot, much hotter than these type of red pepper normally are. She asked if she could replace it with toasted ravioli. There was a mix up between the waitress and my wife. Nikki thought that they would take the pizza off the bill. She got the bill and it was for both items. She asked if there could be anything done. Knowing my wife she asked very kindly and gently. The waitress gets the owner. The owner is extremely rude to my wife. She refused to do anything with the bill and was horrendous in her treatment of my wife; even going so far as sighing heavily and rolling her eyes at my wife.

Nikki came home quite upset. She told me the story and I responded. I called the restaurant to speak to the owner. The owner was actually the one that answered. I briefly explained what had happend (just to refresh her memory). She proceeded to imply that my wife was stupid for not knowing that red pepper are hot. I never yelled or do I think I was overly angry. However, I was very firm. The owner was still being very rude and abrasive towards my wife. (If you know my wife, then you know how out of place this is since my wife is one of the kindest most gentle women). I demanded, again I stress very firmly, that she apologize to my wife. And she actually did. It was a pretty stinky apology--she ended up shifting some of the blame to the waitress. Nonetheless, my wife said very lovingly that she forgave her. End of story.

Here is my question--and I probably left out some details that might help, so ask questions--did I do the right thing? Should I have called the owner and firmly demanded an apology? What would you have done? Be biblical.

Today in Blogworld 10/13

I agree with Rick Warren on altar calls. See this post by Dr. James Galyon to find out why.

Matt Svoboda discusses the diversity within the SBC. He suggests adopting Dr. Mohler's three-tier system. Tier one are issues that make us Christians, tier two are issues that determine where we worship, tier three are issues that we can disagree on and still worship in the same church. Really good suggestions here.

Wow! You absolutely must read this: Contextualization Gone Hog Wild. It is both painfully and humorously ironic.

Bill Mounce teaches us on the grammar of Ephesians 4:11 and winds up discussing the responsibilities of a pastor. For those of you that think your pastor should do everything read this article.

The Wall Street Journal has an article on The Mystery Worshipper. (I was in a church once that almost hired a guy like this). Jared Wilson has a great commentary on the article as well. Even if you do not read the WSJ article read Jared's.

Big game tonight for the Browns. My prediction New York Giants 106 to Cleveland 3. I know it's a long shot...but I really think Phil Dawson might be able to kick a field goal. Ok, my real prediction. I actually think the Browns can win this one. They've gotten some of their guys healthy. Donte Stallworth is probably going to be playing. (However, they will probably be without Kellen Winslow). I look for a rejuvenated Browns offense and a flat Giants team. Cleveand 27 NYG 20. But that's me speaking as a Browns fan. Realistically my first pick is probably closer.

Here is a new video from Desiring God:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Do You Like My Book Reviews?


I really enjoy reading. I also enjoy recommending books to people. It is a passion of mine to get good Christian literature in the hands of people. So, it is fitting that I also like writing book reviews. I have been writing them here and putting them on Amazon for a little while now. I have to admit one of my selfish motivations too--I would really like to be a book reviewer. (Especially for the free books). So, you can help. Right now my reviewer rank is 936384. I have written 17 book reviews and most of the people that share the same ranking have written around 2 or 3 reviews. It would be a great encouragment for me if you would go here and vote on whether my reviews are helpful or not helpful. I think part of my low rating is due to the fact that I typically review Christian books and also older books. Also, I think sometimes my reviews are long (because sometimes I cut and paste from the ones posted here. And I'm not ruling out the last possibility--I suck at writing reviews.

Review of Pleasures Evermore by Sam Storms


Author: Sam Storms

Pages: 320 pages

Publisher: NavPress

Price: 10.19

Genre: Christian Living


Quick Summary

Some in our church have a difficult time reading the writings of John Piper. Although Piper is worth every ounce of effort, the casual reader may appreciate reading this book by Sam Storms more. If you find yourself getting lost in the writing style of Piper then Storms will be a breath of fresh air. The key statement in Pleasures Evermore is its first: The key to holiness is falling in love. The first five chapters build the theological foundation for the practicality of the latter chapters. In this book Storms covers such weighty things as “God’s Passion for God” as well as its everyday implications on things like “Sex and Integrity”.

What I Liked:

Every page. The back cover gets it right when it calls this book, “compelling and readable”. I think I went through a couple of pens highlighting this book. In fact I am going to try to order a copy with everything underlined, to save me time from highlighting as I read and re-read this excellent work.

I get John Piper and I love John Piper. Some in my church do not; I think he can get “too technical for them”. They can get lost in some of the weighty things that Piper says about the glory of God. Not so with Sam Storms. If its possible I think Storms does a better job of describing Christian Hedonism to the everyday believer than, dare I say, Piper himself. I love the fact that I could hand this book to a farmer with an eight-grade education and he could “get it”. Yet, I could also hand this book to a life-long pastor and he would not be bored but instead would be struck by the awesomeness of God.

What I Disliked:

I can think of nothing that I disliked. There were times when God deeply convicted me and my flesh didn’t like it, but that is really it.

Should You Buy It?

Absolutely. This book is probably in my Top 10, there are few books that are as deep, transforming, and readable as this one. So, don’t question it just buy this book.

Rating: 6 out of 5

I would tell you about something but...


You might win and lessen the chance of me winning.

Ok, I'll do it, but only because I love you and you'd probably hear about it elsewhere.

Monergism.com is giving away 5 copies of the ESV Study Bible. Enter for a chance to win here. And don't be selfish. Either pray that I win or that if you win God will convict you to give your copy to me. I'd do the same if I were you. (Give me your copy that is).

If you lack faith, or I mean can't wait, then you can buy one here. I'm not picky I'll even take the 31.49 one.

Today in Blogworld 10/10

Chapter 3 of Driscoll's book on pornography is now available.

Jared Wilson gives the other side to the Stay at Home Dad discussion. There is also a link there of to part 1, the article I am linking to is actually part 2.

I have had this book on my wishlist forever: Christ's Counsel to His Languishing Church by Obadiah Sedgwick. (This is a side note, but I bet today such a book would be entitled Christ's Counsel to the Languishing Church. What a significant difference). Nathan White provides some great quotes from that book--makes me want it more.

I really need to read this today. Clinton Arnold has an excellent article on Spiritual Dryness and the Head-Heart Disconnect.

Michael McKinley offers advice on pursuing theological development with little time.

Timmy Brister continues to respond to Steve Lemke on the TULIP.

I am not saying this is the reason not to vote for Obama (allowing the slaughter of babies would be my number one reason) but this is troubling:

(HT: Erik)

New Sermons Available

We have actually taken a brief hiatus from our Colossians series to deal with the Atonement. However, there are a few sermons from Colossians that I have yet to make available.

Kill Sin or It Will Kill You is part one from Colossians 3:5-11. The primary question in this sermon is "what must I do to cultivate a love for Jesus?" In this sermon we deal with the issue of mortification. And as you might expect I got quite a bit of help from John Owen.

Look the Part is part two from Colossians 3:5-11. In this sermon we deal with the issue of hypocrisy. We compare life in Adam's community to life in Christ's community. Since we have been delivered out of Adam's community and transferred into the community (or kingdom rather) of Christ we need to look the part.

Could They Tell is part one from Colossians 3:12-17. The key question from this sermon is this: "If an unbeliever were to observe our interactions with fellow believers could they tell how beautiful God is?"

The Gathered Church is part two from Colossians 3:12-17. It is very important for us to be an active part of a community of believers, but what are we to do when we gather? Colossians 3:12-17 gives us some guidelines.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/09/08

Chapter 2 of Driscoll's Porn-Again Christian book is online. Funny story about this one. When substitute teaching yesterday I tried linking to this but the school blocked it. Apparently the word "porn" in the URL doesn't fair well against the school's internet filter.

I'm really interested to find out the answer to this little riddle by Brian Thornton: My tee shot on hole number eleven of Little Ocmulgee Golf Course was an interesting one, to say the least. When I proceeded to hit the ball using my driver, the club made contact and the ball left the tee, but never came back down to land on the earth.

Good to see Dr. Mohler back to writing frequently. I share two posts from him today: The False Apology Syndrome and Spare the Rod?

We talked about this last night but John Piper obviously explains it better: The Godward Focus of Faithfulness.

A couple of months ago Dan Phillips wrote a really good 3 part piece on Transparency. Read part 1, 2, and 3.

Uh oh, I think the monkey's are starting to catch up to us (Also, is anything funnier than a Japanese person with a British accent):

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today in Blogworld 10/08

Politics really do not interest me. Our hope is in Jesus and not in politics. However, I did watch the debates last night and John McCain got smoked. Perhaps he could have won the debate in 1940 but not in 2008. Many in the blogosphere are telling us to get accustomed to saying President Obama. Bill from the Thinklings weighs in on the good and bad of an Obama presidency.

Dr. Mohler cites evolutionist Steve Jones as saying human evolution is over.

John Piper offers what seems to me as sound advice for talking with the depressed, doubting, skeptical, confused, and angry.

D.A. Carson recently gave a series of talks on suffering at Omaha Bible Church. Here is the audio. There is also a pastors sessions on preaching and biblical theology. (HT: Erik Raymond)

Here is an older article from Ligonier (actually written by Dr. Mohler) on Training Pastors in Church

This is why you should pray for this on the ministry. (Yes, that includes me)

I am substitute teaching right now...and the school will not allow youtube videos. So I'll try to post a clip a little later.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taking God's Word Seriously

"Contemporary spiritualities must be recognized as a form of temptation. The question they raise, as Barth rightly suggested, is whether the Church is able to take its own revelation seriously. For what these spiritualities do is invite the Church, theology, and faith, 'to abandon their theme and object and become hollow and empty, mere shadows of themselves'."

-David Wells, Above All Earthly Powers, page 160

Today in Blogworld 10/07

Part 2 of Pulpit's "Why Elder Rule" is now available.

I am absolutely astonished by the claims of Steve Lemke in his "What is a Baptist" article. (A good summary of those claims can be found here.) Both Timmy Brister and James Galyon interact on the issue of Total Depravity and Age of Accountability.

The Pyro blog is idle for a month. While they are dark for the month of October their archives are not. Dan Phillips suggest his Top 18 posts.

John Samson asks, Should we use Altar Calls in our Evangelism?

I really hope this is a joke...it's either hilarius or really sad depending on its validity. Michael Patton displays pictures of church-sign war between Catholics and Presbyterians.

A great deal from Desiring God giving away cases of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ for $1 each.

Since I took about a year off--I have some decent "older" articles to link to. I will feature a couple of these each day. I may have already linked to this one but New Attitude has a wonderful article on The Gospel and Ministry.

My wife and I went to see the movie Fireproof last night. It was phenomenal. The acting (except Kirk Cameron) was decent at best but the movie was wonderful. Here is a clip:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Review of Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris


Author: Alex and Brett Harris

Pages: 242 pages

Publisher: Multnomah

Price: 11.55

Genre: Youth/Christian Living


Quick Summary:

Do Hard Things is a book written by teens to teens. The foundational impetus for this book is that teenagers are being sold short and are selling themselves short. As a response Alex and Brett Harris have founded The Rebelution; a teenage rebellion against low expectations. This book is their “revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form”.

The first four chapters of the book are an attempt to cause many to rethink the way the teen years a viewed. Each chapter is laying the foundation and challenging teenagers to “do hard things”. But what exactly does it mean to do hard things? The second section of the book (Chapter’s 5-9) provides a picture of “doing hard things”. The Harris brothers list five types of hard and give practical examples throughout of doing hard things in these areas. In the last section, we are given real life examples of teenagers that are part of The Rebelution. It would also be negligent to not mention the appendix: Do Hard Things, The Gospel, and You.

What I Liked:

There is much in this book to like. The writing style is very fluid and catchy. It is a very easy read but also one that has the ability to stir up your heart. The first part of the book, at least in my opinion, shines the brightest. The second and third section are necessary to help us see what The Rebelution looks like but I was sold on the first part. The Myth of Adolescence and A Better Way are two really great chapters. These teens know their culture and are impacting it in a profound way.

As a youth pastor I made an effort to get this book in the hands of every one of our teenagers. We went through this book in our Sunday School meetings and most of the students liked it, and some were excited about joining The Rebelution. This book, or at least all of the principles behind it, needs to catch on in our churches and within our youth culture.

What I Disliked:

This book will not solve all of the problems within teen culture nor is it meant to. However, there does seem to be something that is missing with this book. It pains me to say it because I expected the exact opposite, but the thing that seemed to missing was a Christ-centered, gospel-centered, appeal to rebel against low expectations. By no means is the gospel left out. The Harris brothers are always quick to point to God and many of their stories include the living out of the gospel. But there is a sense in which the gospel seems to take a back seat to social change. Would they consider someone a Rebelutionary that started a grass roots political campaign but never came to know and share in the glory of Christ? It is clear that their intent is to “do hard things for the glory of God” but does that really happen when unbelievers are merely creating social change?

Should You Buy It?

If you are an old codger that disdains and is bothered by the plight of youth culture then you need to read this book to see why teens are the way they are and what you can do about it. If you are a blissfully ignorant teenager then you need to read this book. If you work with teenagers and are beating your head against the wall this might be a good book for you. Simply put, if you have ever seen a teenager then this might be a good read for you. In my opinion this book is a seed of something really great. Be a part of it, buy the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review of Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges


Author: Jerry Bridges

Pages: 208 pages

Publisher: NavPress

Price: 10.50

Genre: Christian Living


Quick Summary:

A pastor friend of mine once said, “We love grace, just not free grace”. In this book Jerry Bridges displays the beauty of free grace. His fundamental cry in this book is summed up nicely on the back cover: “Funny how the exceeding riches of God’s grace seem to run out the moment we’re saved. From then on, we tend to base our relationship with Him on our performance rather than on His grace.” Throughout this book the reader is consistently brought back to the sufficiency of unadulterated grace.

Practical and theological. Simple yet profound. This book would cause the greatest scholar to pause and grounds up the meat in such a way that even the newest of babes could feast on it. Grace shines in this work by Jerry Bridges.

What I Liked:

Since reading this book I have quoted it more than any other book. It is highly readable and its principles are not difficult to remember. This book is one of those rare jewels that stick with you. At least in my life it has been something the Lord has used to consistently remind me to “preach the gospel to myself”.

Here is an example of the simple yet profound statements throughout this book: “One of the best keep secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to Heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them—no exceptions.” It’s easy to understand but it takes a lifetime to chew on the truth in that statement. This book is filled with such excellent material.

A great mark of a Christian book is that it causes a deeper love for God and throughout reading it you break out into praise and awe. One of Bridge’s goals seems to have been to overwhelm us with the greatness of God and the freeness of His grace. He succeeds.

What I Disliked:

I have to dig pretty deep to find something that I do not like about this book. Perhaps one thing I could say to give some balance is that there are some places along the way that seem to drag a little—but maybe I just hadn’t drank my Mountain Dew yet. Truthfully the only thing I dislike about this book is that I’ve finished reading it.

Should You Buy It?

You would be absolutely foolish not to buy this book. Buy it, read it, give it away and then buy another. Whether you consider yourself a scholar or a simpleton you should buy this book. This book is for every type of person because God’s grace is for every type of person. If you do not buy this book you will be in dire need for grace! (Well, even if you do buy it you still need grace, but the point stands—buy the book!).
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Today in Blogworld 10/06

I am not saying yet whether I agree or disagree but this is a very good video by Mark Driscoll and his wife Grace: Should I Be a Stay at Home Dad?

Josh Harris has been compiling sermon notes of various preachers. It's pretty interesting especially for us preacher folk.

At the Koinonia blog they feature a Monday's with Mounce (that's Bill Mounce) column. It's always worth a read. This morning we are treated to a "look at etymologies".

Timmy Brister is responding to Steve Lemke's 4 Stream's of Calvinism. Part 1 and Part 2 have been completed.

Pulpit Magazine asks and answers the question, "Why Elder Rule?"

This is really not a video but more of a song. What happens when you combine my favorite musicians with my favorite (if that's proper to say) preacher? You get Shane and Shane with John Piper. Check it out:

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Potential Reason to Get Fired as a Coach

No...I have no clue why Lane Kiffin got fired.

Today in Blogworld 10/03

I have decided to bring back a feature from the past. It is my hope to start blogging more frequently (we'll see how that goes). One way to do that is to provide a daily summary of some of the great posts around teh blogosphere.

Dan Edelen explains why I get nauseous every time I go to the Christian bookstore. (HT: Challies)

Did you miss the Desiring God National Conference? So did I. No fear, all of the video is now available here.

Mark Driscoll has a new online book out. He is releasing it chapter by chapter. It is called Porn-Again Christian. Chapter one has just been released.

Great article here about confronting other people.

I'll close with a sport that I absolutely have to try out:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The effect of liberalism

I was recently listening to a sermon by Joshua Harris on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. In this particular sermon Harris quotes H. Reinhold Neibuhr when he wrote:

"A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."
You can listen to the entire sermon here. Also Justin Taylor has quoted this in the past as well--there is another great quote in that article as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fathering in a Minefield

This from Douglas Wilson:

"Gracious fathers lead their sons through the minefield of sin. Indulgent fathers watch their sons wander off into the minefield. Legal fathers chase them there."

You can read the entire article here.

Don't

This video clip will absolutely revitalize your marriage:



(HT: Bird)

Friday, September 19, 2008

The narrowing power of the gospel

"Theories and schemes and ceremonies grow tame and dead to the man who has looked the gospel in the face."
-Phillips Brooks
Quoted from The Life of Phillips Brooks, p.41

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Daggers to my heart

Every so often you read something that shoots daggers into your heart.  The words are so convicting and yet inspiring.  This is a good way to discern whether or not its true conviction or just beating yourself up out of false pride.  I think this is a legitmate dagger.  I just finished reading a blog post by Brant Hansen.  He compares LeaderMan vs. Servant Leader, saying that we need more Servant Leaders like Jesus and no more of the LeaderMan type.  The statement that shot the biggest dagger into my heart is this one:

LeaderMan:  Loves the idea of the Gospel, and the idea of The Church 
Servant Leader: Loves God and the actual individual people God brings across his path

You can read the entire list here.

Ouch!



It kinda cheapens it when you learn that it's fake.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Launch of Reforming Youth Ministry

It seems as if God has been placing me in numerous situations to discuss the nature of youth ministry. By no means am I anything close to an expert. But I have been doing youth ministry for over 7 years now with almost 5 of that at our current church. Through that time God has taught me much about ministry to students. For the past couple of years I have been trying to answer this question (both for myself and for a few others): What does youth ministry look like from a reformed perspective? I would love to be able to ask, "what does youth ministry look like from a biblical perspective". But that will not cut it--because hopefully everybody at least assumes that they are doing it from a biblical perspective.

The blog should be up and running in a couple of days. You can check it out by going here:

Reforming Youth Ministry

Review of The English Puritans by John Brown


Author: John Brown

Pages: 160 pages

Publisher: Christian Heritage

Price: 7.99

Genre: Puritan/Church History


Quick Summary:

In the preface the author makes clear that his aim is to provide a middle ground to Puritan history. He does not attempt to exhaust the subject nor does he attempt to merely give a cursory reading of the rise and fall of the Puritans. Brown takes us on a journey from the early origins of Puritanism in the 1500s through its rise and downfall in the mid and late 1600’s.

Brown’s main concern in this work is not so much with outlining the theological convictions of the Puritans but in showing how their theological convictions created the Puritan political history. J.I. Packer describes the book well when he says, “John Brown’s account of the political history of the Puritans up to 1660 has not lost its freshness. It is a heroic, inspiring story and Brown tells it well.”

What I Liked:

Brown writes the story as if he were at every meeting and as if he is giving you the inner workings of the Puritan movement, therefore, it is intriguing and a very easy read. After reading the second chapter on the vestments controversy you come away with a bigger appreciation for how small things can have an effect on great things. Would I sacrifice my family’s livelihood for the sake of freedom of attire? Is it really that important of an issue? Brown does an excellent job of showing us the importance as well as consequences of such issues.

What I Disliked:

While the book is very readable it also leaves the reader in the dark on many things. The author makes clear that his aim is to provide a middle ground and not exhaust the subject. Therefore, such a work would serve well as an introductory book. However, because of the lack of footnotes the reader is forced to make notes and look up these names and events elsewhere. A work that attempts to not be exhaustive should provide footnotes for further research and explanation otherwise the book might find itself abandoned on the bookshelf.

Another aspect that is difficult for the typical American is that Brown writes as one familiar to the English political system. Without a thorough knowledge of this it can become difficult to understand the significance of what Brown is saying. This is more a result of my ignorance and not Brown’s, however, let the casual American reader be advised to at least familiarize himself with the English government.

Should You Buy It?

This depends on what you are looking for. If you are already pretty familiar with the Puritans and their movement then this would be an interesting read. If this is your first exposure to the Puritans (both historically and theologically), then perhaps you would be better served elsewhere. However, if you decide to skip this book in favor of studying the Puritans elsewhere I would suggest picking it back up after you are familiarized with the movement. It adds great insight into historical struggles.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update and Storms quote

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Now that school is back in session I should be able to post a little more frequently....but we will see. These last few weeks have been quite hectic. My computer crashed. We had a great few days of vacation in Branson, MO. (And yes, I still don't like country music). We also were saddened during our vacation to hear that Nikki's grandfather had passed away. So, we also were busy with funeral stuff as soon as we got back home. And finally yesterday, thanks to my dear friend Brian, I got my computer back! So, hopefully I can post more in the upcoming months. I leave you with a quote from Sam Storms (I'll probably use it Wednesday):

"If you listen closely to what is being proclaimed on Sunday mornings, you will discern two dominant themes: conquering and coping. How can I conquer my world? How can I enter into my destiny? How can I triumph over my enemies and claim my inheritance? How can I better cope with life’s daily struggles? How can I relate more effectively with my peers and co-workers? If Christ is mentioned, and he usually is, he exists to aid us in our search for significance. He is important only so far as he awakens us to our importance. We talk about him so we can feel good about ourselves." -Sam Storms, from "How Rich the Word of Christ"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Boy

For some of you the last picture you saw of my son was his newborn photo. Here are a couple pics to update you:

All Eyez On Me

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review of Helmut Thielicke A little exercise for young theologians


Author: Helmut Thielicke

Pages: 41 pgs

Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Price: 8.00

Genre: Theology


Quick Summary:

This small booklet is the compilation of an opening lecture given to Thielicke’s theological students. As the title says it is a little exercise for young theologians. This little booklet is Thielicke’s hope that doctrine will penetrate into the real life. He discusses such things as the “Anxiety of the Ordinary Christian About Theology” as well as the “Theological Change of Voice” that young students often go through. Every chapter is an attempt to ground the student’s doctrinal studies in the “faith at once delivered to the saints.”

What I Like

Thielicke does a wonderful job of grounding the young theologian. He speaks of the “hiatus between the arena of the young theologian’s actual spiritual growth and what he already knows intellectually about [an] arena”. This encourages the student to not settle for a “second hand” faith.

Thielicke also does a tremendous job of grounding theology in faith. As he says at one point, “every theological effort is bound up with the act of faith itself”. Faith (or rather Christ) is the goal and not theology itself. He even makes the bold statement that, “every theological idea which makes an impression upon you must be regarded as a challenge to your faith.”

Thielicke’s attempt in this work is to ground his students in the gospel—he succeeds.

What I Disliked

The book is obviously written to theological students; the language would be quite difficult for the typical beginning learner to swallow. Unfortunately, it is the typical beginning learner that really needs to hear this. Thielicke perhaps would have been better served using less lofty language.

The book first was translated into English in 1962. Some of the theological issues that cropped up in the Thielicke’s time are no longer as pertinent. The book is dated—but if the reader can filter through some of the specific issues and see the heart of the matter he will be blessed.

Should You Buy It:

It depends on who you are. If you plan on reading quite a few theological materials and growing in your knowledge of doctrine then get this little booklet. You can read it in a short setting and will benefit for a lifetime. If you are not going to be diving into many deep issues then your money could be better spent elsewhere.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Principle for Preaching

One of the principles of using an illustration is to serve the text being preached. As Bryan Chapell says, "The proper focus of illustrations lies in presenting biblical truth in such a manner that it can be understood deeply and applied readily, rather than in providing popular enjoyment or pastoral acclaim". Chapell also warns that, "the preacher who constructs sermons to serve illustration rather than solid biblical exposition inevitably drifts from pulpit to stage, from pastor to showman".

I know that I have overused an illustration if somebody remembers the "parakeet story"* without being able to match it to a biblical text or principle. I can remember some of Aesop's Fables--but I also remember the moral of the story. Do your hearers remember the story or do they remember the principle the story tells?

This may be an example of over doing an illustration: Pastor Injured in Dirt Bike Accident During Church Service.

*There is no parakeet story--I just use that as an example.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Principle for Ministry

seWhat you do to hook them is what you will have to do to keep them. Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma has made the news by giving away an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to encourage young people to attend their youth conference. The goal is for "teens to find faith".

My main disagreement with this is not necessarily giving a teenager a gun. That could be done responsibly--many of our teenagers are responsible hunters. My main problem with this is that it rejects the sufficiency of Christ and his Word to bring about "teens finding faith". Apparently God's Word is no longer sufficiently the power of God unto salvation but it now requires giving away semi-automatic rifles.

Remember this; what you do to hook them is what you will have to do to keep them. You cannot slide the gospel in the backdoor--unless you intend to ALWAYS slip the gospel in the back door. Here is a suggestion: believe God enough to draw people to himself--yes even crazy lost teenagers.

I also should mention that my "problem" is not with the people at Windsor Hills Baptist Church, their staff, their people, nor anything of that sort. I wholeheartedly affirm their passion to bring about "teens finding faith". My "problem" is with the theology and dangerous philosophy of ministry that brings about such events. It is unnecessary and actually hinders the glorious gospel, and I hope that they turn from this and find more confidence in the gospel. I say this with much humility.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Interpretive Question on Colossians 3

In Colossians 3:3 Paul says, "you have died with Christ". In Colossians 3:5 Paul says, "Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you". It is apparent that the death of Christ is what motivates us to "put to death" what is earthly in us. As I have read through commentaries it seems that they are making a much bigger problem out of this than is necessary. Romans 6 gives us a pretty good idea of what Paul is saying in Colossians 3.

Here is my question, for any that have studied Colossians, Romans 6, or the relationship between the New Man and the Old Man:

Would it be appropriate to paraphrase Paul's point as this, "He's dead (the old man) now put him in the morgue so he doesn't stink up the joint? Clean up all the filth that this dead corpse has caused and put to death every remain there is of him."

I am not so much interested in the grammatical structure of my paraphrase--I understand it is rough. I am interested in knowing if you would agree with the theology undergirding such a statement.

A New Strategy for Evangelism

I think I have discovered one of the most effective motivation tools for evangelism. It also seems to be the way that Jesus did it. Tell people to "tell no one" and they will not be able to shut their mouth. Isn't it ironic that in Mark he continously tells people to "tell no one" about what He has done and they cannot seem to keep silent. But, Jesus has done something even greater with us by giving us new life and we cannot muster the courage to tell anyone.

What a sharp rebuke this is to my paltry evangelism:

"But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it." (Mark 7:36)

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