Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A reminder that it's not about me

If we believe that our greatest good is that God might exalt us, make us happy without him, and affirm our innate goodness then we will be sorely disturbed when everything in creation and in the mission of God cries out the opposite.

God's mission is to be known among the nations not to make much of us. Creation testifies to this. The sun, the moon, and the stars do not cry out to testify of our greatness--they proclaim the majesty of God. Everything but our own hearts testifies to the greatness of God. If we think it's about us then life will deeply disappoint us.

Who is this quote from?

I think I know how it happened but I have conflicting citings. D.A. Carson gives credit to McCheyne, I have it written down as John Owen.

"What a man is on his knees, in secret, before God that he is an no more".

I have an Owen quote that says

"A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public; but what that man is on his knees, in secret, before God Almighty, that he is, and no more."

Does anyone know where the McCheyne quote comes from? Carson does not cite it but attributes it to McCheyne. I have it written down as Owen--but also not cited. My guess is that McCheyne rephrased Owen's quote to make it more universal in scope. Anyone know?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday's Ministry Musing: Simple Sermon Prep

Occasionally I will have students ask me how to put together a Bible study or a sermon. Rather than giving them a full course on hermeneutics and homiletics I try to keep it simple. If they have a text or topic (if not we first discuss how to pick a text) in mind we go to the Scriptures and begin discussing sermon preparation.

Let’s imagine that a student feels led to preach on John 3:16. The first thing I do is tell the student to imagine time travelling; travelling back to the time when Jesus originally said these words, or when John originally wrote them. At this point I ask the student to imagine all of the things that would make it difficult for them to understand what Jesus is saying. We talk about language, culture, and the like.

At this point I pull out a sheet of paper and write the name Biblical Bob. I remind the student that what matters most in a Bible study or sermon is not what you want to say or what you think the audience needs to hear, but rather what God says. The first task in preaching John 3:16 is to understand the world of biblical Bob. This means that you study the text, you study the times, and you study the context. I usually offer a few resources to aid them in discovering these things.

Secondly I write the name Modern Marv. This is your audience. You need to know the people that you are preaching to. You need to have a vague idea of their struggles. There are many things that are universal to all men and women. And there are some things that are unique to your environment. We must be aware of these.

The task of preaching is building a bridge between Biblical Bob and Modern Marv (Or Post-Modern Percy if you prefer). How do you communicate the biblical message to our modern ears? In order to do this effectively you have to know what the message is—this is your chief task. At this point I usually draw a bridge between the two and begin discussing things that Biblical Bob has in common with Modern Marv. Then I remind the student that Jesus is the hero of both Biblical Bob and Modern Marv.

There are numerous other things that go into sermon preparation but I feel that explaining it this way helps the student to understand the task at hand. As they begin preaching you will find many students will fall off on one side or the other: either they will preach a very “biblical” message that has little to no relevance for today or they will preach a very “relevant” message that has little to no biblical fidelity. Having this framework in their mind will help them grow and be faithful to the text and to their audience.


By the way, none of this is new to me. The way it is communicated might be, but the general principles can be found here among other places:

Between Two Worlds by John Stott
Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell
The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper
Spirit-Empowered Preaching by Arturo Azurdia
The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sideny Greidanus
Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney
Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine

Pass the Budweiser?!?!?

I have no idea where I got this. All I know is that it is from D.A. Carson. If someone knows where it is from please leave it in the comments. This really puts contextualization into perspective:

Paul refuses to circumcise Titus, even when it was demanded by many in the Jerusalem crowd, not because it didn't matter to them, but because it mattered so much that if he acquiesced, he would have been giving the impression that faith in Jesus is not enough for salvation: one has to become a Jew first, before one can become a Christian. That would jeopardize the exclusive sufficiency of Jesus.

To create a contemporary analogy: If I'm called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotalers, I'll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, "You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol," I'll reply, "Pass the port" or "I'll think I'll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal." Paul is flexible and therefore prepared to circumcise Timothy when the exclusive sufficiency of Christ is not at stake and when a little cultural accommodation will advance the gospel; he is rigidly inflexible and therefore refuses to circumcise Titus when people are saying that Gentiles must be circumcised and become Jews to accept the Jewish Messiah.

UPDATE: As Barry Wallace pointed out in the comments I think I originally got this quote from Justin Taylor's blog. I should have assumed that.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How Should We Read the Book of Revelation?

How do you read Revelation? Is it a mystical document that tells the story of the end of the world? Is it a cryptic document that John uses to clothe his message to struggling Christians? Is it a timeless document that has a mixture of both? And I guess you could have a few other options as well.

I once believed it was a mystical document giving us clues to the end of the world. I have since changed my view. I think John had a particular message to the people of his day. John knew what he was writing and he knew what this vision meant. Once my view changed the pendulum began to swing too far the other way into a cryptic document that explained events that have very little to do with the future. This is where I am today—tomorrow this might change:

History tends to repeat itself. Therefore, is it possible that Revelation describes relevant history for John’s people but also relevant history for people throughout the centuries? I tend to read Revelation as the ongoing cosmic reconciliation that is taking place with its ultimate culmination in the victory of Christ over all. In a way I think it has the same message that we have been discussing in Ephesians: God redeems broken people and a broken world. It meant that to John’s audience and it means that to us.

Will there be more intense persecution as we close out the chapters of this book and open up the pages of the next? Certainly. Will there be a literal end times Antichrist? Perhaps. Is John foretelling of a one-world economic system? Maybe, but I do not think that Revelation is about John looking into a crystal ball and trying to explain in his terms what he saw. Again, the Book of Revelation, in my opinion, is about “uniting all things in him, things in heaven, and things on earth.”

What do you think?

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Sermon Available

In case you missed it David has faithfully put Wednesday's sermon online. It's out to the right. This sermon is on Ephesians 3:1-13. I had preached on this text awhile back and took it in a little different direction this time.

Again the sound is a little rough (no fault of David's). We are hoping to get a lapel mic or something pretty soon and then the sound will be better.

This Week in Blogworld 3/27

Please tell me this is not serious, look at what Greg Gilbert has posted, without comment. UPDATE: For some reason they took down the link at 9Marks. Here is what he had linked to.

Abraham Piper points us to the Tim Keller Wiki page.

So, maybe it's a good thing that I haven't gotten into Facebook. According to this guy, Facebook makes people dumber. (HT: Richard)

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Tom Schreiner this week. I was overjoyed to come back and find that his sermons are available online. (HT: JT)

Jonathan Leeman offers two tips for promoting kingdom mindedness when preaching.

Part 4 of CJ's interview with Powlison.

Can ei me mean but in John 3:13. See Mounce's answer.

Phil Johnson continues his discussion on "The Pornification of the Pulpit"

R. Scott Clark has some advice for young preachers. (HT: Milton)

See Driscoll on Nightline debating the existence of Satan.

Here is a very faithful witness to the redeeming power of Jesus:
(HT: Denny)

Is Anyone Reading....

....The God I Don't Understand by Christopher Wright?

I am currently reading this book and it is really stretching me. If you are reading it too and you happen to visit this blog let me know what you think. Even if you are not reading that book I want to encourage you to check out these links and consider buying the book:

Here is a sample:
"To me it is a profoundly moving thought that the word that introduces our most tormenting questions--"Why...?"--was uttered by Jesus on the very cross that was God's answer to the question that the whole creation poses." (Wright, 21)

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Week in Blogworld 3/20

This could get ugly: Mark Dever makes comments about infant baptism....Michael Bird responds, calling his statements out of line. R. Scott Clark returns the favor; although saying not offended he says NOT practicing infant baptism is a sin. This has the potential to get really ugly because it calls into question the sincerity of Together for the Gospel. There are others that have responded as well. One of those responding is Rick Phillips. I think he helps us to see with clarity the real issue. Stay tuned. I also must mention that Dever has responded with a clarification.

There are more blog posts from Stetzer interviewing Andy Stanley on Communication. I will only link to part 5 you can do the rest of the work.

Another solid article from Finn and Reid on Calvinism and the SBC.

James McDonald writes a letter to a dying church.

Part 2 and Part 3 of CJ's interivew with David Powlison.

Timmy Brister offers 20 books that promote life-change. Can't believe he left off How People Change.

Last week I linked to the Time magazine article on The New Calvinism being #3 in new ideas changing the world. Thabiti is not nearly as optimistic as some. I should also mention that in a few places Driscoll got drilled for his take on the movement. But what else is new.

Trevin Wax offers advice on reading when you're broke.

John Piper tells us to Never Let the Gospel Get Smaller.

The new 9marks E-Journal is now online. JT summarizes it.

Dan Wallace corrects a common misunderstanding on textual variants. Pastors and those often involved with apologetics read this.

That will do for now....have to watch some March Madness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hump Day Humor: 3G Eternity Edition

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.
The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room. He decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, he sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from family and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor passed out. He looked at the computer which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: March 2, 2009

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I’ve seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!

(HT: Guy Muse via. Frank Viola)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Need Your Help: Discovering "That Guy"

I need your help. I am working on something and I need a few funny "that guy" illustrations. In case you do not know who "that guy" is let me fill you in. First of all you do not want to be "that guy". Nobody wants to be "that guy". "That guy" is the guy with a comb-over that fools nobody. "That guy" is the dude decked out in eye black, $125 cleats, pinstripes, and wrist bands for church-league softball. He's "that guy" that yells at the umpire, screams at his team, and shouts a churchy expletive when he pops up. (I think I've been "that guy" a couple times). I need your help. Be funny. I need more "that guy" illustrations.

A Work in Progress

In some areas I am needlessly shy. In some areas I am annoyingly vocal. In some areas I think I have the proper balance. One of my areas that I am shy is in the area of broadcasting my preaching and teaching. I have recently been convicted about this. (See my post on Cinderella dressing up). I guess part of me just hates getting picked apart. I think I may be a closet perfectionist. Or maybe it is pride. That has to go. This quote by James Denney has stuck with me:
"No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time.
No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is
mighty to save."
I write all of this to say that the sermons that I preach on Wednesday nights will now be available for you to listen to...thanks to my good friend David. David has taken the time to record the messages, edit them, and post them online. Everything is really rough right now. This is no fault of David's but a fault of our equipment. Currently I am using three mic's set up around me because I cannot use only a pulpit mic (I move too much). We are in the process of securing a lapel mic or one of those ear-piece ones (so I can look like Britney Spears John Piper).

The sermon's will be available on the sidebar. Or you can go here at least for now. This week's sermon is on Ephesians 2:11-22. If you are curious as to what everyone was laughing at in the beginning it is this:

No clue who that poor kid is but I bet he got picked on in grade school.

Mangini is taking the Browns to the Super Bowl but only metaphorically

If this is true then I will have a really hard time being a Browns fan this season. It makes no sense to me. With each passing day I get more disgruntled with the Mangini/Kokinis regime. My opinion would not be popular to other Browns fans but I actually liked Savage and Crennel. I think they needed a couple more seasons then they would have been a championship caliber team. But that cannot be tested and is nothing but an opinion.

Cutler to the Browns seems like a step backward. Contrary to popular opinion the Browns have two pretty solid QB's in Quinn and Anderson. Why trade one and perhaps a pick to get another QB. Seems stupid. This team does not need another QB--especially Cutler. Yeah, he picked the Browns apart last season....but I think Todd Marinovich could have picked that secondary apart. So, I really hope they do not do this trade. And if they do this and Braylon Edwards goes....how can I root for a team filled with players I do not particularly care for?

Okay my weekly Browns venting is done.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Perhaps this is overly simplistic but....

Sometimes counseling teenagers can cause head-scratching and heartache. Sometimes counseling my own soul can be head-scratching and heart wrenching. I have counseled numerous teenagers that were crying in my office because they could not conquer a particular sin. My wife and I have counseled girls that are struggling with "boy issues" (e.g., their immaturity, their jerkiness, and their selfishness). And I have counseled young men that are struggling with "boy issues" (lust, pornography, anger). One thing always astonishes me...and this astonishes me about my own heart as well; we wallow in sin and plead with God to stir our affections at the same time.

It seems to me that the wisest thing to do would be to flee from the sin. Usually when pressed young men can figure out the source of their lust. Unless your conscience is ridiculously seared (and that is possible) you know when you are "crossing the line". That is why if you are in union with Christ such sin is ridiculous. Please do not misunderstand me; I have a tremendous amount of compassion and empathy with young men that struggle with these issues (as well as young women that "like" guys that they shouldn't). However, there comes a time when we need to confront the ignorance behind such sin.

"I'm not sure why my girlfriend and I messed up. I mean I know we were both in our swimming suits. And I know that she probably should not have been sitting on my lap. And I guess it was silly for us to try to help out each other not get a sunburn. And yes I know the likelihood of getting a sunburn "there" is improbable. But I really prayed before we went swimming because I knew it might be tough. Do I need to read my Bible more, you think? Should I have prayed harder? I really tried not to fall into this sin, why did God not help me out more. Why did he not deliver me from evil?"

Well, you see he did. Jesus delivered you from evil when he disarmed the power of Satan on the Cross. He robbed sin of its power when he brought you out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of Jesus. The principle of death has died in your heart so you no longer have to be a slave to these passions; He has supplanted that principle of death by making you alive with Christ. He has conquered sin. The problem is you are going back to it. The problem is you run away from his kingdom and sit in the filth of the old one. And you wonder why you fall?

The prodigal son did not cry out from his pig slop "Father come save me". He remembered the steadfast love of the Father, got out of the pig slop and ran back to where he belonged. So, here is the solution: stop letting your girlfriend sit on your lap, stop rubbing her down with sun tan lotion, and stop swimming half-naked. Sin is serious and it is deceptive. But it has been defeated. Live like it.

The problem is that we sometimes secretly want the fleeting pleasures of sin. This is why we need to pray that the Lord might "stir our affections" and root out of our hearts sin and unbelief. But that prayer does not mean that you stay in the pig slop. If you are a believer the death of Christ has conquered the heart that longs for pig slop; just get out of it. And if you ever find yourself wandering back remember the love of the Father, repent, and get out of the pig slop and go read 1 John 1:9.

Monday's Ministry Musing: Omnipresence and Preaching

This from Zack Eswine's excellent book: Preaching to a Post-Everything World.

"When preachers encounter challenges and feel they face what no other preacher has faced, we sometimes think of God as if he is an old man out of touch with "these young people today." This feeling is understandable. Preachers encounter cultural realities previously unknown to them. Bioethics, postmodernism, AIDS, child prostitution, or digital technology seem beyond God's experience...

[Yet], it was God who taught Daniel the literature and language of Babylon (Dan. 1:4). Likewise, it was God who taught Jonah about Nineveh and not the other way around. God is omnilingual and omnipresent. God is an expert in the writings of Plato and Confucius. He is thoroughly acquainted with postmodern thought and Eastern mysticism. He understands the political theory and economic indicators of each nation. God has seen The Matrix; he knows how to use an iPod. God can discuss pluralism and lecture on agriculture. God kows the names of every national leader and the ways and locations of every rebel force." (Eswine, 102-103)

I needed to hear this today.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cutest Kid Ever

This Week in Blogworld 3/13

First of all don't forget to vote for Borrowed Light at the SBC Blog Madness.

Haven't listened to these yet but Tony tells us about a free album of hymns put to indie rock.

C.J. Mahaney introduces us to David Powlison. (As a side note I have only recently stumbled across Powlison's material--and have been tremendously blessed. Expect a review of Seeing with New Eyes in the near future). Also in regards to Powlison check out this discussion with Justin Taylor about homosexuality.

It is unbelievable that Time has listed The New Calvinism as #3 on it's 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. I like Driscoll's take on it here and here. JT also points us to an article from 1947.

Jared lists 10 people in church that you should not trust.

I wonder if this one will get as many comments: Part 3 of Stetzer's inteview with Andy Stanley.

Everyone, even if they had to create a blog just to link to it, has linked to this article by Michael Spencer (iMonk): The Coming Evangelical Collapse.

Phil Johnson on Preachin' Dirty. If my students read that title they would be cracking up since a few months ago (actually while shooting our fan movie) I got my pants very dirty. They enjoyed my rap song--"gonna catch me preachin' dirty". It's funny because I am very white and had actually never heard the song. Read the article it has nothing to do with preaching with dirty pants on.

Last week I linked to Piper's discussion about wrasslin' girls. Dan Phillips has some interesting points here; he's for it, well sort of.

Can an elder be divorced? Mounce weighs in.

I know that you have already heard about the murder of Pastor Fred Winters. As a follow up I really like these suggestions by Mark Driscoll concerning church safety.

Alex and Brett Harris are writing another book and they need our help.

This is convicting: Prayerlessness is a sign of self-sufficiency.

I really like Ray LaMontagne's music. I thought he did a great job on SNL:

Cinderella Gets to the Big Dance...But Should She Dress Up?

#16 seeds never win in the NCAA tournament. It's always cute to watch them try against the powerhouse schools. There are two major things that separate the big schools from the little schools that get a #16 seed: Recruitment and Talent.

I am a #16 seed in the SBC Blog Madness. (Be sure to vote) I have little chance to get past the first round. I am just being honest. I am in the same division as Ed Stetzer and Tom Ascol. They will easily make it to the next round. And in order to get one of the two remaining spots I would have to beat out Peter Lumpkins, Joe Thorn/Steve McCoy's subtext blog, Alan Cross, B21, amongst a host of others. No chance.

You know what separates me from the "big blogs"? Yep, you guessed it-- Recruitment and Talent. I have never been good at recruitment. It feels contrary to the gospel. It seems self-indulgent and prideful. Or does it? From the time I began blogging I have struggled with whether or not I should engage in a blog-promotion. Of course my intent would not be to promote myself (or secretly is it?). I have kind of had the Field of Dreams approach to blogging. If you blog it they will come. I have had about 15,000 hits in the last couple of years. I only have 8 google reader subscribers. And I think a few from other feed readers. Some people do read this blog. But I have yet to see Shoeless Joe Jackson as a visitor or in the comments.

Here is my question for all 8 of you: Is blog promotion wrong?
  • More readers means better discussion. But better discussion means more time spent sifting through comments.
  • In order to promote the blog it means being more involved in online discussions. This can be helpful but it can also be distracting from hands on ministry. But, is blogging a "ministry"?
  • In promoting the blog am I promoting Jesus or trying to make a name for myself? (I realize you cannot answer this one).
  • Am I even decent enough at blogging? I know that the more the blog is known the more my faults will be known--like when to use a comma, semi-colon, etc. I've seen these online discussions--they get ugly. People are nasty. People take your ideas and make them something they are not. Do I really want that to be a part of my life? Is it realistic to not expect that to be? Am I wasting my talents out of fear?

I think as I have been thinking through this it comes down to one key question--am I blogging for Jesus or am I blogging for myself? If I am blogging for myself then blog-promotion is stupid and prideful. If I am blogging for Jesus then blog-promotion is merely proclaiming the gospel. Paul did come in fear and trembling and he did preach Christ and Him crucified. But in order to do that he had to stand up in busy synagogues and start preaching. He had to believe that he had something to say.

I am interested to hear your comments.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Ministry Musings: Passion and Truth

Yesterday morning at the beginning of our worship service I was struck with an emptiness in my soul. Maybe "emptiness" is not the right word. Perhaps a deep unrest would be a better way to describe it. The center of my conviction is my lack of being gripped by the glorious things of God. How can I hear, read, and share such glorious truths as if they are commonplace. The cross of Christ should never be commonplace. Under conviction I wrote this desperate prayer:

"Purge from my heart passionless truth and truthless passion."

My prayer is simple. I pray that if it is true that God might grip my heart with the truth of it. I want to believe with every fiber of my being the reality of hell. And more than that I want to believe with every fiber of my being the reality of eternity with God Himself. I want to as Piper often says, "see and savor" Jesus Christ. I want to feel the truths of Scripture deeply. Rather than reciting John 3:16 from rote I want to be burdened by it--and burdened deeply. I am tired of passionless Christianity and I am tired of knowing facts but not being gripped by them.

On the other hand I also do not want passion for the sake of passion. That is why I pray that God might purge from my heart truthless passion. There are many lies that run through my heart. I do not want to be passionate about those. I only want to be passionate about Truth.

What does this have to do with ministry? Everything. I do not want to preach a text that does not grip me. Because if I am just "preaching a text' then I am probably not preaching (at least in the correct way) anyways. I want the Christ that the text reveals to grip me and I want to preach Him with the passion which He deserves.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This Week in Blogworld 3/06/09

Hunter Beaumont (on the Resurgence blog) thinks that "AND" might be the most important theological word. Read why he thanks that, here.

Ed Stetzer posts a discussion with Andy Stanley on communication. Be sure to read part one and part two. Jared Wilson interacts. Be sure to read what Jared has to say I think it is important.

John Piper confronts pansy dads that let their sons wrestle girls. Great interaction with a hot topic--this is about much more than wrestling.

CJ Mahaney interviews Jerry Bridges. Good stuff here.

Jay Adams discusses the emotions of God...or well, lack theirof. I have a question about this. If what Adams is saying is true--then can we really talk about God being happy and joyous?

Wow, you have to read this. It is the Eulogy that Erik Raymond's 13 year old, Bryce, wrote for him. (Note it was a school project the Irish Calvinist is still alive and well). All I can say is this 13 year old gets the gospel. Wow!

James MacDonald preaches a very needed message. I think some of those "discernment" blogs need to forward this around. I'm sure that he'll get "flamed" for this one...but great stuff: The Gift of Discernment Used in the Flesh

Hopefully I did not miss Part 2, but Alvin Reid and Nathan Finn have written a piece together about Calvinism and the SBC.

Even though this is a tad embarassing here is a video that I worked on with a few of our students last Fall. And it really is true--until I was married I really thought Bing Crosby was a black guy:

Theology, Relationship with God, and Prayer

In the February ‘09 edition of “The Briefing” (Matthias Media), Andrew Barry examines Job from the perspective of theology, our relationship with God and prayer.

Job treats God as someone with whom he has a relationship....his
friends treat God as a theological debate. They may score good
theological points, but it’s Job who trusts God. Rather than being
just a book about the problem of evil, the book of Job contains a sharp
and scary message for would-be theologians. These people actually
infuriate God with their endless discussions if they are not men and
women of prayer (Job 42:7).

Far too often I find myself so enraptured with the study of God’s Word that I neglect to apply it to my life. I wonder if, at times, I am more concerned about my relationship with the Bible than I am my relationship with God. As I seek to dive deeper into God’s Word may I not become so enmeshed in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge that I fail to give equal importance to spiritual wisdom and spiritual practice.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hump Day Humor: Church Blooper Edition

I got this in e-mail the other day. Everyone and their mom has probably already seen it (probably because your mom forwarded it to you). But I have to finish up preparing for a sermon today...so I am going to be a tad lazy with this one. This are however funny. These are real sentences that have either appeared in bulletins or have been said in church:
  • The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
  • The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight:'Searching for Jesus.'
  • Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
  • Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
  • Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
  • The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may beseen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
  • This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
  • Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
  • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
  • Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  • The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.'

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review of Worldliness by CJ Mahaney and Others

Author: Various, C.J. Mahaney Editor

Pages: 192 pages

Publisher: Crossway

Price: 9.74

Genre: Christian Living/Personal Growth

Quick Summary:

Worldliness. We all are tempted to sin in regards to our relationship to the world. Either we sinfully disengage or we sinfully over-engage. This little book is an attempt to draw a biblical balance that culminates at the Cross.

John Piper writes the Foreword in which he rightly names the authors as “gospel-lovers”. Piper encourages us to read on and calls this book a gift to pastors (as it is). C.J. Mahaney, the editor, begins the book by outlining the discussion. He defines worldliness and sets the stage for what follows. He gets to the core of the issue at the very beginning: “Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world”. What followers are the various authors making Mahaney’s chapter practical. Craig Cabaniss considers the Media, Bob Kauflin discusses Music, Dave Harvey confronts Stuff, Mahaney again joins the discussion with his chapter on Modesty, and Jeff Purswell closes up the book by offering advice on Loving the World. There are also two helpful appendixes (one a modesty check, the other about modesty on your Wedding Day). Also, to our benefit are discussion questions.

What I Liked:

Few people can walk (or write) in such a fashion that they stay on the tightrope between legalism and licentiousness. Mahaney and those that write with him in this book do just that. In each chapter, regardless of the topic, they always point you to the Cross and the glory of God. They never drift toward legalistic list making nor give you a license to sin. They get to the core of worldliness—our heart and its relationship to God.

The length of this book is perfect. The writing is catchy. The questions are probing. The appendix is helpful. The discussion questions are wonderful. That is why I will be taking our young men through a study of this book. Excellent work…much needed.

What I Disliked:

I personally was not that involved in the fifth chapter on dressing modestly. Nevertheless, it is a needed chapter and a wonderful exposition on modesty. I also disliked the fact that this book confronts my sinfulness to the core. I did not like the fact that it challenged me to unplug my television and shut down my computer. I did not like that it does not give me lists of do’s and don’ts but rather makes me ask questions that get to the core. But then again I do not like those things because I desperately needed this book. So even though I “disliked” those things that is what I love about this book—or more importantly what I love about the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

Should You Buy It?

Our church just purchased 10 for our young men’s study. No matter what age or gender you are this book is deeply relevant. Even if you think an MP3 might be a character from Star Wars, you figure Lil' Wayne is one of John's children, an Eminem is something you eat, or you make an appointment at the doctor's office because your neighbor suggest you should get an HDTV, you still need this book. We are all affected by worldliness. Buy it today!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Meaning of Life

To the person that just searched this blog to find the answer to this question: What is the meaning of life?

To know and to be known by God through Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

You could sum it up a few other ways--but that's the gist of it.

Monday's Ministry Musings: Preach What is Lasting

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer,
the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they
laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask
alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into
the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him,
as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them,
expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and
gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
rise up and walk!”
(Acts 3:1-6)

I think I lost 75 bucks. Saturday night my wife and I decided to go to a neighboring town to buy some things for my son's room. Before we went I had hoped to go to the bank to cash two checks totalling $75. The banks was closed, I stuck the checks in my pocket, that's the last time I saw them. No clue where they are now, probably in a parking lot somewhere or in another guys bank account.

Needless to say I have been a tad bummed about "throwing away" 75 dollars like that. And to be honest a tad stressed about financial things. Then I read this, "When covetousness seeks to chain the heart to things passing away, grace empowers us to enjoy the One who is not only necessary, but enough. And not just barely enough but overwhelming joy and satisfaction." (Dave Harvey in Worldliness, page 115-116).

After reading this it hit me in a tangible way how fleeting money and "stuff" is. I can drop $75 out of my pocket and it is gone forever. I can't drop Jesus out of my pocket and He is gone forever. Jesus is eternal and because of this He is also sufficient for all things. Yeah, maybe I could use the $75, but in 150 years I doubt it will even be a passing thought.

Rewind some 2,000 years. A man that is crippled and confined to begging asks Peter and John for that which fades--money. He does not ask for healing. He does not ask for a changed life. He certainly does not ask for Jesus and being swept up in the grand purpose of praising God. His "felt need" is a few coins (who knows what he intended to spend it on) to get him through the day. He will be back at the gate tomorrow asking for more of that which fades and it seems he is content with that.

Notice what Peter and John do. Instead of answering his fading desire they answer the depths of his soul--the desires he never even thought about desiring. Two very different thoughts were happening as the apostles gazed at him. The beggar thought he was getting alms. The apostles wanted to give him something deeper. And here is essentially what they say to him, "We do not have the temporary, but we do have the eternal, and just so you know that get up and walk".

Perhaps you are wondering what "rise up and walk" has to do with the eternal. Look at the result of this...it shows us that "rise up and walk" is not the end. Here is the aim:

"And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his
feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (Acts 3:7-10)
The aim was worship in the temple. The aim was proclaiming the excellencies of the God that causes a lame man to walk and a dead man to live. This is the eternal which the "rise up and walk" leads to. Money would have faded. Even walking fades. But worship endures forever.

Here is the lesson for our mission: follow the example of Peter and John and give what endures forever. The people that we minister to have a ton of felt needs; some legit and some immature and silly. Yes, we minister in love. Yes, we love people and do what is best for them. And sometimes what is best for them is losing 75.00 to see the beauty and eternal worth of Jesus.

I close with this quote from John Piper:

"People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majest of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God's greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: 'Show me thy glory!'" (Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching, page 13)

Why Did I Want This?

For those of you that clicked a link from somewhere thinking this would be a really deep spiritual post....sorry...it's not. It's about football and my need to vent. As soon as Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage got the axe (which I was sad about in both cases) and as soon as I found out Eric Mangini was fired by the Jets I had hoped the Brownies would hire him.

Now in the midst of free agency with the Browns having George Kokonut (can't remember how to spell his last name) as the GM I am wondering why in the world I had hoped for this. Through a very busy weekend as many of the top free agents are gone the Browns made one move: Trading Kellen Winslow (amazing TE) for a second round draft pick and a 5th rounder next year. That's it. They've lost one player and gained--well, that's yet to be determined.

At least pursue Derrick Ward. Another year with Jamal Lewis as the primary back will be another season under .500. At least get another wide receiver (especially since they traded K3). Why rebuild a team that was 10-6 two years ago and 4-12 with the hardest schedule? I trust they are smarter than me, and it works out. Only time will tell.

Venting done.


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