Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fear Without a Voice

A song I am really loving right now is “Stay” by Jimmy Needham.  My favorite lyric is “to the place where my fears have no voice at all”.  I think we all long for that day when our often shouting fears, doubts, etc. are stricken with perpetual laryngitis and the only voice we hear is the whisper of the Lord. 
Beautiful song, take a listen:

You can buy Needham's new album for only $9.99 or "Stay" for only .99

Today in Blogworld 7.31.12

An Interview with R.C. Sproul (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Tim Challies is a tremendous interviewer.  R.C. Sproul is a great person to interview.  Put the two together and you have a tremendous two part interview on everything from books to cooperation. 

7 Tips for Talking with Your Neighbors About Jesus

For some reason it is really nerve-wracking to share Jesus with our next door neighbors.  Tim Gaydos gives us seven tips for doing what we are called to do. (HT: Aaron Armstrong)

Free E-Book on Adoniram Judson

Every year John Piper preaches and writes a biography on a particular person.  This one is on Adoniram Judson.  It’s free.  And I’m sure it’s interesting.

10 Books (and One Letter) Every New Calvinist Needs to Read

Ligonier Ministries has put together a list of books along with Newton’s letter On Controversy that every new Calvinist needs to read.  I’ve only read four of them.  Oops. 

I really shouldn’t laugh at this…should I?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Friday Is For Feeding Your E-Reader

Yeah, yeah, I know, it isn’t Friday.  But I hope to begin a new staple on this blog where I give you some sweet deals to feed your e-reader.  And I want to do it on Friday.  Problem is I couldn’t blog last Friday and some of these deals expire TODAY.  So act fast.  And expect another one of these on Friday.

Brennan Manning is an interesting author, his book The Furious Longing of God was available for free last week but I missed the deadline.


Fortunately it’s still only $1.99

I haven’t read this one and I’m not sure it’s quality but it looks interesting.  Don Aycock writes The Little Handbook to Perfecting the Art of Christian Writing.  Lofty title…


spend $2.99 to see if it delivers.

I am still working through Mark Dever’s The Church Made Visible that I received free at T4G.  What I have read so far is well worth your time.  And at this price this is a book you really need to purchase

only $2.99

These books are only $2.99 but you need to order today:

Theology Drives Methodology 

Ready for Reformation? by Tom Nettles

Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal by David Dockery


Happy Reading!

Review of Counterfeit Gospels by @TrevinWax

I had just taken a group of teenagers to this conference to hear one of those really amazing youth speakers.  Thought it was a good speech, when compared to a Christ-centered sermon it was pretty bad.  I’m not even sure that the dude even mentioned Jesus.  He certainly gave Ignatius the Rock Star Youth Pastor a run for his money. 

Afterwards I asked a couple of the guys that I had been discipling what they thought of it.  One of the guys responded, “You know I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but I knew that something wasn’t right about this.  I knew something was missing”.  In other words, he knew that something was counterfeit he just wasn’t sure exactly what about it was askew. 

Trevin Wax has written a really good book on the counterfeit gospels in our day that would have helped that student to put his finger on just what was askew in the Ignatius wannabe’s sermon. 


In Counterfeit Gospels, Wax outlines the biblical gospel under three headings.  Which act as a “three-legged stool.  Cut off one of these legs, and the whole thing tips over.”  These three legs are the gospel story, gospel announcement, and the gospel community.  Each of these legs are in danger of being hi-jacked by a counterfeit gospel. 

Wax’s book is structured around these three legs.  First he considers the gospel story.  And then it’s two counterfeits: the therapeutic gospel and the judgmentless gospel.  Then he looks at the gospel announcement and its two counterfeits; namely, the moralistic and the quietist gospel.  Lastly, he consider the gospel community and it’s counterfeits of the activist gospel and the churchless gospel.  He closes up the book with a helpful epilogue about being witnesses of the unchanging gospel. 

I appreciate the way that each explanation of the counterfeit gospels is structured.  Wax begins with examples of how this counterfeit displays itself in our culture.  He then considers a few reasons why such a false gospel could be attractive.  Though attractive these false versions of the gospel are deadly and Wax demonstrates why.  He closes out each chapter with a few tips on countering the counterfeit.

My Take

The book is immensely practical and well-written.  I know that a book is well-penned if it inspires several ideas for my own writing.  It seemed that about every 10 pages or so I was putting the book down and jotting down an idea for an article.  Wax does a great job of making what could have been a 600 page book a succinct yet thorough 220 page book. 

None of these counterfeits are off the wall or just simply filler.  I have personally witnessed and dealt with every single one of these.  Some of them are more prevalent than others but they all exist in our culture.  I think that I may occasionally go back to Wax’s book as I think through outlining a few preaching series for the coming year.  One could use his “countering the counterfeits” to think through a plan for not only proclaiming the full biblical gospel but doing so in light of some of the ways that people might mishear the gospel message. 

It is also worth noting that I’m a little late to the review Counterfeit Gospels party.  One particular discussion that took place concerning this book is Wax’s analogy of the gospel as a three-legged stool.  John Starke had some helpful criticism and it’s worthy of reading.   I appreciate Starke’s revision, yet I think Wax’s analogy is strong enough to stand on its own. 

Should You Buy It?

As I read through this book I found myself constantly wondering who it would be best suited for.  Is it a book that I should hand a newer believer?  It’s certainly written in a way that would be helpful for one.  Is it a book that a pastor ought to read?  I’m a pastor and I found it helpful.  Is it a book for those that seem to be drinking the poison of a counterfeit gospel?  I think if they were doing so ignorantly then perhaps it would help. 

At the end of the day I’m not sure that I can really pinpoint an audience.  This book would be helpful for every believer that desires to believe and live out the biblical gospel and not succumb to some of its most subtle counterfeits.  I think it would be a helpful read for anyone. 

You can buy a copy today for only 9.90 or 8 bucks on your e-reader

Why We Must Dig a Little Deeper Than Norman Rockwell and Benjamin Franklin to Discover Idols

I’ve said it in sermons and probably even wrote it on this blog a few times: 

“Show me your wallet and your calendar and I’ll show you what you treasure”. 

I still believe that statement is true.  But I also believe that in practice it needs to go a little deeper than seeing what I’ve scribbled onto my Norman Rockwell calendar or where I’ve shelled out my Benjamin Franklin’s (or more precisely my Abe Lincoln’s). 

I say that it needs to go a little deeper because I know the things that are on my calendar and the things that are I spend my money on.  And I also know the idols that I battle in my life.  And the two don’t seem to match up and first glance.

As an example one item that I spend time and money on is the MLB.TV baseball package.  I love watching Kansas City Royals baseball (or whatever you call that thing they do while the opponent plays baseball).  This is one place where both money and time goes to.  Yet, for the most part it is not an idol in my life.  At least most of the time.  Sometimes I use it as an escape.  Occasionally when things around me seem to be spinning out of control I crave locking myself in the basement and just watching the Royals “play”. 

If I were to take the time and money test then I could put KC Royals baseball on the list of idols.  And if I were feeling uber-spiritual or something I would unplug the television, unsubscribe, stop watching Royals games, and pretend like I had conquered an idol.  But in reality its not baseball that is an idol.  In actuality, it is trying to find comfort and security outside of Jesus.  And those dirty siblings would just pop their little unconquered rebellious heads up in something else.   

That’s why I say that though we can begin identifying idols by analyzing where we spend our time and money, it would do us well to ask a few more probing questions once we get beyond the initial look at our time and money. 

Today in Blogworld 7.30.12

7 Ways to Put On Humility

Scripture call us to clothe ourselves with humility.  Mark Altrogge gives 7 ways that we can do just that. 

Are We All Just Broken People?

Maybe I should have called this edition of Today in Blogworld the “Blazing Center Edition”.  This one also comes from there written by Stephen Altrogge.  The question seems to be coming up quite a bit lately concerning the use of the term “broken”.  Stephen likes the word but isn’t a big fan of using it in reference to Christians.  I’m still not sure. 

Sometimes God Doesn’t Open Doors

TGC is running a series of posts on “The Page that Changed Your Life”.  Here Gloria Furman discusses how page 31 of Milton Vincent’s The Gospel Primer for Christians changed her life.   

4 Debilitating Fears

I am beginning to wonder if Paul Tripp is in the process of writing a book on fear.  He has been posting a ton about fear lately.  Here he discusses four types of fear that can cripple us. 

For some reason this makes me laugh:

(HT: 22 Words)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Effect of the Prosperity “Gospel” On Pain*

If you are not familiar with the prosperity “gospel” turn on your television and watch TBN for about 15 minutes.  There you will be exposed to the damnable teaching that what the gospel is really about is securing our health, wealth, and happiness and our best life now.  Consider these words of Kenneth Copeland concerning Paul’s thorn in the flesh:

Paul's thorn in the flesh is a tradition that Satan has used to deceive and rob many people. Using it as an excuse, tradition says that God gets glory from sickness because the world sees how marvelously the Christian bears pain and agony. Tradition never adds up to the right answer - anyone knows that the world has all the pain and agony it can stand. The world wants a way out of sickness, not another way into it.

The typical mantra of these shiny watch-wearing, jet-flying, shysters is that God is in the business of blessing people.  If you want to see someone who is living in the favor of God you will not find it in a poor widow, a sickly orphan, or in a downcast soul.  You will find it in a first-class flyin’ preacher that spends his time helpin’ poor folk get their blessings by sowing their seed into his tailor-made suit pocket. 

Because of this belief Paul’s teaching on the thorn in the flesh is completely reversed.  Rather than Paul saying that he is glorying in an unremoved thorn and that the Lord’s grace is sufficient in the midst of hardship these prosperity teachers do a ton of gymnastics to get around what the text clearly says. 

Paul’s thorn

According to Copeland the thorn is an “evil angel”.  This isn’t any of God’s doing it’s all of the devil.  Pain, suffering, sickness, all of those things must not have anything to do with the work of God.  And according to Copeland “this evil angel was assigned to Paul for one reason—to stop the Word from being preached”.  Forget that Paul said it was “given me in the flesh” for the purpose of “keeping me from being too elated”. 

You see within the framework of the prosperity gospel God is not glorified in  our weakness.  God is glorified in our strength.  Or to put that another way the way that God receives glory is when my past is conquered and I live in victory.  If I am not living my best life now then I’m not giving God the glory that He deserves. 

Copeland even has the gall to say that Paul erred in pleading with God to take away the thorn.  As he says, “If you want results, do not ask God to deal with the devil for you…He instructs you to drive out the demons or evil spirits.”  Had Paul not pleaded with the Lord to remove it then he would have gotten the results that he desired. 

While you have a thorn in your flesh you aren’t able to glorify God as you ought because you are living in the devils defeat and not the Lord’s victory.  Therefore, you believe on what you want.  You unleash your faith on removing this thorn and you believe God for it.  You let go of it and you start believing God for victory. 

But what happens when “victory” doesn’t come?…

The Effect on Pain

The problem with this false teaching is that it tries to wipe away ever tear from our eye before we are living in the Redeemed Eden.  That sounds nice and some of these false teachers may very well have good intentions and believe every word of the garbage spewing out of their mouth.  Problem is, they sound more like Job’s miserable counselors than the counsel of the Lord.

What they are subtly communicating—and sadly I think many within the church have bought into this—is that God cannot use me until I have this thorn conquered.  I am a little less than acceptable until I get a grip on this depression.  Certainly people will rally around me and help me remove this thorn—that’s what Job’s friends did.  But what if this thorn is never going to be removed?  Am I supposed to hide this part of me?  Should I shoe my thorn?  Dare I walk with a limp? 

You see I’m becoming increasingly convinced that faith doesn’t look like a man living in success and victory in the Christian life, where everyday is better than the next.  I’m convinced that a better picture of faith is when a man is almost totally overcome by doubt, fear, anxiety but he still keeps a white-knuckled grip on the promise of future redemption.  I’m convinced that a better disciple is one who fixates his eyes on “things that are above” instead of trying to live his best life now. 

Of course we all want mountain moving faith but the faith as tiny as a mustard seed is just as miraculous.  So, why don’t we rejoice in feeble faith? Why don’t we celebrate those souls that are shamed and yet trusting, like Jesus does?  Can we celebrate a wound that isn’t yet healed?  Why do we have to wait for victory?  Why can we not dance with a limp? 

Maybe because we’ve bought into the lie that people with thorns are a little less than what it means to be a disciple.  And maybe we’ve made thorn removal the goal instead of dancing in grace. 


*This is actually part three in my series on thorn removal but I changed the title to make it more accessible. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Treading on MY High Places

    Though the fig tree should not blossom,
        nor fruit be on the vines,
    the produce of the olive fail
        and the fields yield no food,
    the flock be cut off from the fold
        and there be no herd in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
        I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
    GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
        he makes my feet like the deer's;
        he makes me tread on my high places.
    To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV, emphasis mine)

There are few better examples of faith in all of Scripture.  Though his eyes do not see victory Habakkuk is going to keep hanging on.  And I don’t think this should necessarily be interpreted through our 21st century-everything-is-gonna-work-out-in-this-life lenses either. I think the redemption that Habakkuk is looking for is one that he will not see fully in his own lifetime.  Just like us real redemption will be found another day.

In reading through this passage earlier today I noticed something about the text that I have never noticed before.  I have not found any commentaries or any other places that have really commented on this and so I’m a tad fearful of throwing out something new fangled that is nothing close to Habakkuk’s meaning.  Yet, I will venture on because even if it was clearly shown that this cannot be proven from this verse I believe it’s sound theologically. 

Notice in the bold section that Habakkuk says he makes me tread on “my” high places.  The use of the possessive there is what caught my attention.  Habakkuk did not simply say “high places” but my high places.  Habakkuk’s high places may be different than my high places.  For some merely lifting your head in the morning and being able to go the grocery store is a great victory and “treading on my high places”.  For others their “high place” is far more lofty.

This reminds me of some very wise words by Jared Wilson in his book Gospel Wakefulness:

No two people feel the same way.  Some of us are more emotive than others; some are naturally more reserved; some are naturally more excitable…What gospel wakefulness presupposes is that wherever a person tops out emotionally, they do so at the gospel…what should move you most is the reality that Christ died and rose for you.  (147-48)

Habakkuk isn’t called to tread on my high places.  Gospel-infused faith causes him to tread on his high places not necessarily mine. 

We have to minister to people where they are and not necessarily where they ought to be.  For some people growth in grace might mean working up enough nerve to make a phone call to order a pizza.  For others such a task is nothing close to a definition of treading on high places.  Both ought to be celebrated as blood-bought faith! 

Why Thorn Removal Is Not the Goal (Part 2)

Yesterday we considered the testimony of the man with no arms and no legs.  He is an inspiration to never give up.  In many ways he is a model of what this entire series is about; namely, rather than spending your entire life trying to   remove the thorns enjoy the rose as it is, prickly and yet beautiful. 

Yet at the outset I must confess that I, and I doubt I’m alone, almost wish that my “thorn” was an obvious physical malady.  I say that because nobody rightly expects the guy to “get it together” and grow himself a pair of arms.  Nobody (at least nobody sane) believes that he is this way because of personal choice and sin.  It’s not so clear cut with someone who has bouts with a dark melancholy and deep seated shame as their thorn. 

While it is true that some depression, anxiety, and shame are a result of things that we really ought to be shameful for, and things that really ought to cause grief, it is also true that some of it stems from things that have happened to us.  The lines between real shame and guilt and that which is false are often blurry.  This makes the prospect of thorn removal tricky.  In as much as our “thorn” is the result of rebellion and pride it’s removal is not an option, it is mandatory. 

Yet, what if there is an element of our melancholy that is not a direct result of personal sin but merely the results of living in a fallen world? 

What if melancholy is part of our lives because this is the painful method the Lord has chosen to use for His glory and our eventual good? 

What if, like Paul, we pray and fight and labor to be done with this demonic thorn and all we hear is, “My grace is sufficient for you”? 

It is understandable and right to long for and pursue redemption.  It’s not wrong to pray that the Lord removes this thorn.  But it is sinful and wrong-hearted to be unsatisfied in grace and to be fixated on thorn removal.  And that is my point. 

There must be a place within the Christian faith for those that limp around with a life-long thorn and yet keep a white-knuckled grip on the cross of Christ.  And that place is not necessarily one that is to be relegated to the back of the bus, quarantined off from the smiley-faced believers that are “good” witnesses to redemption. 

Tomorrow I want to consider how the “prosperity gospel” and the many forms that seem to have been swallowed by American Christianity offers a hope for the depressed but actually ends up wounding tremendously. 

Today in Blogworld 7.25.12

Chick-fil-a and the Irony of the Tolerance Police

Denny Burk writes on the vitriol aimed at Chick-fil-a from the tolerance police.  I’m just curious how those boycotting Chick-fil-a will deal with their addiction to the awesome chicken sandwiches and lemonade.  Suit yourselves. 

Preventing Heresy in Your Small Group

Sam O’Neal, guest writing for Trevin Wax, helps small group leaders prevent heresy.  These are really great tips to follow to prevent false teaching spreading through small groups. 

The Rise of the Roman Catholic Church in a Nutshell

I bet you didn’t know nutshells were being infiltrated by Roman Catholicism, did you?  Well they aren’t.  This excellent summary about the institutional arm of the catholic church that eventually became the Roman Catholic is worthy of your time. 

You—Shut Your Mouth

I’m still chewing on this one from James McDonald.  Read it and tell me what you think.  Here he gives 7 points about remaining silent when destructively criticized, harshly criticized, or experiencing outright personal attack and character assassination. 

I love this song and the biblical motivation behind it:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick Review of As One Devil to Another

Occasionally I will be sucked into watching one of those talent or singing competition shows on television.  It never fails that at least one singer will be chided for “not feeling the song”.  Though annoying because of its prevalence such advice is actually true. 

There is a way of imitating an art form that looks and sounds exactly like the original but something is missing.  That something is the passion that spawned the song in the first place or that struck the soul upon first hearing it.  Without that you can sing a song almost perfectly but not captivate the audience. 

One of my favorite works of C.S. Lewis is his Screwtape Letters.  If you are unfamiliar with this classic, Lewis addresses penetrating moral questions and pertinent topics like grace, evil, and repentance through a dialogue between two devils.  As only Lewis could do he take on difficult topics using a very interesting literary technique.  It’s a masterpiece for a reason. 

Richard Platt is an obvious fan of the works of Lewis.  In his new book As One Devil to Another it is quickly apparent that he has gotten the ways of devilish correspondence down to an art form.  Walter Hooper is correct on the front cover when he says, “It reads as if C.S. Lewis himself had written it”. 

Yet something is missing.

Just as the singers that hit every note and perform a song masterfully still get chided I cannot help but only give mediocre praise to Platt’s work here.  To me it just doesn’t seem like Platt has the same fire that Lewis had that motivated his Screwtape Letters.  His execution of Lewis’ literary technique is masterful but he doesn’t seem to do it with the same depth of insight as Lewis. (But who could?)

There are a few things in the book that had me scratching my theological head.  One is not so much what Platt says but what he doesn’t say.  Lewis took on much bigger topics.  Platt seems to leave most of his fiendish plans to using higher education to destroy faith.  It’s almost as if the devil’s biggest tool is “out there” and not what goes on in our own hearts. 

He hits on a few other contemporary topics but it never seems that he really gets behind the exterior issues.  With Lewis one imagines that he had dined with devils.  With Platt it feels more like he’s overheard a couple of guys talk about their experience dining with devils. 

Should You Buy It?

This is not a book that I would encourage someone to not purchase.  If you really like C.S. Lewis and have read The Screwtape Letters and think this may be a fun read then go for it.  There are sections in here that may be helpful and my theological qualms are not enough to make me say don’t buy the book.  Yet, I also won’t be purchasing extra copies and giving them away.  Nor will I be recommending the book to a host of people. 

If you think it’s a book that would be interesting to you then you can purchase it for $11.38.  Or you can also purchase Lewis’ Screwtape Letters for only 5 bucks more


I normally wouldn’t review a book that I consider neither damaging nor exceedingly good.  However, I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review and so for the sake of integrity reviewed the book. 

Why Thorn Removal Is Not the Goal (Part 1)

Take a couple of minutes and watch this guys story:

What if this man spent his entire life trying to grow arms and legs?  He sacrificed marriage.  He forfeited kids.  He never had a job.  Never had an ambition to influence others.  His whole life was swallowed up with this single lone pursuit—have arms and legs.  He will not experience joy until he experiences healing.  He’s not moving on until he is “normal” and has arms and legs.  He is passionate, determined, and unrelenting in his pursuit of this goal. 

What if on his 80th birthday the miraculous happens: he wakes up with two arms and two legs.  He is healed.  His passionate determination pays off.  Then, two days later he dies. 

What of his life?

Thus begins a series in which I make the argument that many believers spend more time trying to remove thorns than we do living in sufficient grace…

Today in Blogworld 7.24.12

Does God Love Us By Sending Pain?

Tony Reinke interacts with a Slate article on spanking.  In this he not only reflects on the issue of spanking but also our view of the Lord’s discipline.  Excellent points. 

An Interview with John Piper

Tim Challies, with help from some of his readers, has interviewed John Piper.  As always Challies asks some great questions and Piper gives some great answers. 

Gay is Not the New Black

Voddie Baucham has never shied away from controversy.  His bold stance here is one example of his faithfulness in spite of opposition.  Voddie argues that the gay marriage issue is not and should not be compared to the civil rights movement. 

J.I. Packer’s Advice to Aspiring Writers

When J.I. Packer speaks—especially about writing—you listen.  Here is a 9 minute video clip that is immensely helpful.  If you don’t have time to read it then the folks at DG have summed it up nicely. 

This is an issue I have been wondering about for awhile.  Interesting discussion here on spontaneous baptisms:

Monday, July 23, 2012

5 Types of Articles Actually Worthy of Time

No blogging and no feed reading last week meant I had 3,000 articles demanding my attention this morning.  You learn a valuable lesson when faced with such a daunting task; namely, unless you want to waste days reading articles you tell most of these screaming articles to hush up without even really reading their content. 

This sifting process helped me discover that there really are only 5 types of articles that I actually deem worthy of my time.  These are articles that:

  1. Might be Helpful (Ministry, Writing, Cheap books, Parenting, etc.)
  2. Might be Humorous (Everybody loves a good laugh)
  3. Might be Happening (Current Events, Music, New Inventions)
  4. Might be Historical (What can I say I’m a history nerd?)
  5. Don’t Fit the Mold (If a title has me wondering, “what in the world is this about", I’m likely to star it and read it later). 

This has also taught me a few lessons about blogging. 

  1. If My Title Stinks So Does My Article.  Okay, not really. But to the person scanning through Google Reader, if the title doesn’t hook or make me think that it’s one of those five things above, I won’t star it and I won’t read it, no matter how good it actually was. 
  2. Controversy Only Gives Traffic for a Day.  Some controversy may be helpful.  If so, then I’ll read it.  But I found myself happily skipping over  about 200 articles on needless controversy that really doesn’t matter to me a week later.  The only way controversy really gives you steady traffic is if this becomes your identity.  And who wants that?  Not me. 
  3. Pictures Really Do Help.  It catches my eye and makes me think the article is an easier read than if it’s a lengthy block quote.
  4. So do lists and bullet points.  Again it makes me think I can peruse it quickly and think about it more later.
  5. Your name matters.  I’m more likely to give an article from a reputable author a little more play than I am a guy I’ve hardly heard of.  I’m that guy that people have hardly ever heard of.  So I better get my foot in the door quick or I’m not going to get starred and read later. 
  6. Use only what is necessary.  If I can say it in 1 word instead of 5 I should.

Today in Blogworld 7.23.12

Most of these will probably be from last week as I am playing catch-up, from missing a week of blogging.

Sanctification in the Everyday

John Piper—or more accurately someone on his staff--has compiled some of his sermons on sanctification into an ebook.  As typical with DG the book is yours for free.  Just click this link and pick which format you want the book in. 

Have Our Children Forgotten How to Play Outdoors?

Taking his cues from author Richard Louv, Al Mohler wonders whether or not our children have a nature-deficit disorder.  I appreciate Mohler’s insight as well as his pointing out this interesting looking book.  You can buy Louv’s book here

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Church

Wes Pastor blends parenting discipline with church discipline and notes that neglecting either is deadly.  I really appreciate this piece.  Be sure to read the comments as well as they actually add to the discussion (which is unfortunately not-typical). 

Profile of an Abuser

With the Jerry Sandusky trial having been completed and the after effects now hitting Penn State I commend Steve Cornell’s work here in profiling an abuser.  The greatest damage isn’t Sandusky’s prison sentence, taking down Paterno’s statue, or the punishment meted out by the NCAA.  The greatest damage is that which Sandusky did to his victims.  Here Cornell profiles abusers so that parents will see red flags before its too late. 

Wow!  Count me as one that is impressed:


Monday, July 16, 2012

IMPACT: Jasper

This week my family and I packing our bags and going on a mission trip.  We aren’t going far—only about 3 minutes away.  Our church, First Baptist Jasper, will be on mission this week in our city.  Some of us will be staying at the church throughout the week. 

The idea came to us about 4 months ago when our summer mission trip to Connecticut fell through.  We decided that we could take a mission trip in our own backyard.  So we began planning things as if some from our church were a “host” team and others from our church where on the “missions” team. 

For four months now we have planned various activities and various ways to share the gospel and impact Jasper with the unchanging truth of the gospel. 

So pray for us this week.  Also note that posting will be somewhat slow this week at Borrowed Light.  There may be a few times that I can get away for a few moments and write something out—probably telling you of a few things that the Lord is doing.  But it’s also possible that this will be my last post until next week.  Either way, please pray for us that our church is strengthened, our city is impacted, and most of all that God is glorified. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Today in Blogworld 7.14.12

Pragmatism and Guarding the Doctrinal Gates

I wish that I could laugh at Jared Wilson and say that he misses it when he says, “When the church runs like a provider of goods and services it slowly stops asking “What glorifies God?” and starts asking more and more “What do our customers want?”, and as the pragmatic business model subsumes biblically-formed community, the dictum “The Customer is Always Right” becomes more of a guiding principle than a motivating God-centeredness”.  Unfortunately, what he says is all too prevalent in churches.  In this article he gives six contributing factors to the theological bankruptcy and thankfully seven things that can help reverse the trend. 

22 Mistakes Pastors Make in Practicing Church Discipline

No wonder church discipline is rarely done.  22 mistakes?  Man, that seems risky.  But is it biblical?  Is it necessary?  Thankfully there are many wise people within the church that have learned the hard way about mistakes in church discipline.  I am thankful for the folks at 9 Marks that help with these materials.  And I’m thankful to Andy Naselli for compiling this list from Jonathan Leeman’s book on Church Discipline

7 Tips for Preaching a Strangers Funeral

I have yet to have to do this, but I become anxious even thinking about it.  These tips from Dustin Neeley would be very helpful if you found yourself preaching the funeral of someone that you do not know. 

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I received this book for free at the Together for the Gospel Conference.  I haven’t gotten a chance to look through it much yet but the little I did seemed interesting.  You can own it for only $2.99

In case you ever wondered how to catch a kangaroo.  This is awesome and hilarious and I’m not sure why:


(HT: 22 Words)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review of Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball

If you follow baseball you know that R.A. Dickey, MLB”s lone knuckleballer, is absolutely lighting it up the first half of the 2012 season.  Yet it has not always been this way for Dickey.  In fact many that are beginning to hear his name will be surprised to learn that he is 37 years old.  He has spent much of his career as a 4A pitcher—which to those that are not familiar with baseball terminology means that he was not quite good enough for the major leagues but a little too good for the minor leagues.  Most of his career has been spent bounced around from club to club between the major league and the minor league. 

Yet this story is not solely about baseball.  And that is what makes it one of the best biographies on baseball that I have ever read.  Most sports biographies, though interesting at times, are really more akin to the interviews you hear after games.  “What were you thinking on the 2-2 fastball, Jim?”  “Well, I was sitting fastball and I couldn’t believe that I hit it over the outfield wall.  This one really goes to the team.  Oh, and a big thanks to Jesus who continues to make me awesome”, replies an out of breath Jim. 

Wherever I Wind Up goes much deeper.  Dickey opens up the depths of his soul.  He discusses his childhood sexual abuse and the shaming effects that it had on him for the rest of his life.  Dickey also talks about his redemption.  And though the book closes before his breakout 2012 season the reader is given the idea that Dickey’s pitching career is about to finally take off. 

Dickey is also a strong Christian.  Usually when you hear that and read a sports biography by a “strong Christian” it’s really nothing more than Jesus being a genie in a bottle that gives athletic success and deserves all the props and praise.  You don’t get that idea with R.A. Dickey.  He’s gut honest about his struggles, his doubts, and his hypocrisy.  He’s openness with his feelings of shame and worthlessness are helpful to fellow strugglers.  Dickey’s memoir at times feels like reading one of the Psalms. 

My Take:

Personally, I loved the book.  I read a ton and sometimes I have a stack of books that are on my desk simply because I agreed to review them.  It is rare that a book will almost call out to me and demand to be read.  For some reason this book did just that.  I had assumed that it was because of my love for Jesus and baseball (in non-comparable order).  Little did I know that the Lord would use this book to open up deep wells in my heart.

Minus the fame, money, and ability to pitch a knuckleball much of R.A. Dickey’s story is my story.  As he talked about some of his struggles and feelings it hit my heart like a piercing arrow.  I could see myself in Dickey.  My only feelings of shame and inadequacy.  Even down to the inability to handle applause and successes.  I felt like I was reading my own story just glossed over with a few different details. 

One particular quote from Dickey’s counselor, Stephen James, that struck me and is motivating me to begin anew facing some of the demons from my past.  

If you aren’t willing to face your demons—if you can’t find the courage to take on your fear and hurt and anger—you might as well wrap them up with a bow and give them to your children.  Because they will be carrying the same thing…unless you are willing to do the work.

Thank you R.A. Dickey for being honest in your story.  Thank you for pointing to Jesus and his redemption.  Thank you for showing at least a part of the process.  Thank you for encouraging me to “do the work”. 

Should You Buy It?

Though this book opened up wounds and tore off a few scabs it was still a pleasurable read.  No, wait.  It wasn’t pleasurable.  I think it could be for some people but for me it was more needed than it was pleasurable.  Nonetheless, I would recommend the book to almost anyone.  (You might not want to give it to younger kids as Dickey is pretty graphic in some parts about things in his past). 

This is a super book if you like baseball and/or stories of redemption. 

You can buy it for $16 hardcover or the Kindle version for only $12.99.  Worth every penny.  Buy it.

Today in Blogworld 7.13.12

The 10 Commandments for Writers

Using the real 10 Commandments as his guide, Jared Wilson applies them to writing.  I’ve broken a number of these.  Thankful that the gospel also covers and sanctifies my writing. 

Real: Owning Your Christian Faith only $2.99

I’ve had the chance to read and review a few of Daniel Darling’s books.  This one looks really interesting.  If memory serves me correct I believe I linked to an excerpt of the book a few days ago.  For those that grew up in church this book looks to be helpful.  And it’s only $2.99 for a limited time. 

10 Things that Are True When I Confess My Sin

Paul Tautges from Counseling One Another provides 10 things that are true whenever we acceptably confess our sin to God.  More is going on than you think when you humbly confess. 

Recalculating: How Study Bibles Can Limit Bible Study

I appreciate Jen Wilkin’s point here about how to use a study Bible the wrong way.  I think for the first few years of my walk with Christ my NIV Study Bible helped at times but also tended to stunt my growth.  What do you think of her perspective, here? 

I’ve finished reading and hope to review R.A. Dickey’s autobiography.  Unless he pitches against the Royals I’m a fan of his and was happy to see him on Letterman:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Does Jesus Cry Over Spilled Milk?

He wept over distresses which He intended to relieve.  -John Newton

On hot evenings little boys really need a cold drink.  After an intense day of playing I took my son out for a late night Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with a nice cold chocolate milk.  Poor little guy was so parched that on this occasion he was more passionate about the milk than his super cool toy. 

He got two sips. 

As we began our journey back home I heard a distraught little boy in the back seat.  He had set his milk next to his leg and began reaching into his jolly bag of goodness to retrieve a Nugget (or more likely to marvel at his new toy).  Something happened in the transition and the milk found itself on the floor.  Yes, my son was crying over spilt milk. 

I felt for the little guy but at the same time I’m old enough to remember the adage of “don’t cry over spilled milk”.  So I repeated a sentence that I have said numerous times, “Come on buddy, don’t cry—daddy is going to fix it.” 

I knew I could get some milk at home.  Or if things get to desperate we could easily go back to McDonalds since we only live a couple minutes away.  Super-Dad can fix this one.  But apparently not fast enough.  Saying “wait for my rescue” just doesn’t seem to cut it as a broken-hearted little boy stares at a puddle of milk that should be in his tummy instead of staining the floor of mommy and daddy’s van. 

I’m beginning to understand why those words don’t always cut it.  Sometimes—even if its really silly—our pain is so intense that all we can really do is cry until mourning has its healing effect.  Sometimes tears heal what words can’t. 

As the above words from John Newton evince Jesus modeled this perfectly.  Just as I intended to clean up the milk and replace it with new so also Jesus intends to wipe away every tear from our eye and conquer or brokenness with his redemption.  Yet he even though he knows good and well that these tears are only temporary Jesus joins in them anyway.  And they aren’t fake these tears of Jesus.  They are motivated by really feeling the sorrow of another. 

Yes, Jesus will preach redemption and exhort us to hope.  He will tell us “I’m making all things new” and count on us to believe in him.  We aren’t to mourn as those who have no hope and Jesus will at times remind us of this.  Yet I’m convinced that these exhortations are not accompanied with a disinterested half-smile but instead with cheeks soaked in tears that have miraculously entered fully into the experience of humanity. 

So would Jesus cry over spilled milk? 

Though he is in the business of changing our affections and our cares and transforming our worries so that they reflect far greater things than spilled milk, I am of the opinion that when my little boy agonizes over spilled milk that Jesus enters into his pain. 

Some day, Isaiah, we will live in a world where milk will never spill.  Or even if for some reason it did we would probably laugh because we aren’t desperately parched.  Some day we will live in a world where we never hunger or thirst and our every longing is fulfilled in Jesus.  But we don’t live there yet.  In the mean time I want you to know that Jesus weeps with you when you spill your milk.  But don’t forget as we all cry together that redemption is coming! 

Today in Blogworld 7.12.12

Keeping Intimate Details Intimate

I really appreciate Tim Challies’ words here on keeping sexual details private.  Using two imaginary people, Rob and Kelly, to tell a story Challies concludes: “What is not relevant to this discussion is how often other couples are having sexual relations. The moment Rob and Kelly turn to statistics, they begin to compare themselves with other people in other life stages and other circumstances. They are no longer looking primarily to one another, no longer seeking to serve one another in love, no longer appealing to the Holy Spirit to sanctify them and to increase his fruit in their lives.”

The Expository Genius of John Calvin only .99

This is a good book.  You can check out my review here.  Then purchase it for only 99 cents on your e-reader

Baseball Cards Found in Ohio Attic Might Fetch Millions

I always thought this story would be about me after going through my grandfather’s sock drawer.  Maybe someday.  This guy found sixteen Ty Cobb cards with the highest grade ever.  Not to mention a mint condition Honus Wagner.  Phenomenal. 

How “Let Go and Let God” Almost Ruined J.I. Packer

I’ve heard this story before from Packer but it’s worth reading again and again.  Keswick theology and it’s muddy mysticism is dangerous.  I pray that the Lord rescues many from its clutches. 

Rambo the Musical:

(HT: Thinklings)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Sweet E-Book Deals

Last week I gave a few good book deals to fill your e-readers.  There are a few more quality e-book deals out there this week that I want to share with you.

I just bought this one myself today and haven’t had a chance to look at it.  Eric Geiger (who co-wrote Simple Church) writes Identity to help them discover who they really are in Christ. 

only $2.99

Awhile back our church went through Compelled by Love a bible study with Ed Stetzer and Philip Nation.  If Compelled is anything similar it will help inspire believers to live missionally:

only $2.99

I read and reviewed Practicing Affirmation awhile back.  I loved the book.  I’m happy that it’s now available

for only $3.03

One of my favorite books of 2011 was David Murray’s Christians Get Depressed Too.  As I noted in my review I think this is one of the most helpful books for those battling depression. 

Available now for only $2.99

This little 102 page book just looks interesting.  Timothy Williams Gossip and the Gospel is available for

only .99

Greasy Chickens & Lessons in Waiting

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes I hope that Chick-Fil-A gets my order out to me really slowly and botch their service.  Why?  Because I know if they do then I’ll get a card that entitles me to free awesomeness in the form of a Chick-fil-a sandwich.  They screw up and I get rewarded.  So, sometimes I secretly hope they jack something up.  I won’t complain.  I won’t even look disappointed.  I’ll just humbly hold out my hand and allow them to appease me with a free sandwich. 

I’m not always that giddy about waiting though.  A few weeks ago I was waiting for about 10 minutes in the McDonalds parking lot.  They had told me to pull up so they could give me my “Chicken” McNuggets.  But when car after car went around me I knew something had went awry.  Perhaps they had ran out of faux-chickens to massacre.  I went inside and waited another 5 minutes and finally got my food.  All I received in return for my trouble was the bag that I paid for and a weak “sorry” from an inconvenienced cashier. 

Of course I handled all of this in a Christ-like manner.  By that of course I mean that I started turning over tables and calling them a brood of vipers.  Actually, outwardly I did nothing except for complain to the guy next to me about how weak McDonalds is compared to Chick-Fil-A.  I felt that I deserved at least a free ice-cream cone, a happy-meal toy, or even a couple fries.  But I received nothing and that really bothered me about having to wait so long with no reward. 

Then today as I shamefully pull up to the McDonalds window the lady tells me pull forward—as is becoming almost customary at this Mickey D’s—but this time she hands me a card for a FREE Big Mac or McMuffin.  Way to move up in the world, McDonalds!  This time I find myself waiting with joy and next time I’m sure I’ll hope they blow their 30 second mark and I get another free sandwich which I can sell on Ebay since I don’t like Big Mac’s. 

Suffering and Joy

As I joyfully waited for my food in the McDonalds lot I began to wonder if this is often why we rail against suffering and persecution and the difficulties we face in life.  We go through heartache and it seems as if the Lord just dropped the ball and then gives us a cold “sorry” but then reminds us that He’s in control and we are not.  McDonalds seemed to communicate to me, “I own you, you’ll be back, I don’t really need to go above and beyond to sell you this mystery meat because you’re already addicted and you knows its cheap and easy”.  And sometimes I wonder if we view God and suffering similarly.  “I’m God.  I own you.  So shut it and keep coming back”. 

Though sometimes it may feel that way, the Scriptures communicate to us that suffering is not pointless and the Lord’s attitude to us is not a cold indifference.  Suffering actually is intended to lead to greater joy and greater hope.  This seems to be Paul’s logic in Romans 5 when he says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

Just as I rejoice in my “suffering” because I know that it will lead to a free chicken sandwich (or the lesser joy of a Big Mac) so also we rejoice in suffering because we know that the reward is sweeter than the pain.  I can wait 5 minutes if it means biting into a greasy chicken.  And I can endure a lifetime of pain and difficulty and border-line futility and confusion if it means that it will climax in a hope fulfilled experience of God’s love being poured out. 

So wait with joy.  We have far more than a free chicken sandwich coming our way! 

Today in Blogworld 7.11.12

When God Saves An Ecstasy Dealer

This series by Stephen Altrogge is phenomenal.  He has been interviewing various people about their redemption stories.  These have all been very encouraging and wonderful to hear the work of the Lord in transforming sinners into passionate followers of Jesus.

The Most Common Leadership Problem

Many times we try to make leaders out of people before they are disciples.  Bob Logan believes that “Leadership problems usually aren’t leadership problems at all. They’re discipleship problems. We are trying to make leaders out of people who aren’t disciples. It doesn’t work. Without the foundation of discipleship, we end up with all kinds of problems.”

Self, Doubt, and Writing

Sally Lloyd-Jones writes for DG on the pride of doubt in your writing.  I really need to read and hear this word today.  I hope it blesses you as well. 

Questions to Ask When Studying The Bible

With some help from Alan Harman and the Puritans (that sounds like a bar-band), Aaron Armstrong gives 10 questions to ask when studying the Bible. 

(HT: Jon Acuff)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Old Man I Want To Be

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.  -Psalm 145:4

“Damn weather’s going to kill us all!”  

I’m guessing the old crank was just trying to find a way to connect with the young lady behind the counter, but as these words filled my ear lobes I couldn’t help but envision what 15 minutes on a porch with this old chap would entail. 

I imagine it’d be filled with a few shots at either Obama or those stubborn republicans, or maybe a steady dose of vitriol aimed at both.  He’d continue to complain about the weather.  He’d tell me about the good ol’ days and we’d both dream of being able to buy 15 cent cheeseburgers or a tank of gas without sacrificing our children’s college fund.  He’d curse the sky and damn the heat into the fiery abyss and we’d bond on our common lot of futility in a fallen world.  Then I’d wallow off his porch, stoop into my humble car, and drive off in sorrow lamenting everything. 

I don’t want to be that guy.

Not that he doesn’t have a partial truth cornered.  He does.  I’m sure that 15 cent cheeseburgers are better than the $1.00 mystery meat we call McDonalds.  It is hot.  There is an element of futility and brokenness to our world.  He’s right, things aren’t as they ought to be. 

But he’s not totally right.  All of life isn’t lived in a valley. 

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable”.  I want to spend 15 minutes (or much longer) on a porch with the guy that says that. 

Partially because he’s the same guy that at one point said, “darkness is my only companion”.  I want to learn how he stares reality in the face, nods his head in agreement with the old moaner, and then opens his lip and infuses every one of those complaints with abounding grace.  This guy gets the whole story.  He goes through the valley but knows that isn’t the whole story. 

The old grumbler only gets the Fall right.  But he has no room for the gospel.  No room for declaring the excellencies of Christ or to commend the works of the Lord to another generation.  I don’t want to be that old man. 

I want to be the old man that can say at one point “darkness is my only companion” but out of the same overflowing heart also say, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable”. 

When I find myself in the position of an old man sitting on a porch with an opportunity to declare wonder I don’t want to botch it and say “damn weather’s gonna kill us all”.  I want be able to say “my goodness it’s hot”, and then tell the next generation about a time when I was 30 and it was really hot and we were in the middle of a drought and we gathered at the church for our usual Sunday morning service.  Then I’ll tell how we started the service by praying for rain only to be interrupted by a thundercloud and a downpour of rain.  And I’ll share how I closed off my sermon a little early and we all without provocation gathered around the window and listened to the Lord preach a sermon on His provision in the form of rain on a parched land.

Yeah.  I want to be that old man.  But I know today that I won’t be that old man unless I have my eyes open in my thirties.  If I’m a curmudgeon now my face is sure to grow into one of those perpetual frowns by the time I’m 70.  I’d rather spend my days meditating on “glorious splendor of the Lord’s majesty” and “on His wondrous works”, then when I’m 70 I’ll have plenty to rejoice in with those young whippersnappers. 


Note: Because that old guy in the photo looks a decent amount like one of my grandfather’s I hold out hope that I can sport such an amazing toothless grin when I’m his age. 

Today in Blogworld 7.10.12

A Triperspectival Approach to Blogging

I appreciate Tim Brister’s use of not only a really big word but also the concept behind it.  Here he urges bloggers to balance head, heart, and hands.  Good stuff that every writer/blogger ought to read. 

The Fearful Pastor

“Perhaps this is an infrequently shared secret of pastoral ministry; that is, how much of it is driven not by faith in the truths of the Gospel and in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but driven by fear.”  I wish that this post by Paul Tripp was ridiculous.  Sadly it’s not. 

When Your Child Isn’t Doing Well In The Lord

Mark Altrogge gives some really encouraging and helpful words here for parents of children that aren’t really following the Lord.  Mark not only gives three suggestions for dealing with the weight of this but he also gives several suggestions for how such a trial can actually produce fruit in the life of the parents. 

50 Shades of Magic Mike (In Which I Am Very UNCOOL). 

I found this article from Josh Harris and was very happy that a female author has spoken what I’ve been wanting to rant on for awhile now.  Magic Mike (an R-rated movie about a male stripper) and  50 Shades of Grey (an erotic novel) are very popular with women right now.  CHRISTIAN women.  I’m one that believes it’s not okay.  I’m glad Melissa Jenna has written this well reasoned piece showing that Mommy Porn is no different than Daddy Porn. 

Haven’t had a chance to watch this yet but I intend to.  9 Marks @9 from the SBC Annual Meeting:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Waiting on the Spirit?

One of the books I’m reading through right now is Robert’s Rules of Writing.  In this book Robert Masello gives 101 unconventional lessons on writing.  Number 9 is “Lose the Muse”.

The Muse in case you are unaware is

“the embodiment of inspiration, usually portrayed as a comely woman loosely draped in a diaphanous gown—is what every writer longs for.  Once she appears, you’re supposed to be able to write effortlessly, at the height of your powers, with an unequaled command and energy and zest.”  (18)

Some writers will sit and wait for inspiration before they begin writing.  To this silly notion Masello encourages writers to “stop worrying about where she [the muse] is, and focus instead on doing the work at hand, she is most likely to put in a surprise appearance.” 

I wonder how many times Christian writers (or even those pursuing evangelistic efforts or anything else which puts us in desperate dependence on the Spirit) sit around wait for the Christian version of “The Muse”; namely, the Holy Spirit. 

One verse that can give credence to this notion of “waiting on the muse to show up” is Acts 1:4-5. 

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

In other words, don’t do anything until you’ve received empowerment from the Spirit.  I have heard--and sadly been guilty of--using this verse to not engage in a ministry endeavor until we have received a thumbs up from the Lord and empowerment from the Spirit.  Which, of course, is true in that “apart from me you can do nothing” and ministry apart from the Spirit doesn’t deserve to be called ministry. 

Yet, it is also true that the promise of the Spirit that the disciples were to wait for has already been given.  We can’t recreate Acts 1:4-5 nor should we.  After the day of Pentecost we aren’t called to sit around and wait on an indwelling of the Spirit.  No, once you become a believer that indwelling happens.

What happens after Pentecost is that the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:19 are fulfilled.  “Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour”.  How does that happen?  It happens through the Spirit empowering common ordinary men like Peter and John and making them bold before a Sanhedrin.  It happens through a group of believers gathering together, reciting Scripture, praying for boldness and then going out opening their mouths believing that the Lord answered their prayer. 

Pray? Yes, of course.  But don’t pray and then sit there and wait for the muse to show up.  Pray and then get to work doing the obvious.  As a writer, one way that I apply this is that I pray for the Lord’s work in my writing, I also plead for sanity and holy affections, and then I get after it.  I go to work.  I “open my mouth” and trust the Spirit’s work. 

It’s not spiritual to sit in your attic waiting to hear from the Lord when He’s already spoken and He’s already empowered.  That’s not spiritual.  That’s lazy and unbelieving. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Should You Bring Your Bag’s To Church Tomorrow?

I’ve said it, and prayed it, quite a few times.  Yesterday, I caught myself.  “Lord, please allow us to drop all of our burdens at the door and come and freely worship you.”  I know what we mean when we pray that.  We want to come to the Lord empty handed and not be distracted by a bunch of junk.  We do not want to be thinking about meatloaf instead of meditating on our marvelous Maker.  But do we really want to lay all of our burdens at the door?

This way of thinking tends to contradict what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Perhaps Jesus does not want us to “drop all of our burdens at the door”.  Perhaps our act of worship is to come heavy but to leave light.  Jesus does not want you to drop reality and real life at the door, sing a few songs, hear a sermon, and then pick all of your baggage up on your way out.  Jesus wants you to “cast all your anxiety upon him.”

I am becoming convinced that Jesus really did come to call sinners.  Powerful worship does not happen when clean, put-together people, offer “service” to the Lord.  Powerful worship happens when dirty, broken, sinners find the answer to their brokenness.  Or perhaps we could say that powerful worship happens when clean, put-together people, praise the Lord that brought them out of the miry clay.  Whether you are broken or healed the Lord desires a heart that does not pretend it’s living in Eden; but rather a heart that knows it is not where it is meant to be and is found longing for rescue.

So, tomorrow when you arrive at your church building to worship bring all of your baggage…but don’t leave with it.


Originally posted here

Two Songs I’m Digging Right Now

I discovered both of these songs last week and I can’t get them out of my head. 

Of Monsters and Men “Little Talks

The Lumineers “Ho Hey

You can purchase The Lumineers album for only $7.99 or the single Ho Hey for only .99

You can also purchase Of Monsters and Men’s “My Head is An Animal” album for only $5.99 or the single Little Talks for only .99

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Gospel for Winter Winds

One of my favorite bands is Mumford & Sons.  Their lyrics are phenomenal.  Earlier today as I was enjoying me some Mumford & Sons this lyric started rattling around my brain and filling it with a healthy dose of pain. 

The lyric is from their song Winter Winds:

Oh the shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved
Was the same that sent me into your arms
Oh and pestilence is won when you are lost and I am gone
And no hope, no hope will overcome

I will not pretend to know the specific interpretation of this song.  For all I know Mr. Mumford and his kids could have been talking about the pain of switching from Kellog’s Corn Flakes to the generic brand.  Art is funny that way.  Yet, I do believe that this lyric spotlights something I have witnessed numerous times.  Namely, that shame drives people away from the Lord into the waiting arms of shameful lovers. 

When we sin feelings of guilt and shame come with it.  And though it’s not politically correct to admit this, we ought to feel guilt and shame when we exchange life for death.  Guilt and a sense of shame always comes with forsaking the Creator.  It’s as natural as a trip to a Chinese restaurant being followed by a date with Charmin. 

Our Shameful Response to Shame

Yet what we tend to do with our shame is similar to what Mumford suggests in this lyric: rather than running to God shame makes us run away from Him into the arms of another.  I have witnessed this countless times in the lives of those I’m discipling and even in my own heart.  There is something about shame and guilt that makes us think that unless these abominable qualities are alleviated then the Holy One will never accept us. 

Oddly enough this way of thinking is partially true.  Without atonement your shame becomes you.  That is what you do when you sin.  You exchange glory for shame.  And unless you are cleansed then it becomes your identity. 

As a result of this we run.  We hide.  We mask.  We deafen.  We pursue comfort in the accepting and approving arms of others, who like us bear the mark of shame.  The same shame that makes us run from God leads us into the arms of another. 

Yet it never satisfies.  The fellow shamed cannot heal your shame.  And so the shame, guilt, and emptiness begins to pile up.  “No hope will overcome…” 

Or so it seems. 

Jesus Christ has bore our shame.  He was shamed so that we wouldn’t have to be.  He bore the curse and endured the guilt and shame that should have been ours.  He was crucified in shame outside the city so that we could dance in freedom and joy inside the walls of glory. 

The gospel invites us to come empty. Shameful. Naked. Despised. Broken.  Abused. Foolish. Drunken. Forsaken. Guilty. 

And in Christ we find fullness.  Freedom. Covering. Honor. Glory. Healing. Life. Wholeness. Joy. Love. Grace. Peace. Holiness. Cleanliness. Forgiveness. Hope.

When you find yourself covered in shame don’t run.  Don’t mask it.  Don’t pretend it isn’t there.  Don’t try to find release or freedom or healing at any other fountain.  Turn to Christ and hope. 

And this hope will not disappoint.  Yes, this hope can overcome…

Today in Blogworld 7.6.12

Resolve Conflict ASAP

Paul Tautges gives six biblical reasons why we must not delay resolving conflict.  And he encourages us instead to pursue peace.  In my opinion resolving conflict is one of the most difficult aspects of living out the Christ-life together.  (HT: David Murray)

Free Piper Book

One of the reasons that I love Desiring God Ministries is their desire to give everything away free of charge.  Here is Piper’s newest (actually oldest) book for free.  It is actually his doctoral thesis and has the word paraenesis in the subtitle.  So it will be a little difficult to get through.  But only costs you hard drive space. 

When Parental Expectations Collide With the Gospel

Great words here from Daniel Darling.  He has a new book out called Real:Owning Your Christian Life.  It looks to be aimed at those that grew up in the church.  If it’s anything like this excerpt it’s probably worth a look.  You can buy the book here

How Jesus Prayed for You

One of the things (of many) that Justin Taylor does really well is compile Scriptures into a theme.  Here he looks all of the ways that Jesus prayed for us.  It’s startling really. 

9 Marks at 9 Panel Discussion from the SBC Annual Meeting:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Great Book Deals to Fill Your Reader

There are a few pretty good books for under $5 that you can purchase to fill your e-reader. 

Taking his cues from 1 Corinthians Mark Dever gives us 12 Challenges Churches Face:

only $3.99

Only 66 pages but a practical guide to biblical preaching.  Alistair Begg’s Preaching for God’s glory:

only .99

More from Dever.  This one is a classic that every one concerned with the church ought to read, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church:

only $3.99

I must confess I have never read this one.  But I have read and respected Voddie Baucham’s other work.  So I believe his latest offering The Ever-Loving Truth would be worth a purchase:

only $2.99

I’m reading through this book right now.  It’s a fun, simple, and helpful read so far.  You might enjoy it to.  Robert’s Rules of Writing:

only $2.99

Today in Blogworld 7.5.12

I hope you had a blessed 4th of July.  My family and I enjoyed some much needed time off.  It was a great day.

Exchanging Fisticuffs for Gentleness: Doug Wilson on Bloomington.

As one that lives near Bloomington and serves with a pastor that planted a church in Bloomington this one hits fairly close to home.  In case you aren’t aware Doug Wilson gave a talk on homosexuality at Indiana University.  It got ugly.  Wilson remained calm and gentle.  Here he is interviewed by John Starke about the event.  I love his responses. 

Sinners in a Fishbowl

Barnabas Piper knows about being a kid.  Yes, his dad is that Piper guy (not Don, but John).  Here he writes on PK’s living in a fishbowl.  Do me a favor, please.  Read this article, then pray for my kids and for pastors kids all around the world. 

Sinner’s Prayer & The SBC

David Platt has a great explanation of why he doesn’t employ “the sinners prayer” per se but still invites sinners to repentance and faith.  I really wish this wasn’t an issue.  But it is, and Platt gives a reasoned defense of the position that I too hold. 

Warning Signs That You Might Be Drifting From God

Stephen Altrogge lists a few warning signs that you might be drifting away from God.  He gives us 7 signs and 3 things to do about it. 

This is a long one.  I haven’t had a chance to view it yet but I’m excited to do so.  This is the B21 panel from the SBC Annual Meeting.  From reading about the panel I think there are some things you’d really enjoy in this video


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