Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Top 10 Yoda Does Disney Quotes

With Disney buying out Star Wars I thought it might be fun to picture Yoda speaking a few lines from famous Disney movies.  Here is the Top 10

  1. “Be with you anymore your mother cannot.”  From Bambi
  2. “Wish your heart makes, a dream is.” .  Yes, hmmm.  From Cinderella
  3. “Your conscience be your guide always let.”  Yesssss.  From Pinocchio
  4. "Hurt, the past can. But the way I see it, either run from it, you can, or learn from it." Hmmmm.  From Lion King
  5. "Faith and trust, all it takes is" From Peter Pan
  6. “For the sky do reach!”  From Toy Story
  7. “Oy!  Give you such a crick in the neck, ten thousand years will.” From Aladdin
  8. "What you do, hmm when things go wrong?  Oh!  You sing a song!"  Hmmmmmm.  Snow White
  9. The real trouble with the world too many people grow up, that is.  -Walt Disney
  10. When upon a star you wish
Feel free to have some fun in the comments…

5 Ways to Preach for Gospel Renewal

Tim Keller believes that our churches need gospel renewal.  One means to accomplish this is through the faithful preaching of God’s Word.  In his book, Center Church, Keller lists five characteristics that define preaching for gospel renewal. 

  1. Preach to distinguish between religion and the gospel.  “Critique both religion and irreligion”.
  2. Preach both holiness and the love of God to convey the richness of grace.  “Only when people see God as absolutely holy and absolutely loving will the cross of Jesus truly electrify and change them”. 
  3. Preach not only to make the truth clear but also to make it real.  “Present the beauty of Christ".
  4. Preach Christ from every text.  “Jesus is the ultimate point and message of every text”. 
  5. Preach to both Christians and non-Christians at once.  “Evangelize as you edify, and edify as you evangelize.” 

Keller’s book is filled with such helps and it is available for a limited time for only $8.99 in Ebook format

Today in Blogworld 10.31.12

“I’m Not Much of a Reader”

Jared Wilson shows why that is a lame excuse for not reading your Bible. 

Reformation Day Free Download

In honor of it being Reformation Day (the day when Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Door) today only you can download R.C. Sproul’s Luther and the Reformation

Embracing the Thorn That Bleeds You Dry

In a very vulnerable post Stephen Altrogge shares his struggle with anxiety.  I really appreciate pieces like this.  AS one who struggles with similar things myself I always find it encouraging when brothers and sisters in Christ hold on to Jesus in spite of the pain. 

Why Zombies Matter

There is a massive rise in zombie stuff.  Russell Moore explains why Christians ought to have some sympathy for zombies. 

This is cool for history nerds like myself.  Inside Calvin’s church in Geneva:

Should Churches Dream Like Steve Jobs?

Yesterday, I listened to a talk from Steve Jobs from 1983.  I’d encourage you to at least play it in the background or give it a skim listen at some point:

Did I mention that he gave this talk in 1983?!?!  In this hour he predicted the world that we live in today.  And he did it with passion and confidence.  It felt as if Steve Jobs had time travelled to the year 2000 and then went back to 1983 to tell people what he witnessed.  Amazing! 

As I listened to Jobs I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not churches ought to dream like Steve Jobs?  Jobs stood before these people and said, “This is what the world is going to look like in 10-15 years because of what we are doing at Apple”.  This got me wondering, should pastors stand before their churches and say, “this is what the world will look like in 10 years because of the impact of our church”? 

Maybe Not

My first instinct is to balk at the idea of a pastor or church speaking in this way about the work of God in their community.  There are several things that are different about what Jobs is doing and what a church is tasked with doing. 

For one, there is very little that is offensive about an Apple Computer (apart from maybe the price).  The gospel on the other hand is offensive.  Convincing someone of buying an Apple isn’t the same as convincing someone of the beauty of Jesus.  One requires the work of the Spirit the other is something that man can do. 

Secondly, the folks at Apple hand-picked the people that worked for them.  They only took the greatest of people.  The church is much different.  Christ does not look for the best and the brightest.  The church is not structured like Apple nor should it be.

Third, after I listen to this presentation from Steve Jobs I cannot help but marvel at the amazing Steve Jobs.  That seems opposite of what a Christian preacher ought to do.  James Denney was correct when he said, “No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time.  No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save". 

For these reasons and more I do not think it is wise to uncritically latch onto Steve Jobs’ passion and say, “church we ought to dream like this”.  People can build computers, only Christ can build His Church. 

At the same time, I do not think we ought to dismiss the passion of Steve Jobs.  There is something here that ought to be emulated. 


There is something about Steve Jobs that ought to humble churches.  He had a vision, albeit one created in his mind, to change the world.  He believed that dream so much that he “gambled everything on it”.  He gave his life to the vision of Apple.  He could talk about 10-15 years down the road because he knew that he was going to still be at Apple.  The average pastor in the SBC barely stays for two years in one place—so how can he dream about 10 years down the road? 

There is also something to be said about the fact that Jobs would not settle for something that did not fit his vision.  If it was not ready he was not going to roll it out and sell people garbage.  He had a dream and rather than settling for what could be done today he kept plodding until his vision became reality.  There is certainly a sub-biblical way to follow Jobs in this way.  Yet, there is also something to be said for not comfortably camping out in a world that doesn’t yet reflect the heart and mission of Jesus. 

This leads me to ask, why can’t we take God’s story and His mission and dream like Steve Jobs?  If God is working to fill the world with his glory by rooting out of his kingdom all sin and unbelief and replacing it with passionate worshippers then why can’t we be like Steve Jobs in seeing this “dream” come to fruition?  We might not be able to say, “in 10-15 years” but we can certainly say with confidence “this is the world that God is creating”.  And let’s be like Steve Jobs and not rest until God’s vision for the earth is accomplished. 

If a man can be this passionate and confident about a dream of computers why can’t believers be that confident and passionate about the sure promise of God’s redemption? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

3 Tips for Reading Scripture With Cultural Sensitivity

I am guessing that every student has experienced the unwelcome feeling of receiving a test and having no clue which answer to circle.  I remember one particular test that I took in high school that I simply used as an excuse to pay homage to AC/DC.   I didn’t know a single question—or even really look to see if I knew a single question—but I still managed to pull out a respectable F instead of an absolute zero. 

In his book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, Randy Richards tells of his experience in Indonesia.  Richards tells how a number of students left questions unmarked.  When probed as to the reason that they did not even make a guess the students replied, “I didn’t know the answer”.  Richards wondered why they didn’t just circle something, that way they would at least have a 25% chance of getting it correct.  To this they responded, “What if I accidentally guessed the correct answer?  I would be implying that I knew the answer when I didn’t.  That would be lying!” 

Richards confesses that his “American pragmatism had been winning out over my Christian standard of honesty”.  He, and coauthor Brandon J. O’Brien, use this story to remind us of the benefit of looking at the world through a different set of eyes.  Without their eyes we might be ignorant of the blindness of our own.  There are undoubtedly, cultural mores that we simply assume. 

So, how can you read the Scripture with cultural sensitivity?  Richards and O’Brien suggest three things:

  1. Begin with yourself.  Pay attention to your instinctive interpretations.  Ask three questions of the text.  First, “Clearly, this passage is saying (or not saying) ______ is right/wrong.  Second, Is (that issue) really what is condemned?  Thirdly, Am I adding/removing some elements? 
  2. Look for clues in the text you’re reading.  For example in Luke 6:1-9 the Sabbath is mentioned six times.  Clearly that is the focus of the text not eating or healing. 
  3. Read the writing of Christians from different cultures and ages.  In other words read Scripture with a different set of eyes than your own. 

Just because something is read through Western eyes does not necessarily mean it is wrong. In the same way just because someone from a different culture adopts a different interpretation it does not mean that they are correct and we are wrong; either way seeing something with a new set of eyes enriches our own Bible study. 

I have benefited from the work of Richards and O’Brien and I believe you would too.  (I hope to give a full review of this book within the next couple of weeks) 

Today in Blogworld 10.30.12

Macabre and the Christian Psyche

I really enjoyed this article by Patrick Schreiner.  Here he reflects on our cultures increasing fascination with death and darkness, and considers whether or not Christians ought to engage in the horror genre.

Kathy Keller Reviews Rachel Held Evans’ Year of Biblical Womanhood

I have yet to read through Evans’ book and honestly I doubt I will.  Kathy Keller is pretty hard hitting in this review. 

36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering

With help from Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes, Paul Tautges lists 36 purposes of God in suffering as revealed in Scripture. 

E-Book Deals (This Week Only)

Union with Christ by Michael Horton only 99 cents
The Kingdom and the Church by Michael Horton is also only 99 cents
Gospel Coach by Scott Thomas is $4.99

All E-books at Shepherds Press are only 99 cents. 

I really enjoy rock music combined with orchestra.  Here is Nirvana with a full orchestra:

What If Toto IS in Kansas?

I am in the wonderful position of receiving a ton of free books from publishers in exchange for a review.  Lately I have read, or at least skimmed, a good number of books on missions in a “post-Christian” world.  Many of these books are written by guys that are ministering in a bigger city.  They are encouraging us to stop trying to do ministry as if we still live in a “Christian” world.  Just as Dorothy woke up in Oz and discovered that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore, so also churches need to wake up and realize “we aren’t in Kansas anymore”. 

That is really good advice.  Helpful.  Mostly…

Unless you actually do live in Kansas*.  If that is the case such advice is really not helpful because you are being taught how to do ministry for postmodern people living in New York City and not a dairy farmer mending fences.  “Stop doing ministry like you live in Kansas”, is bad advice to some guy that is actually living in Kansas. 

Honestly, this is why I have found many of the modern books on missiology mostly unhelpful.  Very rarely do they offer even a paradigm that I am able to grab and say, “yep, that’d work in my city…I mean town…I mean village”.  If I really want to make use of the ideas I have to do some serious work to adapt them.  Of course this is okay, but if I’m doing so much work perhaps I should cross their name off the front cover and pencil in my own. 

The best of these books will acknowledge that they are not intended to be cookie-cutter solutions but to give principles to apply to your own setting.  The very best of these books will go one step further and actually help you figure out principles to apply in your own setting.  (Ed Stetzer’s Breaking the Missional Code is helpful in this regard).  Unfortunately, a vast majority of them do not offer such encouragement. 

A Black and White Kansas or a Colored Oz

The town in which I minister is weird.  It is largely German Catholic.  Yet those numbers are diminishing.  This is brought on not only by the growing ecumenical Protestant influence but also the growing atheistic population.  Jasper is beginning to feel a little more like a city.  Yet, even still it is surrounded not by suburbs but farmland and other rural communities. 

Jasper, Indiana is not largely a post-Christian community.  It is mostly a culture inundated with what Christian Smith calls a moralistic therapeutic deism.  It is a sentimental, almost folkish, version of Christianity.  But for the most part people still have their address as “Kansas”.  In other words if I went knocking on every door in our neighborhood most people would self-identify as Catholic/Christian. 

Therefore, if our church began treating Jasper, IN like Seattle, WA we would miss the boat.  Seattle, WA is probably rightly labeled “post-Christian”.  The Jasper, Indiana’s of the world are not quite there yet.  (Certainly not the New London, Missouri’s where I ministered before).  This is not to deny that the lure of the city is not present.  The city influences television, music, and many other things that rural people devour on a daily basis.  We are not immune to the post-Christian world of the city.  Yet, we are not there yet nor can we begin ministering as if we are. 

Therein lies my main concern.  Many ministers are being told “you are doing it all wrong by thinking you still live in Kansas”.  They are told that they need to start ministering to the post-Christian world in which they live.  And indeed they need to be prepared for that and that ministry to the city needs to be in their repertoire.  But if they are still living in Kansas then they need to minister like they are in Kansas. 

Listen, if we devote our times to studying the human heart through doing battle with our own we’ll be equipped to exegete any culture.  If we devote our time to knowing the Christ that transcends all cultures we will learn to lovingly proclaim him to people of any culture.  This is not to say there is no value in really attempting to understand the perspective that our neighbors are coming from.  But isn’t that just being a good neighbor and a good listener? 

This may seem overly simplistic but I am increasingly convinced that if we simply concern ourselves with truly loving people and being enamored with Jesus we’ll be able to minister in the black and white world of Kansas and the technicolored world of Oz. 


*If you really do live in Kansas I’d offer my condolences. But I will not, because you’d never read them, since I doubt you have the internet yet. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Preach With the Seamstress in Mind

I am a fan of NBC’s Parks and Recreation.  Towards the end of last season the main character, Leslie Knope, was running for councilwoman.  In one particular episode Leslie goes bowling to win votes, particularly the vote of a guy named Derek that said he would not vote for her because she “doesn’t look like someone who bowls”.  Leslie bends over backwards to get this guys vote.  In fact she ignores every other vote in the bowling alley in the hopes of winning the vote that seems to be forbidden. 

As I think about this episode I cannot help but wonder if we preachers might be guilty of this on occasion.  Charles Spurgeon warned against something similar in his classic work Lectures to My Students.  Spurgeon reminds young preachers to “not make minor doctrines main points” as well as to “not paint the details of the background of the gospel picture with the same heavy brush as the great objects in the foreground of it”. 

I know that on occasion I have been guilty of doing this very thing.  It can be tempting to spend a majority of your sermon trying to win over that guy that you know disagrees with your point.  You become like Leslie Knope and have tunnel vision.  Your attempting to win over those in the room that hold a contrary position on a minor point and so you spend an inordinate amount of time parsing secondary doctrinal issues. 

Spurgeon reminds the preacher to keep the “godly widow woman, with seven children to support by her needle” in mind when you preach:

…if you preach to her on the faithfulness of God to his people, she will be cheered and helped in the battle of life; but difficult questions will perplex her or send her to sleep. 

Spurgeon is not saying that we ought never to preach on things that may not be of immediate practical importance to the needle-worker.  But he is saying that the greatest force of our preaching ought to be on announcing the good news of the gospel and not wading through, or creating, a theological quagmire. 

Preacher, preach with the seamstress in mind and don’t worry so much about winning theological arguments from the pulpit. 

Where is Jesus in Judges 19?

I find myself reading through Judges 19 this morning and my heart absolutely breaking.  The story is one of the inhospitality and wickedness of the men of Gibeah.  Just as in the story of Sodom the men of the city desire to have sexual relations with a male visitor of the city.  Instead of allowing them to devour his guest, the Levite, the hospitable sojourner throws out the Levites concubine and “they knew her and abused her all night until the morning”.

The story ends with dead concubine grasping at the threshold of her masters door.  Actually, though her life ends there her story does not.  This Levite proceeded to take her body and cut it up into twelve pieces—one for each of the tribes of Israel.  This provoked a great civil war against the tribe of Benjamin. 

I cannot read this story without using a little imagination and thinking through the horrors of that night for this concubine.  Just days before she was in her father’s house enjoying his hospitality.  Now she endures the horrors of a world gone bad.  She is the victim of “everyone did what is right in his own eyes”. 

After reading through the story I had a chilling thought.  How would I preach this text?  Even more difficult of a question—how would I preach Christ from this text? 

Where is Jesus in Judges 19?

Nowhere.  And that is the problem. 

The book of Judges is a massive downward spiral of rebellion.  The books major theme is that “there is no king” and so “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.  Even in Judges 19 we see the sojourner telling these “worthless men” to “violate” and “do with [my virgin daughter and this concubine] what seems good to you”.  Apparently, what seemed good to them was a night of rape and abuse. 

The purpose of Judges is to show how desperately the people needed a king.  Better still, the people  needed a righteous king that would lead people into true worship of Yahweh.  The immediate context of Judges 19 shows that the people have committed horrible religious apostasy.  This is reflected not only in this cruel case of rape but also in the lack of hospitality.  God created man to live in a loving community that reflected the Trinitarian unity.  This is the exact opposite of that.  Rather than experiencing the self-sacrificial love of the Trinity--what Tim Savage calls a “perpetual flow of boundless affection”--people in the book of Judges were self-centered and did what they figured would benefit themselves. 

Judges shows what happens when man is left to do what is right in his own eyes.  As the book of Judges closes the reader is left longing for this righteous king.  Where is the King?!?! 

We know through the rest of the Old Testament that the Israelites were eventually led by kings.  Some of them righteous and some of them worthless.  David was the best king that was a man after God’s own heart.  But even David had failures.  David was but a pale image of the glory that would be found in one of his sons; namely, King Jesus. 

Dominated by the Empty Chair

In his book, Reforming Marriage, Douglas Wilson makes the argument that the husband finds himself in “inescapable leadership”:

He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of his wife.

Some homes are “dominated by the empty chair at the table”.  In the same way Christ holds a position in the Scriptures of “inescapable leadership”.  Please do not read more into my point than I am attempting to make.  What I am saying is that everything in the Scriptures are about him.  When you see him present in the Gospels it is obviously about Jesus.  But even in places like Judges 19 the passage is dominated by the “empty chair”.*

The text screams out for rescue.  The dead concubine, with her hand grasping the threshold, cries out for rescue as well as justice.  That will not come through an earthly king.  Only when Christ the King comes will Judges 19 find an answer.  For he is ushering in a kingdom not only of perfect community (marked by hospitality) but also a kingdom that protects and cares for women instead of throwing them into the hands of worthless men. 


*I am not for one second attempting to say that Christ has some how abdicated his leadership and that he is as a deadbeat father or husband.  I am only using the power of the “empty chair” to show how even in his absence the Lord Jesus dominates the Scriptures.

Today in Blogworld 10.29.12

Free Martin Luther Biography

DG keeps churning out free biographies.  This free ebook features five chapters on Luther’s life including relevant lessons from his life.

Will Social Media Decide the Next President?

A reader of our blog emailed me this interesting infographic.  

Missouri Baptist Convention Live

I am no longer a Missouri Baptist but I still love Missouri and Missouri Baptists.  Their annual meeting is being held this week.  This year’s pastors conference looks pretty stellar.  Check out some solid preaching today.  

“Much More”: The Gospel as Middle and Better Way

“The gospel is not a bare minimum thing.”  Jared Wilson explains why and shows, as he typically does, how the gospel is superior. 

Who better to teach you about growing a mustache than Ron Swanson?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The “C” Word

Recently I attended a parachurch gathering where a handful of teenagers told about what God was doing in their life through this organization.  It was a pretty fun evening and it honestly helped me to see how much of a heart I still have for teenagers.  Listening to them talk really stirred up in me a desire for solid discipleship among teenagers.  One verse that kept stirring through my head was this one:

…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

I am still not certain if I want to assign the full weight of that verse to my experience.  In the context this is speaking about the watered-down faith of the “last days”.  It also ends with the injunction to “Avoid such people”.  That is a strong word, so I am a quite reluctant to assign the full force of this verse to what I witnessed at this event. 

What made me think of that verse was the fact that it took a good hour for me to hear the name of Jesus, and it was only at the closing prayer did I hear “Christ” being used.  Numerous times I heard “God” thrown around as their helper for getting through difficult stuff.  I heard about how amazing this camp experience was where they got to learn about their friends, learn about themselves, and learn about God. 

Call me a doctrine nazi if you want, but when I’m at a Christian event for an hour without hearing the name of Christ my spidey-senses start to tingle.  And I’m not sure that is necessarily bad.  It reminds me of James 2 where we see that even the demons believe that “God is one”.  Demons are perfectly content throwing around the term “God”.  But it’s when we attach it to YHWH or Jesus the Christ that they begin to shudder. 

I find most people are somewhat comfortable with the god of moralistic therapeutic deism.  And so it’s nothing for them to throw around the term “god”.  Also in recent days there has been an influx of “Jesus is my homeboy” type of shirts.  So, it means very little nowadays for people to throw around the name of Jesus.  What most people are uncomfortable with are referring to God as “The Lord” and Jesus as “the Christ”. 

That is why I listen for the “C” Word.  Certainly, people can refer to Jesus as the Christ and not really know what they are saying.  Some might use it as a term of derision other might think it’s the last name of that hip-bearded guy named Jesus.  But if somebody is very reticent to use the term “Christ” it makes me a little uneasy. 

What about you?  Does it cause you a little concern if you never hear the name of Christ?  Am I weird here? 

Husband’s and “Honey-Do’s”

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.    (John 13:1-4 ESV)

There is a massive amount of theology and application in this text.  As I am reading it this morning, though, Jesus is teaching me how to be a better husband.  Jesus models for me how a husband ought to serve his wife.  Not only by what is there but also by what is NOT in this scene. 

If I Painted This Scene

This story would be different if it was reflective of my level of service to my wife.  Jesus would still wash the disciples feet.  He would even do it for those that sinned against him.  But there would have been a sentence added to the story that goes something like this:

“During supper, and after waiting for a lengthy period of time, Jesus noticed that Frank the Footwasher was not on duty that day.  The disciples feet were getting pretty rank, so somebody was going to have to wash them.  Jesus, being the humble servant that He is, decided that He would be the one to wash them.” 

You see I do a somewhat decent job of reactionary serving.  Maybe not immediate reactionary serving, but I do respond when things get a little out of hand.  I’ll sit for as long as I can but at some point I realize that it is time for service.  When dishes pile up in the sink and buzzards start hovering over the stank of our van I decide that it is probably time to kick in and start being a servant. 

That is not, however, following the footsteps of Jesus the Servant. 

The Scene As It Is

There is no mention of Frank the Footwasher in this text.  Even if there were it would be of Jesus giving him the night off.  Jesus was not a reactionary servant.  Jesus was an intentional servant.  He did not see an out of control need and then hop to the occasion and call himself a servant.  He served before there even was a massive need. 

He came to the feast that night with the intention of serving.  This is modeling for me not only how to be a good disciple, or a good leader, this is modeling for me how to be a good husband.  Husbands that follow the footprint of the Master do not sit around and wait for a “honey-do” list, they create their own.  Lord, help me to be a better servant to my wife.

On an unrelated note, I’ve got to go clean out my van.  If I don’t come back for a couple days send somebody to get me out…

Today in Blogworld 10.26.12

12 Things To Do When You’re Criticized

“We will all be criticized at one time or another. Sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Sometimes others’ criticism of us is harsh and undeserved. Sometimes we may need it. How do we respond to criticism?”  Mark Altrogge gives 12 helpful responses to criticism. 

The Mourdock Moment

I appreciate this piece by Dr. Mohler.  As he so often does Dr. Mohler cuts through the spin and provides helpful biblical truth and counsel. 

What We Can Learn About Preaching from ‘Parks and Recreation’

Dr. Moore discusses a recent Parks and Rec. episode that he found boring.  I too found it boring and borderline offensive (because it mocked a valid position).  I normally love the show but was really disappointed by this one.  Dr. Moore uses it to teach us a lesson about preaching. 

Propaganda: Giving the Puritans a Bad Rap

Dr. Joel Beeke is an authority on the Puritans.  I was waiting to hear if he would respond to Propaganda’s song on the Puritans.  He has.  Check out his reflections. 

Haven’t had a chance to watch this yet but I intend to.  My favorite professor, Dr. Schreiner, preaching on Acts 20:17-38 in chapel:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Idiots Guide to Week 8 #NFL Predictions

9-4 last week.  I almost got my 10 wins but the Lions didn’t show up to play on Monday Night.  I picked the close Cowboys and Panthers game.  Blew it on T.Y. Hilton.  I was correct about the 7 Viking sacks but wrong about the Cardinals win in spite of it.   No Tebow.  No Eli injury.  Nate Washington did have a 4th quarter TD for the win.  McFadden almost had 100 yards.  Arian Foster was a stud but not as studly as Chris Johnson.  This week I’m feeling some upsets:

Bucs over Vikings
Bears over Panthers
Browns over Chargers
Lions over Seahawks
Packers over Jaguars (somehow it’s close though)
Colts over Titans
Patriots over Rams (in OT)
Jets over Dolphins
Eagles over Falcons
Steelers over Redskins
Chiefs over Raiders
Cowboys over Giants
Saints over Broncos
49ers over Cardinals (blowout)

Fantasy stud of the week: Michael Vick
Fantasy sleeper of the week: Titus Young

Other crazy picks:

It’s going to happen eventually, Titus Young finally shows up
Chris Johnson surprisingly shutdown by the Colts D
Weeden leads a 4th quarter game winning drive after a Rivers pick
Vick rushes for 100 yards, throws for 300, and has 4 total TD’s
James Harrison knocks RG3 out of the game
Peyton can’t hang with Drew
Jamaal Charles scampers for 200 yards
Romo leads a 4th quarter comeback
After this week everyone on ESPN will be asking, “What is wrong with the Patriots?”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today in Blogworld 10.24.12

Brothers, We Are Not Professors

Great word here from R.C. Sproul.  “Our seminaries, if we must have them, should more reflect a training hospital than a university.” 

A Christian Voters Soldiers Entangled in Civilian Affairs?

That’s a great question.  Check out Thabiti’s answer.

Dozens of Free eBooks is an amazing website.  They are also churning out a ton of ebooks.  You’d benefit from downloading any of these.

6 Warning Signs We’re Becoming Accidental Pharisees

“I’ve found that becoming a modern-day, accidental Pharisee is a lot like eating at Denny’s. No one wants to go there. We just end up there.”  Larry Osborne shows how we end up there.

You could probably call this one Redneck pumpkin’ carvin’.  Awesome!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Depression Is Your Calling

Very challenging words here from John Lockley:

If [God] had said, “Go out and preach…”, you’d have gone. If He’d said, “I want you to be a missionary,” you’d have gone…But because he has said, “Sit there and be depressed for a bit, it will teach you some important lessons,” you don’t feel that it is God calling you at all…do you?

Do you remember Naaman, who wanted to be cured of his leprosy? (See 2 Kings 5). If he had been asked to do something glorious he would have been happy. Because he was asked to bathe in the murky old Jordan he wasn’t so keen—yet this was God’s plan for him, and it cured him. God ahs better plans for us than we have for ourselves—unfortunately, as we can’t see into the future, we don’t always appreciate just why God’s plans are better. With hindsight it’s somewhat easier.

However strange it may seem to you, God wants you to go through this depression---so look at it positively, not negatively. What does he want you to learn from it? What can you gain through it?

When you begin to think in this fashion your guilt feelings start to drop away. You can begin to understand that what is happening is part of God’s plan for you—and so your depression is not a punishment from God. You are actually where God wants you to be, even if it is emotionally painful. To put it another way, if God wants you to go through this it would be wrong for you to avoid it, wouldn’t it?

This will go against every fiber of belief of some people.  Yet, I ask that you humble consider it and let it rattle around in your heart and mind for awhile.  Just as martyrdom is the calling of some I have to wonder if enduring various illnesses to the glory of God might also be a type of calling. 

I grabbed that quote from David Murray’s excellent book Christians Get Depressed Too.  That is perhaps the most helpful book on depression that I have read.  

Today in Blogworld 10.23.12

The Bible is About Jesus

Matt Emerson does a tremendous job of showing how all of Scripture is about Jesus.  I appreciate what he is saying and what he is NOT saying. 

A Few Sweet E-Deals

True Community by Jerry Bridges is FREE for a limited time only
Pillars of Grace by Steven Lawson is only 99 cents.
Awaiting a Savior by Aaron Armstrong is also 99 cents. 
The Art of Neighboring by Pathak and Runyon is FREE TODAY ONLY
Amazing Grace by Timothy George is only $3.03

Vote Doofus!

Tremendous piece from Mark Altrogge during this political season.  I am continuously amazed at believers that mudsling during political season.  You might not like President Obama or Mitt Romney and their policies but you are still commanded from Scripture to honor them.

Athletes Turn to Lecrae for Rap Inspiration

Some athletes, like Jeremy Lin, have touted Lecrae as their musical inspiration.  This caused Jared Zwerling to search out Lecrae and try to learn more about his music.  Here he interviews the Christian rapper.  (HT: Challies)

Speaking of Lecrae…

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Band You Need to Know

I am always looking for good music.  If you like good music then you need to be exposed to a band from my home state of Missouri called The Corners

One of the members, Jeremy, was a young man that I had the opportunity to get to know well when I was a youth pastor in Missouri.  Jeremy loves Jesus and he’s a talented musician.  He’s dedicated his life to using his musical gifts to proclaim the excellencies of Christ.  His band, The Corners, are releasing their first studio album and I’ll be happy to get a copy. 

Check out the band:

You can also support these guys by going to their Kickstarter campaign page. If for some reason thad video doesn't play on your computer then go here: The Corners

Why I Am Thankful For Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Mike Leake

In more than one place it has been recommended that writers ought to frequently “Google” themselves.  I do not do that.  First of all, it just sounds weird and not something that a follower of Jesus ought to be doing.  Secondly, I don’t benefit from “Googling” myself.  You know why?  Because for the first hundred or so pages I have to read about a Cincinnati Reds pitcher that stole my name. 

Apparently there is a feature on that Google machine where you can type in your name, your website, or really any keyword search and then get email updates every time somebody posts something to Al Gore’s internet with those words.  That would frustrate me to no end.  I would get double digit updates every day of someone writing an article on Reds pitching or stealing clothes from Macy’s.  So this little feature that is supposed to help writers would do very little for me if I searched for my own name. 

And for that I am very grateful. 

I know my own heart.  I know that I can become far more conscious of how the world views me, than how the world views Jesus.  Every time I got an email update about some chap interacting with something I wrote, my head would either swell with pride or my ego would be dashed by their criticism.  Left unchecked my heart has a tendency to “think more highly of myself than I ought”.  Which of course is firmly opposed to Paul’s exhortation to “not think more highly of yourselves than you ought”. 

The fact that I am the lesser Mike Leake is very beneficial to my soul.  Of course I would prefer that more people were concerned about articles lifting up Jesus instead of rambling on about a guy throwing a fastball or his slider getting rocked.  But I’m okay if that happens apart from my name—as it inevitably will.  I am glad that I cannot constantly monitor what the internets think about my writing.  This way I can just faithfully plod along and hopefully have a heart more like Paul’s that was far more concerned about the kingdom and mission of Jesus than he was about counting his own baptism numbers. 

So, thank you other Mike Leake.  Keep rockin’ that fastball.  Or not.  It really doesn’t matter because as long as you are playing in the MLB and I’m just faithfully preaching the gospel the world will value you far more.  And that’s cool with me because my treasure is secured elsewhere.  Of course, I think it’d be awesome if Christ captivated your heart and that way the greater Mike Leake and the lesser Mike Leake would both be representing Christ to the world.  You through your fastball and me through my writing and preaching.  But until that day I remain grateful that you keep my heart in check by your Google domination. 

Today in Blogworld 10.22.12

The Cure for Backsliding

Last week Joe Thorn gave 25 symptoms of backsliding.  Today you can read about the cure for backsliding.

How I Forgot the Gospel

I found this to be a tremendous piece from Jon Bloom.  I completely understand what he is struggling with in what he calls “gospel fatigue”.  It’s a real danger with the gospel-centered movement to rest in the “movement” or the “center” and not the Christ of the gospel. 

The Apple Argument Against Abortion

Justin Taylor uses the logic of Peter Kreeft to argue from a non-controversial premise to a controversial point.  If only we still used logic these days…

Theological Interpretation and Sermon Preparation

Adam Embry adds to the article that I wrote on Friday.  He lists a few questions that should be asked of each horizon (textual, epochal, canonical).  Adam’s article here really furthers the discussion and I’m grateful for his work.  Every expositor ought to cut and paste these questions and post them to your wall for sermon prep. 

Arriving at church starved for God:

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Pious than the Bible

I am working on the finishing touches of my book, Torn to Heal: The Good Purpose of God in Suffering.  One of the difficulties that I am having is in determining how strong to use language in relation to God’s sovereignty over suffering.  I find great comfort and encouragement from D.A. Carson:

Some theologians are shocked by and express bitter reproach against other theologians who speak of God ‘causing’ evil in any sense.  At one level, they are to be applauded: everywhere the Bible maintains the unfailing goodness of God.  On the other hand, if you again scan the texts cited in this chapter, it must be admitted that the biblical writers are rather bolder in their use of language than the timid theologians! 

Little is gained by being more ‘pious’ in our use of language than the Bible is, and much may be lost.  By being too protective of God, we are in fact building a grid out of only a subset of the biblical materials, and filtering out some of what is revealed in the Bible about the God who has so graciously disclosed himself.  The result, rather sadly, is a god who is either less than sovereign or less than personal, either incompetent and frustrated or impassive and stoical.  But the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is utterly transcendent and passionately personal.  These are among the ‘givens’ of Scripture, and we sacrifice them to our peril. (How Long O Lord?, 199-200)

Pray for me as I continue writing this book.  Pray that the Lord would rescue me from being a timid theologians that attempts to be more pious and wise than the Bible itself.  Pray that the Lord would help me to trust the sufficiency of His Word and to point people to the only means of healing for suffering there is; namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.  People will not be helped by neat theology.  Nor will they be helped by muddy theology.  People will only be helped by theology that exalts Christ and leads to union with Him. 

In Defense of a Christ-Centered Hermeneutic OR A Reply to Dr. Eric Hankins

Yesterday, Dr. Eric Hankins wrote a piece for SBC Today concerning The Gospel Project (TGP) and Christ-centered homiletics.  Hankins, recently read the dissertation of Dr. Jason Allen.  Allen, is the new president of MBTS.  Hankins was intrigued because Allen’s dissertation was on contrasting human author-centered hermeneutics of Walter Kaiser with that of the Christ-centered homiletics of Edmund Clowney and Sidney Greidanus.  Hankins was actually surprised that Allen sided with Kaiser and “is calling into question the conventional wisdom of ‘Christ-centered’ hermeneutics”. The point of the article seems to be to question the hermeneutic behind TGP. 

It will be my argument that it is not The Gospel Project’s hermeneutic that Dr. Allen is critiquing.  At the end of the day he might.  I do not know.  But I am going to make the argument that the Christ-centered hermeneutics that Hankins critiques is nothing that I have been exposed to, nor is that which he critiques the Christ-centered hermeneutic that is present in TGP. 

I will readily admit that my exposure to Greidanus and Clowney is limited.  I am also fairly limited in my exposure to Kaiser.  Perhaps that is why what Hankins said seems nothing like the Christ-centered hermeneutic that I employ and it sounds nothing like that which I find in The Gospel Project.

The claims that are foreign

Hankins takes several jabs throughout this piece.  They seem to be directed towards the Reformed community.  Caught in the crossfire of these jabs are the writers and editors of The Gospel Project.  I will highlight a few of these jabs.

Hankins refers to those that “pry texts out of context to put in theological presuppositions”.  While I am certain that there are those out there and even those that employ a Reformed Christ-centered hermeneutic I have not been widely exposed to that.  In every class that I have taken and every book that I have read on this topic it is continuously drilled in us to keep the text in its context.  At Southern to accuse someone of eisegesis is like accusing someone with musical taste of being a Justin Bieber fan. 

Dr. Hankins then proceeds to say that such eisegesis will insure that “every text might preach Calvinism”.  That is simply a ridiculous claim.  Sadly, some Calvinists are guilty of this.  But that which I have been exposed to in Christ-centered homiletics and within the pages of TGP such a claim is insulting. 

Throughout the article it is implied that those that use such a hermeneutic are not concerned with taking seriously authorial intent.  At one point he even accuses of “ignoring authorial intent” and “allegorical manipulation”.  Again, everything that I have been exposed to make a huge deal out of the original authors intention.  Goldsworthy, Wellum, Schreiner, and a host of others within the movement abhor allegorical manipulation. 

Lastly, Hankins accuses Matt Chandler of saying that the story of David & Goliath “has nothing to say about faithful living”.  I watched the video three times and did not find Chandler saying that.  Or even implying that.  He is not saying that the Bible is NOT to be used to discern how to live.  What he is saying is that the Bible is not fundamentally a to be sued to discern how to live.  There is a difference between those two statements.  And that is Chandler’s point in the David & Goliath video. 

What Hankins critiques in this article is not the Christ-centered hermeneutic that I am familiar with.  Nor, do I believe that it is that which is employed by the writers and editors of The Gospel Project.  Might some of the writers have been influenced by Greidanus & Clowney?  Perhaps.  But by and large I see them being more influenced by Criswell, Spurgeon, Broadus, and others.  In fact I see the vision of The Gospel Project something similar to the methods employed by those like Dr. Stephen Wellum.

In Defense of a Christ-Centered Hermeneutic

Stephen Wellum argues for interpreting Scripture through three horizons.  The first is the textual horizon.  This is where the interpreter attempts to discover what the original author is seeking to communicate in their texts.  Authorial intent and meaning is the first horizon. 

The second horizon is that of the epochal horizon.  Here the interpreter attempts to read the text in light of where it is in redemptive-history.  This assumes that Scripture is a progressive revelation.  This is not seeing the Bible as made up of different plans or epochs but that there is a unity within Scripture and revelation unfolds in time.  The key here is to see intertextual relationships and to “read texts in light of what has preceded them in reference to God’s redemptive actions and plan”.   

The third, and final, horizon is that of the canonical horizon.  If we are to take serious what the Bible actually is (a unified story) then it demands that we view it in its canonical context.  Therefore, every text ought to be understood in relation to the entire Canon of Scripture.  Wellum argues that “to interpret a given text of Scripture in its linguistic-historical, literary, redemptive-historical, and canonical context”. 

The argument being made for those promoting Christ-centered hermeneutics is that in some form or fashion the central motif of Scripture is the activity of God in providing redemption through His gospel.  Regardless, of how specifically it is worded the argument of those promoting such a hermeneutic are saying that Christ is the center of the revealed Word and everything points to Him (and his redemption) in some form or fashion. 

Exodus 23:19

One commenter on Hankins’ article asked how in the world Exodus 23:19 could be applied to Christ.  I doubt that I would ever choose this as a single passage to preach on, but if for some strange reason I did, here is in sum how I would point it to Christ. 

First, we have to consider the original context (the textual horizon).  Moses’ original intention is quite simple.  Don’t boil a young goat in its mothers milk.  Why did he say that?  Some believe that it had to do with not participating in a Canaanite magical practice.  Others see that it’s a reversal of the created order.  As noted in the ESV Study Bible, “the young goat should drink its mother’s milk and gain life from it, not be cooked in it”.  So, simply put in the text Moses’ intention is to tell the Israelites not to do this particular thing because it inverts the created order. 

But that commandment doesn’t come from nowhere.  It’s found in the middle of a story… 

Secondly, we have to consider its epochal context.  This command is originally given to the Israelites.  We know from the Exodus accounts that the Lord is calling Israelite out from among the Egyptians and other peoples for the sake of blessing them but also as a means to proclaim Himself to the nations.  Part of this means that they must live different from the rest of the world.  So, if this is a Canaanite magical practice then they need to model the ways of YHWH and not the feeble Canaanite gods that really are no gods.  If this is because of an inversion of the created order (which I think it is) then the Israel is to be an accurate representation of the God that redeemed them.  The God that redeemed them out of Egypt is a God that values created order.  Children should be cared for and nurtured by their parents.  As image-bearers of a loving Father this was to be reflected in the redeemed  community. 

But the story doesn’t stop with Moses and the Israelites.  It points to something far greater…

Lastly, we consider its canonical context.  The Israelites were to be image-bearers.  Even down to reflecting God in the way that they boiled goats.  Everything they did in their community was to reflect the Lord.  But as we know from the Bible they did not do that.  We also know that all of humanity is called to be image-bearers.  And just like the Israelites we also fail to accurately reflect God.  We choose instead to worship and serve creation instead of the Creator.  We follow Adam’s suit, as did the Israelites, in spreading our own sinful and rebellious images to the nations. 

Thankfully, Christ came.  Christ is the true Israel.  Christ is the second Adam.  He does what Adam, Israel, and we could not do.  He accurately represents God.  He perfectly obeys the Lord.  Humanity likes to invert the created order.  If our hearts were pure that command would not need to be there.  But it is, because our hearts tend to love what we should hate and hate what we should love.  Christ came to overturn that.  Christ came to provide redemption. 

If I were preaching this sermon (again I doubt I would) then I would be more full in my explanation of what Christ has done.  I would also probably discuss how because of Christ we reflect Him differently in our community than we do in these specific Israelite community laws.  But I provide this here just so that you can see how using these three horizons you can preach a Christ-centered sermon from that text. 

Would Moses be ticked off about that and say, “That’s not what I meant in that text?”  I doubt it.  Because I was faithful to his original command.  I also placed it within its progressive story.  And lastly I showed how Christ fulfilled the command.  Moses wouldn’t be upset by that—he’d be astounded that the One that they were looking for accomplished every piece of the Law even down to reflecting God in the way goats are boiled. 

Today in Blogworld 10.19.12

Teaching Christ from the Old & New Testaments

The idea of teaching Christ from the Old & New Testaments is not a new concept to Southern Baptists.  Nor is it an exclusively Calvinistic practice.  This method of teaching the Scriptures has been around from the beginning of SBC life.  Ed Stetzer shows that a Christ-centered hermeneutic is really just “seeing things in light of Christ”.

I Might Not Vote for Mitt Romney

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has removed Mormonism from its list of cults.  Joe Carter provides a good summaryBart Barber (in the above linked article) explains why he might not vote for Romney because of this.  Dave Miller, who will probably still vote for Romney, also weighs in

Blind Spots and Lane Changes

Blind spots in driving make lane changes exceedingly difficult and dangerous.  Thabiti Anyabwile says the same thing is true theologically and in leadership. 

The Man Behind

John Hendryx is the founder of (He’s not the founder of Monergism—because that would be the Lord).  I have greatly benefited from the site and if you have as well you’ll enjoy this interview. 

Piper at his best:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Idiots Guide to Week 7 #NFL Predictions

A gain I posted a stellar 8-6 record last week.  I called the Raiders game being close.  Picked the Browns upset.  If not for recovering his own fumble Schaub would have turned the ball of 3 times.  Haden did a stellar job against AJ Green.  But I wasn’t totally right on my picks.  The only thing Trent Richardson did was hurt his flank.  Andrew Hawkins and Titus Young barely even showed up.  And Ryan Fitzpatrick was about as big of a stud as Steve Urkel.  This week I’m gunning for 10 wins.

49ers over Seahawks (blowout)
Bills over Titans
Browns over Colts (I think this is just wishful thinking)
Packers over Rams (I want to pick a Rams upset)
Cardinals over Vikings
Giants over Redskins
Saints over Bucs
Cowboys over Panthers (close though)
Texans over Ravens
Raiders over Jaguars
Patriots over Jets
Steelers over Bengals
Lions over Bears (upset of the week)

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Arian Foster
Fantasy Sleeper of the Week: T.Y. Hilton

Other Crazy Picks:

2 TD’s for Steven Jackson
Somehow the Cardinals win despite 7 Vikings sacks
Darren McFadden 2 TD’s and over 200 total yards
Pats dismantle the Jets (Tebow plays the 4th quarter)
T.Y. Hilton goes for 100 yards and a score
Matt Hasselbeck gives up 4 turnovers
The Lions DST puts up 30 fantasy points with 2 scores
Nate Washington has a big game (just b/c I’m playing him in my FFL)
Eli Manning leaves the game with a freak injury

Today in Blogworld 10.18.12

Should Leaders Create Controversy

Aaron Armstrong offers a partial response to an article by Steven Furtick.  Should leaders create controversy?  Interesting question.  I appreciate Aaron’s thoughts here.

The Psychology of Resentment

I preached on this a little last night.  Great article by Dane Ortlund on identifying the cause of resentment and soaking up realities to conquer it.

John Piper Will Vote

A few people have written articles on why they will not vote.  Others have written articles on why you must.  I appreciate Piper’s words here.

How Much Discipleship Ought We Do BEFORE Baptism

This is not a response per se to my article on baptism.  However, it is part of the discussion that has been taking place at SBC Voices and a few other places.  Dave Miller makes a compelling biblical case for baptism upon profession.  At the end of the day I think we are arguing much the same thing.

Nobody Dies Early:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Soiling My Garments

Occasionally it seems that the Lord will turn up the fires of conviction.  Though it is very painful at the time it is actually a very good thing.  There are times in my life when the Lord puts the immensity and the odiousness of my sin before my face.  I really do feel as Newton’s wretch. 

In these times it can be tempting to think that grace does not apply to a supposedly washed and redeemed sinner.  Of course if I were a new believer or even better still an unbeliever then the overwhelming presence of sin in my life would not be shocking.  It would be understandable.  But not with me.  I’m a pastor.  I have been saved for even longer than the last time the Royals had a winning season. 

In these times I hear the voice of the Accuser.  In really dark times his angelic voice sounds just like the Lord.  “You’re dirty, Mike.  You’ve blown it.  How can you even call yourself a Christian and still have such pride in your life.  What kind of man are you?  You aren’t much of a husband.  You’re guilty as a father.  Your blowing it as a pastor.  Your prayer life stinks.  Your not reading enough Scripture.  Your dark.  If you want to be accepted by the Father, you’ve got to clean yourself up.  You know that He’s holy.  You know that He can’t look upon sin.  You have sin in your life.  He cannot look upon you.”

I feel like Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3. 

I’m standing before the Lord with filthy clothes.  I can’t deny it.  Neither can He.  Like Joshua the High Priest I’m supposed to be clean.  I’m not supposed to be wearing clothes covered in unclean excrement.  But I am and I’m covered in shame as I appear before Him.

The Accuser has a case against me.  I’m supposed to be holy but I’m not.  And so he lobs his flaming arrows at me.  “Is this really your child?  Is this really someone that you’ve supposedly ‘saved’?  Look at him!  He’s filthy!  He’s blackened!  He’s disgusting!”  

In times like this I’ve taken great solace from Charles Spurgeon’s exposition of the Lord’s response to Satan:

“Satan says, ‘the man’s garments are filthy’,’Well,’ says Jesus, “how do you expect them to be otherwise? When you pull a brand out of the fire, do you expect to find it milk-white or polished?” No, it had begun to crack and burn, and though you have plucked it out of the fire, it is in itself still black and charred. So it is with the child of God. What is he at the best? Till he is taken up to heaven, he is nothing but a brand plucked out of the fire. It is his daily moan that he is a sinner; but Christ accepts him as he is: and he shuts the devil’s mouth by telling him, “Thou sayest this man is black — of course he is: what did I think he was but that? He is a brand plucked out of the fire. I plucked him out of it. He was burning when he was in it: he is black now he is out of it. He was what I knew he would be; he is not what I mean to make him, but he is what I knew he would be. I have chosen him as a brand plucked out of the fire. What hast thou to say to that?”

The Lord knows my frame and He remembers that I am but dust.  Furthermore, He knows that my excrement covered righteousness isn’t what matters anyways.  As far as my standing goes I have the clean garments that the Lord has given me.  And those are an already, but not yet.  In one sense I soil those new clothes every day.  And so I am still living in the “not yet” of total redemption.  But in another sense those righteous garments are fully mine and absolutely secured for me.  They can’t be soiled because the righteousness of Christ cannot be sullied.  It’s in the purity of His garment that I can rest even when the Accuser, rightly, reminds me that I’m blackened by sin. 

This fits quite well:

Today in Blogworld 10.17.12

7 Cautions for Eager Polemicists

Kevin DeYoung writes a fabulous piece here on the dangers of polemics.  Polemics are a “necessary virtue for Christians in so far as Christianity believes in the immovability and central importance of truth.”  But it comes with danger and DeYoung is faithful in showing those dangers.

4 Ways to Write with Style and Grace

Taking his queues from Joseph M. Williams, Trevin Wax draws out four helpful pieces of advice on writing with style and grace.  Read Trevin’s article and consider purchasing Williams’ book.  

25 Marks of a Backslidden Christian

Borrowing from Richard Owen Robert’s book Revival, Joe Thorn lists 25 marks of a backslidden Christian.  Powerful stuff.

God Created Food and Sex for Believers

Thought provoking piece by Tony Reinke.  “Sexual pleasure is too earthy. Enjoying delicious food is too unspiritual.  That’s a two-point outline for a demonic sermon that has no place in any church…”

Why Oprah and Brad Pitt rejected Christ but you shouldn’t:

You’ve Got to Pull Up the Roots, Man

On Monday I introduced a new series here at Borrowed Light.  It took off like a herd of turtles.  We received a whopping ZERO illustrations.  That’s okay.  Regardless of whether or not you join me in the comments I am going to trust that some people will privately do the exercise of trying to find gospel illustrations.  Today I’ll share my illustration from this video:

I am pretty confident that I have been like this dog before.  The problem that he is finding is that the thing on the surface is attached to a much stronger root system that is not easily visible.  I’ve done this with idols in my life.  I have been like this dog by foolishly thinking that a particular sin is merely an easily handled stick that I can just clamp my teeth into and move around where I want it. 

There are some surface idols that I might be able to do this with.  But whenever these things are attached to much deeper roots they do not move so easily.  If I really want to “move the stick” then it needs to be uprooted. 

Anger is a good example of this.  If I set about controlling my anger I will be just like that dog pulling at the stick.  It’s not going to easily move because it has much deeper roots.  Anger is a surface response to deeper inner turmoil.  Anger happens whenever something below the surface is on the throne of my heart.  If I want to control my anger then I’ve got to get out a shovel and start discovering and hacking at the root system. 

Don’t be like that dog and live your Christian life in frustration because you never get to the root issues.  Christ came not only to conquer the surface problems but to absolutely redeemed the root system.  I’ve written some in the past on idol destruction.  This video shows the need for it. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Should We Baptize Upon Profession?

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water!  What prevents me from being baptized?” 

No membership class.  No onlookers are mentioned.  No period of seeing whether or not this Ethiopian was serious about his profession.  All that we have in this context is a gospel explanation by Philip, a chariot driver, and “some water”.  Therefore, churches ought to follow Philip and baptize people upon profession.  Right?!?! 

Not so fast. 

I’ve had to think through this question in recent days.  First I’ve had to think of it because I believe that there are many people within our churches that have said a prayer, given a few correct answers, and then took a bath at church.  Upon this bath they are now told that they members of the church.  Within the Southern Baptist community that means something.  It means that we as a church are standing behind your profession and as it were saying to the Lord, “We believe this person is a disciple of Jesus”. 

Yet as the days, and months, and years pass this church-bather is no longer faithfully following Christ.  This is a problem.  As Mark Dever has rightly noted, “Uninvolved members confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian”.  Therefore, many churches agree with Dever that we need to,

…guard carefully the front door and open the back door.  In other words, make it more difficult to join, on the one hand, and make it easier to be excluded on the other.  Remember—the path to life is narrow, not broad.  Doing this, I believe, will help churches to recover their divinely intended distinction from the world.  (What is a Healthy Church, 105)

Doesn’t this seem to fly in the face of the practice of the New Testament church?  Does it seem that Philip was making it “difficult to join” in the life of the Ethiopian eunuch? 

That is the conundrum that I find myself dealing with.  While I fundamentally agree with Dever, I cannot help but consider the early church practice.  And I know our tendency to make the pendulum swing from one extreme to another.  In our effort to curb careless baptisms and spiked churched membership numbers I do not want to be equally guilty of withholding baptism from someone that knows Christ and legitimately desires to follow Him in this ordinance.  So which is it?  Do I baptize upon profession as it seems to have been the practice in the early church?  Or do I follow the wisdom of Dever and others within church history?

Context is Key

The truth is that I do not have to pit one against the other.  We need to consider the context of the early church compared to that in America.  Here you can profess Christ with very little ramifications.  Saying “Jesus is Lord” can be very empty rhetoric. Those words are not fruit of conversion. They can, in our context, just be an empty profession. 

In America (especially in the South) people will get baptized just to please their dear old grandmother.  That is not the case in other contexts.  Where persecution is ever present, as it was in the New Testament, saying “Jesus is Lord” is tantamount to saying, “I’m identifying with Jesus—take all my worldly goods and lop off my head if you must, but I’m following Him”. 

That’s not our context.

Our context is probably closer to that of John the Baptist in Matthew 3 when he called the Pharisees and Sadducees to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance”.  In contexts where false professions seem to be running rampant, or when it’s beneficial to profess Christ, it is necessary that we be very cautious about not giving someone false security. 

My solution

Be very faithful in preaching the gospel as Philip did to the Ethiopian.  Be certain that the people that say, “I want to be baptized” really know what that means.  Not only that they know baptism doesn’t save you but also that they understand Who does save you.  Make sure that they can articulate the gospel and that their life is showing a different trajectory as it concerns sin and the beauty of Christ. 

You don’t need to see a shiny and polished life to proceed with baptism.  What you do need to see is that the profession comes with a changed trajectory.  If you see evidence of that and they can decently articulate the gospel then I believe we ought to believe their profession and proceed with baptism.  Love calls us to “believe all things”.  We ought to lean towards believing a profession rather than dismissing it. 

Yet, we also must remember that even with the apostles unbelievers were baptized (see the case of Simon the Magician).  Keep the back door open.  The more faithful a church is in proclaiming the self-denying gospel and the more a church practices biblical church discipline the less that church will have to worry about false professions.  But they still happen.  And no amount of caution will prevent that. 

Today in Blogworld 10.16.12

5 Responses to the Problem of Evil

Michael Patton shows how there really doesn’t need to be an intellectual problem of evil from a Christian perspective.  It is an excerpt from his book coming out in 2013, this chapter is on Pain and Suffering. 

The Politics of Trust

Trevin Wax reflects on the political season.  He analyzes the partisan mind and the politics of trust.  He hopes for a third way. 

Introducing New City Catechism

I have not had the opportunity to check out this catechism yet but it looks to be very helpful.  There is an iPad app as well. 

50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Justin Taylor shares the list of fifty writing essentials from Roy Peter Clark’s book Writing Tools.  Helpful for every writer—and I think the whole book might be worth purchasing at some point. 

A Bilingual Adventure.  If you have little kids and have ever been forced to endure Dora the Explorer, you’ll get a kick out of this:

SBC CP Giving Curmudgeons (Part 2)

Yesterday afternoon I reflected on a sad picture that Jon Acuff posted.  I closed by promising to answer this question:

If an entity no longer serves the local church should they continue giving to that entity? 

That is admittedly, a sticky question, and one that I believe hinges on the meaning of the word “serves”.  It seems to me that the chief purpose of the entities is to serve the kingdom of Christ through serving and strengthening the local church.  We give to the CP to build the kingdom.  The beneficiaries of that giving then go about doing the work of the kingdom through this partnership with local churches.  

We continue to give even when a slice of that kingdom might play the drums a bit too loudly.  Let’s be honest here.  Every one of us could probably point to something within the SBC that we would like to see change.  We could all put our own “drums too loud” on the bottom of our voided CP checks.  But we don’t do that because we have decided that the mission of the kingdom is much bigger than those petty squabbles. 

I am a Calvinist.  I believe that the kingdom is better served and built through embracing the doctrines of grace because I believe that is what the Scriptures teach.  I also know that the entity head of SWBTS opposes Calvinism.  Yet, I have never, nor will I ever, because of this issue seek to divert money away from SWBTS.  As long as they are affirm the BF&M, actively promote the gospel, and train ministers to proclaim Christ then I will gladly partner with them even if we disagree on the doctrine of election. 

Refusing to give money over this issue is about as petty as a curmudgeon voiding a $75 check because the drums were too loud.  I understand that one is a matter of doctrine and one is a matter of personal preference.  But they are both third tier issues, which are differences that can be held between two people and still worship together in the same local assembly.  Therefore, refusing to give for such differences is petty. 

Being “served” by an SBC entity does not mean that they are doing things the way that you want to.  It does not even mean that you are directly influenced or impacted by these entities.  What it does mean is that you share a mutual concern for advancing the kingdom of God. They serve you by doing the same work that you are tasked with doing.  They don’t serve you by putting on a show that you like.  And you don’t give to the CP to advance the kingdom as you want it to look.  You give money to the CP to advance the kingdom as the Lord sees fit at this present time using the broken vessels that He is at present deciding to use. 

When would it be okay to shifts funds away from an SBC entity?

When they abandon the gospel or Baptist distinctives.  Anything else is as petty as a middle school boy taking his ball and going home because the game isn’t going quite the way that he wants it to. 

Pastor, if you are encouraging your people to divert money because of personal preferences and tertiary doctrinal matters then you are training them to do the same under your ministry.  Do not be surprised when carpet color become more important than community.  Model for your people how to partner even while you disagree. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

SBC CP Giving Curmudgeons (Part 1)

Recently Jon Acuff, of Stuff Christians Like, posted this sad picture on his site:

That is a photo of a voided check for $75.00.  It looks as if this curmudgeon was going to give 75 bucks to the church but decided that he’d void the check and keep his money because the drums were way too loud. 

This might be a reasonable response at a movie theater or some other form of entertainment, but this is absolutely unacceptable for a church.  You do not give money to your church to reward them for entertaining you, helping you, or pleasing you.  You give money to your church so that as a collective group you can accomplish the work of the kingdom of God. 

If this chap wants to complain about the loud drums then he should find some other means to do it.  Yes, sadly this is an excellent way to be heard.  This a tremendous way to make a point because churches depend on faithful givers to not only keep their doors open but to further the mission of the church.  But this guy has it backwards.  He thinks that the church is there to serve him; by that I mean that he believes that everyone gathers each week to watch the show and they pool their resources so that they can watch an even bigger show next week.  (Sadly, in some churches maybe this guy doesn’t have it so backwards after all). 

I think about every pastor would be appalled by such a thing…but what about on a denominational level? 

CP Curmudgeons

Part of the beauty of the Southern Baptist Convention is the Cooperative Program (CP).  The CP is a way that all SBC churches can pool together their resources for the sake of furthering the kingdom of Christ.  Whenever you give to an SBC church a good chunk of that money will go to the CP.  From there it will be used for international missions, state missions, local missions, seminaries, children’s homes, and a host of other SBC agencies. 

The SBC is structured in such a way that every church is locally autonomous.  That means that seminaries, state officers, national officers, etc. do not have any authority in the local church.  The President of the SBC cannot tell any SBC church what to do.  It is quite frequently, and rightly, said that the SBC entities are in position to serve us—the local church. 

What happens, then, when an SBC entity (that CP dollars go towards) “plays the drums too loud”? 

If a local church, usually through the leadership of her pastor, believes that an entity is no longer serving them they can allot their giving in such a way that money will not be given to those entities.  This happened many times during the days of the Conservative Resurgence when local churches believed that some of the entities were promoting liberalism instead of the gospel.  Churches can become like the curmudgeon in the photo above and refuse to give money because they do not like the direction of the entity.

Of course within the SBC any church is free to give however they desire.  They can do whatever they want.  The question I am concerned with is whether or not they should.  Come back tomorrow morning and I will attempt to answer this question:

If an entity no longer serves the local church should they continue giving to that entity? 

You Make the Illustration: Dog Pulling Up a Root

Charles Spurgeon was the master of sermon illustrations.  In his helpful Lectures to My Students he devotes five chapters (105 pages) of his work to the the importance of using good illustrations.  At one point he encourages ministers to train themselves to look at a thing and attempt to make as many sermon illustrations as possible.  He says:

…do try with all your might to get the power to see a parable, a simile, an illustration, wherever it is to be seen; for to a great extent this is one of the most important qualifications of the man who is to be a public speaker, and especially of the man who is to be an efficient preacher of the gospel of Christ.  If the Lord Jesus made such frequent use of parables, it must be right for us to do the same.  (Lectures, 463)

I want to do that.  And I think you should to.  That is why I am beginning a new weekly piece at Borrowed Light.  Every week I will post a YouTube clip (or something similar) and give you a couple of days to give an illustration in the comments.  After a couple of days I will post an article giving my illustration from the selected clip. 

You do not have to be a “preacher” to comment and give illustrations.  I urge everyone to watch the clip and give an illustration.  Who knows if we get a good response to this I might even be able to throw in some free books on occasion. 

Without further ado here is this weeks clip to consider for an illustration:

Today in Blogworld 10.15.12

A Few Sweet E-Book Deals

Awaiting a Savior by Aaron Armstrong is only .99
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller is only 2.99 (get this one if nothing else)
Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous is 2.99 TODAY ONLY

Only One of These is True

Dane Ortlund compares LeCrae’s Don’t Waste Your Life to a teeny-bopper song by One Direction (which I assume is popular but I don’t listen to this stuff so I have no clue). 

Matt Chandler on Gospel Culture

Matt Smethurst interviews Matt Chandler on his latest work (with Eric Geiger and Josh Patterson), Creature of the Word.  It’s a great book and the interview should help convince you of that. 

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Chill Out

Stephen Altrogge gives us a few shocking statistics (made up of course) and then drives home a solid point that parents need to chill out.

I literally LOL’d on a couple of these:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...