Thursday, January 31, 2013

People You’ve Probably Never Heard of But Should: Bertold of Regensburg

I have decided to resurrect an old series, giving a brief biography of people from church history that deserve a wider audience. Today I’m tackling a dude that I had never heard of before.

Bertold of Regensburg (also known as Berthold of Regensburg or Bertold von Regensburg or just plain ol’ Bertie) was a passionate preacher during the high Middle Ages. He was born sometime around 1220 in a town called Regensburg—hence the name von Regensburg.

Bertold was a Franciscan monk. In his twenties he set about as a preacher. He often preached against the excesses of his day. He was commissioned by Pope Urban IV to embark on a preaching journey to call heretics back to the faith. It was a sort of preaching crusade.

Some estimates have Bertold preaching to over 200,000 people at times even being called to preach in the open fields. Because his audience was so vast and diverse he spoke of contemporary matters in the common tongue.

He died in 1272, having retired from his preaching tours and living out the rest of his days in his Franciscan monastery.

Why You Should Know Him:

I cannot read German and I have only been able to get my hands on a few snippets from his sermons. I cannot commend his theology because I do not know it. I am not in a position to comment on whether he was an evangelical or not. Nor can I say whether we would benefit from his sermons.

Yet, I am intrigued by Bertold. He has been called by some the “Whitefield” of his day. One has to wonder if the simplicity and earthiness of his preaching did not in some way plant seeds of the Reformation. Certainly his wide appeal and methodology of calling common folk to repentance and confession would have influenced others. It is not a stretch of the imagination to envision those that he shaped being influential in the lives of some men like Wycliffe or Hus a couple centuries later. 

Further Reading:

There isn’t much out there. There is a 620 page book including his sermons that is edited by Franz Pfeiffer.

You can listen to an audio recording of one of his sermons in Middle High German. (This shows his influence. The fact that someone was able to time-travel to record him and decided to record him instead of others is telling).

There is a homepage of Berthold von Regensburg but it is in German. You can do the Google Translate and it helps some.

There are a few books out there on the social impact of Bertold. But again they are in German.

Nerd Assignment:

Do any of my readers know German? Can you get your hands on a few of these free books on Google (like this one) and tell me about this dude’s preaching. What can we learn from him? Did he plant any seeds of the Reformation?

Come back next Thursday to learn about Basil the Great…

Grabbing Twitter by the Ears

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.

I’m convinced that Twitter has left many people smarting from wicked dog bites. Most of its ever flowing content is nothing more than a passing dog. Many, myself included, have tugged on this old passing dogs ears and gotten bit in response.

That’s the thing with grabbing a dogs ears.

You can really give yourself the impression that you’ve got this pit-bull mastered. You might even have a pretty sweet ride for a moment. But eventually he’s going to wiggle those ears free and he’s going to be ticked off enough to bite you.

With Twitter all it takes is holding down the Shift button and a strike of the @ button to convince yourself that you are significant.

But beware when you enter into a quarrel that’s not your own. You might ride it with joy for awhile but eventually your soul is going to get bitten. It might breed in your heart factionalism. Perhaps pride. Or if we’re lucky, God in His grace, will expose us for the posers that we are.

Of course this isn’t to say that there aren’t rabid dogs that ought to be grabbed by the ears and wrestled to the ground. But let’s be honest with ourselves, a good chunk of what we spend our time arguing about is nothing more significant than a passing dog. It only becomes a big deal because we were dumb enough to grab it by the ears to have a little fun or make a name for ourselves.

Next time you enter into a quarrel—even a little spat on Twitter—ask yourself whether or not it’s really a dog worth fighting*.


*That’s not a shout-out to @MichaelVick.

Today in Blogworld 01.31.13

When Christians Let Us Down and Get Us Down

Great words here from David Murray on Christians and hypocrisy.

Illustrated Puritans

I am very excited about this project. The Bruised Reed will be the first selection in this new illustrated Puritans series.

Pastor Selling His Library

Jared Moore is selling over 350 books at a pretty decent rate. Check out his books and buy a few to help this brother out.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Here is one explanation:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hump Day Humor: Self Defense Classes

No need to pay money for self-defense classes. There are plenty of great ones online for free.

Like this one from Monty Python in case you are ever attacked with fruit:

Or when you have a dangerous perp like this one:

Please Stop Banging Out Only One Gospel Note

There’s a great quote by Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. He had a church that he was the pastor of and some came to him and said, “Pastor, why is it that week after week after week all you ever preach to us is the gospel?” – implying that “we’re ready to move on to something else. Certainly we know this by now.” Luther’s response was, “Well, because week after week you forget it, because week after week you walk in here looking like a people who don’t believe the gospel. And until you walk in looking like people who are truly liberated by the truth of the gospel, I’m going to continue to preach it to you.” And, until his dying day, he did.

That’s a quote from a Derek Webb house show. Here’s another similar Luther quote:

“So essential is it, that we must first know it well ourselves, preach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

These words from Luther are great justification for preaching the gospel continually. It is true, we never move away from the gospel. I appreciate the gospel emphasis of such men like Jared Wilson. He always finds ways to strike different chords but essentially proclaim the gospel.

But I have to be honest. There are some popular blogs that I’ve largely stopped reading. I know they are pretty solid. The article I skip will certainly be something good about the gospel. But if I am being honest I am bored.

I’m bored because they are beating the gospel into our heads continually but they are only playing one note. “Jesus saves us from the law!” “Jesus gives us freedom from works”. “Jesus is better than religion”. It’s the same note. Over and over and over again. It’s a good note. A necessary note in the beautiful gospel tapestry. But by itself it’s incomplete.

I agree with Luther that we need to bang the gospel in our heads continually. But the gospel is more than one note. Let’s be certain that we are playing all of the notes. The gospel is multi-faceted. There is an eternity in Jesus for us to exult in. The gospel is not only that Jesus frees us from the law. There is not a legalist under every bush. Nor is the gospel’s sole task to rescue us from legalism.

Forgive me if I sound like a big Sponge-Bob Grouchy-Pants. My main intention in writing this is to encourage a generation of gospel-centered writers and preachers to intentionally bang the drum on every gospel note.


We are cheapening the beauty of the gospel if we only emphasize one particle of it. There is enough in Jesus for you and I to write a world full of books. No need to be fixated on one aspect.

Let’s get to work playing the full gospel song.


After a conversation with a dear friend I realized that I ought to clarify a bit. I’m not intending to say here that there aren’t seasons when we need to emphasize a particular point of the gospel that is being neglected. What I am saying is that even in those times we have to be cautious not to make everything about that one-note.

What I am against is diminishing the multi-faceted gospel into that one issue.

Today in Blogworld 01.30.13

How John Piper Responds to Death Threats

Interesting that Piper once had a death threat. There is much in here to learn even if it never comes to a death threat. It’s usually the everyday things of pastoral ministry that confronts our courage.

Brooks, Baseball, and Battles Among Believers

Rut Etheridge III thinks that maybe it is we that are blowing it and not the Puritans: “Errors and excesses notwithstanding, the writings of these bygone worthy servants of the King still serve to shepherd souls toward sincere, active, studied simplicity of faith in the all-sufficient Christ.  And at the end of the day, and for all eternity, isn’t that what pure joy is all about?”

The Freedom of Being a Nobody

I’m sensing a trend. There have been many articles recently about resting in obscurity. (Maybe this is just something the Lord is doing in my life and I”m just noticing it more). Stephen Altrogge is celebrating the freedom of being a nobody. I appreciated his reminder.

Only Once in About 30 Days

I’m not very good at personal evangelism. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in my struggle. But I’m also encouraged by Thabiti Anyabwile to press on and get better.

I want to meet this dude:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Breakup Letter to @Rhapsody

Dear Rhapsody,

This isn’t working anymore.

I’d love to give you the classic line that “it’s not you, it’s me”. But I cannot. It is you. We were together back in 2008 when you were still known as Miss Yahoo. It was a difficult transition but we stuck together.

I have always loved that whenever I want something you can quickly deliver. Your fees are not exorbitant. Especially, since you stuck it to iTunes and allow me to download whatever I want and listen to it on my iPod or iPad without an internet connection. I still love you for this. But that’s it…

I’m leaving you for Pandora.

She is smarter. When I tell her that I don’t like a song she doesn’t continue to play it. You do. I don’t know how many times that I’ve told you I don’t like T.D. Jakes’ theology or his Marvin Gaye-esque love ballads. I don’t like anything that even sounds like country music. I don’t like cheesy Christian music. I like folkish music like Mumford and Sons but this doesn’t mean I dig Judy Collins. Pandora gets that. You don’t.

We fought for years trying to establish a decent “My Rhapsody Channel”. I’ve come to believe that you just do not understand me like Pandora does. Add to this your recent problems with buffering and lag and I have had all that I can handle. I’m no longer paying you to fill my office with crappy music.

We’re breaking up. I’ll miss parts of you but I’ll be happy to never have to listen to T.D. Jakes romancing me again.

Cutting ties,

Mike Leake

The Church Going Full Ninja

I had to have wasted a good hour.

It was my first experience—at least that I recall—with a powerful sunbeam. I pondered the impact that this ray of light had upon our home. Its brightness exposed all of these little creatures. They looked like sea monkeys. Or floating pieces of dirt. They would soon take on a life of their own.

I experimented with these dust fragments for all of five minutes. Then I did what all little boys do when confronted with invaders; I busted out my sweet ninja moves. I employed karate chop after karate chop to destroy these little minions bombarding our kitchen floor.

I lost.

Quite shamefully really. It didn’t matter how much effort I put forth, I never could conquer these dust particles. As soon as I roundhouse kicked one in the face a million others came through the open window, dive-bombing down a sun-beam and gleefully sabotaging our kitchen floor.

After an embarrassingly long time I discovered the solution. Somehow the sun was giving these little goobers their energy. I quickly learned that if I could block the sun it would kill these dust particles. I shut the curtain.

Game Over. No more tiny creatures taunting me with their invincibility.

The Church

As I reminisce about my youthful ignorance I cannot help but think about the church. It seems as if we spend a good amount of our energies trying to clean up these dust particles; namely, all the brokenness around us. That’s good and well. We ought to be engaged in bringing the transformation of Jesus into the lives of every sphere of brokenness and rebellion.

But, let’s be honest. Little boys trying to annihilate dust particles with karate chops is impossible. Then again, so is it impossible for the church to ultimately conquer her sin this side of glory. Is it possible that in our discouragement with attempting the impossible that we have succumbed to the quick fix of shutting the curtain?

Have we convinced ourselves that we have gotten rid of sin for the most part but all we have really done is close the curtain? And by “close the curtain” I mean that we’ve somehow shut out the penetrating and heart-searching work of Jesus.

Maybe safe and sanitized does not equal a church that has been rocked by Jesus. It might mean that in her apathy the church has simply closed the curtain. The ugliness is still there but it’s largely hidden. She’s comfortably sanitized herself from outward brokenness but for some reason Jesus seems gone too.

The mark of a church that is being rocked by Jesus is one that has the curtain wide open. For that reason it is probably going to look more sinful and more jacked up. The light of the gospel exposes what is hidden—even those little dust particles that we’d like to pretend aren’t there.

A biblical church doesn’t celebrate the exposure of sin. A biblical church rejoices at the heart-penetrating work of Jesus but then she gets busy karate chopping the dickens out of the sin that is exposed. Of course by “karate chopping the dickens” I mean nothing more than applying the gospel and all it’s power and benefits to the sin that has been exposed.

Let’s open up that curtain and get to choppin’

Today in Blogworld 01.29.13

Principles for Writing Clearly and Coherently

Justin Taylor has summarized the major points of a couple writing books. As a writer I find these types of post very helpful.

Awakening to Every Pleasure

Most of the best-selling Christian books (at least the ones that are decent) have something in common. Dissatisfaction. Tim Challies reminds us “you could follow every application in every one of those books and you would still be discontent. We will all die dissatisfied, still longing for more. But. But those who die in Christ have the great promise that we will awake to all the pleasures, all the satisfaction we have ever longed for, and so much more besides.”

Check Your Motives for Missions

Jennifer Su McIntyre shares about her experience doing missions in Taiwan. Articles like this help us know how to pray.

Confessions from a New Mom’s Devotional Life

“Ever since my son was born, I’ve had to fight guilt off with a stick. And my spiritual life has been no different…” Sharon Hodde Miller reflects on what being a new mom does to her devotional life.

It bothers me that the 90’s are now nostalgic. I guess I’m old now. Nonetheless, I still found this cool:

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Best Country Music of 2012

I have compiled a list of the best country music of 2012. Here is my list of must listen to songs:




















…Did you really expect to find something here? C’mon you know that “country music” isn’t really music.

Go buy you some LeCrae or Shane & Shane or Jimmy Needham or Underoath and listen to real music.

Conquering the Lonely Grave



A lonely grave.

That is what I feel when I say I’m battling depression. I feel almost nothing; save for that tinge of guilt and remorse that I feel for feeling nothing. Beauty is lost. Almost everything seems pointless and hopeless.

Somewhere in the recess of my being I know that the darkness is distorting everything. Yet that small voice of reason is silenced by the apathetic screams in my head. Occasionally I experience fear that the darkness will not break and this ever-pursuing monster will finally swallow me whole.

I read Psalm 88 today.

At least seven times. Not because seven is some holy number but because I could not pull myself away from it. I labored over the words for some twenty minutes and found myself slowly feeling. If one can somehow feel darkness, that is.

I begin to feel a bit of companionship with the one whose only companion is darkness. I realize that in all of his lament his only petition is that the Lord might hear him. It’s as if he is saying, “I just need to know that I’m not utterly forsaken”.

There is great faith in this Psalmist. It looks weak. It looks detestable but it’s about as golden as you can get. It is faith in the darkness. Faith when there is no light. In v.13 he continues to cry to the Lord and once again is met with the hidden face of the Lord. He concludes that his only companion is darkness. Not the Lord. Not his beloved. Not his friends. He’s alone except for his darkness.

Suddenly the lights start to flicker…

This Psalmist is the Lord Jesus. If anyone has been able to truly pray Psalm 88 it is the Suffering Servant. The One that was smitten. Forsaken. Crushed by the Lord. It was He that said, “my soul is very sorrowful, even to death”. This is Jesus’ prayer of affliction.

Then I realize that no matter how deep in the pit I descend (v.6) I know that the Lord Jesus has sank further. And I remember that He did not stay there. I remember that the God of my salvation does indeed “work wonders for the dead”? I know that I share in His resurrection.

This means far more than being rescued from depression. I might have to wander around for awhile groping in the darkness, carrying around deadness in my being. But that is not the end of the story. I’ll be rescued from far more than depression. I’m being rescued from death itself and everything that is dark.

The One whose only companion truly was darkness plunged the depths so that this Psalm would never actually be true for me. It only feels like darkness is my sole companion. It’s not. Jesus is there. In the darkness. In the midst of my deadness. Fully present in His love and conquering grace.

He conquered the lonely grave. I can’t. And thankfully I don’t have to.

Today in Blogworld 01.28.13

4 Types of Faith

There are four types of faith. Michael Patton outlines them for us.

3 Reasons Why Some Churches Don’t Grow

I appreciate this article by Aaron Armstrong. He notes three reasons that are often not given for why churches don’t grow.

Why Did Jesus Say He Came Only to the Lost Sheep of Israel?

This has bothered people for quite sometime. I remember when I first started reading the Scriptures I tripped up on this question. I’m thankful for articles like this one by Trevin Wax that simply explain what Jesus meant.

Nice. I’m going to have to try this one:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review of Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours

I have an entire bookcase overflowing with books that were published over one hundred years ago. They have survived the test of time. For some of these books the truth contained within them has served the church for centuries. Sadly these gems are often left to collect dust. In what C.S. Lewis called chronological snubbery most modern readers neglect these classics to our peril.

Part of the reason for dust gathering on these treasures is that at face value some of them no longer seem relevant. Is it really still an issue how we ought to respond to the Guy Fawkes uprising? A host of my readers will not even know who Guy Fawkes was or why he mattered. And because it no longer seems relevant these pages often remain unturned.

One hundred years ago in his book Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours?, Roland Allen asked important questions about the missiology of his day. On the centennial anniversary of that work, Plummer and Terry have decided to revisit some of those same questions asked by Allen at the turn of the 20th century. (Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours).


The book is divided into two sections. The first section, “Paul’s Message” is edited by Plummer. The second section, “Paul’s Missiology”, is edited by Terry. Each chapter is written by a different scholar that is well-respected in the field of which he is tasked with interacting.

Allen’s central aim was to present the missional principles of the apostle Paul and urge his readers to imitate Paul’s approach. In the last one hundred years there has been a great amount of work done in the area of Pauline missiology. Would Allen’s work stand the test of time? Does contemporary scholarship negate Allen’s points? Would “Paul’s answers” to the missiological questions of the early 1900’s be the same as “Paul’s answers” to the missiological questions of the early 2000’s?

Each chapter of the book addresses a different concern. There are questions of ecclesiology, suffering, and spiritual warfare. The chapter written by Dr. Plummer attempts to answer the much debated question of our day: what is Paul’s gospel. There are questions of missional strategy including issues related to church planting, indigenous missions, and contextualization.

If you have spent any time reading books about missiology you know the hot button questions of our day. The book is really a modernization of Allen’s major concern; namely, to take the contemporary issues and answer them in light of the approach of the apostle Paul. These scholars do that same thing in Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours.

My Take

I have never had the opportunity to read Roland Allen’s classic work. This book makes me want to—or at least makes me feel like I need to. I appreciate his (and their) central concern that the Spirit-inspired Scriptures dictate the way we do missions. I love books that ask contemporary questions and then set about to show how the Scriptures answer them.

I found Ben Merkle’s chapter on Ecclesiology to be particularly helpful. As our church looks at issues related to rewriting our constitution we continued to go back to the early church and ask what did they do. Merkle helps with that. For me this proved the effectiveness of the book. At present I am not asking questions about indigenous missions—but some are. And I assume that this chapter would be just as helpful to them as the chapter on ecclesiology was for me.

On another note I hope that more writers follow in the footsteps of Plummer and Terry. There are many classic works that would benefit from undergoing such a thorough look. It’s one thing to modernize the language of Calvin’s Institutes. It’s quite another to attempt to get in the mind of Calvin (as the authors have done with Allen here) and say, “what would Calvin say of this issue, and is he biblically accurate”. Many books would benefit from being modernized in such a way as these scholars have done with Allen’s work.

Should You Buy It?

This book is not going to be for everyone. If you aren’t prone to ask questions of missiology then I doubt you will have a desire to pick up this book. But for those that are pastors, church planters, etc. this is a very helpful book.

Also, everyone that reads this review that is a believer is a missionary and as such might benefit from thinking through some of the concerns raised in the book. I’m not sure that it will necessarily inspire mission but it will certainly inform it. If you are passionate about doing missions but wondering how it ought to be biblically done this book will be a helpful tool.

Such terms like missiology can be daunting. Especially when you see that the book is written by a group of scholars and then published by IVP. I assure the casual reader, though, that while this book is scholarly it is not poorly written. These men are good scholars which means that they can take that which is very difficult and make it sound somewhat simple (not simplistic). This book is well written and is not a drudgery to read. If you are interested in a theology of missions you will enjoy this book.

You can buy a copy today.

Searching for Dirt

I’m on my couch attempting to relax. It’s been a stressful week and I would love to escape into a favorite television show. My muscles begin to relax…my shoulders loosen up a little.

“Ahhh, yes…finally a little time to…”

An agitated little boy approaches me. He’s whimpering and snot crying. My relaxation will have to wait.

Finally, after a couple minutes of wailing, I am informed of the problem. He has lost a piece to a toy. It’s a piece that he has 8-10 others just like. He could still play his game if he didn’t have this little insignificant piece. Unfortunately for my relaxation this piece is not insignificant to him.

My solution to our little conundrum is to settle for a similar piece. We can search for the other piece later. In fact I bet if we just go about our day it will turn up somewhere. No need to call in a search party.

His solution is different. He wants to call in a search party. Stop everything. Grab the flashlights. Disassemble the entire house. All of this to find a one-inch piece that is barely discernible from his 10 other one-inch pieces.

I’m thinking to myself, “Son, in the grand scheme of things this little toy is about as significant as a piece of dust. In a hundred years from now it won’t matter that you used this piece over the other. Why should we start a search party for what amounts to me as a ball of dust?”

The searching heart of Jesus

I’m thankful that the searching heart of Jesus is more like my son’s than my own. He left the glories of heaven to “seek and to save” that which amounts to nothing more significant than a pile of dust. (see Psalm 103)

Dust. Sweep up into the vacuum with a push of the button, dust.


But not to it’s Maker. Just as that little “insignificant” piece was everything but that to my son, so also we are significant to our Maker.

Dust balls? You bet.

But dust balls that matter to the Maker. Dust balls that cause angels to rejoice. Heaven to swoop. And the Creator to bleed.

That is significant.

Today in Blogworld 01.25.13

Feminist Says a Baby is a “Life Worth Sacrificing”

We’ve known this for awhile and I think this further proves what John Piper noted a few days ago. We know that we are killing children and we believe that freedom is more important than human life.

How Much Money Am I Supposed to Give Away?

This is a convicting post by Tim Challies on sacrificial giving.

5 Lessons From a Church Killer

Jason Brooks pastored a church plant that “failed”. Here are the lessons he learned. I appreciate his humility and his willingness to share his story.

America’s Most and Least Biblically-Minded Cities

We really do need to be intentional about taking the gospel to the cities. Here is one reason why.

No school today in the Jasper area because of ice. Here’s a reminder of why. Enjoy:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Noble Goal For Every Church and Pastor

There is a goal that I believe every pastor, and in turn every church, ought to shoot for. Ready for it?

To never have to file another Help-Wanted ad in search of a pastor.

This isn’t to assume that the pastor stays until the church closes its door or Jesus returns. (Although that latter one would be acceptable). This does however mean that the pastor stays long enough that he has trained many men to take his job from him.

Such a goal would take an intentional discipleship and mentoring plan. The pastor and the church would have to intentionally seek young men to train for pastoral ministry. Perhaps rather than shipping them off to seminary to get an education and then pursue pastoral ministry elsewhere the church could develop the young man. That’s not to say that for some churches part of this development wouldn’t be some element of seminary training.

I’m not really saying that it’s wrong for a church to file a help-wanted ad. But I’m dreaming of a day when churches are shepherded in such a way that they become equipped to train up their own pastors.

What do you think? Am I crazy?

Today in Blogworld 01.24.13

I Come Messy and Ashamed

As a messy daddy to two messy little kids I really appreciated this article by Christina Fox.

A Wife’s Submission in the Cosmic Plan of Christ

Gloria Furman shows why a wife’s submission means something different for the Christian than it does for any other religion or culture that claims to believe the same.

Mark Driscoll Isn’t My Pastor

Good word here from Lore Ferguson. She notes that Mark Driscoll (and many of the other big name pastors) aren’t her pastor. Therefore, she won’t get involved in many internet squabbles. I think there is another side to this, but I really believe Lore is giving us a ton of wisdom here.

John Piper Went to Jail

Denny Burk explains why that mattered to him…

Speaking of John Piper, here is an interview with him on abortion:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I’m Not a Fan of Abortion and Gun Control Memes

My Facebook page has been exploding with pictures like that above. They are usually connected with some statistics about abortion killing 1.2 million per year whereas guns kill only around 2,000. The post then ends with challenging Congress or President Obama to fight the real war on women (or assault weapons).

I agree with the logic. I further understand the hypocrisy of turning a blind eye to the 55 million children legally aborted since 1973 while making it a mission to control guns which kill far less children per year. I get that.

But I’m not a big fan of these memes.

Mostly because I fear that by conflating these two issues we are minimizing both the atrocity of abortion and the tragedy of events like Sandy Hook. We are politicizing pain. It is using one horrible act to make a point about another. Regardless of which of the points you intend to make you are minimizing the other.

Abortion isn’t a statistic to be used to make a point about the lack of childhood death by guns. It’s an abominable practice that deserves its own hearing. It doesn’t need to have gun control as it’s bedmate. In fact it’s distracting to do so.

Furthermore, it is insensitive and unfair to minimize the 2,000 deaths that are by guns by comparing them to another evil. It communicates that the tragedy of Sandy Hook isn’t that big of a deal compared to the tragedy of abortion. Numerically, that might be true. But every human life is valuable. To turn people into statistics is practically becoming guilty of the necessary dehumanizing of children in the womb that one must do to agree with abortion.

Let’s mourn the loss of every human life and not use these tragedies to make a political point. The end result of these memes is to say, “your gun laws are dumb”. The heinousness of abortion deserves far more than that. And the victims of gun violence deserve far more grace and compassion.

Today in Blogworld 01.23.13

Church Covenant or Church Contract?

Our church just voted on our new constitution and church covenant. I found this article by Tim Brister insightful: “A church covenant spells out the intentions and aspirations of believers who confess “Jesus is Lord” and seek to live together with fellow Christians in mutual submission to Christ and to one another. What binds us together is not flawless performances in keeping the church covenant, but gospel-centered lives of repentance and faith that enrich the community living in reconciled relationships freely offering grace and forgiveness toward one another.”

MLK’s Dream and the Nightmare of Black Genocide

Abortion is also a race issue. On MLK day David Mathis showed us why.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Jane Roe”

Yesterday was the anniversary (can you call it an anniversary) of Roe v. Wade. Here are 5 facts about the “Roe” in that landmark case.

My Pastoral Confidentiality Policy

There have been a few recent articles on pastoral confidentiality. Tom Ascol’s is the best in my opinion.

This throws me a curveball…am I nerd? I’m not so sure anymore…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Controversy and Discipleship

“What’s your opinion on whether or not our wills are free”.

The question wasn’t quite as polished but that was the core of this young man’s question. Had he asked it 7-8 years ago I would have jumped for joy assuming that God was mightily working and this dude was really interested in the really important aspects of our faith. That was then, though.

Now when I hear that question…especially from a young man that hasn’t been a believer for even a year…I cringe a little, answer him as simplistically as I can, trying to divert his attention.

I’ve come to believe that such controversial questions aren’t automatically the work of the Lord. It’s quite possible that it comes from another camp altogether. Controversy destroys new believers. In his excellent work, A Christian Directory, Richard Baxter offers three reasons* why new believers shouldn’t “plunge too soon into controversies”.

  1. It will be a great loss to you, because it will distract your souls from what is far greater. It will be more beneficial to your soul—and more pleasing to God—for you to drink deeper in the fundamentals of the gospel than spending your time in controversy.
  2. It will corrupt your minds. In place of humility, love, holiness, and heavenly-mindness it will feed your pride, and kindle a heart of division. Controversy will quench your love for others and grow in you a contentious spirit. You will ignore these sins because you assume your doctrine is sound.
  3. It can lead to such a deception that you will eventually become erroneous and heretical. You are not yet mature enough to judge of these things because you have not gotten a firm enough foundation in the gospel. Therefore, you are undertaking a work that you cannot do. You will undoubtedly end in error.

What this means for discipleship

I wish that I could say that Baxter was a goober and that he is largely over-reacting. Sadly, I have seen the ill effects of new believers too quickly plunging into controversies. I have witnessed (sadly, even in my own heart) a propensity to pride and division. Early on I believe I cared more about whether someone was a Calvinist than whether they were a good husband and father. That’s just silly.

Because I have learned the hard way from what Baxter is saying I have changed the way I do discipleship. I try to focus on the majors and minimize the minors. I will still share my opinion on various controversial matters but I will do everything in my power to bring back the conversation to the sufficiency and importance of gospel basics.

I want the people that I disciple to know theology because I believe it is the fuel to worship. But I also want them to know be more attuned to their wife’s favorite flower than the difference between infra and supralapsarianism. I’d rather they be able to name every character on their son’s favorite television show than be able to name every millenial theory. That happens by asking tough questions of life and love instead of just theological true/false questions.

Controversy doesn’t usually make good disciples. So let’s be sure that new believers aren’t distracted right out of the gate.


*I’ve tried to update and simplify the language as best as I can.

Today in Blogworld 01.22.13

3801 Lancaster

Denny Burk provides this documentary and a brief commentary. I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, but many people that I respect say it is tremendous. But tremendous in a horrible, this will make you weep and pray type of way.

10 Things Pastors Desire in a Church Member

Yep, these are ten things that pastors desire in every church member. I’m grateful that he put number 4 in there.

3 Ways to Thank Your Spouse for Letting You Blog

I’m not linking to this simply because Joey Cochran quoted me in the beginning of it. I’d link to it regardless because I think it’s a great reminder that us regular bloggers ought to be thankful that our wives support our blogging habits.

Roe v. Wade at 40

Trevin Wax has compiled a list of helpful links on Roe v. Wade.

Will Roman Catholics Be Saved? I really like Doug Wilson’s answer here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Week Without Google: Reflections

Last week I did the unthinkable; I refused to use Google. Each day I posted a couple of reflections and a list of some of the things that I wanted to search for but could not. Here they are:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four and Five

Now that you’ve not clicked those links, here are my reflections on a week without Google.


I discovered last week that my greatest use for Google is to keep myself from looking like a moron.
There were a few classes that I failed to pay attention to in school. Like those kind of important ones like English and Grammar. I am still not the best at grammar. Because of this I forget basic punctuation rules and at times I have no clue what a certain word or phrase even means. Google does for me what I failed to allow my elementary school teachers to do for me; namely, teach grammar and help me not look quite as dumb.

I remember in grade school first learning language and at times totally butchering it. I can recall the embarrassment of singing a song with horribly wrong lyrics. Or arguing a fact for hours until we could find an Encyclopedia somewhere or ask someone’s grandpa. That was in the days before Google. Now we just search for it and don’t have to have egg on our face for singing, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” instead of “excuse me while I kiss the sky”. By the way you can Google the worst misheard song lyrics and find this hilarious site.

There is a humility that comes from not knowing all of these facts. There is something refreshing with being able to say, “I have no idea if I should use a colon here”.

Information Addicts

I have become an information addict. I found myself desiring information and not being able to know the answer in only a few seconds. I don’t think I ever got to the point of twitching but there were some searches that I really wanted to make. Today I can barely remember those questions that had to be answered and I am sure that my life isn’t worse because of it.

Bare information is becoming more powerful in our day than actually knowing something. I can do a quick search about the 14th president and find out who that is. But I’ll probably have to do that same search six months from now because I never really knew who the 19th president was—I only pretended like I did. Searching for the 14th president is simply an information fix and the high wears off after about a day and we totally forget that information. But try actually doing a little research on that 14th President (whoever that dear chap might be—I’d guess Millard Fillmore but I think I’m wrong) and you’ll never forget him.

Time Wasting
My list of “searches I wanted to do” consisted of about 30 minutes each day of things that would have consumed my time. These were things that I did not need to know but because I am an information addict I thought I needed a fix. It was nice to not chase a rabbit trail and start thinking about The Shot Heard Round the World and baseball in the 1950’s.

These things are interesting. Occasionally an article might have spawned from one of these rabbit trails. More than likely I would have just filled my cranium with useless Jeopardy trivia.

Google and Bible Study
I was actually quite surprised that I did not use Google (or want to use Google) for Bible study as much. Perhaps that was the case because I was made privy to my shortcutting problem thanks to an article I wrote a few months ago.

I did find myself at times wanting to search for something before trying to figure it out on my own. By the end of the week I had already started thinking on my own more than instinctively turning to Google. I am convinced that there are times when we ought to be querying the text instead of doing a Google search.

The Benefit of Google
There are great benefits in Google. It helps with illustrations when I only have a partial thought in my head—Google helps fill it out with facts rather than my own assumptions about what happened in history. It also helps when I think of an article but totally forgot it’s location.

There are things that need to be researched that are not time wasters. There is information that legitimately is helpful to know. It is my desire in the future to start filtering these searches a little better. I want to ask myself, “Do I really need to know this?”

Finally, it does help to not make stupid punctuation and word choice errors. Though it is humbling to make dumb mistakes for all the world (or your 300+ followers) to read, it can also be counter-productive to not fix those mistakes. People stop reading whenever something looks really sloppy. It’s probably best not to get bogged down with too much grammar/punctuation type issues in a blog post, but you probably ought to be certain to get a title correct.

The Forthcoming Zombie Apocalypse

Yes, I will be able to survive. And not because I have done a Google search for how to survive a zombie apocalypse. But mostly because I spent the week watching the Discovery channel show The Colony and also because I have learned how to live without Google.
As a counterpoint, though, I believe my brain has gotten more lively and fruitful without just quickly Google searching. Therefore, it might be more tasty and appealing to zombies. I’m not sure. Maybe I should do a few Google searches to prepare myself just in case.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Today in Blogworld 01.19.13

5 Factors in the Rise of Reformed Theology Among African Americans

Jemar Tisby celebrates the rise of Reformed Theology among African Americans and notes five reasons why it growing.

8 Ways Preachers Harm the Depressed

With more and more people experiencing episodes of depression, the wise preacher will consider how to feed them. David Murray gives 8 ways that pastors harm instead of help the depressed.

9 Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

Joe Carter tells us nine things to know about the landmark court case concerning abortion that happened 40 years ago.

These Bad Lip Reading videos are amazing. This one helps us see what NFL players and coaches are really saying during the games:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Week Without Google: Day Four and Five

Yesterday is my day to be at home with my children. Therefore, I didn’t have much of a need to Google search—unless you count the crazy things I need to search for when I’m home alone with the kids, like how to get a fork out of child’s nose…you know, things like that.

Today at the office was an atypical Friday. Normally, I get to do a good amount of writing on Friday. But this week we have a big annual meeting with our church constitution. We also are beginning a new series that needs outlined and I have to write small groups. Furthermore, I had to put the finishing touches on Isaiah’s Colossians devotional that I’m giving him for his birthday. Not many searches then, but I did have a few.

Stuff I will probably go to bed without knowing that I would have Google Searched

  • Michael Morse was traded to the Mariners. I wanted some more info on the deal.
  • With the Royals have 9 guys playing in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) I’m interested to see the regular season production of players that participated in the WBC.
  • Steve McCoy introduced me (and all his other loyal followers) to a band called The Lone Bellow. I want to know more. But I’ll have to wait until Monday.
  • The Browns hired Michael Lombardi. My twitter feed is blowing up with Browns fans hating on this decision. I want to know why.

How this Google-fast as helped

  • Humility. (I’ll explain more on Monday)
  • Again, I would have wasted a good amount of time on the WBC thing. I’ll waste that time later.

How this Google-fast as hurt

  • I really wanted to know about The Lone Bellow. Not being able to get more information on a band like this is stinky.
  • I wonder if some articles aren’t spawned from these rabbit trails of information.

On Monday I will post my summary of a week without Google. Including the lessons I learned.

Trading Awesomeness for a Lawn Mowing Shoe

I’ve been working on writing a devotional through Colossians for my son. When I came to Colossians 2:1-5 I struggled with how to teach my five year old son about the reality of being deluded by plausible sounding arguments. Here is how I eventually decided to illustrate this.

First, I ask Isaiah what his favorite toy is. We talk about it for a little bit and then I’m going to offer him a trade. I’m going to hand him one of my old dilapidated shoes that I use for mowing the yard. I am pretty confident that he will reject my offer. We will then talk about how silly the Colossians were for doing such a silly trade.

Then I’ll inform him that I do have another trade for him. This time I will give him a big package that is neatly wrapped (I’ll have his mother wrap it). I will let him know that this present is a million times cooler than his favorite toy. I’ll use all of my powers of daddy persuasion to get him to make the trade.

I am pretty confident that he will accept the trade. How could he not? It will be far too enticing for a little boy to turn down. Then we will open it and be sorely disappointed that it is my other disgusting mowing shoe. At this point we will be able to talk about the difference between a plausible sounding argument and one that is obviously silly. I will inform him that Satan rarely just hands us an old ratty shoe and says, “Would you like to trade Jesus for this”. No, he always packages it up.

I will close the devotional by showing Isaiah the way to stay anchored in a world that will consistently try to offer him old lawn-mowing shoes in exchange for the beautiful Christ. The way that we do not make that trade is by being completely convinced that Jesus is the most valuable treasure ever. That way you know that no matter what is in the package it cannot beat what you already have in Jesus. Nothing will be able to lure us.

We will end by talking about how wonderful Jesus is and why there is nothing or nobody that is better than Him.

A Lesson For You And I

It is not only Isaiah that needs to hear this message. In Colossians 2:1-5 Paul also tells us another way to stay anchored in our deceptive world. Somewhere along the way we forget that we are like that little boy that is easily duped into trading something of infinite value for a shiny new box. But we are. And just as a little boy left to himself is going to get duped every time, so we too will be tossed to and fro by every flashy new thing. Unless…

Unless, we are knitted together with other believers. If we have a healthy relationship with a local church body we will not be so easily duped. In a congregation there are many that foolishly made those trades. They will not only remind us of the sufficiency of Christ but they will also be there to convince us that what’s in the pretty package is nothing that will satiate.

This is why we need the body. This is why Paul says, “being knit together in love” in Colossians 2:2. The reaching the “riches of full assurance” and the “encouragement of the heart” do not come through an individualistic experience. Those sweet and precious graces flow to us through being knitted together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need one another to constantly be reminded of the infinite worth of Jesus. Otherwise we’ll end up like a little boy trading his favorite toy for an old lawn-mowing shoe.

Today in Blogworld 01.18.13

14 Things You Can Do to Fight Human Trafficking and Help Victims:

The Resurgence has compiled a helpful list of things you can do to not only end human trafficking but also help its victims.

Guilt is a Chauffeur

Great work here by Erik Raymond on the role of guilt in driving us to the cross. He notes that Christians typically bounce off of two extremes: 1) Undervaluing the work of Christ by clinging to our own merit  and 2) Undervaluing the work of Christ by wallowing in our guilt.

Away with Utilitarian Arguments Against Abortion

You’ve probably heard those arguments: “We should end abortion because we might be aborting the next Martin Luther King Jr.”. Jared Wilson shows why that argument isn’t helpful and actually has no place in the Christian worldview.

15 Frugal Billionaires

It’s interesting to read of billionaries that don’t live like it. It’s funny that they would consider Mark Zuckerberg’s $7 million house as frugal.

This would be really fun to do. And I have plenty of corny jokes to pull it off:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Those of Whom Blogging Annoys

Some people do not like blogging. It has been mocked and derided by many. And even by a good number of those that are influential in the “real world”. I share some of their concerns, believing that there is a dark side to Christian blogging. But I also believe there can be tremendous value in blogging.

That is why I appreciated this analogy by Jim Pemberton*.

Christian blogging is like knocking on the walls of the Church to find the weak spots. It can be an annoying practice to different types of people.

Jim then goes on to list the five types of people that get annoyed with the “knocking on walls” of blogging.

  1. Those who are trying to get away with nominal faith and still be active in church.
  2. The ones who put that particular wall there and don’t want to believe that it wasn’t constructed very well.
  3. Those who love the Lord, but don’t think it matters if the proverbial walls are weak or not.
  4. Those doing the work of strengthening the Church in other areas who think someone wants them to drop what they are doing and go work on some other part of the Church for a while.
  5. Those who think the church will be just fine if people would only stop banging on the walls.

If I were to extend this analogy a little I would say that watch blogging is like checking on these walls with sledgehammers. They are like a crazy and unsatisfied man that keeps knocking walls out of his house just hoping that somehow it will finally be perfect.

Faithful bloggers keep their eyes open in the real world and the blog world. At times they simply go about the business of strengthening the church. At other times something catches their eye and they set about tapping on the walls trying to find the weak spot so they can concentrate their energies there.

Sledgehammer blogging is annoying. But let’s not pretend that there is all there is and that there isn’t great value in having humble servants knocking on the walls and doing their best to edify the kingdom.

That Angel Is an Idiot

That title bothers you doesn’t it?

It bothers me too. But that is telling. We revere angels—as maybe we should. So I invite you to imagine a scenario with me for a moment.

You’re driving home from work. You haven’t had codeine or any other mind-altering substance. You’ve been sleeping well. You didn’t have Indian food for lunch, either. All of a sudden you get this weird urge to pull over to the side of the road. You ignore it for awhile but after it keeps gnawing at your guts you sheepishly veer off to the shoulder.

Your car has not been stopped for more than 15 seconds when a man that looks like Michael Landon gets in your car. He tells you that he has a very important message for you. He explains that he is an angel. And he even shows you his wings and his drivers license to confirm it.

His important message is that most Christians have gotten the gospel message of Jesus entirely wrong. He lets you know that the message that Christians proclaim is only partially true. Because of a vast conspiracy, that Satan himself was behind, an entire book of the New Testament has been left out.

The angel hands you a tattered scroll with some funky ancient writing on it. He opens it and reads the important portions to you. It turns out that Christians are correct about salvation in Jesus by grace through faith. That is what gets you into the kingdom. But you do not stay there simply by a continued faith in Jesus. The way that you stay in the kingdom is through a complex set of rituals that mark you off as the people of God. Everyone that does not engage in these rituals (similar to the putting blood on the doorpost in Exodus) will not inherit eternal life even if they have initial faith in Jesus.

How You Decide If This is Bunk

This seems really weird to you, but the guy is really convincing. So, how will you determine whether this is true or not? How will you go about getting at the truth? Some might answer, “Well, I need to figure out if this is really an angel or not. If it’s really an angel then I ought to really consider what he’s saying. But if it’s just some crazy guy dressed up like Michael Landon then I can dismiss this.”

That might be your answer. And you might also be totally wrong.

The Scriptures teach you that it doesn’t matter if this really is an angel. If it’s an angel then the angel is an idiot. This is what Paul says in Galatians 1:8,

“…but even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” 

You don’t need to know whether or not this is an angel to know that what he is telling you is bunk. It doesn’t match up to the gospel and so the credentials of the messenger really do not amount to a hill of beans*. What matters is the content of the gospel. As soon as this Pa Ingalls look-a-like starts blathering on about a different gospel you know his words are nothing more than serpent talk—even if he is an angel.

Today’s “Angels”

It doesn’t take wings to teach a different gospel. There are many different gospels that are being promoted in our world, sadly even from “Christian” pulpits. For many of them they are followed simply because of their credentials. Their book deals, the number of people coming to their church, the massive amount of people they have “helped”, etc., serve as an angel license. Surely they aren’t preaching a “different gospel” if the Lord is giving them so much success.

It might be easy for us to point a finger at those goobers that embrace a different gospel simply because of the flashy teachers credentials, but let’s be really honest…we can be just as awestruck.

Dude…it’s John Piper**. You can trust what he’s saying. And you can. He’s not going to preach you a different gospel nor is he deserving of an anathema. So, in that sense Galatians 1 doesn’t apply at all. I still think that we can learn a lesson here, though. We ought to be careful not to be so enamored with some dude’s credentials (even if it’s a long list of gospel-centered talks) that we begin weighing what people say based upon their name instead of on the unchanging gospel message.

So, let’s weigh the veracity of a message based upon it’s faithfulness to the gospel of Christ instead of Preacher Joe and his stellar gospel credentials.


*I’m not really sure what the exchange rate for a hill of beans is these days, but my grandma seems to think that they aren’t much.

**You can substitute John Piper for any other solid Bible teacher.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Week Without Google: Day Three

Today I was a bit shocked that I did not turn to Google more. I had to finish up a few finishing touches on sermon prep and I ended up writing a decent amount of articles. Maybe I am getting more accustomed to not reaching for Google.

Stuff I will probably go to bed without knowing that I would have Google Searched

  • What is CPS? Actually I figured this one out on my own. Child Protective Services. Did that without Mr. Google.
  • What are the names of the characters on Little House on the Prairie?
  • Did Tim Brown play his whole career with the Raiders or have an early stint with the Bears?
  • Do I capitalize “is” in a title?
  • Research Abeka curriculum for homeschooling.
  • I could have also used a little help preparing our guys Bible study for tonight on the Galatian heresy. Commentaries got me through though.

How this Google-fast as helped

  • Again I would have wasted some time on things that did not matter.
  • I also think figuring out CPS on my own proved that I would have quickly typed it in to Google and then slapped myself in the forehead and said, “duh” I knew that. It’s making me figure things out on my own.

How this Google-fast as hurt

  • I am realizing that often I use Google to keep me from looking like a moron (sometimes it works). There are still basic grammar things that I forget sometimes. And I also need help with a few pop-culture references or even grandma-culture references like Little House that I need assistance with.
  • I could have used some help researching the Galatian heresy.
  • I also would have liked to get pricing for Abeka curriculum in places other than a simple Amazon search.

3 Ways to Encourage a Blogger

Faithful Blogging is hard work. I suppose about any goober could install Windows Live Writer and link it to a blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress and then set to typing up whatever random thing comes into his/her mind. But Christ-honoring mostly-daily blogging is hard work.

Blogging can be difficult and painful. Comments can be nasty. Words can be misunderstood. Articles that you worked your tail off on will usually disappear somewhere in Al Gore’s basement where he houses that computer that runs the entire internet.

Bloggers can get discouraged.

Therefore, I thought I would let you know 3 ways to encourage a blogger. Not because I am fishing for encouragement at present…wait a week or so, that way I don’t make the connection…but I am writing this article to help you encourage other bloggers. And you ought to do this if with those superhero bloggers.

These are in order, with #1 being the most encouraging (at least to me).

3. RT, Share, +1, link, etc. Whatever you use in social media use it to let others know that you were digging on an article. When our articles have more life than just a day it is encouraging. It’s the 21st century way of patting somebody on the back. If you like something you read hit the share button.

2. Post a thoughtful comment. Most people only comment when they want to either show how amazing their own knowledge of a subject is or to tell you that you are a moron and your children will probably turn out worse than Hitler. It’s nice to have people thoughtfully interact with something you wrote.

1. Tell us you are using it in the “real world”. Hands down the most encouraging comments and emails are the ones where somebody tells me they are using what I wrote for a bible study, a sermon, a discipleship group, etc. When somebody hits print on an article and turns it into a hard copy that means something to me. It communicates that the article was useful enough for them to want to keep around for awhile.

My overarching aim for blogging isn’t to simply get traffic or have people say, “wow Mike sure did a great job in writing this article”. My aim is that people would be helped because their joy in Jesus has grown because of something that I wrote. There are ton of other bloggers with the same aim—encourage them by specifically letting them know that they helped you delight in Christ.  

If you are a blogger, what encourages you?

If you are not a blogger but you benefit from reading blogs, I encourage you to think of a few bloggers and make it your aim to strengthen his/her day by sending a little word of encouragement.

Today in Blogworld 1.16.13

7 Lessons on Blogging

Thom Rainer has become a regular blogger. Here he notes a few lessons he has learned in the last three years of blogging.

Pilgrim’s Conflict with Sloth

A great video and introduction by John Piper on sloth. I hope with his “retirement” he does more stuff like this.

How Do We Know if God is Disciplining Us?

I’ve joked that I ought to subtitle my forthcoming book, “A Wannabe’s Interaction with D.A. Carson” or something like that. His book on suffering is phenomenal. That’s why I was excited to see Carson tasked with answering the question above. Here is his answer.

Short Rules of Blogging Etiquette

It would be nice if we all heeded these rules of blogging etiquette. Helpful post here by Barry York.

These are insane. I’m pretty sure that some of them would cause me to break my nose on the concrete floor:

Review of The Medicated Meatballs New Album

I have seldom enjoyed reading reviews of albums. They make little sense to me. I believe that all the authors do is find a book with a boat-load of adverbs, pick a few objects in their office, try to tie together as many genre’s as possible, and then start to writing their review using as many weird and lengthy adjectives as they possibly can.

I though that it might be a little fun to write my own music review. If you can understand anything I have said kudos. The whole thing is mostly nonsense. And there is no band called The Medicated Meatballs—at least not yet, that I know of. Hopefully you will enjoy my made up song titles and find a bit of humor in this.

After you read this I have one question. Does this not sound like a typical hip music review?


The Medicated Meatballs enjoyed an epic run in the early 80’s (Button Hole, Cheetah Forceps, and Frankenstein’s Heartworm) that notoriously gave voice to the era’s disdain for the dance-under-the-moonlight funk charade. Their valiant yet humble renderings of the melancholy earth-sounds endeared an entire generation of adoring fans. But things changed for the Seattle-based quartet when rival grunge bands exploded onto the scene.

For over a decade The Medicated Meatballs struggled to sell out even the echo-laden halls of hotels in the slums. Throughout the 90’s the flailing quartet flirted with their sound; even diving into renegade techno lullabies with their early 90’s Pandas with Dysentery offering. With this project the groups pedantic meanderings all but ostracized their entire fan base. By the turn of the millennium the band--now only playing county fairs in rural Alaska—decided to take a break.

After taking almost a decade off from music a rejuvenated Meatballs launched a 48 city reunion tour which spawned their newest album: Gravy Boat Shoelace. Their present undertaking is a welcome return to the bands sublime approach. Early fans will be pleased with their homecoming to the eclectic sounds of gypsy-dance-skiffle.

With their more pop-oriented tracks (like Simon and Garfield) the band launches their plunge into the icy-cool waters of over-dramatized circus ballads. Their ear-melting mockery of all things Reagan in Iraq You Ran will likely endear them to the posh elite but will do nothing to gain them traction in the ever-increasingly-popular world of the moody folk brigade.

Their most adventurous track, Androgynous Mule-Shark, assumes a smooth yet rocky pose with brief reminiscence of the angrier tracks of Rage Against the Machine. Many will be confused by their foray into breezy metal, but rest assured none are more confused than their new lead guitarist Harvey—who every time he drives towards a steady beat meanders into a weird improvisation of a rickety chainsaw.

The Medicated Meatballs had hoped that this album would give a pulse to their fans of the 80’s and attract a new generation of Meatheads. There’s plenty to love on Gravy Boat Shoelace, but there is also plenty to make the casual listener’s stomach to churn. This is their best album since Frankenstein’s Heartworm but still not enough to take them out of dimly lit and poorly populated night clubs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Week Without Google: Day Two

Today was more difficult to be without the Google Machine. My Tuesday’s are usually given to writing blog articles, stuff for the church, sermons, etc. It’s a busy day of reading, writing, and interacting. Therefore, I found myself wanting to use Google a bunch. Here is the rundown of day two without Google

Stuff I will probably go to bed without knowing that I would have Google Searched

  • A list showing the difference between the wise and the sluggard in Proverbs
  • Sho Baraka’s testimony (Listening to his new album I wondered what his story was).
  • Who is St. Dominick? (Richard Baxter mentioned him in my reading)
  • Is George Thorogood still living?
  • What does SMH stand for?
  • That article where Dr. Mohler outlined theological triage. I wanted to link to that for my article on 20 Directions for New Believers.
  • How do I make a “does not equal” sign on my keyboard

How this Google-fast as helped

  • I probably saved about 30 minutes that I would have wasted researching a few unimportant things—like George Thorogood or what SMH means.
  • I’m becoming more and more comfortable with simply not needing to know certain tidbits of information.

How this Google-fast as hurt

  • It looks like I use Google a ton to mask my computer ignorance
  • I would have liked to have researched St. Dominick and Sho Baraka’s testimony
  • It is good for helping me find articles quickly and being able to link to them

20 Directions for New Believers

After years of desiring its possession I have finally secured a copy of A Christian Directory written by Richard Baxter. It has proven a great help thus far. In one section Baxter gives twenty directions for new believers. I have modernized these and make them available for your benefit:

  1. True grace over novelty. Make sure that it is true grace that is captivating you and not simply that the gospel has become “the next best thing” in your life. Time will tell this as those not truly captivated by grace will end up bored with the gospel and/or will run away once suffering and discomfort come.
  2. Knowledge AND practice. Give equal attention to knowledge and practice as the two are intimately joined together.
  3. Theological Triage. Truths have a dependence on one another. Some are more significant than others. Doing the lesser truth at the expense of the greater truth is a sin. A solid catechism helps with this.
  4. Slow to controversy. Do not be hasty to jump into controversy. If/when you do be sure to keep these lesser matters in their place.
  5. Thankful but not arrogant. Be grateful for the grace you’ve been given but do not get cocky. Remember that you are but an infant in grace.
  6. Do not be discouraged with your humble beginnings. Again remember you are an infant in the faith. Some things that seem almost impossible now will be second nature later.
  7. Sound preaching. If at all possible be certain to sit under the ministry of a sound gospel preacher. This would include pursuing counsel outside of his pulpit ministry as well.
  8. Beware of factions. Love Christians as Christians. Be very cautious of developing a “party” spirit. (Not the spirit of someone that likes to drink a bunch of Jack Daniels and dance on tables in a bar—though that too should be avoided. A "party” spirit means be careful of following too closely to one particular brand of the Christian faith—ex. the Young, Restless, and Reformed).
  9. Grounded in Trials. Don’t let persecution embitter you and make you less than your profession. Do not be shocked when the world hates you or embittered to them when they do.
  10. Balance. When running from one error be careful not to go off into the other extreme. New believers will have a tendency to take new information and make as much of an error out of it than the opposite error that they just escaped from.
  11. You Could Be Wrong. Do not be overly confident in the “disputable matters” or religion. Remember you are an infant in the faith. Be confident in the substantial matters of the faith but know that you will likely change your mind on many of these disputable issues.
  12. Stay on the sidelines in controversy. If there is controversy in your area look for common truths and do not pick a side yet. Pursue unity.
  13. Godliness=Happiness. Joy is found in holiness not in sin. Though Satan, the world and your own flesh might try to convince you otherwise know that true rest, peace, and happiness is found in a life of godliness.
  14. Mortify. Be diligent in mortifying the sin and lusts in your life. Get to know your diverse temptations and seek to avoid them and mortify their lusts. (Mortify is an older Puritan-type of word that means “to kill).
  15. Watch Your Companions. Be careful of your teachers and your company. This is not to say avoid unbelievers, but do not make your choicest companions those that do not treasure the Lord.
  16. Watch Your Library. Be careful what books you read. You do not have to avoid all unsound books but be cautious in everything that you read.
  17. Freedom isn’t License. Do not fall into libertinism. Free grace should not lead to carnal security and sloth. Jesus Christ is a promoter of holiness and not sin.
  18. Counterfeits are Tricky. Watch against obvious decays of grace but also counterfeit and carnal affections. The tempter will be happy to have you practicing Christianity outwardly and making a fine show of it all the while inwardly you are withering away.
  19. Life is a vapor. Do not promise yourself a long life. Life is but a mist, live your life as if this is true—because it is.
  20. Be God-centered. In everything that you do make sure that the Lord and His glory is your aim. Your pursuit and your prize is the Lord Himself.

Today in Blogworld 01.15.13

Why I Wish Giglio Had Not Withdrawn

Thabiti Anyabwile is sad that Louie Giglio withdrew from the presidential inauguration. He explains why.

We Are Raising a Generation of Deluded Narcissists

Dr. Keith Ablow, writing for Fox News, argues that we are giving our children a huge false sense of pride. “Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.”

Where Have All the Positive Americans Gone?

David Murray wonders why “American Christians are leading the way in joyless, smile-less despair” and gives a few ways that we can be “counter-culturally optimisitc”.

It’s usually forgetting those simple little details that make us face plant:

The Summit of Love

The church at Ephesus was a doctrinally solid church. It also had endured a great amount of hardship. They had remained faithful in the midst of false teachers. In our wishy-washy lite on truth society the church at Ephesus would have been a welcome sight. Yet, in the eyes of Jesus they were missing the mark:

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4 ESV)

Scholars debate whether this is love for the Lord or love for one another. I agree with those that believe it is probably a combination of both. Biblically speaking the two often go hand in hand. You can’t love the Lord and hate his bride. Likewise you aren’t going to be lacking in love for Jesus but exploding in love for his broken bride. The doctrinally sound church at Ephesus was missing an awe of God. Perhaps they had gotten to a point where they equated believing correct doctrine with treasuring correct doctrine.

Jesus tells them that the prescription for this lack of love is to remember, repent, and to get back to doing the works that they did at first. In this statement in verse 5 I find something very interesting. In verse 5 Jesus says, “remember therefore from where you have fallen”.

That tells me something about correct doctrine and endurance; namely, they aren’t the summit. Love is. (Or at least love is higher than both of those). Otherwise their lack of love wouldn’t have been a height from which they could fall. Love is not optional to correct doctrine. It’s not the icing on the cake of having sound theology. If you don’t have love then your whole cake is jacked up. 

Why does doctrine matter?

From such a truth some have erroneously concluded that doctrine really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is love. To this I say “poppycock”. Or at least I would if I said things like “poppycock”.

In Paul’s prayer for the Philippians he prays that their “love may abound more and more” and that it might do so “with knowledge and all discernment”. (Philippians 1:9) In other words Paul prays that they might have a growing love that is grounded in the truth.

You do not get to the summit of love without correct doctrine to fuel you upwards. Your love for Jesus grows when your grasping of the truth of Jesus grows. The argument from many of Paul’s letters is that there is an intimate link between our seeing and beholding Christ (doctrine) and our treasuring of Christ and His people (love).

You cannot treasure what you have little knowledge of. My son thinks that baseball is pretty cool. But he also still will sometimes run to second base before first base. Or he’ll think that the goal of the game is to tackle the pitcher after you’ve hit the ball. It’s a pretty cool version of the sport, I’ll give him that, but he doesn’t understand baseball and therefore he doesn’t rightly know how to treasure it. It’s the same way with Jesus. Correct doctrine fuels love. Or at least it ought to…

What does this mean for the local church?

I would like to also ask, “what does this mean for seminaries”, but because I have about as much influence on seminary life as Justin Bieber does on making solid music I will stick to the local church. I will say though, that I believe many seminaries err in training pastors how to have correct doctrine but seldom challenging them to learn love.

In the local church we must disciple people not only with correct doctrine but with a heart that treasures Christ. At the end of the day this is all the work of the Spirit. Even being able to swallow, embrace, and treasure correct doctrine is a work of the Spirit. How much more then is it the work of the Spirit to cause people to respond to correct doctrine with worship and and a life of love?

How does the church keep from churning out theological dolts and/or loveless theology nerds? I believe it’s by continually exposing them to the word of God while modeling humility and pushing them towards that. When discipling others we must value truth and excel in love.

Some need to be reminded that they haven’t arrived simply because they can win games of Bible trivia or go toe to toe in theology discussions with a seminary professor. They need to be reminded that doctrine truly embraced will express itself in worship of God and humble and loving service in a local church.

Others need to be reminded that if their doctrine is shallow more than likely so is their love. They ought to be congratulated that they are excelling in love but spurred on to make that love more grounded in the unchangeable truth of Jesus.

Both must, through the power of the Spirit, aim for the summit of love.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week Without Google Day One

Today I was out of the office for a good portion of my day. Therefore, it probably was not the best barometer of how much or why I actually use Google. Nonetheless, I did find myself wanting to do a few searches. Each day this week I will attempt to answer three questions in my summary.

Stuff I will probably go to bed without knowing that I would have Google Searched

  • What year did Bill Mazeroski (wait…was it Bill Mazeroski…) hit the shot heard round the world?
  • What were the top news items of 1958.
  • Some dude left a snarky comment on a blog I follow. I wanted to know if he ever wrote anything of his own or if he just sniped people.
  • Chapter outlines for Mark Dever’s book 12 Challenges Churches Face. (For a series on 1 Corinthians…I’ll just look at the book on my shelf).

How this Google-fast as helped

  • In an effort to write an article for our church in relation to our church constitution and church covenant I wanted to do a quick search for others that have had this task. I would have went to Google too soon. I was forced to slowly think through the issue on my own.
  • There is a good amount of worthless information that I would have spent my time on. As an example I probably would have wasted 15 minutes checking out snarky-comment-guy’s blog. Now I have no idea.

How this Google-fast as hurt

  • I struggle with remembering web addresses. Often I just type in what the site is to Google and get it quickly. This has proven difficult.
  • After writing that document for our church constitution on my own, I would have liked to have compared it with a few similar ones.

Blogging Can Be Doing, a Response to @PastorMark

Pastor Mark Driscoll* tweeted this last week:


That he is no fan of bloggers is no secret. He’s been known in the past to be quick to use his sharp wit to lampoon the critical blogger. I realize also that by responding to him I am probably becoming one of those “pontificating” bloggers that he so disdains. Fair enough, but I thought this might serve as a decent opportunity to share the benefit of blogging.

On one hand I totally agree with Pastor Mark. Pontificating about what others are doing while doing nothing yourself can be very annoying. There is no doubt that one of the negative aspects to blogging is that people can waste away their days arguing about semantics more than discussing that which is significant. Blogging certainly has a dark side. Yet, at the same time I find Driscoll’s words very unhelpful (not to mention hypocritical in that he is pontificating about what others—bloggers—are doing).

Mostly Pastor Mark’s tweet is unhelpful because he paints with too broad of a brush (as often happens on Twitter) and is marked by unhelpful assumptions. 

Two Assumptions

  1. Bloggers aren’t doing. The massive assumption in this tweet is that bloggers aren’t doing. I strongly disagree. If I believed that my blog had no kingdom value I would quit this day. But I believe that what I do here at Borrowed Light in some small way displays Jesus Christ as the only boast of this generation. I believe that what I write can be helpful for pastors as they disciple people. I also believe that what I write can be helpful to disciples of Jesus as we attempt to follow Him. Blogging can be doing if it is done well.
  2. There is no value except for doing. I imagine that there is a story behind this particular tweet from Driscoll. Perhaps he read a harsh critique by a blogger (or maybe even a legit one). Again, I agree that it’s much easier to sit back and be an armchair quarterback than to actually do the work of ministry. But at the same time let’s not assume that there is no value in someone using the Scriptures to assess what we are doing. There is value in receiving criticism—even if it from a pontificating blogger. I doubt Pastor Mark is arguing for a total pragmatism here but it’s hard not to read his tweet that way.

These are two of the assumptions in this tweet. Driscoll has highlighted the dark side of blogging but he paints with such a broad brush that he also belittles and minimizes the work of faithful bloggers. If Driscoll’s tweet applies to you then perhaps you ought to close up shop. But for those that are faithfully presenting Christ through their blogs I say keep it up.

Blogging can be doing if it is done well.


*The point of this article is to use the words of Mark Driscoll to not only disagree with his statement but mostly to say that there is a place for faithful blogging in the kingdom.

This is not an invitation to make this a discussion about Mark Driscoll or his ministry, only about what he tweeted on this particular occasion.


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