Tuesday, June 30, 2009
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4:2)
Of all the spiritual exercises God has given his people, it seems that nothing is quite so challenging as the discipline of prayer. Prayer is at once a wonderful gift given by God and a huge responsibility commanded by God. Through prayer we have an intimate communion with our Lord. Through prayer we lift one another up to heaven’s throne.
One big challenge we face in prayer is the challenge of time. There never seems to be enough time, which is a universal issue we all face in spite of our widely varying circumstances. Whether it’s a mother with small children at home, a businessman on the road, the family going 15 different directions in a normal day, or the quiet, empty nest there is never enough time. How many people do you and I know who say they have plenty of time to pray?
Part of the reason for this is the simple fact that prayer is work.....hard work. For years I kept thinking that sooner or later the Holy Spirit would somehow transform my personality in such a way that prayer would be easy and my calendar would magically open up time to pray everyday. (Good grief, I’m a preacher. Surely God would do that for me, right? WRONG!) My thought process in this was more than little bit faulty. After all there is no evidence of this magical transformation occurring with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It does not happen in the Bible. I have yet to read the biography of any great prayer warrior in whom this occurred. I have certainly never heard of this from anyone I personally know.
Bottom line. Prayer is work. Hard work. Always has been. Always will be. If I would pray as God commands, I will have to fight for the time, fight to keep the time, and work hard to learn how to pray and pray well.
One of the great moments in a parent’s life is when his/her child shows signs of maturity. You know what I mean. It is when your children start to grow up. He sees what needs to be done and rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. She stops expecting someone else to do it for her. He stops complaining about how hard it is to get a job and work everyday. It's wonderful when our children begin to take responsibility for the every day stuff that has to be done and works to make it what it should be.
Can you imagine how pleased our Heavenly Father is when his children face the reality of life, roll up our sleeves, acknowledge that prayer is work, and gets after it. After all, time with God is worth it. Time spent laboring in prayer for our loved ones, our friends, and his kingdom growth is time well spent. Let’s get to work and see what God can do through his people when they do the hard work of prayer.
Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday. I am super busy with camp and trying to prepare the “perfect” sermons to proclaim that Jesus is Enough.
I have four sermons to preach (as well as write short devotions, team-time devotions, and put a little together for the morning worship services). I have spent a good deal of time on sermon number one. It keeps going through revision. I get it all together and then decide to cut something. Then I add something else. Then I cut something else. The process keeps continuing. I have even considered scrapping the whole thing and starting over.
My problem is that I am trying to come up with the perfect sermon. I want to be biblically faithful, doctrinally pure, and Christ-exalting. All of those are noble. The problem is you cannot preach a good sermon about the sufficiency of Christ while denying it in your sermon prep. I can put together a sermon that is biblically faithful, doctrinally pure, and Christ-exalting but if it is not accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit then my “perfect sermon” is a “perfect” speech and not a sermon.
I must remember what Spurgeon said:
“The gospel is preached in the ears of all; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher; otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning; otherwise it would consist in the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were mysterious power going with it—the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. O Sirs! we might well preach to stone walls as to preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the word, to give it power to convert the soul.” (Quoted from Arturo Azurdia, Spirit Empowered Preaching, p128)
The power of the Spirit and the work of Christ is sufficient to take this jar of clay and house glory therein. Jesus preached the perfect sermon with every breath he took. What can I learn from the life of Christ in my preaching.
- He was radically God-centered
- He poured into others
- He spilled his blood for others
- He was disturbingly real
- He touched broken people in their brokenness
- He comforted the broken and broke the comfortable
- He passionately preached against “religion”
- He relied upon the Spirit
- He was Christ-centered
- He was biblically-saturated
- He was engaging
- He was never afraid to stoop
- He preached among the people
- He live with those he taught
- He preached with authority
- He was Jesus and I’m not
Author: D.A. Carson
Pages: 160 pages
Genre: Christian Biography
You have probably heard of Don (D.A.) Carson. Most Americans have probably never heard of Tom Carson (Don’s dad). Tom was an “ordinary” pastor to French speaking Canada. His son has taken his letters, journals, and other manuscripts and has turned them into a mighty gift to the church.
Throughout this book we learn of Tom’s life and struggles as a common pastor. We are allowed to enter into the world of a pastor struggling with discouragement, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. We see the joys of laboring for Christ mixed with the brokenness of a fallen perfectionist. We see a loving father and husband that are always striving to be better. We witness the pain of Alzheimer’s and death of a cherished spouse and life-long partner in the gospel. From the highs through the lows this book is shockingly real.
What I Liked:
I had to hold back tears when D.A. Carson’s “mum” died. Perhaps, it through me back to witnessing my own grandfather by the bedside of my grandmother. Nevertheless, such emotion for someone that I had never met or even heard of is a testimony to Carson’s vivid writing style and compilation of his father’s journals. It is easy for a rural youth pastor like me (even though only 27) to identify with some of the feelings of Tom Carson. It is also wonderful that Carson interjects biblical wisdom throughout these journals.
Carson also, wisely, provides us American readers with some Canadian church history to help tell the story. That is helpful otherwise I would have been totally lost.
What I Disliked:
There is really nothing that I can honestly say I disliked. There are two things that make it somewhat difficult to read, but those are common in a book of this sort. One, it is sometimes difficult to place yourself in a situation when you have little knowledge of the environment. Carson makes a wonderful attempt at making us Americans at least moderately adept at understanding the French Canadian environment. Two, many biographies do this and it’s a good thing, but it makes it difficult to read letters when people are referred to by initials. It just gets confusing. Almost all memoirs are this way, I just wish they weren’t. I’d prefer a “names were changed to protect the innocent” type of thing.
Should You Buy It?
If you absolutely have to have a hard copy then yes. You need to read this book. You can read it online for free by going here. Or you can buy it for 11.19. There are some things in the book that are worthy of underlining or keeping on file for further reflection. You may want to go ahead and purchase it, but if money is tight you need to at least read the free copy (I read it in about 6 hours).
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Monday, June 29, 2009
And any affiliation we shall have with any group of New Testament churches, in very many cases, will be after due consideration if such affiliation is going to affect adversely the local church. Not that it is our idea that we should join on condition we get something out of it; but the progress and development of local churches—not their splitting and destruction—is of paramount consideration.
Any idea who said that?
Friday, June 26, 2009
I was happy to be able to watch the SBC Annual Convention online. Occasionally my feed went out got a little rough but it was great to be able to watch most of it. Of course it would be nothing like actually being there; so I cannot share my experience as one that was actually there. However, I thought I would share something that the Lord showed me through this.
First, let me say that I am a young pastor (youth pastor even, which I’m told is not a real pastor). I am coming to understand that I only know about 1/5 of what I think I know and that in a few years that will end up being about 1/20. So I am very happy to soak up wisdom from older men (or even younger ones that have more wisdom than I). Of course, my pride sometimes makes it seem like I already know all of the answers.
Second, because of my youthful vigor combined with ignorance I want to move faster than wisdom will allow. I also am not wise enough yet to know when I should “fight” and when I should shut my mouth.
At the Annual Convention (I still think that sounds cultish) there were quite a few motions that were, in my opinion, a tad silly. They detracted from the gospel and were brought in a form which appeared to me to be ill-spirited. I have seen this in the Missouri Baptist Convention for awhile now. My heart breaks that the applause for missions and the gospel pales in comparison to the woot-woots for motions against alcohol consumption. (Even if you are a teetotaler you have to admit something is wrong with that).
As these motions were brought to the floor, especially the one about taking Driscoll books out of Lifeway, I could not help but want people to stand up and expose the ridiculousness of these motions. But my spirit was tempered by a dear pastor friend that explained how these things work, and then by the twitter updates by Dr. Mohler. Dr. Mohler encouraged us not to be frustrated, to love them, to see their heart, etc. What amazing wisdom.
Then it hit me; Proverbs 24:6. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.” All of these godly men (like Dr. Mohler and Dr. Akin) were sitting by and let these men make these motions without combating it. Then I thought about the patient and biblically faithful testimony of folks like the Founders and 9Marks. They have jam-packed breakout sessions full of hungry young people soaking up the truth. It is best to just let these motions continue coming, present truth when you can, but ultimately just shut up and let it play out.
I guess I really learned through experience what I read months ago in The Deliberate Church: “The best way to lose your place of influence as a pastor is to be in a hurry, forcing radical (even if biblical) change before people are ready to follow you and own it. It would be wise for many of us to lower our expectations and extend our time horizons”.
So what did I learn? I learned that I have a lot left to learn.
John Piper models for us how to make a biblical apology as well as inform us about why he does not own a television.
The SBC Annual Convention was held earlier this week. Here are a few of the reflections: iMonk, Tom Ascol (from Founders), Owen Strachan, Peter Lumpkins, James Galyon, Timmy Brister, Micah Fries, and Wade Burleson
It is also worth mentioning this article by the iMonk: Why Mark Driscoll Shouldn’t Bug Ya
Kevin DeYoung reminds us that its not enough to believe in the authority and inerrancy of Scripture; we also need to like it.
Check this out from Paul Washer:
That’s it for this week…all those SBC articles will keep you busy—that and reading everything about Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
After a brief hiatus we will return to our discussion on The Deliberate Church. As always If you are just joining the discussion (that as of yet has not been much of a discussion) then please check out the foreword, intro, and chapter one. You can catch up pretty easily. If you have yet to buy the book I would suggest buying it for a paltry 9 bucks, here.
This chapter is one that holds a very passionate place in my heart. I have had to counsel a decent amount of teenagers that are confused because of irresponsible evangelism. I have been to conferences, children’s ministry events, motorcycle evangelism shows, etc. where a good number of students “accepted Christ” but had absolutely no clue what that meant nor had a passion to follow the biblical Christ. I have seen from experience the importance of heeding what Dever is saying in this chapter.
On the positive side of things, Dever encourages two over-arching principles: Be God-centered and be certain to include the essentials. What are the essentials? Dever makes it easy for us God—man—Christ—response. For a very great extended discussion on this check out Dever’s book, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism.
In this chapter Dever also talks a couple examples of irresponsible evangelism: extending invitations (at least in an irresponsible way), entertainment-centered evangelism, manipulation. This first one is probably the most controversial in Southern Baptist circles. It is important to understand that Dever is not saying that it is irresponsible to, “invite people to repent and believe the Gospel” (52).
What Dever is cautioning against is the “no evidence required” assurance. Allow me to give you an example of this from my own personal ministry. A few years back our church had previously committed to be a part of this motorcycle (X-games type) evangelism event. They had drama, music, and a cool motorcycle guy that did tricks that shared his testimony. At the very end of the event the speaker did one of those bow your head and close your eyes moments. He had people come forward, he prayed for them, assured them, and invited them to speak to a counselor.
After the event I found out that our youth group had somewhere around 20 “decisions for Christ”. I began the process of counseling these youngsters that were, keep in mind, assured of their salvation by this speaker and probably a fair amount of counselors that had prayed with them. As I began talking to these teens it was apparent that the only thing that really had happened was emotional manipulation and shoddy evangelism. Only one of these students actually had a helpful experience with Jesus. The others were assured of salvation and yet wanted little to nothing to do with Jesus or other believers.
This is what Dever is talking about: Draw a crowd with entertainment--sneak the gospel in the back door, have some heart tugging music, the preacher using his voice in a mellow way, etc. to manipulate people into decisions and then assuring them after those decisions are made that they are absolutely saved. That is not responsible evangelism, and our 16 million with only around 40% in attendance SBC is sadly a testimony to the effects of such evangelism.
The evangelism that we are to be engaged in is the whole church presenting the whole gospel to the whole person. Another great resource for this is Will Metzger’s excellent book Tell the Truth.
“If we’re not getting the evangel (gospel) right according to the Word, then whatever we are doing, it can’t be called evangelism.” (51)
“The only external evidence that the Bible tells us to use in discerning whether or not a person is converted is the fruit of obedience.” (53)
“The Gospel is inherently and irreducibly confrontational. It cuts against our perceived righteousness and self-sufficiency, demanding that we forsake cherished sin and trust in someone else to justify us.” (55)
“Churches are most healthy when the gospel is most clear; and the gospel is most clear when our evangelistic methods are most plain.” (55)
- Dever mentions things that we confuse as saving responses with the only thing that is a saving response (repentance and faith). What are some of these things that we confuse with a saving response?
- When speaking of a “public profession of faith” Dever seems to be saying that baptism and not altar calls are to serve as that. What do you think?
- Have you been guilty of or had any experiences with irresponsible evangelism?
- These are Dever’s questions: Are there elements in your churches evangelism that are more entertainment than informative? Are there ways in which your churches evangelism strategy is more like a marketing strategy? Could your churches evangelism method be perceived as emotionally manipulative? If yes to any of these, how might you pursue change?
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A MAN, very much annoyed with a Flea, caught him at last, and said, "Who are you who dare to feed on my limbs, and to cost me so much trouble in catching you?' The Flea replied, "O my dear sir, pray spare my life, and destroy me not, for I cannot possibly do you much harm." The Man, laughing, replied, "Now you shall certainly die by mine own hands, for no evil, whether it be small or large, ought to be tolerated." (From Aesop’s Fables)
Oh, that more believers would heed this lesson: “no evil, whether it be small or large, ought to be tolerated.” Since reading The Mortification of Sin, the words of John Owen have stuck with me,
“Sin aims always at the utmost: every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin of that kind…And so far as the soul is made insensible to any sin, that is, as to such a sense as the gospel requires, so far it is hardened. But sin still pressing forward; and that because it hath no bounds but utter relinquishment of God, and opposition to him.” (From, The Mortification of Sin)
If you let a couple of fleas go in your house before you know it your entire house will be infested with fleas. My wife and I, unfortunately, know this all too well. Our cat ended up not only getting pregnant but also getting fleas. Because she was pregnant we felt it best to try to quarantine her in a room and deal with the fleas later. That was dumb. Now we are going to have buy flea stuff for the cat and her kitties as well as tons of flea killer for our house. We should have tried to kill the fleas before this became a problem.
Sin does this exact same thing in our lives. “It is only a little sin,” we rationalize. Friend, there is no such thing as a little sin. Every sin if given opportunity will harden your heart, lead to forsaking the gospel, and relinquishing God from his throne. Even it its seminal stages sin is an affront to God and his glory, and ought to be dealt with.
One area that I have seen this most frequently is in the area of teenagers involved in inappropriate relationships. We have lost numerous students, once seemingly passionate about Jesus, to boyfriends or girlfriends. Ultimately, I know that if these students are in Christ that he will doggedly pursue them and work repentance in their heart. Nonetheless, the pain that is caused by this is jarring.
It starts with an “innocent” relationship. Then mistakes are made. Then it gets uncomfortable being around God’s Word and God’s people. At the crossroads the student will either end the relationship with the boyfriend/girlfriend and respond in repentance or will “end” the relationship with God and run away from Him. “Sin always aims at the utmost.”
What is the answer? Kill the flea. Kill the sin. As John Owen has aptly said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Yes, Christ has ultimately taken away the principle of sin and its effects. But we are still called in Scripture to actively be engaged in killing sin. I do not fully understand it but all I know is this: Jesus has killed sin, Jesus is killing sin, and Jesus will ultimately do away with sin and he is calling us to, by his power, engage in killing sin.
So, no matter how big or small the sin might seem to be it needs to be repented of. Believe the gospel enough to turn from the ugliness of sin and embrace the beauty of Christ. A couple fleas can end up costing you lots of labor and money; a “little sin” can cost you your soul.
If you have never read John Owen’s classic work The Mortification of Sin, I would strongly suggest buying a copy for only 6.30 and reading it.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I heard a sermon the other day that was a “good sermon”. The speaker was funny. The congregation was engaged. The congregation was given very helpful pointers, things that would help in living better lives. There was nothing heretical in the sermon; nothing that I could not heartily affirm. Helpful, engaging, down-to-earth, and it used biblical principles. Yet, after hearing the sermon I felt sick to my stomach.
What caused my sickness? Was it my breakfast burrito? Perhaps too syrupy of pancakes? That could have added to my sickness but the main problem was not in something I ate but more in what the preacher did not feed me. Missing from the “sermon” was gospel and Christ-centeredness.
And here’s the deal. I have preached “sermons” that are void of the gospel myself. I am just as guilty. I have preached on relationships in such a way that teens engage in legalism instead of gospel-driven obedience. I have preached a text from Paul that would make Paul vomit because of its gospel-deficiency. I have preached a text from the mouths of Jesus that had little to do with Jesus and more to do with us. I have preached sermons that would make me vomit. May I never preach another one.
You see, I cannot bring myself to preach another sermon or happily listen to another sermon that is void of the gospel. I really could care less about having 7 principles to being a successful employee, 3 things to help me be a better spouse, 14 rules for being a faithful church member, etc. Those are important. Those are very important. But once you have been captivated by the beauty of the gospel a sermon that ONLY deals with being a successful employee just will not cut it. I want to know what the gospel has to do with my employment. I want to know how Jesus redeems work. I want to know how Jesus puts me on mission. If those 7 principles are grounded in the gospel, lead me to believing the gospel more, and are motivated out of what Jesus’ has done on my behalf then preach it.
I want to know what happens when everything in your life explodes and your 7 principles just do not cut it? Do you just make more little rules that are founded upon biblical principles or do you cast yourself wholly on the mercy of God? The church doesn’t simply need better marriages, better finances, better living, better church services, better politics, or anything else. The church needs the gospel. The church needs gospel driven marriage and not “biblical-principle” driven marriages. The same goes with every other topic you want to throw in there. The gospel is not meant to be slid in through the back door at the end of the sermon.
The gospel is meant to permeate the entire sermon. As Bryan Chapell has beautifully said, “whether people depart alone or in the Savior’s hand will mark the difference between futility and faith; legalism and true obedience; dogoodism and real godliness.” I am not saying that living by biblical principles is not needed, is not wise, and is not godly. What I am saying is that it’s not biblically faithful unless the sinner is left in the hands of the Savior. Only Jesus can heal and only the power of God can lead us on to biblical faithfulness.
Lest you misunderstand me let me be clear. I am not talking about “a salvation message” every Sunday. I am not talking about preaching sermons that are devoid of practicality. That’s not preaching either. What I am desperately sick of are “good sermons” that teach us “biblical principles” but do not drive sick, broken, rebellious sinners to the Jesus that deeply loves them. If “biblical principles” had the power to please God and change hearts then the religious elite would not have crucified Jesus.
Just give me the gospel…that’s enough to captivate me for all of eternity.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sorry that I was unable to do more blogging last week during our mission trip to Colorado. Because of that our weekly linkage is a couple days late. Each day it seemed like I only had enough time to do the ministry, spend time with my wife and kid, and go to bed. Here are the links you should have gotten Friday.
All of the Advance 09 videos are now available here.
Colin Adams has done a service by recommending 100 books to read.
I had previously linked to Bruce Ashford articles on disciplined reading. JT compiled them all in one place for us, here.
Bibleworks Software giveaway at Cal.Vin.Ist for their 1st anniversary giveaway. That’d be pretty sweet. Enter here.
Seems like everybody is talking about and getting involved in Twitter. Al Mohler joins the conversation. I have to be honest, I am still convinced that Twitter is not for me. I still use it (www.twitter.com/mikeleake) but only occasionally and nobody seems to care either way.
Apparently I didn’t star nearly as many items this week on my Google Reader. So, that’s all I have for now on the linkage. Forgive me for missing big things (I know I did). Enjoy these videos:
This dude inspires me…but more than anything the gospel that has gripped him inspires me. God, help me be gripped by the gospel so much that I preach with this passion on the streets:
When that video causes you to doubt your devotion to Christ check out this by Piper:
I leave you with this by LeCrae at Bethlehem Baptist Church:
After watching these videos in succession…I find myself weeping at the beauty of the Gospel. May you be blessed!
Author: Glen Packiam
Pages: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian Living
In November of 2006 Glen Packiam’s world was rocked when his pastor Ted Haggard confessed to accusations of sexual immorality and drug abuse. This book, although not directly related, is Packiam’s response to that occasion. Since that Thursday in November Packiam was set on a spiritual journey in which he discovered much of his relationship with Jesus was only secondhand.
This book follows the biblical journey of the Ark of the Covenant. Throughout the journey our author looks at four rumors about God: God will give me what I want; God can be added to my list of loyalties; God is pleased with my goodness; God prefers specialists. Packiam’s hope in this book is easily laid out: that believers might no longer settle for a secondhand experience with God but might worship him personally.
What I Liked:
If I am being completely honest, my expectations of this book were not very high. I knew the book looked catchy and by its marketing I figured it would be pretty surface. I have to say that by chapter four I was convinced that there is more to this book than your typical watered-down Christian sub-culture book. Packiam is very honest and highly readable. He also tells a great story and conveys a passion for the God he writes about. I was able to read the book very quickly and none of the chapters felt laborious.
For your typical mainstream mega-churched, Christianized, or gospel-depleted person this book will serve as a wakeup call. (I realize nobody would call themselves that, but read Packiam’s story and you will see just how easy we can fall into that trap).
What I Disliked:
In my opinion Packiam does a great job of defining the problem and identifying a gaping hole in our relationship with Jesus. He is right, we do often run off of rumors of God instead of an actual relationship. However, he is a little shallow in the solutions offered. The message of this book is basically this, “stop having a secondhand relationship with Jesus and start living on firsthand knowledge”. That is all well and good; but how do we break away from these rumors? What cause us to keep God at a distance? Why do we settle for crumbs? Joy comes from having a deep relationship with Jesus—but why can I not seem to desire what I ought to desire? The only answer to these questions is to live gospel-saturated lives (and yes I realize that would take books to explore such a topic). The gospel is in this book but in my opinion it does not flow all throughout.
Should You Buy This Book?
Even though Secondhand Jesus may not thrive in the answers department it does ask very thought provoking questions. For some this book may serve as a much needed wake-up call and the beginning of a journey of faithfully pursuing Jesus. For others this book might bring conviction in some areas and spark passion in yet others. I would heartily suggest reading this book, but be sure to read a companion book with it. Perhaps this book would be good with a Jerry Bridges book like Transforming Grace or The Gospel for Real Life. You really may want to check this book out ; it may not change your life, but who knows it might rock your world.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
I hear the statement all the time: “The Lord really blessed us with ______”. Here is my question; can I buy a yacht and say that it is a blessing from the Lord? Is this the formula; make a wish, get what you wished for, then make it spiritual and okay by saying that it is a blessing from the Lord?
Well what about Deuteronomy 28? Doesn’t that seem to be the formula in that text? You do good you get blessing, you do bad you get cursed. So, can we transfer this to our day? Is my extravagant home, luxurious car, and our yacht a sign of blessing? Or is it a sign of disobedience.
Here is my take. Look at the reason why God blessed Israel. God’s blessing of Israel was not for the sake of Israel alone. God’s blessing of Israel was so that they could in turn be a blessing to the nations. What I am saying is similar to what Piper has said previously:
“Does not the OT promise that God will prosper the faithful? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove that our yield is not our God. God does not prosper a man’s business so that man can move from a Buick to a BMW. God prospers a business so that hundreds of unreached peoples can be reached with the gospel. He prospers a business so that 20 percent of the worlds’ population can move a step back from the [brink] of starvation…Too many people are shaped by the consumer culture than by the economics of Christ. They still operate on the simple rule: If you earned it, you deserve it. It’s yours; use it for your own material comfort.
”The evidence that many of our people are not rich toward God is how little they give and how much they own. Over the years God has prospered them. And by an almost irresistible law of consumer culture, they have bought bigger (and more) houses, newer (and more) cars, fancier (and more) clothes, and all manner of trinkets and gadgets and containers and devices and equipment to make life more fun”.
“The problem is not earning a lot. The problem is the constant accumulation of luxuries that are soon felt to be needs. If you want to be a conduit of God’s grace, you don’t have to be lined with gold. Copper will do.”
Living with gold-lined lives is not necessarily a sign of God’s unstipulated blessing, it may be a sign of your disobedience. God may have blessed you with a six-figure salary, but he did not do it so you could have a six-figured salary life.
What does this have to do with ministry? Pastors can train people to think this way. When sermons, prayers, and programs are geared around “meeting our needs” it is only natural for the people to find God’s blessing in materialistic prosperity. It is our duty to preach in such a way that people are gospel-focused and not blessing-focused. So, pastor preach in such a way that people find the greatest blessing in God Himself. Furthermore, live in such a way that people see this modeled.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Author: John Piper
Pages: 192 pages
Genre: Christian Living
This is a Piper book so you should know what you are getting: a healthy dose of the glory of God, radically Christ-centered appeals, and passionate pleas to enjoy God. In this particular offering Piper’s main concern is that we understand that the greatest gift of the gospel is God Himself. “All God’s gifts are loving only to the degree that they lead us to God Himself. That is what God’s love is: his commitment to do everything necessary (most painfully the death of his only Son) to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying—namely, himself.”
The first few chapters of this book are given to defining the gospel. Then Piper moves towards what this means for the Christian life. He then moves forward with a little theology. And finally closes out the book by encouraging us to “sacrifice and sing”.
What I Liked:
The first four chapters are worth the cost of the book. Even in the introduction Piper asks perhaps one of the most important questions for modern evangelicals: “could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” We really need to hear this message. If you do not consider God to be the ultimate good of salvation then something is wrong. Piper makes a passionate biblical defense of this central doctrine to the Christian faith.
In his typical Edwardsean-way Piper absolutely exhausts this topic. He considers the impact of this doctrine on numerous aspects of the Christian life. He writes in a heartfelt and pastoral manner. You will be deeply informed and emotionally stirred.
What I Disliked:
UPDATE: Due to a comment, I have reworded this section. The original did not convey my actual intent.
I absolutely love John Piper and his ministry. Unfortunately, most of the congregation in which I serve do not share that love. A good portion of our church has commented that his writing is too difficult for them. And I think I understand. Piper can use really big words that may be unfamiliar to those that do not read a good deal of theology books. Piper also will have jam-packed sentences. Now, in Piper's defense I would love to see the somewhat anti-intellectualism in our church context be changed. I would love to see people pursuing God with not only heart but also mind. So, I am torn. I love Piper and his writings and would love to see people labor to read and enjoy him. At the same time I would love for Piper to write books that would appeal to those of a more rural context.
One commenter felt in the orignal that I was holding my church in contempt and not loving them. The truth is I have a ton of compassion for our church. Certainly, that passion can grow because I know I do not love them like Jesus does. Yet, at the same time I also would love to see our church pursue doing hard things...like reading Piper.
Should You Buy It?
There is hardly a Piper book that I would not heartily recommend. The modern church that is so enamored with the gifts of the gospel needs to hear this call. I heartily suggest you buy and read this book. In my opinion, this is one of the Top 5 books written by Piper.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Friday, June 12, 2009
Posting may be slow here for the next few days. I have scheduled a few articles and hope to have an internet connection in Colorado, but this is uncertain. Be sure to subscribe to this blog through Google Reader so you keep updated. Be praying for us!
Having spent much time with teenagers I found this article intriguing: Study Links Teen Depression to Bed Times.
This was an interesting read. Dr. Mohler considers the need for children to have silence.
I really like Jared Wilson. If you are not familiar with him you need to be. I especially appreciated Jared’s take on the Culture War.
Tony Reinke tells us why he rarely uses Revelation in his devotional time, but also reveals why he is going to start. My take on the book of Revelation is also quite simple; Jesus wins. You can read Tony’s excellent thought’s here.
Being such a superstar I could really relate to this by John Piper: “Hero Worship and Holy Emulation”. Actually, I can relate because I am not a “superstar” but one that can be tempted towards hero worship. Kevin DeYoung also weighs in.
Here is where you can get media from Advance09.
Colin Adams provides us with 8 common problems in evangelism and offers some solutions.
This is powerful: (HT: DG)
God summons us to come to him regularly to commune with him in prayer and in the Word. How many seconds pass by before we get impatient because God has not spoken to us? How long do we wait upon the Lord before rushing out into the busyness of our day? After all, we have places to go, people to see, things to do. Its not like we have the spare time of Moses, is it? All he had to do was lead a nation into the Promised Land while introducing them to Jehovah God as they fought the enemies along the way who would eliminate them from the face of the earth. Oh yeah, and he also had to deal with that 'grocery procurement' issue.
Now that I think about it, perhaps we should learn to wait upon the Lord. There are people you and I need to introduce to God. There are people in our lives we hope to lead into the Promised Land. There are enemies who would destroy us. And didn't Jesus say something about "our daily bread"?
May the Lord remind us daily that we are privileged to be summoned into his presence and that he is most certainly worth the wait.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
If you are just joining the discussion (that as of yet has not been much of a discussion) then please check out the foreword, intro, and chapter one. You can catch up pretty easily. If you have yet to buy the book I would suggest buying it for a paltry 9 bucks, here.
This chapter gives us instructions for beginning the work. The most important thing to do early on is to clarify the gospel. In the previous chapter we were urged to be patient. In this chapter that statement is qualified: “…the one thing you don’t want to be slow about is preaching the Gospel.” (44) The Gospel is the most important aspect of our ministry. Perhaps one of the most important principles in this book is contained in this sentence: “What you win them with is what you win them to.”
So, how do you go about clarifying the gospel? Dever gives a few tips. 1) Put yourself in the background, and preach Christ crucified. 2) Let the content of the gospel do the work. Rather than working on attracting people to you work on attracting them to the Gospel. 3) Let Jesus do the talking as much as possible. It would be wise to begin preaching through one of the Gospel accounts. Dever closes this section with this: “The more your congregation is clear on the Gospel, the less likely it is either tepid nominalism or carnal divisiveness will find air to breathe…” (45)
Alongside clarifying the Gospel another important beginning work is to cultivate trust; because “people have to trust you if they’re going to follow you”. We are then given three ways to cultivate trust. 1) Expositional preaching. This will show people that you stand upon the Word of God and not your own ideas. 2) Personal relationships. This is simple, people will trust you if they know you. Dever did not mention it but the old adage is fitting here: people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. 3) Humility. If you pursue accountability and correction it will go a long way in bringing trust. Not only that the accountability and correction will serve for your own personal growth.
Another beginning work is to clean the rolls. (This may be the most difficult and controversial). Rotary clubs clear members so why doesn’t the church? Church membership should mean more than membership to a Rotary club. There are biblical, pastoral, and evangelistic reasons for cleaning the rolls. Dever will discuss this in more detail in a later chapter. A good way to begin this work is to “contact negligent members in order to instruct them and notify them of your intentions, and remove them.” (48)
The last thing suggested as a beginning work is to conduct reverse membership interviews. Dever suggests going through the church membership, start with the most recent members, and begin interviewing them. This helps to clarify the Gospel, to look for genuine conversion, and to build relationships.
“…when we assume the Gospel instead of clarifying it, people who profess Christianity but don’t understand or obey the Gospel are cordially allowed to presume their own conversion without examining themselves for evidence of it—which may amount to nothing more than a blissful damnation.” (43)
“The Gospel of Christ has never needed the gimmicks of man to effect conversion in the soul.” (44)
“…leaders usually have more opportunities to do things wrongly!” (46)
“If membership is the church’s public affirmation of a person’s conversion, then to leave a nonattender on the rolls could very well be damningly deceptive.” (48)
- What do you think of a pastor that insist on keeping a “professional distance” between he and his congregation?
- What are you preliminary thoughts on “cleaning the membership rolls”?
- What is your opinion of reverse membership interviews?
- Are there other ways to cultivate trust than those mentioned?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I am so unbelievably sick of Christian radio; at least its expression in our area. I am so unbelievably tired of living with Christianese that makes moralism a replacement for the gospel. I am really tired of our church culture being more like the superstitious heresy of Colossae than the biblical gospel.
I was driving to the gas station to get a soda and mistakenly left the radio on Christian radio. The radio announcers were talking about hope. I have to confess I caught the tail end of everything they were saying, but the mantra sounded the same as it usually does: “Get into God and he’ll fix your life”. You know that this isn’t the gospel don’t you? You do realize that the gospel is not about God fixing your marriage, don’t you? You do realize that the gospel is not about God restoring your finances, don’t you? Will God fix your marriage—probably. Will God restore your finances—maybe. But neither of those is the gospel.
There is always a danger of making the gospel out to be something that does not touch your every day life. A good portion of Christians live as if the gospel has no effect upon every square inch of their life. That is sad. But it is equally dangerous to present the gospel as the effects of the gospel.
You know what…you may love Jesus, seek to follow him in all things, be obedient to him for all the days of your life and your marriage be in shambles. You may be faithful at tithing, a sacrificial giver, love Jesus deeply and be broke living from home to home without a place to lay your head at night (for an example of this see Jesus).
Let me say this loud and clear: THE GOSPEL IS NOT ABOUT FIXING YOUR LIFE! The gospel might fix your life. John Piper is absolutely correct, the greatest gift of the Gospel is God Himself. Anything else is an overflow of that.
I wonder do we believe the gospel enough to be like Job. Job was a righteous man. Job would have been qualified to be a special guest on Focus on the Family. Job was living the “Christian life”. But Job lost everything. What was his response? Give more money to the 700 Club? Check his disciplines and try to figure out where he screwed up to cause God to do this? Here is Job’s gospel-driven response, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” AND WORSHIPED!!!
I beg you PLEASE stop making the gospel into something that it’s not!!! Jesus did not come to make you a successful American.
Feel free to disagree…
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
AN EAGLE sat on a lofty rock, watching the movements of a Hare whom he sought to make his prey. An archer, who saw the Eagle from a place of concealment, took an accurate aim and wounded him mortally. The Eagle gave one look at the arrow that had entered his heart and saw in that single glance that its feathers had been furnished by himself. "It is a double grief to me," he exclaimed, "that I should perish by an arrow feathered from my own wings." (From Aesop’s Fables)
How often is this true in our Christian walk? Moreover, how often does this happen with unregenerate man? I do not think that Satan has to be in the business of making darts to shoot our way. I think he uses arrows that we ourselves have crafted.
Take James 1:14-15 for example: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” If there is not a messed up desire then Satan has no power to lure you. It is only because of a disordered affection that Satan is given an opportunity for destruction.
Or consider Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” This is another way of saying “don’t leave the door cracked so that the devil can get his foot in”. The principle here is that if you do not leave the door cracked he will not have easy access. If you want to be destroyed then harbor anger and bitterness. Hanging on to anger is like crafting an arrow and handing it to Satan to shoot straight into your heart.
I think we often go through life wondering why we get wounded so much. Part of it because we are fallen people living in a fallen world. We are not yet fully redeemed and neither is our environment; pain is inevitable. However, many of our wounds come from arrows that we ourselves have crafted. Such as:
- The alcoholic whose life is in shambles because he cannot kick the bottle. With each purchase of a case of Budweiser, each trip to the bar, each party you are crafting an arrow and asking Satan to shoot you in the chest
- The husband or wife that hang on to bitterness. With each unresolved conflict, each refusal to speak truth, each entrenched refusal to forgive, and each night of refusing to make the gospel central they are crafting an arrow and asking Satan to shoot their home full of fiery darts.
- The teenager that hops from ungodly relationship to ungodly relationship. With each empty ‘I love you’, each touch that went too far, each flirtatious look, each loaded text message, each “innocent” massage, each obsessed and smothering moment, and each non-gospel centered date or wish of a date you are crafting an arrow and asking Satan to destroy your heart with it.
- The pastor that refuses accountability or is too prideful to delegate. With each new item on his agenda, each busy moment spent in planning instead of prayer, each corner that is cut in sermon prep, each guard that is ignored to protect his purity, and each moment he spends as a pastor instead of a son he is crafting an arrow and asking Satan to wreck him.
The situations are numerous. And we will find when we come wounded and scarred before Jesus that a good portion of our wounds came from arrows that we crafted. But the beauty of the gospel is that Jesus heals our wounds no matter who crafted the arrow. This is why the answer to your wounds is not more pills, more education, more free time, more rules or regulations, more relationships, more counseling sessions, or more spiritual disciplines. These are good, they help, but they cannot do what only Jesus can. Only Jesus can heal.
If you find that you are in the business of making arrows to give to Satan, your answer is not to try harder and start a focused regimen to not make arrows. Your answer is to be so drenched with the gospel and so enthralled with Jesus that you are either too in love to make arrows or too gospel soaked to feel their sting. And when you mess up and hand Satan an arrow, take the stupid thing out (repent) and go to Jesus for healing (faith).
Monday, June 8, 2009
Much of what I have learned in preaching has come through failure; and I have a ton to learn so I wonder if this means I have much more failure on the horizon. Here is a principle that I learned the hard way a couple of weeks ago:
“The preacher is passionate. This week’s preparation has engaged the preacher’s affections. The sermon starts at an intense and animated register. The problem is that the people have not had the preparation time given the preacher. They do not yet see the truth that has ignited the preacher’s grand style, so they wonder what has the preacher so worked up. But if the preacher will somewhat restrain while instructing so that all may see the light of the truth clearly, then when illustrating, the mixture of affection and explanation builds. Application in a style more grand and designed to move the hearer will have a more solid foundation.” (Eswine, Preaching to a Post-Everything World, p129)
In other words don’t floor it and go from 0-120mph in the first 30 seconds…otherwise your congregation will spill coffee in their lap and probably have a sore neck. I made this mistake a couple of weeks ago. I was extremely passionate about our need to rise above mediocrity as believers and I asked some very pointed questions in the introduction. The problem is much of it was lost because I think the students were asking, “what has Mike so worked up”. And these students know me well…we have been together for 5 years now. Had I only waited and built up to those questions I think they would have had a far greater impact.
Now, I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit can use truth in whatever form it is presented. Not all is lost. However, as a preacher of the gospel it is my responsibility to be dedicated to making the message the most understandable and faithful to the intentions of the Lord. Maybe, sometimes we need to floor it, but I think a steady pace is far more effective and you’ll go through way less motors.
So, preacher, slow down and build up to that which has you “so worked up”. Let the congregation go through the same journey that you went through so that the truth will “work them up” too.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The king tosses Daniel into the lion's den saying, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you" (Daniel 6:16). The next morning the king returns to the den with a faint hope,"Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" (Daniel 6:20).
Do our lost friends/co-workers have some kind of hope solid enough to consider it even a slim possibility that our God will carry us through the trials of life? Do they express the wish that Jesus will make a difference on our behalf because they know from experience that we serve Him continually, faithfully, and lovingly?
Or when we face the trials of life will our friends/co-workers offer the well-intentioned platitudes that "time heals all wounds" and "I'm thinking of you" but nothing else because they have no idea we know Jesus, much less serve Him?"
May the testimony of the lost world around us be such that they count on Jesus to carry us through the storms of life.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Top 10 Dead People, besides people in the Bible, I Would Want as Mentors throughout the History of the Church
- John Newton
- Robert Murray McCheyne
- Charles Spurgeon
- Richard Sibbes
- Jeremiah Burroughs
- Jonathan Edwards
- Martin Luther
- C.S. Lewis
- John Bunyan
Almost making the cut: Augustine, Alexander Whyte, Horatious Bonar, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Samuel Rutherford, Irenaeus, John Owen.
John Newton is amazing and really gets grace. McCheyne intrigues me. Spurgeon is, well Spurgeon. Sibbes would teach me grace. Burroughs has an amazing name and would teach me about joy in Jesus. Athanasius I’ve always wanted to know more. Why is Edwards only #7? Because he was a brilliant man, really loved Jesus, but I do not think would actually be a very good mentor. Martin Luther is #8 because he’d scare me and probably get me drunk. C.S. Lewis would teach me how to write and think. And John Bunyan would be like reading the Bible. And Apollo Creed did not make the list because he is not dead.
Who would be your top 10? Mine will probably change in a few years.
Friday, June 5, 2009
If you are just now joining us you can catch up by reading our discussion on the foreword and the introduction. Again I want to encourage you to comment so that we can discuss some of the very important issues raised by this book. If you still need a copy of the book you can buy one here for only $8.99.
Dever begins this chapter reminiscing about his call to be pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. When someone asked him if he had a plan for a program to implement, Dever responded with a no and an explanation of the Four P’s that govern his ministry. Those 4 P’s frame this chapter.
The first P is the preaching of the Word. It is the authors conviction that this is the vital aspect to a ministry. Dever even goes so far as to say that every other aspect of his public ministry could fail so long as he was faithful in preaching the Word. His reason? Dever is firmly convinced that God is always in the business of using His Word to “create, convict, convert, and conform His people”. (34) His reason for such a conviction is well grounded, and that truth is displayed in the fact of everything the Bible says about the Word of God. The Word of God: sustains us, grows and fights, builds us up, preserves us, is the effective power for salvation, creates faith, performs God’s work in believers, convicts, brings about the new birth, saves us, and furthermore the Word is made flesh in Jesus incarnate. “There is creating, conforming, life-giving power in God’s Word…that’s why we need to be teaching our congregations to value God’s Word over programs” (35).
The second P is prayer. Prayer is a wonderful display of our dependence upon God. But what should we be praying? Dever gives 5 suggestions: 1) the prayers recorded in the biblical record 2) pray for the preaching of the Gospel 3) pray for increased maturity and faithful testimony of your body of believers 4) pray for sinners to be converted 5) pray for opportunities for evangelism. Dever also suggests one practical way of praying; assemble a church membership directory and pray for your fellow believers.
The third P is personal discipling relationships. This is an especially fitting “P” for pastors, but I think it can extend beyond that. The concern here is to build intentional relationships with people in your congregation. Discipling is simply another channel through which God’s Word can flow into another persons life. Furthermore, as a pastor you ought to be encouraging these type of relationships with others. Also, such relationships with people will break down some of the “defensive resistance to your pastoral leadership”. This one is simple and needs to be heeded by pastor and congregation alike: build meaningful relationships.
The fourth P is patience. When Dever first came to Capitol Hill he waited three months before preaching his first sermon. He wanted to get to know the people and what they were accustomed to. This also communicated patience. In this section Dever reminds us that God is very patient; “[He] is working for eternity, and He has been working from eternity. He’s not in a hurry and we shouldn’t be either.” (39) How do you cultivate such a perspective? We are given three areas to have a right perspective on: time, eternity, success.
Patience in the pastoral “requires thinking in terms of twenty, thirty, forty, or even fifty years of ministry”. This is a call to commit to the church that you are called to pastor. And I suppose this same thing should be said to non-pastors and members of any church. Furthermore, we must have a proper view of eternity. This is a call to “shepherd the flock in a way that you won’t be ashamed of on the Day of Accounting”. Finally, we must define success in terms of faithfulness. Otherwise, we will become frustrated and burn out. This is a call to "stake your ministry on the power of the Gospel.”
“Prayer shows our dependence on God.” (35)
“Your prayers for people don’t have to be long—just biblical.” (36)
“The best way to lose your place of influence as a pastor is to be in a hurry, forcing radical (even if biblical) change before people are ready to follow you and own it. It would be wise for many of us to lower our expectations and extend our time horizons”. (38-39)
“As you work for change, work also to extend genuine, Christian goodwill toward people.” (39)
“If you define success in terms of size, your desire for numerical growth will probably outrun your patience with the congregation, and perhaps even your fidelity to biblical methods…But if you define success in terms of faithfulness, then you are in a position to persevere, because you are released from the demand of immediately observable results, freeing you for faithfulness to the Gospel’s message and methods, leaving numbers to the Lord.” (40)
“Stake your ministry on the power of the Gospel.” (41)
Do you agree that “there is only one thing biblically necessary for building the church, and that’s the preached Word of God”?
In this chapter Dever calls for patience in change. Should we be patient with sin and with sinful structures? If the church in unbiblical why should we go slow in change? (I’m not saying I agree with the assertion behind my question—just wanting to think through this).
These are Dever’s questions:
What three Bible passages will you memorize for the purpose of praying for your church?
Could your ideas of time, eternity, and success be cultivating a spirit of impatience with the congregation you serve? If so, how? How might those ideas need to be re-formed?
We are also given an assignment. Pick one person in your church to get together with for spiritual good, and pick a book or booklet to read and discuss with him/her.
Any questions you have? Don’t forget to discuss.
One of my great annoyances in life are when people put Facebook status updates that really make no sense but because they use a few key words a ton of people give it a thumbs up and give a hearty Amen! in the comments. So, I thought I would try to put together a few status updates. I thought about experimenting on Facebook to see how many thumbs up I got…but I figured some people may think I am seriously that lame (because I am). If I sound like a 15 year old girl that is intentional…
Here are a few feel free to add some in the comments. Also, if you happen to be an “emo” band and would like some lyrics you cannot steal these amazing lines but you can buy them for a buck fifty. Without further ado here is my emo-song/lame facebook status update generator:
Option #1: The “I Can’t Do It Forever”
I can’t (insert something necessary) anymore; You’ve taken away my (insert something happy) plus (add an eternity type of word)
Example: I can’t breathe anymore; You’ve taken away the sunshine forever.
Now you need a question…one that reeks of desperation and an inability to see tomorrow.
Will my heart ever (insert something strongly desired) again? I can’t imagine (insert a longing type of word) plus (a negative that eternally negates the positive just mentioned).
Example: Will my heart ever hope again? I can’t imagine dreaming in such a darkness without end.
Now you have to express this with the most vivid and intense pain you can think of and as many references to your inner being (heart, soul, etc.) as you can fit in.
With a (insert a painful “ing” word here) heart, (insert a big verb or adjective here) (necessary preposition) (here is another painful “ing” word) my soul (insert your final most crushing death blow of pain) (now make it forever)
Example: With a bleeding heart, scarred by falling, my soul is gasping for one last breath.
Option #2 “The Everybody Knows What I Am Going to Do But I Have to Dramatize It and Make People Think I Had No Choice When I Really Did”
You have to start out with a question to your heart; a question of daring adventure.
Should I (insert verb) when (statement against all odds with a good “ing” word)?
Example: Should I leap when my heart is crying stay here forever?
Now you have to express the utter inability to do what the question asked. In our above instance you have to either express the impossibility of leaping or of staying forever, but do it in the form of a question with an obvious answer.
How can I (insert verb) when (an extreme time clause) is (insert a negative “ing” word) of the (insert a painful negative) by my side.
Example: How can I leap when every moment is screaming of the emptiness by my side.
You have to close this one out by removing all personal responsibility and helping everyone know that you have no options but you have to do what you know you shouldn’t (even though we all know it is what you really want but you have to pretend like it’s not what you really want).
This (insert a fatal object) I (the way you would be consumed by fatal object) causes my (insert hopeless word of captivity). I am now seeing that I must (insert verb) even though (insert a good word like love, peace, etc.) (now do something negative to that good word) my (something necessary or strongly desired).
Example: This poison I drink causes my surrender. I am now seeing that I must leap even though love is choking in its sleep.
Option #3 A random jumble of happy garbage that sounds significant but is really saying absolutely nothing.
If you want to master this one then listen to Oprah, read Dr. Phil, listen to emo, and spend a couple of hours in Hallmark.
All I can really do is give you a few examples and hope you pick it up.
Do rainbows dream in color, my bleeding heart wants to know? If freedom is forever, why does love never seem to grow?
You see it rhymes, it uses a few “ing” words, it makes mention of the heart, freedom, rainbows, dreaming, growing and it also uses eternal words like “forever” and “never”. So pick some happy words, some desire words, a few “ing” words, put them into question form and make them forever.
I am finally seeing that the stranger in my mind is wrapping himself around my skin. Leaving is tragic when the mirror breaks through the dark.
One of the best lines that you can use is “I am finally seeing”. A great way to twist a lyric is to pull an M. Night and break reality. Stranger is a good word to use but you cannot keep him a stranger otherwise it is not interesting. You’ve got to make him personal. Again notice the “ing” words and the painful words like “tragic, dark, wrapping around my skin”. Still this lyric means nothing but it sure sounds like it should.
Okay this will be enough to get you going…I will try to provide an Emo/Lame Facebook Status Wordbank for you in the future...
This is powerful: The Gospel and Personal Criticism.
Absolutely HUGE updates to TheResurgence. Be sure to check them all out.
Timmy Brister points out the truth behind the Christian Index’s statement: Denominations do not fulfill the Great Commission. Timmy asks some good questions in response.
Abraham Piper’s excellent blog 22 Words has been redesigned.
This is the Carl Trueman article about Blog Attackers that CJ referenced in the first link.
I really appreciated this article by Don Dunavant (a guest post at Between the Times). He compares the downfall of GM with a few alarming trends in the SBC.
Helpful article for us young preachers. James McDonald offers advice on Common Mistakes Young Preachers Make:
If I comprised a list of the Top 10 people within the history of the church that I could hang out with and be mentored by John Newton would probably be in the Top 5. Here is one of the reasons why: The Peril of Pastorla Popularity and Pride
One of my favorite Shane and Shane songs:
(HT: Justin C.)