Friday, August 31, 2012

Keeping God Central in the Midst of Conflict

One of the marks of a good book is that it keeps rattling around in your head months after you read it.  Pursuing Peace by Robert D. Jones is proving to be one of those.  In putting the finishing touches on our marriage conference I kept coming back to Jones’ book on conflict. 

For me perhaps the most important point in the entire book is made in chapter three.  In that chapter Jones makes the point that the most important thing that we do in the midst of conflict is pursue pleasing God.  He then gives nine implications that this pursuit has on our relationships.

  1. Failure to please God—our failure or the other person’s, or both—is the ultimate cause of all relational conflict
  2. This goal of pleasing God keeps our focus on God, not on the conflict issues or on the other person
  3. In Christ, this goal is always doable, no matter how the other person behaves
  4. This goal will help us pace our efforts (our energy, timing, risk, etc.)
  5. God might bless our efforts by brining reconciliation
  6. If both parties seek to please God, full reconciliation is guaranteed
  7. Even if the other person does not please God, we can experience God’s blessing and comfort
  8. We must continue our commitments to please God even if the other person does not, and even if the relationship gets worse
  9. When the goal of pleasing God governs us, the other person’s sins and failures become opportunities, not obstacles, to please God more and more, and to grow as a Christian.

There is a ton that is said in the book between the lines, but this is enough to be helpful at present, and hopefully enough to encourage you to purchase this very helpful book.

Get it today!

Husbands, What Is Your Goal For Your Wife?

As you think about your answer to that question consider the goal that Jesus has for his bride.  In Ephesians 5:25 we read that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.  In verses 26-27 we see the reason why.  The sacrifice of Christ for His bride had an end in mind:

…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

The goal that the Lord has for his bride is her sanctification.  But notice in verse 27 the words “so that”.  Even her purity has a goal; namely, that she might be presented to Him without blemish—that she might be holy before him.  If one considers the thrust of the Old Testament and the reasons for purity it is not a leap to say that the reason why Christ purifies His bride is for the sake of an unhindered relationship with her. 

This is much the same thing that Romans 8:28 is referring to when Paul says that, “all things work together for good”.  In the context of Romans and in light of such passages as Psalm 16 we know that our greatest good is conformity to Christ.  Our greatest joy is found in having an unhindered fellowship with the One of whom it is said, “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

Christ fights for the joy of His wife by helping her find joy and satisfaction that is as deep and lasting as that found in Psalm 16:11.

What This Means For Husbands

After considering the sacrifice of Christ in securing the joy of His bride Paul says in Ephesians 5:28, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself”. 

Does Paul mean that just as Christ fights to secure His Bride’s joy in Himself so husbands ought to fight to make sure that their wives find their joy in themselves?  Of course not.  That would be idolatry. 

What Paul is saying is that husbands find their joy in the joy of their wife.  If we think that the greatest joy they will find is in ourselves we profoundly rip them off.  No, we must have the same goal as Jesus; namely, that their joy is as deep and lasting as Psalm 16:11.  Anything else is not a high enough goal.  And the miracle of Ephesians 5:28-32 is that as we nourish and cherish our wives in such a way that they find lasting satisfaction in Jesus we also find our own joy. 

Men, may our goal for our wives be as big as Jesus. 


For a really good sermon on a similar concept check out this one by John Piper: No One Can Take Your Joy.

Today in Blogworld 8.31.12

Worshipping at the Altar of Family

This article is not what I thought it was going to be.  It’s interesting.  Read it and let me know what you think.  You may also want to read through some of the comments. 

9 Ideas for Better Members Meetings

What are members meetings?  They are business meetings.  But one way to have better business meetings is to stop calling them that.  Check out the other nine.

A Simple Explanation of How to Interact With Introverts

As an introvert myself I found this a really interesting explanation.  And you’ve got to love anything that can explain stuff in pictures. 

More Thoughts on Friends Who Leave You

Encouraging words here from Piper:  “Whatever you do, don’t let the failure of your Christian friends become the basis for abandoning the one Friend who never fails.”  Read the whole thing…

A Few E-Reader Deals

The blessed struggle against fear and anxiety.  Great words from Ed Welch:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Writing and Preaching Is Like

My little girl is getting old enough now to intentionally wreak havoc upon her little brothers joy.  Not that she intends to spoil his fun, but she has an idea about how life should be and how toys ought to be played with that sometimes do not match up with Isaiah’s idea.  If it comes to Isaiah’s Beyblade’s or anything he is building it does not end well if Hannah messes it up.

One area that we are dealing with right now is that people are more important than things.  Yet, I know some people much older than Isaiah (one in particular that is 31) that at times has a hard time with these lessons as well.  When Isaiah decides that it is okay to push Hannah in order to protect his Beyblade’s we usually get to talk about that for a bit. 

While I’m acknowledging his frustrations, trying to give him alternatives, and exhorting him to respond better he’s usually more concerned with explaining to me the in’s and out’s of his little sisters offensive behavior.  “You DON’T understand, Daddy!  I was…I was…playing with my Beyblade, and she kept messing it up!  So, in order to get her to stop I pushed her away from me.” 

I usually reassure him that I will also be talking to Hannah and somehow trying to teach a two year old not to destroy her brothers games.  But mainly what I have to do is say, “I’m not addressing that side right now!  I’m asking you this question”. 

That’s kind of what preaching and writing is like at times. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

12 Bold NFL Predictions for 2012

  1. Brady Quinn will win 3 games for the division leading Chiefs
  2. Kamerion Wimbley will lead the NFL in sacks
  3. Aaron Hernandez will have more TD’s than Rob Gronkowski
  4. Tim Tebow will start before the Jets week 9 bye
  5. The Bengals will win 12 games
  6. Robert Turbin will gain more yards than Marshawn Lynch
  7. Matt Ryan will throw for 40 TD’s
  8. Brandon Weeden will not start every game for the Browns
  9. The Colts will not be horrible, narrowly missing .500
  10. Peyton Manning will almost throw more INT’s than TD’s (24-27)
  11. The worst team in the NFL will be the Arizona Cardinals
  12. The Buffalo Bills will make the playoffs

Usually when I make bold predictions like these the exact opposite comes true.  That means you should be sure to bench Matt Ryan, get every Arizona Cardinals player for your fantasy team, and not even bother with Robert Turbin. 

Review of The Gospel According to Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 is a phenomenal passage.  As I read through it I wonder how anyone could possibly not see Jesus in this passage.  Actually it is a passage that God has used “more than any other portion of Scripture…to lead Jewish people to himself.” (22)

Yet even though Isaiah 53 has been so instrumental in bringing Jewish people to faith in Jesus the Messiah, “there has never been an evangelistic campaign that used this text as the focal point in bringing the gospel to Jewish people”.  (22)  The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser hopes to pioneer such a movement. 

The overarching goal of the book is to be accessible to those that regularly preach and teach with an emphasis on helping those that desire to engage in the task of Jewish evangelism.  It is written by faithful biblical scholars but is not meant to be relegated to academia.  It is meant to help faithful pastors use this time-tested passage of Scripture to present the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. 

The book is divided into three parts.  The first part concerns itself with the Christian and Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53.  The second part considers Isaiah 53 in light of biblical theology.  Here the various scholars attempt to show Isaiah 53 in its own canonical context as well as how it relates to other passages of Scripture.  The final section makes Isaiah 53 practical.  An essay by John Feinberg shows how it relates to Postmodern Themes, Glaser shows how to use Isaiah 53 for Jewish evangelism, and the book closes with an essay on Preaching Isaiah. 

I should also mention that there are two sermons attached to the book on Isaiah 53.  One sermon is expositional and the other is a dramatic-narrative.  The inclusion of these sermons is meant to assist the pastor or lay-leader in presenting the beauty of Isaiah 53 for the purpose of evangelism.

My Take

Though I do not believe they intended it to be the book is still pretty scholarly.  In some of the essays they dip into Hebrew language, there are places were they use words like “scanta”, and they also frequently interact with modern scholarship. 

If I were reviewing this as a seminary student wanting more information on Isaiah 53 and how it relates to its Jewish context then this would be one of the first books that I would look.  It is very faithful and beneficial in scholarship.  You can tell that the authors are faithful biblical scholars.

As a pastor preaching through Isaiah 53, and even more so if I were doing so in a Jewish context, then I would also find this book very helpful.  I would want a couple of months to really pore through the book as I did sermon preparation.  It’s not a book for a pastor to merely skim and then when he gets to Isaiah 53 pull it out and try to use it as a resource.  But it would benefit any pastor that had the time to use it.

What if I were a lay-leader that feels called to minister to the Jewish people?  I personally have never had the opportunity to share the gospel with a Jewish person.  My perspective is limited. I do not know if one would need to be very scholarly to engage with a Jewish person on Isaiah 53.  So, I’m not certain that the entire first part of the book would be helpful for your everyday Christian speaking to your everyday Jew.  But perhaps it is better fitted for Christian scholars/pastors speaking to Jewish scholars/rabbis. 

Yet at the same time Mitch Glaser’s chapter on using Isaiah 53 for Jewish evangelism is phenomenal and accessible to anyone.  So, I’m left a little confused.  If you are more the scholarly type then by all means get the book and use it as a resource.  As a pastor I would also suggest this book.  If you are a lay-leader then Glaser’s essay is worth the price of the book and you might benefit from the other chapters as well. 

I completely support the effort of the contributors in this book to use Isaiah 53 as a centerpiece for Jewish evangelism.  I am glad that this book is on the shelves and in libraries to assist those that desire to use Isaiah 53 to share the gospel with the Jewish people.  I am grateful for this book.  If it is something that seems interesting to you then you will not be disappointed. 

I received the book free from Kregel, in exchange for a review.  But you can Buy it today.

Today in Blogworld 8.29.12

Andrew Peterson: Light for the Lost Boy

If you are an Andrew Peterson fan you probably already knew that his new CD hit the shelves on Tuesday.  I’ve been listening to this some today and I enjoy it so far. 

Six-Letter Word

I sure hope Lauren Chandler writes more.  She knocks it out of the park on this one on submission. 

Anxiety Ridden, I Minister to Others

This post was originally title, “Can An Anxious Person, Minister Others”?  Interesting question.  Zack Eswine confesses  to his anxiety as he answers that question. 

Porn Gateways

You’ve probably heard of “gateway drugs”.  This article explores “porn gateways” and suggests fighting the temptation off at its gateway.  You’ll benefit from reading this insightful article.  (HT: David Murray)

Haven’t had the chance to listen to this one yet, but I hear that it is phenomenal.  If it’s anything like Dr. Moore’s other messages it is probably as helpful as advertised:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

4 Reasons Fulfilling The Great Commission Must Include Suffering

After preparing for a sermon on 1 Peter, I read through Piper’s sermon on the same text to see how he handled it.  One of the things he did that I appreciated was note four reasons why if the church is going to be faithful to fulfilling the mandate of Christ we will inevitably suffer.  Here are the four reasons:

  1. Jesus clearly taught that “you will be hated by the nations”.  So, “wherever you go among the nations, your efforts to bring good news of everlasting life will be met with joy in some and anger in others”
  2. Paul calls evangelism “the filling up of what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”.  “God’s purpose is that the afflictions of Jesus that purchased our salvation be imitated and demonstrated in the propagation of that salvation”. 
  3. Jesus warned the first evangelists as he sent them out saying, “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more members of his household”
  4. Paul told Timothy, in the midst of church planting in Ephesus, “Do not be ashamed, but share in the suffering for the gospel in the power of God..”

As I noted when I preached on this text, Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 4 to arm ourselves with a robust theology of suffering and then to not be surprised when we have to use it. 

A Plea to Overlook Offenses Instead of Just Looking For Them

…there’s always someone around recording the things someone says and does, presumably for the purpose of scrutiny.  -Dana Carvey

The above quote comes from an article wherein Dana Carvey laments the “scary and dangerous” trend of comics refusing to mock President Obama.  I’m not really concerned about what Carvey is saying in regards to our president, but what I do find interesting is his observation that we are so ridiculously sensitive in our culture.  And we are also diligent in reading and processing information (usually quickly and out of context) and just as diligent in looking for offense. 

I wish the church were immune to this.  And we should be.  Proverbs 19:11 teaches that “good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is glory to overlook an offense”.  People that have been captivated by the grace of God of God that “knows our frame and remembers that we are but dust” ought to be people that are pretty slow to offense. 

A Non-Heated Example

I’ll refrain from using any sort of reference to Calvinism here because it is so heated that my point would be lost in the debate.  So allow me to make a point that is much less heated (at least at present).  I do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture.  I do not believe the Bible teaches that.  In fact I believe it is pretty obvious from Scripture that it does not teach that.  I believe that you have to do some serious exegetical gymnastics to make the Bible teach a pre-tribulation rapture.  Faithful exegesis will lead someone to reject the belief in a pre-tribulation rapture. 

Is the above paragraph arrogant?  Narrow?  Bigoted?  Did I just call everyone that believes in a pre-tribulation rapture a total moron that has no idea how to read their Bibles?  If they were only as smart as myself they could clearly see that the Bible doesn’t teach this view that they have embraced.  Is that what I am saying in the paragraph? 

According to the spirit of our age the answer to each of those questions would be a hearty “Yes”!  In our culture to have confidence in the Spirit, the Word, and even the God-given ability to faithfully exegete is seen as narrow.  To say with confidence “I believe my doctrinal position is correct” somehow communicates in our culture, “and therefore you are a moron that probably drools on yourself, believes that pro-wrestling is real, and you put together strings of thought about as efficiently as an NFL quarterback after his fifth concussion”.  (Even now some of you might be a little off-put that I have perhaps offended the “drooling” among us). 

A Plea

Can we please stop being so easily offended within the church?  Can we start overlooking offenses instead of just looking for them? 

Yes, humility!  A thousand times yes!  But it is not against humility to be able to say, “I believe my position is correct and yours is wrong”.  And it is not even against humility to do so passionately and with deep conviction.

I expect those that believe in a pre-tribulation rapture to be able to say, “Faithful exegesis will lead one to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture”.  I also know that this necessarily means that they believe that I am wrong and that something is askew in my theology and the way I read the text.  I also know that this person might be arrogant, and they might be insulting, and they might even offend me. 

Yet, in the words of 2Pac, “I ain’t mad at cha”.  It is far better to just say the reasons why I disagree, cover over the offenses in the way we discuss this thing, and continue to love on another until Jesus returns (not by means of a pretribulation rapture, of course). 

Today in Blogworld 8.28.12

Where’d All These New Calvinists Come From?  A Serious Top 10 List From Mark Dever

Justin Taylor interacts a little with Dever’s list and provides a few influences of his own.  As a Calvinist myself I have to say that most of these were very influential.  Although, for me my switch to embracing the doctrines of grace came when I set out to write a paper to refute it. 

Madden ‘13 Releases Today

It’s a holiday for every video game/football nerd.  Madden ‘13 releases.  (360, PS3). 

11 Mental, Emotional, & Spiritual Challenges Unique to Rural Pastors

Able Baker nails it.  For those of you that do not have experience with rural ministry you ought to read this list.  I have been a youth minister in a rural setting and had some of these vary things myself.  And I witnessed our pastors experience them too.  Pray for rural pastors. 

A Word to My Calvinist Friends

Trevin Wax has some strong words for his Calvinist friends.  The response to this should be interesting. 

You’re going to want to watch this.  However, be prepared with a box of Kleenex:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crazy Ideas and Pastoral Wisdom

Church leaders will sometimes have people come to them with ideas for ministry.  Sometimes these make perfect sense and the pastor is left wondering, “why didn’t I think of that one”.  At the other times the idea is so off-the-wall that the pastor is left to scratch his head.  Yet, he also knows that sometimes these “crazy” ideas are really God-given burdens and that he needs to be careful not to squelch passion or more importantly squelch the work of the Spirit. 

So, how do you tell the difference between these crazy ideas that are just crazy ideas and crazy ideas that are actually God-given burdens?  Lee Eclov in his book Pastoral Graces offers a few questions that might help with sifting through the difference.

  • What made you think of that?
  • Have you thought through some of the challenges?
  • Have you talked about this idea with others?
  • Is there some reason you think this would be especially effective at our church now?
  • Are you invested in this ideas enough to write up a short proposal I could show to others?
  • Would you pray about this for a couple of weeks and see if God brings other people forward?

As Eclov says, “Good questions pump life into good ideas and let flimsy ideas quietly drift away”. 

What do you think of these questions? Would you add any others? 

A Healthy, Wealthy, and Prosperous Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a book that is much needed in our present church climate.  Health, Wealth & Happiness by David Jones and Russell Woodbridge is a great book for explaining the biblical teachings on health, wealth, and prosperity.  It exposes the false claims of prosperity “gospel” teachers and replaces it with a solid biblical theology. 

The good folks at Kregel Publications have agreed to giveaway two copies of this book.  Enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of the two books.  Two winners will be drawn on Friday, August 31st.  And if I have internet access they will be announced on Saturday, September 1st.  (If there is no internet access at the marriage retreat I am helping to lead then it will have to wait until Monday the 3rd. 

Enter below (be patient, sometimes Punchtab is slow to load):

(RSS: You’ll need to click through)

Today in Blogworld 8.27.12

I’m Tired of Hearing “The Gospel”

This from Thabiti Anyabwile, “As blasphemous as it sounds, “the gospel” is not the answer to every question.  It’s not enough.”  Read on…

Transforming Grace (FREE)

Shouldn’t it always be free?  Jerry Bridges’ classic work Transforming Grace is free for your e-reader TODAY ONLY, so be sure to swoop it up

Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp

Josh Harris shares a little about Paul Tripp’s new book on the unique challenges of pastoral ministry.  Read Harris’ article and check out Tripp’s new book that you can pre-order

“America is Going Downhill Fast”…and Other Stupid Statements

Interesting points here from Michael Patton.  So what do you think is “America going downhill fast”? 

As Tim Brister said, Jackie Hill brings the gospel thunder:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

5 Books I’m Enjoying Right Now

Every now and then I get an influx of really good books that I am reading.  Currently there are five that I’m reading through and enjoying about every second of it.

  1. The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.  A great book on the need for those with gospel passion to also have a passion for personal holiness.
  2. Pastoral Graces by Lee Eclov.  A very encouraging and yet convicting book on pastoring in grace and with grace. 
  3. How Long, O Lord? by D.A. Carson.  A book on suffering and evil.  Only a little into this one but it will help me with life and probably one I will consult frequently when writing my book on suffering.
  4. Community by Brad House.  This book hopes to give a lifeline to struggling small groups.
  5. Kingdom through Covenant by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum.  A via media between covenant theology and dispensationalism.  It’s lengthy.  And by the time I get to finish it I’ll probably be able to ask Jesus face to face about the relationship between the covenants.  But every page I read in the mean time is really interesting. 

Click on the links above if you want to purchase any of these books.

If you can only get one of the books above it’s hard for me to suggest which one.  I think the Gentry and Wellum is going to have ripple effects throughout evangelicalism—but I doubt it’s for everyone.  DeYoung’s book is really helpful for anyone that reads widely in the gospel-centered movement.  Pastoral graces is an easy and beneficial read for any pastor.  D.A. Carson is always good.  And so far I think the book on Community will help in thinking through small group ministries.  So…get ‘em all. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Loser’s Guide to 2012 NFL Predictions


  1. New England Patriots
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. New York Jets
  4. Miami Dolphins


  1. Cincinnati Bengals
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Cleveland Browns


  1. Houston Texans
  2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars


  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. San Diego Chargers


  1. New York Giants
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Washington Redskins


  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Detroit Lions
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Minnesota Vikings


  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers


  1. St. Louis Rams
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Seattle Seahawks
  4. Arizona Cardinals

AFC WILDCARDS: Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens

NFC WILDCARDS: Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers

AFC TITLE GAME: Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens

NFC TITLE GAME: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

SUPER BOWL: Green Bay Packers defeat the Houston Texans

Super Bowl MVP: Randall Cobb

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers

Comeback Player of the Year: Jamaal Charles

Rookie of the Year:  AFC—Kendall Wright  NFC—Robert Griffin III

Friday, August 24, 2012

Would Jesus Have a Lock-In?

As an associate pastor that works with teenagers every few months I am forced by begging teenagers to endure another lock-in.  In case you are not familiar with a lock-in it’s a horrible concept for adult leaders.  You are trapped in a room with teenagers for around 12 hours during a time when even roosters and my grandmother would be sleeping.  During this twelve hours you hang out with teens, play games, chat, eat lots of pizza, and drink lots of Mountain Dew, and usually break something. 

I loved them when I first began helping out with youth groups.  I started loving them a little less when I became responsible for what they broke.  Now that I’m thirty and have two little children of my own, I must humbly confess that I’d rather be sleeping than playing GROG at 3:30 in the morning. 


As I am finishing up the details for tonight’s lock-in I find myself wondering whether or not Jesus would have a lock-in.  I know that in the first century it would have just been weird to have gathered with a group of young adults (there weren’t teenagers back then) to play hide and seek in the dark.  And part of me wants to say that isn’t there more taxing matter that Jesus would have concerned himself with?  Would he really have played chubby bunny with a group of poorly showered seventh grade boys? 

But as I think through it a little more I think maybe Jesus would have led a lock-in for teenagers.  Having fun is part of being human.  It appears from the Pharisees accusation against him that Jesus was not against a good party.  From reading his parables and such one gets the idea that Jesus was quite enjoyable to be around.  Perhaps some would consider this sacrilegious but I could almost picture Jesus playing that game where you put Alka-seltzer in your mouth and watch it fizz all over the place. 

On the other hand I don’t really see Jesus doing a ton of things “just to be cool” and to show teenagers that church can be fun.  I don’t really see Jesus being jovial for the sake of being jovial.  Part of me wants to say that a lock-in would be way beneath Jesus and he’d be having a 30-hour famine instead.  Maybe so. 


Though it is pretty much impossible with questions like these to really say “what Jesus would do”, I have come to the conclusion that he would lead a youth lock-in.  Mostly because he loved people.  Lock-ins are a tremendous way to build relationships with teenagers.  Most of these teens are hurting and really need grace. 

What better way to show teenagers that you really care for them than to enter their world a little, have a great time with them, love them, build relationships, and share the love of Christ with them?  Lock-ins are an opportunity to show grace and deepen relationships. 

If the purpose of your lock-in is to get a ton of kids to come to church for the fun of it, slip the gospel in the back door, and grow your program then I don’t know that Jesus would have signed up as a volunteer.  But if your purpose for having a lock-in is to have fun with teenagers, build relationships, give grace, and share the love of Christ then I could really see Jesus joining in on a spam eating contest. 

Am I totally off my rocker here?  What do you think? 


P.S. I know that chubby bunny is dangerous and a chocking hazard and we don’t play it.  I also don’t play Sardines with teenagers because that is just flat out dumb. 

Today in Blogworld 8.24.12

Balm for Wounded, Weak Pastors

This was seriously encouraging.  John Starke provides us with a very helpful quote from Richard Bauckham. 

7 Reasons Why I Am Enthusiastically Using the Gospel Project

Mike Bergman gives us 7 reasons why he is excited about TGP.  I share those 7 excitements.  In fact a few from our church teased me because I kept saying when plugging it, “I’m really excited about this”.   (Don’t burden yourself by reading through the comments).

Vacating the Internet

Uber-blogger, Tim Challies, took a brief digital free vacation.  He learned a few lessons from that.  Here are a few of the things he is making a part of his life now as a result. 

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

Seriously?!?!  $1.99 for this amazing biography.  How can anyone with an e-reader not get this book?  This is perhaps THE biography on Bonhoeffer.  I’m simply shocked it’s only $1.99.

How Romans 8 helps Trip Lee

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quick Review of The God Who Makes Himself Known by W. Ross Blackburn

“Exodus is about knowing the Lord”. 

That is the central premise of W. Ross Blackburn’s book The God Who Makes Himself Known.  Blackburn believes that, “the Lord’s commitment to be known as God throughout the earth is the motivation driving everything he does in Exodus”. (209)  The implication of this belief, which also drives the content of the book, is that “If God’s people are to know him as he has made himself known, then the manner in which we approach the Scriptures is of great importance”.  (209)  Blackburn argues that we ought to consider Exodus within it’s canonical context. 

The book is divided into six sections corresponding to the flow of the book of Exodus.  The book begins with a focus on Exodus 6:3 and the name of the redeemer.  Then the reader is taken through the Israelites wilderness experience as a preparation for receiving the law.  In the fourth chapter the relationship between the law and the gospel  is considered.  The fifth chapter, which covers Exodus 25-31 looks that the detail of the tabernacle instructions and how they relate to the Lord’s passion to make himself known.  Then the golden calf and the theological problem of Exodus 34:6-7 is looked at in detail.  The book closes with the tabernacle construction and a brief conclusion. 

My Take

First of all, I want to mention that I love the New Studies in Biblical Theology series.  Eventually I would like to own the whole series.  I’ve found that as I’ve read through the various books in this series that it is much like seminary.  All of the professors are very knowledgeable of the material they are covering.  Yet some are great teachers and communicators.  Others have amazing material but are about as exciting as Jamie Lee Curtis selling diarrhea pills. 

Blackburn’s book is really good as far as the content goes.  And it is acceptable as far as presentation.  Honestly it is difficult to nail down.  When Blackburn is talking about the relationship of Exodus to mission it is exciting, helpful, and something that I could recommend to many people in our church.  But then at times he seems to get lost in the scholarship of the whole thing. 

His second major point—that we ought to do theology in accordance with its canonical context—is a fine point to be making but at times it seems almost forced upon the book.  In those sections I feel that only book nerds like myself and maybe other pastor/theologians would be interested.  That makes this book difficult to recommend to just anybody. 

If you are a pastor/theologian and you like the NSBT series then you’ll want to add this to your collection.  Blackburn makes tremendous points and brings out relationships in Exodus that will help in preaching, teaching, and personal study.  And at the end of the day that is probably more the intended audience. 

One of the arguments that he makes that I think is worth the price of the book concerns the relationship between the law and mission.  As Blackburn notes:

The content of the law, therefore, would serve to make the Lord’s character known to all who encountered it, whether Israel who heard it from Moses, or the nations who were to see it manifest in the life of Israel. In other words, whether concerning idolatry or the fair treatment of slave girls, specific laws would make a public statement concerning the Lord’s character.  (100)

There are laws that on occasion seem confusing.  Why does the Lord make a law about X?  Or why does he go into so much detail explaining Y?  Blackburn would argue that every detail and every specific law tells us something about the God that is very passionate about making himself known. 

Though you may need to wade a few technical discussion the book is well worth a purchase.  As is the entire series.

Today in Blogworld 8.23.12

Hospitality Outside the Church Matters

Last week I linked to an article about hospitality in the church.  Now at J.D. Greear’s blog we are encouraged to think about hospitality outside the church. 

Femininity: June Clever, Clair Huxtable, or the Valiant Woman?

I found this at DG a very interesting piece. 

When Tradition Trumps Truth

We’re all prone to it.  David Crabb encourages us to repent of loving our forms and traditions more than loving Christ and His truth.

50 Rules for Dad’s of Daughters

This is heartwarming, encouraging, and convicting.  If you’re a dad of a girl or might be someday you need to read this.  Even if you’re the wife (or might be the wife) of a dad someday read this and know how to pray/prepare for the man in your life.  (HT: David Murray)

My poor children.  I’m pretty sure I am this dad:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Biggest Problem With the SBCToday Critique of The Gospel Project

It could easily be argued that the Conservative Resurgence was a battle for the Bible.  We fought hard to ensure that Southern Baptists would continue to be a “people of the book”. Through those tumultuous years Baptists displayed that we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture. 

Fast forward to the year 2012. 

Calvinism and Traditionalism is all the talk within the SBC.  The Gospel Project curriculum from Lifeway has been one prominent locale for this battle to wage.  And that is my biggest problem with the SBCToday critiques, thus far, concerning The Gospel Project; it’s more about whether or not it’s written by those with Calvinistic convictions than if its biblical. 

As noted in an article yesterday the first substantive critique from Pastor Ralph Green is filled with logical fallacies.  What bothers me most about that is not the existence of logical fallacies but the prominence of the genetic fallacy.  The genetic fallacy is “committed when an idea is either accepted or rejected because of its source, rather than its merit.” 

The center of the argument so far has been that more non-Southern Baptist theologians (often Reformed) have been quoted instead of Southern Baptist theologians that are not Reformed.  Therefore, the material is Calvinistic and ought to be rejected by Southern Baptists that are not Calvinist. 

It has yet to be considered whether or not what John Piper says in a quote is biblically correct.  Or whether Matt Chandler is proclaiming the gospel and biblical truth.  Or if at this point Francis Schaeffer absolutely nails it.  No, what has been considered is whether or not they are Reformed.  And that bothers  me because it means that we are no longer “a people of the book” because our criteria for accepting or rejecting an argument appears to no longer be the Scriptures but a particular theological leaning.

If you go through the Gospel Project and honestly find that it is not biblically accurate or biblically dangerous then by all means lets reject it.  But if it proclaims biblical truth, exalts Christ, and promotes a solid biblical theology let us embrace it even if we don’t agree with every jot and tittle of the theology of every contributor and person quoted. 

Are we a “people of the book” or a people that are more concerned about someone being Baptist than biblical?   

Today in Blogworld 8.22.12

Serving People with Mental Illness

Thabiti Anyabwile links to a couple of videos and articles on helping people with mental illness.  These are worth your time to read and watch. 

Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical Middle Way?

Dr. Wellum and Dr. Gentry’s new book Kingdom through Covenant has caused a little stir in the evangelical world (primarily the Reformed slice of it).  I bought the book yesterday and hope to read it as soon as I can.  Here is an interesting interview that Matt Smethurst conducted with the authors.  (This one on JT’s site is worth reading too). 

Are We Together?

I feel like I’m only suggesting books today, but there are quite a few good ones that are releasing.  Read Tim Challies short review of Sproul’s newest book, Are We Together, on the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestant theology.  There is a video worth watching too.  You can buy the book here

A Few Sweet E-Reader Deals:

Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul only $2.99
Godspeed: Making Christ’s Mission Your Own by Britt Merrick only $2.99
Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter only $2.99
Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer only $1.99

Dr. Page and Dr. Mohler talk Calvinism at a recent SBTS chapel.  I’d love to watch this at some point today:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Should Declining Shepherds Do?

In 1800 John Newton felt his body failing him.  He was almost blind, he was becoming increasingly deaf, and his mind was not as sharp as it had been.  He wrote what he thought would be his last letter to his good friend William Bull.  In the letter he asks for Bull to pray for him, saying:

I have known good men in advanced life garrulous, peevish, self-important, with some symptoms of jealousy, and perhaps envy, towards those who are upon the increase while they feel themselves decreasing. 

Newton also had hoped that once the Lord had clearly “laid him aside” that he would graciously remove himself and rejoice at others that are beginning ministry.  Though never garrulous, peevish, or any of those other loathsome vices it does appear that Newton had a difficult time stepping aside. 

In 1804 he absolutely botched the wedding of his Bull’s son Thomas.  He had to stop and start over several times.  Even on occasion having to ask the congregation what he was supposed to do next.  Yet even up until 1806 he was still preaching though everyone seemed to be encouraging him against it. 

Newton kept a very strong opinion that he could still deliver sermons.  “I cannot stop.  What! Shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?”  But clearly he couldn’t still preach.  As William Bull noted, “Everybody else shakes his head and laments that he preaches at all…His understanding is in ruins, yet its very ruins are precious”. 

The old African blasphemer wanted to glorify God with every day of his life.  Even though he could barely see or even remember much he knew two things, “That I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior”.  He desired to be a fool for Christ until the day that he died.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to take from this little historical tidbit.  Part of me wants to say that we ought to follow Newton in being absolutely spent for the glory of God.  Even if we stumble and bumble through sermons because our mind and our eyes are shot if we are desiring to glorify Christ then he’ll use broken and weak vessels. 

But the other part of me thinks that Newton should have stepped down and that he wasn’t being a very good shepherd.  If a shepherds hands are so feeble that he can barely feed his flock wouldn’t it be loving to give way to a more apt shepherd?  Is it possible that sometimes the most God glorifying thing we can do is step down and let another take our place? 

What do you think? 

Today in Blogworld 8.21.12

Hospitality in the Church Matters

Danny Franks, writing for J.D. Greear, explains why hospitality really matters in the church.

A Pastor’s Monday

Jared Wilson has a book coming out soon called The Pastor’s Justification.  Tony Reinke has gotten his hands on an excerpt and shares it with us.  Pastors, if this book is anything like Jared’s other ones you will want to keep watch for its release.

What Todd Akin Should Have Said About Abortion and Rape

I assume you are familiar with Todd Akin’s unfortunate comments on abortion and rape.  I wish that he would have responded as Trevin does here. 

Ten Things About Church You Should Know (But No One Had the Guts to Tell You)

I found this funny from Kevin DeYoung.  Here he corrects a few spelling and grammar mistakes often made in church. 

Yeah, this does make me feel old

(HT: 22 Words)

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Need Your Help

Serious question.  If the title of this post were the subject of an email from me would your reception of it be different? 

I know my answer to that question.  A few days ago I received an email from someone that I love and respect.  I saw the subject line and my initial thought before I even read it was, “sure man, I’ll do what I can”. 

Then I read the email.  And the 50 other names that were connected to the email.  I still found myself wanting to help, but with much less vigor.  I went from a passion to do whatever it was that I could do to help out to simply saying something to the effect of, “If I’m able to get time I’d love to help out”. 

I really do not know why I would respond this way.  My level of passion for helping a guy out should probably be the same whether he asks 50 guys or just me.  But it wasn’t. 

The singular plea sounded like this: “I’ve got an issue, Mike.  I think you’d be great for helping out and solving it.  I need YOUR help.”

The group plea sounded like this: “I’ve got an issue fellas.  And I’m really hoping one of you chaps can help out with it.  I have no idea who that dude is going to be, but I figure one of you fits the bill.  I need your help.”

The first one makes me think that there is something in me that is called forth to help out.  I fit the bill.  I need to take this thing and help.  The other one makes me think that anybody could probably do it, somebody will do it, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be me. 

Perhaps this is selfish.  Maybe this doesn’t reflect a servants heart.  Chastise me in the comments—seriously, call me out if I’m totally off base here.  But I wonder how often our announcements and pleas for help in the “nursery” or cleaning bathrooms, or teaching Sunday school, or being on the finance team, or anything else, simply falls on the ears of nobody because they aren’t the somebody. 

I hope that thinking through my response to this email will make me a better pastor.  When we have needs within the church I want to pray and think through who I can personally walk up to and say, “I need your help”.  I’ve known this all along that you get far more response when you ask them personally.  I think now I understand why that is the case. 

Pat Robertson and The Benefit of Pondering

Last week Pat Robertson said some really dumb things.  (I responded.  But if you only read one article in response to Robertson, read Dr. Moore’s).  Robertson has sense (as I predicted) clarified his position and  let us know what he really mean to say. 

Aaron Armstrong has also made an excellent point in response to Robertson’s clarification.  As he notes, “Robertson should never have had to clarify his position in the first place”.  Had he heeded the numerous biblical warnings about the tongue then he would have not “given an off-the-cuff response to anything”. 

As I was reading through Proverbs this morning and thinking about how it relates to blogging I began thinking about Aaron’s article and the whole Robertson fiasco.  This Proverb especially struck me:

    The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
        but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
(Proverbs 15:28 ESV)

Think with me for a second about the “Ask Pat” segment of the 700 Club.  According to his retraction he, “on live television” simply “misstated” and “misspoke”.  What he was trying to say was that “adoption is not for everyone”.  Fair enough.  But here is the problem.  Those questions don’t just come in on the fly.  (And even if they did that would only prove my point more).  He has a chance to look over those questions before broadcast.  He either did and thoughtfully butchered his intentions or he decided that there was virtue in saying things off-the-cuff. 

I would put my money on the latter option.  It is common for those in the more charismatic and prosperity gospel leaning circles to put a great amount of stock in “on the fly” type of answers.  Apparently it’s better evidence that the Spirit is working and that the flesh isn’t present.  Something about preparation and thought always interferes with the Holy Spirit. 

Problem is that’s not what Scripture says.  According to numerous Proverbs we ought to give thought before we respond.  Fools and wicked people just let things fly off-the-cuff.  The wise and the righteous ponder how to answer questions. 

Lessons for Bloggers

In the world of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and comments it can be very easy to type out quick responses to either sincere questions or asinine comments and articles.  The wise blogger refuses to respond too quickly. 

It would be far better to tell an inquisitor that you want to think on his/her question for a few days than to just simply respond off-the-cuff.  Of course there are times when we can respond quickly.  You ask me a question about Royals baseball and I probably don’t need to think on it for days.  But I want to be careful not to be so prideful as to think that I’m wise enough to host my own "Ask Pastor Mike” session where I don’t have time to give thought to my responses. 

Slow down in your responses.  I’d rather “ponder how to answer” than be the wicked fool that just pours out error. 

Today in Blogworld 8.20.12

Gospel Lessons From a Humiliating Experience Last Week

Tim Brister really blew it.  Read his story and the letter he is sending to hopefully open the door for the gospel.  I admire his humility and repentance.  I’m encouraged by the Spirit’s work in his life.

15 Reasons Why The Greatest Suffering Is Better Than The Smallest Sin

I really like this article by David Murray.  If you could chose between “the tiniest sin imaginable, a sin that would bring you tremendous wealth and other material pleasures OR the greatest suffering imaginable, for rejecting that one tiny sin, which would you choose?  Murray gives 15 reasons why the latter is better.

Don’t Settle For Your Mediocre Preaching

Good, encouraging, and strong words here from Paul Tripp.

Trusting Christ Through Trauma

Patrick Schreiner, the son of one of my favorite seminary professors, Tom Schreiner, writes about the sovereignty of God in the bike accident that has hospitalized his mother.  Be praying for the Schreiner’s and also reflect on Patrick’s words here in this article. 

This is really touching:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Should A Church Be Good At Spotting Liars?

Tim Challies linked to an article a few days ago from Forbes.  The article is a summary/book review of Spy the Lie, a book from former CIA officers that teach the reader how to detect deception. 

As I read through this very helpful article I began thinking about how helpful such a book would be for a pastor or other church leaders.  Isn’t it true that “love believes all things”?  Isn’t it the Christian posture to hope and believe in people?  Is it really helpful to try to spot liars?  Or is it somehow sub-Christian?

I’m left wanting to ask “would Jesus buy a book on spotting liars” and then I realize that he wouldn’t need one because he knew what was in the heart of man.  So, what did that information do for him? 

What Did Jesus Do?

Consider the woman at the well.  Imagine that she was in your office and requesting a little help, maybe for some living water or something.  You tell her to have her husband come by with her and you guys can all have a chat.  She says, “I have no husband”.  Which, oddly enough, is one of the tells Spy the Lie.

If we aren’t good at spotting lies (even little white and uncomfortable lies) what we would do is simply proceed in helping the lady.  That’s all well and good and it’s great to be generous as a church.  But sometimes there are deeper issues that need to be addressed before true healing and help can actually take place. 

Furthermore, for every buck you spend on this lady that is one dollar that you cannot use to help somebody that is not feeding you full of bull.  I’ve had the painful experience of helping a woman out that was obviously scamming us.  She drained our benevolence account.  Then another lady called about an hour later with a legitimate need.  We were no longer positioned to provide assistance.  Had I been more thorough and better at detecting lies then we would have still had the resources. 

Jesus as we see in John 4 is able to see through the woman’s deceptive answer.  He plows right through ever facade that she puts up and gets to the deeper need in her life.  The story ends with her astonished that he was able to utterly expose her masquerade and that he must indeed be a prophet—maybe even the Christ. 

Should a church be good in spotting liars? 

If that means being tight-fisted and unbelieving and not having hope then no, it may be better to just be gullible and ignorant of people’s lies.  But if it means that seeing through lies may actually be the means to truly helping people, then by all means get a book like this and learn how to spot lies.  The very mask that the single mother in your office does not want you to uncover may be the very thing that is required for her substantial healing.

The goal of this post isn’t to get you to buy a book—but if you do think that a book on detecting lies may be helpful I think Spy the Lie looks helpful.

Today in Blogworld 8.18.12

Church Facilities: Holiness and Hospitality

This is really interesting to me because we too are continuously thinking through how we can be a community resource.  I think it’s cool that churches are beginning to think of their buildings/space in less possessive terms.

6 Reasons Why Mormons Are Beating Evangelicals in Church Growth

Mormons are growing.  According to many studies the evangelical church isn’t.  David French gives six reasons why that is the case.

Page Names Advisory Team on Calvinism

This is huge news in the SBC.  Dave Miller seems to like the formed committee.  Tim Brister isn’t as excited.  I’m still thinking and waiting to see what comes from it.

The Baptist Catechism w/Commentary from John Piper

I really want to begin taking my children through this.  I’d love to see this in print instead of PDF.  I know it sounds silly but I think I’d be more apt to keep it handy if it came in some sort of spiral binding or something.  Here’s a thought…print it out, buy a binder, make it into a “book”. 

This looks like something my friend Mike would build for his kids.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday is For Feeding Your E-Reader 8.17.12

This might be the last Friday edition of Feed Your Reader.  Some of these deals only last for a day or so and then they are gone.  I think you might be losing some deals.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter @mikeleake so that you can get daily deals.

I remember watching Jim Kelly play for the Bills.  I also remember cheering against him.  After hearing the story of he and his wife Jill, count me a fan.  Without a Word chronicles the story of Jim and Jill Kelly and their terminally ill and severely disabled son, Hunter.

only $2.99

The testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada is a phenomenal story of the gospel’s power.  You can get her biography, Joni

only $3.99

For some reason I want to buy this book.  I have no idea about it’s contents so if you buy it and it’s horrible don’t blame me.  But something about it is intriguing.  The author of The Toaster Project builds a toaster from scratch and chronicles his 9 month journey. 

Try it for $2.99

I haven’t read this one either but I’m intrigued by English History and so I may give this one a shot.  The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown.

only .99

This is a book of “little-known historical trivia that will enlighten and delight”.  Sounds like my cup of tea.  The Pocket Guide to Brilliance by Bart King

for $1.99

One of the books that I love to read to Isaiah and Hannah is The Jesus Storybook Bible.  Starting on August 28th, and if I pre-order it, I can do that on my iPad for

only $3.99

The Benefit of Spiritual Gifts Testing

For the last two days I’ve noted a potential pitfall to spiritual gifts testing.  (See here and here).  Though I think there are dangers to spiritual gifts testing I do believe they can be beneficial.  As I mentioned yesterday, our church does a 3 in 1 profile that considers personality as well as spiritual gifts.  Such tools can be helpful to the body in these ways:

  • If a foot thinks it is a hand you’ve got problems.  Though I’d rather have two hands and a confused foot that thinks its a hand over zero hands, I’d much rather have hands and feet do what they were created to do.  Gifts testing can help hands realize that they are not feet.
  • Empowering the timid.  Sometimes a person is convinced that they are of little use to the church.  Knowing that God has especially gifted them for service might empower them.  (Though I wouldn’t rely on that alone—there are gospel issues here that also need to be explored). 
  • A chance to glorify God in his diversity.  Usually arms think of the world through the perspective of an arm.  Spiritual gifts testing and discussions afterwards can help arms (and other body parts) glory in the diversity and wisdom of God.
  • A chance to realize who you are not and to rejoice in those that are.  For a guy like me that really stinks at organization it can be really wonderful to realize that some people actually thrive on such things. 
  • It provides an opportunity for cruciform love.  The “more excellent way” is to use the gifts that the Lord has given us to love and serve the body.  Knowing what that looks like gives you an opportunity to at times “lay down” your gifts for the sake of love.  And other times to fully use your gifts for the sake of love. 

For these benefits to really see fruition they will need to be cultivated in a culture:

  • where discipleship happens
  • where humble service is cultivated
  • where it is realized that these gifts test are not flawless, not a one time thing, and not defining (in other words—people change)
  • where they are not used as an excuse to not do the things that you are not gifted in.


The main point of this has been to say that whenever I look at the places in Scripture where spiritual gifts are discussed it is not primarily concerned with an attempt to figure out your giftedness or to help you figure out where to serve.  Spiritual gifts tests are helpful not necessarily to decide what ministry to be involved in but to help you will do the ministry that we’re all called to do. 

Pat Robertson vs. The Gospel

I wanted to title this article, “Remind Me Again Why People Still Listen to Pat Robertson”.  But as I thought about it I realized that this fits in rather nicely with the theology of a good number of American Christians. 

Yes, you heard him correctly.  Be careful when adopting children because they might have brain damage and “grow up weird”.  Guys ditching this lady aren’t dogs they are just smart men that don’t want to parent the United Nations.  You never know what has happened to the child.  You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems.  We help orphans but we aren’t going to have them into our homes. 

In the next few days you will see Robertson issue some sort of apology and say that he misspoke.  What he was really trying to say is that you do not have to accept responsibility that God has not given to you.  You aren’t a dog if you realize that you cannot handle the suffering of someone else.  You’re just human.  It’s great and wonderful for people that feel called by God to take in these orphans but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you aren’t comfortable or called to do it yourself.  I apologize for the way my words sounded but all I was really trying to say is be cautious when considering adoption. 

And all of Pat’s happy followers will wipe the sweat off their brow and say, “whew that was a close one, we were afraid for a moment there that Pat was a little off his rocker". 

Still a problem, though.

Problem is, even if (when) he offers some sort of similar clarification it will still expose his underlying…dare I say it…heresy.  Robertson only gets a hearing in a world/church that has bought into some form of the prosperity gospel.  Foundational to such teaching as Robertson’s is that suffering cannot fit in with the good purpose of God.  It’s just “weird”.  Suffering is my failure to utilize the divinely designed means of blessing. 

In a 700 Club world you don’t take up a cross and devote your life to caring for children with Down Syndrome without seeing any visible reward in this life.  You might see a story about a lady that cared for children with Down’s and somehow God healed the child, or somehow God blessed them financially, or emotionally, or spiritually.  (And all of those may be well and true).  But what you won’t see featured is raw in your face suffering that will only find redemption on the other side of glory.  As I’ve noted before, there’s no room for that in 700 Club theology.

Robertson’s advice is fundamentally “you’re not a monster if you choose not to suffer”.  Okay, I’ll give you that.  You aren’t a monster.  But you aren’t a disciple following the footsteps of a suffering Jesus either.  I can’t say it any better than Russell Moore:

I say to my non-Christian friends and neighbors, if you want to see the gospel of Christ, the gospel that has energized this church for two thousand years, turn off the television. The grinning cartoon characters who claim to speak for Christ don’t speak for him. Find the followers who do what Jesus did. Find the people who risk their lives to carry a beaten stranger to safety. Find the houses opened to unwed mothers and their babies in crisis. Find the men who are man enough to be a father to troubled children of multiple ethnicity and backgrounds.

And find a Sunday School class filled with children with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. Find a place where no one considers them “weird” or “defective,” but where they joyfully sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”

That might not have the polish of television talk-show theme music, but that’s the sound of bloody cross gospel.

So even though this guy makes our ears tickle can we please stop listening to him and instead follow the Man that didn’t have a place to lay his head some nights. 

Today in Blogworld 8.17.12

Some Basic Thoughts on Manhood: Confidence and Fear

This is a tremendous article from Thabiti Anyabwile.  It’s helpful for wives to read to understand and serve their husbands better.  It’s also a nice kick in the pants for men as well. 

The Shelf Life on Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

We’ve heard the phrase “preach the gospel to yourself” quite a bit.  It’s a good statement.  But does the actual practice have a “shelf-life”?  David Mathis offers an answer.

Gutsy, Grace-Filled Boldness

I don’t really want to spoil anything in this article.  I really appreciate Aaron’s last sentence in this article.  Read through to the end.

Why is TGC Complementarian?

Can of worms, meet my friend TGC.  Great article, great video.  Many have really balked at the stance of TGC on complementarianism.  Why would they make that such a huge gospel issue?  Here is your answer.

You know this isn’t going to end well, don’t you:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Other Reason I’m Not a Huge Fan of Spiritual Gifts Testing

Yesterday I noted that one reason I’m not a huge fan of spiritual gifts testing is because the church at Rome did not have Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  That’s another way of saying that I do not think the early church did ministry according to perceived spiritual giftedness but instead their overarching paradigm was to be united servants of Jesus and that looked different for different people. 

Okay, so maybe spiritual gifts aren’t quite what the early church did.  They also didn’t have electricity, microphones, padded seats or VBS.  You won’t find those things in the Bible but the Lord tells us to use our brains.  And we do have the whole canon of Scripture so we do have a list of all the spiritual gifts.  So using our brains and the whole canon of Scripture we’ve come up with spiritual gifts testing.  No harm in that, right? 

Why They Aren’t Simply Innocent

Well maybe not.  But I’m not convinced that spiritual gifts are so innocent.  One of the dangers to spiritual gifts testing is that they can create a culture where entitlement and self-expression becomes the goal of spiritual gifts instead of service.  Or maybe it may be better to say that given the wrong climate spiritual gifts actually further a culture of entitlement and self-expression rather than a culture of humble service. 

Consider Bonnie.  She takes her test and finds that she is gifted in music (drums precisely), teaching (mostly adults), and handling snakes.  Yet, the church already has a guy that’s been joyously bangin’ away at the drums for years.  All the adult classes have teachers—but we could use a little help with someone to help the kindergarten class with crafts.  And that whole snake handlin’ thing hasn’t happened in our Baptist church since ol’ Jimmy decided to play a trick on Reverend Jenkins by putting a brood of baby water snakes in the baptistry. 

So what does she do?  The Holy Spirit has confirmed that her role is to teach, bang on drums, and rid the church of snakes.  Does she combine her snake handling gifts with her desire to be a drummer and scare the dickens out of the present drummer with an armful of vipers?  Does she sit on the sidelines until a teaching position comes open?  Does she move to a different church that will appreciate her gifts?  Would the Spirit really gift her with things and then place her in a church where she can’t use all these things that she does well?

Yeah, he might.  And you see that’s the big problem with spiritual gifts testing.  Most people don’t feel equipped to help out with preschool kids.  And then they take spiritual gifts tests which mostly uncover your passion and confirm things you are already doing.  So Bonnie never serves the church and the little kids because “God has not gifted her to do it”.  She’ll wait until the Lord opens doors for her giftedness.

The Way Out

Now consider Clyde.  Clyde really isn’t sure what his spiritual gifts are but he loves serving the Lord in whatever capacity he sees a need or wherever you ask him to.  He knows little about planting flowers in the church parking lot, but you give him a shovel and a time and he’ll be out there helping.  He probably wouldn’t pass a spiritual gifts test for teaching but he’s taught little Millie all about John 3:16 and how Jesus loves her.  She wouldn’t have thought so a few months ago when he volunteered but Clyde has been the best assistant this seasoned Kindergarten teacher has ever had. 

You don’t get “Clyde’s” in your church by handing out spiritual gifts tests.  “Clyde’s” happen through an ever-increasing love for Jesus and His church that comes through discipleship.  “Clyde’s” happen because somewhere along the way somebody kept serving him and pouring the gospel into his life.  And his infatuation with Jesus shaped a servants heart. 

The way out of a culture that views spiritual gifts as entitlement and a means to self-expression is to blow it up and in place cultivate a culture of humble service and faithful discipleship.  Encourage your faithful servants to also be disciplers.  Even if it means showing a teenager how to turn on the baptistry. 

Create a culture where people know that what is needed isn’t performance and talent but a servants heart that will give it 100%.  Allow people to totally blow it in certain areas.  “Whew, maybe we’ve discovered that Clyde shouldn’t be the one to make the spaghetti sauce”, as everyone laughs about it knowing that Clyde will probably try his hand at garlic bread next week. 

Bonnie, by the way is still loading up snakes and plotting her ascent through the drum line. 


So spiritual gifts=the devil, right?  No. Not exactly.  In fact our church even uses them.  They can be helpful…come back tomorrow to find out how. 


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