Friday, May 29, 2009

This Week in Blogworld 5/29

Who do I credit for this one?  JT, links to Tony Reinke, who quotes David Powlison: 3 Questions to Spark Substantive Conversation with Your Spouse

Josh Harris asks a very important question.  Should we use Twitter in church?  Piper also weighs in.  Also Richard Clark give us an Ecclesiology of Twitter

The next installment of Reading the Classics Together at Challies’ blog will be The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  If you’ve never read this book I’d suggest buying it and joining the conversation. 

JT plugs a new album from Voice: A Theist.  I’ve heard good stuff so far…but am personally unfamiliar.  Rhapsody is yet to carry his music. 

Great article by Challies on confession

I’m not sure what my Arminian brothers think of this but you’ve got to respect a guy rapping about Particular Redemption:  (HT: John)

Dr. Moore discusses the “Pro-Life Majority”

I liked this:

  (HT: Guy M)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Face Melting Quote on the Effects of the Cross

“Ultimately all that will be there in the new, redeemed creation will be there  because of the cross.  And conversely, all that will not be there (suffering, tears, sin, Satan, sickness, oppression, corruption, decay and death) will not be there because they will have been defeated and destroyed by the cross.  That is the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s idea of redemption.  It is exceedingly good news.  It is the font of all our mission.

So it is my passionate conviction that holistic mission must have a holistic theology of the cross.  That includes the conviction that the cross must be as a central to our social engagement as it is to our evangelism.  There is no other power, no other resource, no other name through which we can offer the whole Gospel to the whole person and to the whole world than Jesus Christ crucified and risen.”  (Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God, pages 315-316)

Wow.  I mean seriously.  Wow.  How dare we center our life and mission around anything but the Cross.

Thinking Through ‘The Deliberate Church’: Foreword

A couple of years ago I read Mark Dever and Paul Alexander’s excellent book The Deliberate Church.  Recently a friend of mine as well as a couple other people have made mention of this book.  I thought it would be helpful to journey through this book with adeliberatechurch few other believers.   It has been awhile since I read it and could certainly use other believers to think through some of these issues—especially others from different churches.  I will attempt to summarize each chapter (so maybe those that are not reading the book can still follow along) and then ask a few questions that we can discuss in the comments. 

If you have not bought this book yet, you really should.  It is only $8.99.

Quick Summary:

Dever wonders ‘why did you buy this book’?  Accident, discouraged, wanting to make an impact, disillusioned, or looking for new life in your church (the next great thing)?  Regardless of the reason for your purchase (or following along with us as we read through it) it is important to know from the beginning what this book is not.  It is not new, it is not a program, and it is not a quick fix.  This book is not about innovation it is about biblical faithfulness.

Dever defines the purpose simply as this: “To be deliberate about treating the biblical Gospel as that which feeds the church’s growth, drives its progress, and governs every aspect of the church’s corporate life and leadership.” (21) 

The foreword is closed out by asking a very important question:  Is it replicable?  Thankfully, it is absolutely replicable.  It is important as well to catch what Dever says on page 23, “[these] are not intended to be taken as either exhaustive or exclusive, but simply as an attempt to revive a warm conversation about how we feed, lead, and protect the flock of God.”  It will take patience and it depends on the sovereignty of God.  The goal is faithfulness. 


Healthy growth takes time, prayer, hard work, patience and perseverance.”  (20)

Our goal isn’t to see how innovative we can be.  Our goal is to see how faithful we can be.”  (21)

…human method has to remain plain, or else it will naturally supplant the Gospel’s rightful role…the Gospel is cast in bold relief against the backdrop of our own admitted weakness.”  (22)


  • So why did you buy this book?  Or why do you want to discuss it? 
  • What do you think of this statement: “When the Gospel enjoys functional centrality, the church gains traction in the culture…”?
  • This one is from the book:  “Does the Gospel enjoy functional centrality in your church?  Why or why not?  Are there ways in which your current model of ministry might siphon off the glory of the Gospel for itself?  How so? 
  • What other thoughts and questions do you have?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Humble Plea to Stop Being Rebels for the Sake of Rebellion Part Two

Last time we discussed the three different types of cultural engagement.  This time we will look at the stick-shaker.  Remember last time we defined the stick-shaker as the one who looks at the problems of the world shakes a stick at them, rebukes them, rallies the troops to pick up their sticks, and hopes that by enough stick-shaking the problems will go away.  Today we will consider what the stick-shaker gets right and where I believe the stick-shaker turns from the Bible. 

The stick-shaker is correct that worldliness is a major problem.  Nun_ruler When the world infiltrates the church you have major problems (see Corinth).  We are told by the apostle John not to “love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 

There is also an element of engagement that the stick-shaker does get right.  In Ephesians 5:11 we are told to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead to expose them.”  Sometimes the way that we are to engage is by loving rebuke.  So there are some things that stick-shakers get right and there are areas where we are indebted to their faithfulness to the holiness of the gospel.  But there are also serious problems with a stick-shakers view of engagement.

The fundamental error of the stick-shaker can be seen in a quote by JC Ryle’s book Holiness.  By no means am I accusing JC Ryle of being a stick-shaker.  These words, I think, meant something different in his day.  However, this quote will serve to show the underlying mindset of the stick-shaker:

[There] are [those] who are always trying to keep in with the world.  They are ingenious in discovering reasons for not separating decidedly, and in framing plausible excuses for attending questionable amusements, and keeping up questionable friendships.  One day you are told of their attending a Bible reading; the next day perhaps you hear of their going to a ball.  One day they fast, or go to the Lords’ table and receive the sacrament; another day they go to the racecourse in the morning, and the opera at night.  One day they are almost in hysterics under a sermon of some sensational preacher; another day they are weeping over some novel.  They are constantly laboring to persuade themselves that to mix a little with worldly people on their own ground does good.  Yet in their case it is very clear they do not good, and only get harm.

The problem with what Ryle is saying is that there is nothing innately wrong with a ball, watching horses go around a track, opera, or weeping at a novel.  Can these things become worldly and sinful?  You bet.  But can you enjoy an opera, read a novel, watch race horses, or enjoy a ball and it not be sinful?  Can Jesus go to a wedding party?  Where Ryle errs on this point is that he creates a needless dichotomy between sacred and secular. 

This needless dichotomy is the fundamental error with stick shakers.   And because of this they will defend their position with a great amount of vigor; after all, they are defending the sacred against the secular—God against the world.  The problem, though, is that the “world” that John is referring to is not the opera or great works of fiction.  The “world” that John is referring to is the God-hating mindset of secular man.  As D.A. Carson points out for John the world, “is not the universe, but the created order (especially of human beings and human affairs) in rebellion against its Maker.”

Furthermore, you do not see this type of cultural engagement with Jesus.  His sharp rebukes were often reserved for the religious elite.  Prostitutes, tax collectors, and society’s outcast often were given grace.  The problem with the stick-shaker is that they  create an “us v. them” mentality and often they feel more holy because they are not like the world.  I like what Paul Tripp says, “Whenever you believe that the evil outside of you is greater than the evil inside you, a heartfelt pursuit of Christ will be replaced by a zealous fighting of the “evil” around you.” 

If you are a stick-shaker that refuses to get your hands dirty and really incarnate the love of Jesus into other people’s lives then you need to come to grips with the sin in your own heart.  The reason for you disengagement is probably a combination of fear and pride.  So, realize that your greatest enemy is not the person across the street that is in love with world; your greatest enemy is indwelling sin.  Realize that the only hope that you have is the same hope that your neighbor has—the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rather than engaging your neighbor with picket signs engage him with the love of the gospel.

To be continued…

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lessons from Aesop: Prizing Christ Unlike the Rooster

A [rooster] was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens when suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. "Ho! ho!" quoth he, "that's for me," and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. What did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been lost in the yard? "You may be a treasure," quoth Master [Rooster], "to men that prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck of pearls." Precious things are for those that can prize them.    From Aesop’s Fablesroosterpearl

Is this fable not the story of the unbeliever and the life-long struggle of the believer?  Christ is indeed the pearl of great price and yet we so often desire a “single barley-corn” rather than a “peck of pearls”.  The rooster’s problem is the same as ours; he is living for food which perishes and neglecting the greater treasure. 

Lord, give us hearts to treasure that which is truly treasure.  Give us the faith of Moses that chose to endure suffering for the sake of Christ rather than the fleeting pleasures of sin.  Remove our hearts of stone that can stare at beauty and desire bread for today rather than bread which endures forever.  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Not Pitching Matters Too High

Last January (that’s 2008) I read Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed.  Chapter 5 in particular was used by the Lord to convict me deeply about my attitude towards those under my care.  This comment of Sibbes was particularly convicting:

"Preachers need to take heed therefore how they deal with young believers. Let them be careful not to pitch matters too high, making things necessary evidences of grace which agree not to the experience of many a good Christian, and laying salvation and damnation upon things that are not fit to bear so great a weight."

How often have you seen a new believer (or even a seasoned one) for that matter highly discouraged because someone makes a major deal out of a minor issue?  I know I have been guilty of playing the “you may not be saved” card (especially early on in ministry). 

Do my work for me…

What are some examples of “making things necessary evidences of grace” and “laying salvation and damnation upon things that are not fit to bear so great a weight”?  What are these “evidences” that you have mistakenly used? 

My Perception Of God's Work Through His People

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 ESV).

1. Don't assume that just because you don't see it happening --- its not happening.

2. Don't assume that just because it doesn't make sense to you --- it doesn't make sense.

3. Don't assume that just because it isn't the way you want it done --- its not being done correctly.

4.When its not your responsibility --- don't assume that you'll see the situation better than those involved and those to whom God has given leadership responsibility.

Let's be honest with ourselves. Each of us has more than we can handle trying to take care of the joys & responsibilities God has given us. After all, our perspective on our own lives is a bit skewed. How much less is our perspective when trying to evaluate and critique someone else according to our own wisdom?

Sometimes we do have the responsibility to evaluate and critique what is going on around us. But we should never confuse the responsibility God gives us with the ability to see and know the hearts and deeds of all men. Let us never confuse God-given responsibility in one arena of life with responsibility for all life and activity. As a pastor, I will never see all the ministry happening through my congregation. As a pastor, I should hope that our Sunday School teachers, missions leaders, and ministry leaders have a clearer sense from God how would have them lead the people given to them in those ministries better than I. If I lean on my own understanding, despair or delusion is not far away.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Humble Plea to Stop Being Rebels for the Sake of Rebellion Part One

On one hand I am ridiculously excited about what God is doing with my generation.  We are seeing God raise up numerous Christ-centered, gospel drenched, men and women.  It is exciting to see people more concerned with planting a biblical church than with following the status quo.  It is encouraging to see men both engage culture and confront it at the same time.  These are exciting times.

On the other hand I am deeply disappointed with how my generation is embracing rebellion for the sake of rebellion.  I really want to give a few examples of this but I know how the conversation spirals into something unhelpful.  I know that if we give an example of alcohol or cursing or mention the name Mark Driscoll then the entire point that I am making will be lost.  So, what I propose to do is present a paradigm for us to think about certain issues then apply them to a few issues. 

My aim is to appeal to my generation to stop being rebels for the sake of rebellion.  I am really tired of reading blog posts, hearing discussions, and witnessing arguments in which people are talking around each other instead of believing the gospel and taking Jesus to the nations.  There are some that believe you cannot drink a beer and be a disciple of Jesus.  (If that is you then you are not my audience in this particular plea).  There are others that believe that in order to be a disciple of Jesus you have to drink beer.  (If that is you then you are my audience in this particular plea). 

Allow me to set the stage for the next few posts.  There are, in my opinion, three different ways of engaging the culture: the stick-shaker, the rule-breaker, and the difference maker.  The stick-shaker looks at the problems of the world shakes a stick at them, rebukes them, rallies the troops to pick up their sticks, and hopes that by enough stick-shaking the problems will go away. 

The rule breaker gets ticked off with the stick-shaker (and rightly so).  Rather than shaking a stick at the problems he decides that the best way to reach the culture is to engage the culture on its turf.  If there are “rules” preventing the relationship then its okay to break them (so long as its not one of those big ones like denying Jesus). 

The difference maker does just that; he makes a difference.  He engages the culture rather than shaking a stick at it.  But rather than engaging in sin on their behalf he calls the culture to repentance.  Here is a picture (I’m not a good artist):


To be continued…

This Week in Blogworld 5/22

I follow Paul Tripp on Twitter.  I wish I could follow him in real life; like follow him around with a notebook type of stuff.  This guy has so much wisdom it is ridiculous.  Recently Abraham Piper had the opportunity to interview him.  This is I believe the final question but it is phenomenal.  What is the greatest hindrance to cultivating community in the American church?  Read Tripp’s answer here

Abraham also asked Tripp about non-sinful conflict.  Read his answer here.

Steve Camp gives 7 habits of the contemporary church, the traditional church, and the biblical church.  Great points.

I have not had the chance to check this out but assume it is just as solid as Children’s Desiring God.  Check out Praise Factory by Connie Dever (that is Mark’s wife). 

Dr. Mohler has a phenomenal response (Duh!, of course it’s phenomenal) to President Obama’s “speech” at Notre Dame.  Basically, Dr. Mohler says that Obama is only talking about talking about abortion; read it here

10 Questions for Pastor’s Wives.  (HT: Colin)

Tim Chester quotes some DA Carson to point out a danger in blogging.

The more I read Kevin DeYoung the more respect I have for this brother.  Another great article: False Apology Syndrome

James McDonald suggest 5 illustrations that need retired, first two this week

Material from Bryan Chapell’s preaching class are available.  Thanks Colin!

I wasn’t aware this was a continuing problem…maybe I’ve just started reading different stuff.  C.Michael Patton says, “Calvinists Calm Down!”

If you are an American Idol fan then this will make you laugh hard; especially if you thought Kara’s song was a tad silly.  Brant Hansen writes his song inspired by Kara:

I needed to hear this today.  It’s sad that the “hate” that Chan is talking about often comes from the church culture:

(HT: Jared)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Praying and God’s glory

George Mueller once said, “if you desire anything for God’s glory pray until you get it”. 

So, what do you think about that?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hump Day Humor: Bowling Edition

Did this really happen to a professional?


I am glad this has never happened when we have taken teenagers out bowling (minus of course the “Nathan incident”:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lessons from Aesop: Lobbing ‘Grenades of Truth’ at the Wounded

A boy bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. "Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray help me now and scold me afterwards." Counsel without help is useless.  From Aesop’s Fables.

Paul Tripp refers to this as “lobbing grenades of truth”.  grenadeI wonder how often and in how many areas we, as the church, do this to struggling believers and unbelievers.  Are there homosexuals dying of AIDS and without Christ that we refuse to reach out to?  Are there poor people that spend their money unwisely that we ignore?  Are there teenagers that we refuse to counsel because of their unwise choices?   

I fear that we often look more like the passing traveler than Jesus.  We are pretty good about exercising church discipline.  But sadly the church discipline that we often exercise is on unbelievers.  We let many that claim to be believers go untouched (so long as they are within our friendly confines, tithe, or at least on our membership rolls) with discipline and we “discipline” those are not even within the church. 

You see Aesop really does well at pointing out the ministry of Jesus here.  Jesus most frequently helped and then counseled.  The only time you really see the opposite is with the religious elite that “don’t need help”.  If we only lob truth at people and scold them in their sin then our counsel is useless.  If we only help people but never counsel them then our help is shallow at best. 

Perhaps, rather than boycotting Pepsi and picketing gay parades we should try to build a relationship.  Perhaps, rather than saying to a poor person we will only give 25% to your electric bill we should give until it hurts us, come alongside the person making poor decisions, and counsel them in biblical finances.

But of course lobbing grenades is far easier.  It is more destructive but at least it takes less out of us than hand-to-hand combat.  I could probably lob 15 grenades to every instance of hand-to-hand combat, but it remains impersonal.   So, which type of ministry do you want with people?  Easy yet destructive or tough yet personal?

Lyrics to Oh Jerusalem! by Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill is one of my favorite artists. I love her voice and her lyrics. She also professes Christ. These lyrics are some of my favorite:

Oh Jerusalem yeah, oh Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem...
Realizing that there's no place else to go
And there's nobody I know who can help me
Text book solutions are so improbable
Cause everybody else is just as empty
Naked as the day that I was born, I tried to hide
...behind education and philosophy
Hopeless explanation to describe a situation
I can't see because the world's on top of me
Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me
From the body of this death
Freeing me from dust, and the superficial trust
Of an enemy that seeks to take my breath
Failing to connect, cause I'm morally defect
By reason of the God inside my head
Causing me to see, only what pertains to me
Believing I'm alive when I'm still dead
Limited to earth, unable to find out my worth
Cause I... can't see past my own vanity
If I'm not included, then I just have to remove it
From my mind because it has to be in sanity
Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me
From the body of this death
Can I even factor, that I've only been an actor
In this staged interpretation of this day
Focused on the shadow, with my back turned to the light
Too intelligent to see it's me in the way
What a paradox, having God trapped in a box
All this time professing to be spiritual
Naturally pretending, that I'm actually defending
God through my facade don't need material
Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem, keeping thee from perfection
Submit to truth, leave the deception of thy youth
So we could walk in the council of authority
Forget the proof, our generation so aloof
Only follow in the steps of the majority
Trust in the Lord, with all thy heart
And lay not to thine, oh an understanding in all thy ways
Acknowledge Him, and He shall correct our paths
Be not wise in thine own eyes and you can follow him
We judge and condemn, just as ignorant as them
Who religion tells us that we should ignore
Perpetrating we're in covenant with Him
Exposed by the very things that we adore
We grin and shake hands, then lay ambush for the man
Who has a different point of view then us
Infuriated cause he doesn't understand
Bringing up those things we don't want to discuss
Why still do evil, we don't know how to do good
Walking on in darkness running from the light, ey
Led to believe, because we live in neighborhoods
Telling us what's going on will be alright
Oh so repressed, so convinced that I was blessed
When I played with my game of Monopoly
Oh to suggest, that my life is still a mess
Who reveal the pride I'm hiding is what's stopping me
Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem keeping them from perfection
Abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bare
...fruit of itself except in the vine
I am the vine, ye are the branches, He's in live in me
And I in him, the same bring forth much fruit
Without me, you can do nothing
Oh Jerusalem, you're traditions have deceived you
I've chosen you, you haven't chosen me
Do whatsoever, you asking my name he may give to you
But in vain they call my name
teaching doctrines just the same
Justified among themselves
But God know with the heart, what man esteemed as smart
Is an abomination to Emmanuel
Just repent, turn from selfish motivation
So iniquity will not cause your demise
Make you a new heart and a new spirit
...for why would he die
Oh Jerusalem, please tell me why
I have no pleasure in the death of him to die
Says the Lord God where forth turn yourselves and live
It's not the talkers, but the walkers and his word
Are the only ones the Father will forgive
Oh Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness
That thou may be saved from thy deception
How long, shall thy face those lies within thee
Oh Jerusalem, providing you no protection
Oh Jerusalem...

If you prefer to watch/listen to it:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crazy Love Review

Author: Francis Chan

Publisher: David C. Cook

Pages: 192 pages

Price: $8.15

Genre: Christian Living

Quick Summary:

“When you are wildly in love with someone, it changes everything”, reads the back cover. It is Chan’s hope that those reading this book might rediscover the amazing love of God and that we might live in such a way to reflect that. Chan’s hope is that we might be crazy in love with Jesus. As he says in the preface this book is for, “those who want more of Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don’t want to plateau, those who would rather die before their convictions do.”

How does Chan hope to give us more of Jesus? In the first three chapters he gives us a primer on the amazing love of God and the greatness of the God that is love. Then he moves to our response. He gives us a profile of the lukewarm and rebukes us for giving leftovers to God. Then he begins painting a picture of what a life that is obsessed with Jesus looks like. He closes by giving us real-life examples and encouraging us to respond today.

What I Liked:

This is the first book that I have read that encouraged you to put down the book and check out a video on the internet. The book is definitely “hip” and the website only helps to strengthen the book; I would love to see more of this in the future.

The test of any good book is not your opinion after you close the last page but how it has shaped your life. I must say that after reading this book my eyes have been more open and it has been used by God to stir more of a heart for Him and for those around me. Because I am in the group that “this book is for” it did in fact reach me. I am convicted by the message of this book. However…

What I Disliked:

Something sits wrong with me as far as recommending this book. I want to charge legalism—but that’s not true. I want to say he needed to focus on grace more—but I don’t think that was his point. The thing that bothers me is that Chan says that those that are “lukewarm” are not Christians; I agree with that statement. But what I wish he would have done after this chapter is shared the freeness of the gospel. People are lukewarm because they do not understand the freeness and beauty of Jesus (see Revelation 3). I fear that a churched unbeliever would be convicted (and rightly so) by the chapter on lukewarm Christianity and then read the rest of the book and think that the cure is to do things.

In my opinion Chan is writing more to the church at Ephesus than he is the church of Laodicea. If we are guilty of losing our first love then the answer is to do the works you did at first. But if we are the church at Laodicea then the answer is come to Jesus not so much feed the hungry.

Should You Buy It?

I wrestled with how to review this book. For me personally it has rocked my world. It has convicted me deeply and it has caused me to rethink certain things in my life. So, if you are in the position that Chan described then I would wholeheartedly suggest this book. But I really fear suggesting this book for an unbeliever or even a stagnant believer/potential unbeliever. At the end of the day I would say buy it, but read it alongside Jerry Bridges’ Transforming Grace.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Appealing to Selfishness?

selfish2A few days ago I was listening to a Christian radio station.  During one of the breaks between songs the DJ read something about building relationships with people.  One of the things he mentioned was that people are by nature selfish.  Therefore, if we want to build a good relationship with them then we need to appeal to their desires and interests; we must center the conversation around them.  He continued reading the list naming several good qualities as long as vices and how we must respond to them.  At the very end he said by doing these things we will have influenced them for God. 

Are we really influencing people for God if we cater to their sinfulness and “build a relationship” based upon this premise?  This question extends far beyond the assertions of this Christian DJ.  This question is crucial to our methodology of outreach.  We know that people like sex and violence…so should the church have an MMA night or send fliers heralding “Learn Great Sex”? 

Consider Jim.  Jim is ridiculously selfish (like most of us).  We send a team from our church to canvas our neighborhood.  A team stops at Jim’s house.  We ask Jim why he does not come to church and we ask what it would take to get him to church.  We find that Jim is not the only one that has these problems with the church.  His suggestions seem to resonate with many of the unbelievers in our area.  Here are his suggestions:

  1. I hate long sermons; give me 20 minutes maximum.
  2. I don’t like boring songs but I also don’t like repetitious cheesy love song either.
  3. Never ask me for money; I can stay home and listen to TV preacher’s do that.
  4. I want people to be friendly but not overly desperate and acknowledging me in front of everyone else.  Notice me but not too much.
  5. If I have to walk too far or park in a cramped space just forget me coming.  I face traffic to get to work on Monday, I don’t want to do the same on Sunday.

These are his suggestions.  So, what is the church to do with them?  Do we say, “well he’s a lost guy and lost people are not to dictate what we do in the church”?  Or, do we say, “he’s a lost guy and if we want to reach him then we need to reach him where he is at”? 

What did Jesus do?  What did the New Testament church do?  If you assume this is an easy answer then you probably have not thought it out well enough.  If you are a “lost people don’t dictate the church” then try arguing from the other side.  Same thing if your not that guy.  


Friday, May 15, 2009

This Week in Blogworld 5/15

Today my wife and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary!!!

Very passionate plea from John Piper to President Obama concerning abortion:

(HT: DG)


Kevin DeYoung shares why he is a Calvinist.

Dr. Moore writes an amazing article about the devil’s voting record.  (HT: JT)

Thabiti points out a bleak statistic that 60% of baptisms within the SBC are “re-baptisms”.

Gregg Harris writes a letter to parents.

That does it…these videos should keep you busy.

This guy is everything I dream to be as a youth pastor.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hump Day Humor: Dog Diary v. Cat Diary

The Dog's Diary
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

The Cat's Diary
Day 983 of My Captivity
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ...

(HT: Z)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lesson’s from Aesop: The Ass-like Pride of Idolatry

shrekdonkey I absolutely love reading Aesop’s Fables.  You can read many of them at  I am not certain that I will stick with it, but I thought it may be a fun idea to post a few of these fables every week and relate them to the gospel.  Today is the story of the Ass and the Image.  (For the immature don’t forget that an ass is a donkey):

An Ass once carried through the streets of a city a famous wooden Image, to be placed in one of its Temples. As he passed along, the crowd made lowly prostration before the Image. The Ass, thinking that they bowed their heads in token of respect for himself, bristled up with pride, gave himself airs, and refused to move another step. The driver, seeing him thus stop, laid his whip lustily about his shoulders and said, "O you perverse dull-head! it is not yet come to this, that men pay worship to an Ass."

They are not wise who give to themselves the credit due to others.

What a beautiful lesson about idolatry this is; why do I think that the world would worship an ass such as myself.  To the Lord of glory belongs all credit. 

I know in Aesop’s fable he is speaking of a wooden image (which is more detestable to worship than a donkey), but I cannot help but think of the colt carrying Jesus and it’s relationship to us carrying the gospel.  What is the colt’s job?  To lower it’s head, trod along, and carry the Lord of glory on his back.  It’s not about him.  It’s not as if the Lord could not walk himself.  It’s not as if the cheers and the “Hosanna’s” are for the colt.  The colt is to do his job and that is carry the King. 

Are we not the same way?  Our job is to bring glory and honor to the King.  It is not to stop and soak up the praises of the crowds.  Our job is not to win converts to our way of living.  Our job is not to give ourselves credit that is due to Jesus.  Our job is to proclaim the gospel, to carry it on our backs to the nations.  Our job is to carry the King to the nations so that they may praise Him and not us. 

God speaks through donkey’s but not so man can worship the donkey.  He speaks through donkey’s so that men will worship Him.  Don’t forget that.

Paul Tripp on Biblical Confrontation

I am convinced that if you pricked Paul Tripp he would bleed biblical wisdom.  I am consistently drawn to the cross with the pursuit of holiness when I read or listen to Paul Tripp.  Here is more biblical wisdom on biblical confrontation:

From God’s perspective, the only reason we confront one another is that we love the Lord and want to obey him.  Our failure to confront one another biblical must be seen for what it is: something rooted in our tendency to run after god-replacements.  We confront unbiblically (or not at all) because we love something more than God.  Perhaps we love our relationship with this person so much that we don’t want to risk it.  Perhaps we prefer to avoid the personal sacrifice and complications that confrontation may involve.  Perhaps we love peace, respect, and appreciation more than we should.  Here is the principle: To the degree that we give the love of our hearts to someone or something else, to that degree we lose our primary motive to confront.  But if we love God above all else, confrontation is an expression and extension of that love.

(Quoted from Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand by Paul Tripp, p.201)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Facebook v. Twitter

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I would try Facebook and Twitter to see which one I liked the best and which one seemed to serve ministry purposes best.  The winner by a long shot is Facebook.  I do see how twitter can be beneficial and for that reason I will continue using Twitter as well as Facebook.  As you may have noticed I worked on integrating my blog with facebook and Twitter; as suggested by Timmy Brister

Top 5 reasons I choose Facebook over Twitter even though it’s not the sexy decision:

  1. More of my students and friends are on Facebook instead of Twitter
  2. I am not “famous” enough to really be able to network on Twitter
  3. I like being able to carry on a conversation that is more than 140 characters long and without having to use symbols
  4. I like some of the applications on Facebook
  5. Facebook is easier to follow than Twitter.  I get e-mail sent to me when something pertains to me.  Following every tweet on Twitter would be time consuming. 

If you have yet to add me as a friend on facebook then do it.  If you have yet to add me on Twitter I am @mikeleake. 

Review of Just Do Something…by Kevin DeYoung

Author: Kevin DeYoung

Pages: 128 pages

Publisher: Moody

Price: 8.79

Genre: Christian Living

Quick Summary:

The title of this book tells it all: Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. DeYoung’s philosophy is simple, “Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.

It is sad that DeYoung’s approach will come as novel to many readers. But it is not. This approach is certainly as old as Augustine who essentially said, “Love God and do what you want”. Much of this book is given to tearing down the “hyper-spiritual approaches” that don’t work. DeYoung also offers some instruction as to what to do—but if you are looking for magical answers you will not find it. His advice is simple—just do something.

What I Liked:

Adultolescence is an ever-increasing problem. There are those that are 30 and older that still do not have their life figured out. Within the church this is seen as a spiritual “waiting for God’s will”. DeYoung tears down all of the mystical garbage of pursuing God’s will. This is such a welcome addition to all of the books on finding God’s will; as a youth pastor I will frequently be recommending this book to students trying to discover God’s will for their life.

For me personally, this book has come at a very appropriate time. For awhile now the Lord has been opening up the Scriptures and pointing out aspects of church history to shape my view of “finding His will”. I have came to much the same conclusion as DeYoung—he just says it better than I was able to. This book has served to confirm what the Lord was already working in my own heart. I am not certain how this book would do in encouraging someone that picked up in whole-hearted disagreement. I would imagine that it would be used by God to convince them of the simplicity of knowing God’s will and hopefully encourage them to put down the crystal ball and start following Jesus.

This book is short, well-written, and extremely helpful.

What I Disliked:

This book will appeal to 30-somethings and younger. But these are not the only ones that have bought into the contemporary Christian’s “hyper-spiritual” view of finding God’s will. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to read this book; I hope that the books packaging, writing style, and target audience does not prevent this.

This probably says more about my list-desiring heart than DeYoung’s book, but I would have liked a little more information on what to do in knowing God’s will. This book does a great job of tearing down the existing structure but does kind of leave the person asking, “Well, what now”. But maybe that is the spot that we are to be in—absolute dependence on God and asking, “What now”.

Should You Buy It?

I love how Joshua Harris wrote the Foreword. He says, “It is God’s will for you to read this book”. Then he says that such a tactic is actually baloney. But this book is well written and extremely helpful. If you are the type that is constantly wondering what God’s will is, then you need to buy this book. If you work with teenagers or thirty-somethings that are still looking for direction then buy this book. If you have an adult living in your basement that should have a job, be married, and not living in your basement then perhaps you should slip it in front of their Xbox 360 with a note that says, “Read this!!!”  Buy it here for only $8.79

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, May 9, 2009

***Spoiler*** Warning

I read the ending.  Jesus wins.

When you know that Jesus wins it puts everything in perspective.  If you know the ending of a book the rough parts do not seem so bad.  You read the entire book through the lens of a happy ending.  Well…Jesus wins—hopefully, that’s a happy ending to you. 

Yes, things might seem bleak in our nation.  It may seem like the gospel is dying in Europe.  It may seem like Islam is winning.  But Jesus wins.

Yes, things might seem bleak in your own life.  It may seem like each day is clothed in darkness.  It may seem like your world is coming to an end.  You may feel like a reject, a disappointment to God and society, and a big giant failure.  And things may legitimately stink.  But you know what?  Jesus wins. 

And if Jesus wins and you are “hidden in him” that means you win too.

PS:  That’s why I don’t get too worried about this stuff:

  (HT: Z)

Friday, May 8, 2009

This Week in Blogworld 5/08

Abraham Piper interviews Paul Tripp.  The first question concerns the difference between adult ministry and youth ministry. The second question is about motivation for obedience

This is a repost by Erik Raymond, but every preacher needs to read it: Preachers, Please Sweat Out the Text.

It’s a simple statement but it hit me like a ton of bricks: Why seek fame when you already have it?

Are we called to storm the gates of hell?  Kevin DeYoung points out a few exegetical oops.  This one is Matthew 16:18.

Kevin Bussey wonders why we say “but” if we know it’s truth.

Thabiti makes a good point of 5 things we do that other “religions” do not.

Matt Svoboda offers a profile of the lukewarm.

Greg Gilbert offers some “help” to those wanting to defend the guy you think is really cool.

Abraham Piper gives us 5 foundations for a Truth-Based Youth Ministry.

Greg Gilbert challenges Rob Bell’s definition of the gospel.

Have you ever watched Mystery Men?  I think these guys have:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Prayer Request

Posting may be a little slow this weekend.  My father-in-law will be undergoing minor heart surgery on Friday so we will be going to St. Louis for the weekend.  I will also be preaching on Sunday morning at a church on the way back home from St. Louis.  Please be in prayer for Nikki’s dad this weekend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Spiral of Rebellion v. The Spiral of Redemption

There is a new sermon available.  If you get a chance to listen to the newest sermon you might need to see these.  In discussing Ephesians 4:17-24 we talked about the spiral of rebellious idolatry and the spiral of redemption.  In the coming weeks we will be spending more time on this spiral of redemption.  As I studied the text I thought this was a decent representation of the life of the Gentile (unbeliever) contrasted with the life of the believer. 

God Rejecting Spiral God Accepting Spiral

This God rejecting spiral is the result of idolatry (or as I have titled it Fighting the Gospel).  When we reject God and fight the gospel we become hardened and calloused (Losing Humanity).  Then this comes to full fruition and we are given over (as in Romans 1) or we give ourselves over (as in Ephesians 4) to sin. 

The God accepting spiral is the result of Ephesians 1-3 happening in our lives (coming to know God and being transferred from the kingdom of rebellion into the kingdom of redemption).  This spiral is contrasted with the idolatry of our former way of living.  Rather than dying in sin we are now fighting sin (Put off the old self).  We are being renewed in our spirits (growing in the gospel—or being redeemed into who God intends humanity to be).  And we begin growing in holiness and righteousness (we start looking like God).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review of Get Outta My Face! by Rick Horne

Author: Rick Horne

Pages: 176 pages

Publisher: Shepherd Press

Price: 9.50

Genre: Youth/Counseling

Quick Summary:

If you have spent any time with teenagers then more than likely you have met an angry, unmotivated, or disinterested teen. You may even have one living in your house. Rick Horne hopes to help parents, teachers, and youth workers reach these teenagers with biblical counsel.

His method is really quite simple: Get to Know Your Teen –> Build a Bridge –> Point to the Cross. As Horne explains, “This book will teach you how to build a bridge to young adults on the basis of the ways in which their desires and actions reflect the image of God and the blessing of common grace”.

What I Liked:

This book really shines in the area of helping adults understand what is going on in the mind of today’s teenager. As I read through this I could not help but think of parent’s I would love to get this book to. This book is also written in an easy to remember fashion. It is well outlined and easy to follow.

Horne writes as one on the front lines in the war for the hearts of teens. He knows what he is talking about and provides wise insight and counsel to those uninformed in the battle. He interjects humor, sadness, and hope.

What I Disliked:

I read this book over a month ago, but put off writing a book review so I could think it over. Something about it did not sit well with me. Not that it should be confined to propping up the leg to your kitchen table; nothing that severe. Something seemed to be missing. Had it not been for the last chapter I would have been very disappointed.

After some time to think it over I think I have discovered what sits wrong with me. The book shines in the area of “HOW TO REACH ANGRY, UNMOTIVATED TEENS”. But it is incomplete in doing so “WITH BIBLICAL COUNSEL”. It effectively teaches how to build a bridge, but once that bridge is built it leaves you asking, “what now”? I hope the last chapter serves as introduction to a second book on pointing teenagers to the cross. This important chapter should have been woven into every chapter the preceded it.

Should You Buy It?

Even with the negatives where this book shines it really shines. If you have a general idea of what it means to reach someone with biblical counsel but are unsure how to build a bridge into their lives then this is a great book for you. If you already have built a bridge and are looking for advice on how to offer biblical counsel then this book is not for you. But what do you expect, the title of this book is Get Outta My Face! You expect a book telling you how to reach the unmotivated. I only wish it had been about 250 pages instead of 176. Still, though, every parent and youth worker needs to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, May 4, 2009

$400 Book Giveaway

Tony Kummer does an excellent job of creating social networks.  He is the founder of SBC Voices, and he is at it again with Devotional Christian.  His hope with this site is to help people read devotionals online.  To spread the word about this site Tony is offering a $400 Giveaway to help generate traffic.  Just go to here…fill out the form…and do what I just did.  


The Incarnation and the Rich Young Ruler

Have you noticed in the story of The Rich Young Man (Mt. 19:16-30) that Jesus does NOT lower the bar, and does NOT go chasing after him?

richruler Does this story teach us to not lower the standards to get someone to follow Jesus?  I think so.  Jesus told the man the entire truth and was unwilling to lower what it meant to follow Him.  We must never neuter the gospel.  Point taken.

So, does that mean that we do not “go after” people?  I have certainly preached it that way before.  And I think there is some truth to that statement.  However, I missed something.  The very existence of the conversation is proof that Jesus goes after rebel sinners.  It’s not in heaven where this conversation is taking place.  The incarnation is when the holy Jesus invaded the rebellious world. 

Granted there are times (like in this story) where we should not go running after people.  But the incarnation teaches us that as a general principle we are to invade the rebellious world and not stay in our cozy bubble. 

Where do you need to take the gospel today? 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Playing with Glass

Warning***  If you are a member of Child Services please do not read this post.

Last night around 2:00 am I was woke up by glass shattering.  In a sleep-drunk stupor I fumbled my way into Isaiah’s room just to make certain that someone didn’t break out his window to steal him in all of his amazingness.  To my enjoyment he was still sleeping soundly, and no windows broken.  I made a quick look around the house—saw nothing broken—then just went back to sleep.

This morning our son woke up a little earlier than normal.  And it was obvious that he was not going to go back to sleep no matter how much of the Mickey glassMouse Clubhouse he watched.  I could tell that my wife was tired, so I offered to watch Isaiah for a little while before I went to work. 

I sat down on the couch to check my e-mail’s and Google Reader, while Isaiah was playing.  It couldn’t have been but a couple of minutes that had passed.  I looked over and Isaiah is gleefully playing with glass shards.  The glass that I heard last night was a drinking glass that my wife had put a flower in; stupid cat (whom we’ll call Battle-axe until my wife notices). 

Now before you put us on the prayer chain (which might be needed for various other things) you should know that Isaiah only cut himself on his thumb just a little.  And I seriously mean a little.  He didn’t even cry or really even notice it.  He was more ticked off about having a band-aid on his thumb than the cut. 

It could have been much much worse.  He was waving a huge chunk of glass in front of his face.  So, I am very thankful for the Lord’s protection even in the midst of my ignorance.  (By the way Isaiah is 16 months old so I’m not quite as bad for letting him play by himself for a few minutes).

Two questions.

1) How does this illustration relate to the gospel?

2) What are some stupid things you have done as a parent to your child’s detriment? 

Ephesians Sermon Manuscripts now available

The preaching notes for the series on Ephesians (at least what has been preached thus far) are now available online.  As always they are the rough copy that I take into the pulpit with me and it always ends up being a tad different than I have originally written.  May the Lord bless you through these.  Here are the sermons and their links:

Ephesians 1:3-14 The Cure for Broken People and a Broken World Part One

Ephesians 1:3-14 The Cure for Broken People and a Broken World Part Two

Ephesians 1:3-14 The Cure for Broken People and a Broken World Part Three

Ephesians 1:15-23 You’ve Already Got It: Living in what Christ has purchased


Ephesians 2:1-5 How Broken Are We?

Ephesians 2:4-6 The Cure for Brokenness, No Matter How Broken

Ephesians 2:7-10 Are You Different? The Gospel Changes You

Ephesians 2:11-22 Don’t Forget to Remember


Ephesians 3:1-13 Losing Heart

Ephesians 3:14-21 Life Shattering Prayer


Ephesians 4:1-6 Walk in Unity

Ephesians 4:7-16 Unified or Unstable?

Ephesians 4:17-24 What Does a Christian Look Like?

Ephesians 4:25—5:2 Living Out Redemption Part One: Lying v. Truth

This Week in Blogworld 5/01

Headlining the news this week (minus the Swine Flu epidemic) is Danny Akin, Johnny Hunt, and other’s championing The Great Commission Resurgence.  A new website has been put up where like-minded believers can sign the “manifesto”.  Tom Ascol explains why he signed itBart Barber explains why he cannot.

Speaking of Swine Flu, Dr. Mohler has some excellent thoughts on Love in a Time of Swine Flu.

The manuscript for Piper’s sermon at the 2009 Children’s DG Conference is now online:  The God-centeredness of God".  This is also a good read for father’s and mother’s. 

Another phenomenal blog post by Erik Raymond:  How do I make Christ appealing?  Erik is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. 

Also, a favorite blogger of mine is Jared Wilson.  I absolutely love his gospel-centeredness.  “Dude Where’s My Gospel” serves as a reminder of why we must never move away from the gospel.

I was hoping they would make these available and they have.  The workshops from The Gospel Coalition are now available online.  Now all I need is a couple weeks of free time to listen to all of them.  I think I mentioned it last week but if not here it is again:  All the audio and video from the Gospel Coalition is available here

Kevin DeYoung discusses church membership with a pastor that believes unbelievers should be able to join a church with a different set of vows. 

Zach Nielsen points us to a very interesting story about an Oakland pastor that chooses jail over a plea bargain. 

Joe Thorn with another “Note to Self”; this time a reminder to LIVE.

Wonderful, Wonderful, discussion on transformation by Bill Mounce.

How can you not love stories of the gospel penetrating hearts:

(HT: Josh)


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