Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Cross-Centered Ministry

I was privileged to preach my first sermon today as Teaching Pastor of Church of the Saviour. I was blessed by the kindness and encouragement of the people of COS. The text was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. It is Paul's manifesto, of sorts, concerning his manner of life and ministry among the Corinthian believers. It is also a pattern that all men called to full time service to the Gospel would do well to follow.

The outline of the message was:
1. The Message of the Cross-Centered Ministry (vv.1-2)
2. The Disposition of the Cross-Centered Ministry (vv.3)
3. The Power of the Cross-Centered Ministry (v.4)
4. The Fruit of the Cross-Centered Ministry (v.5)

1. The Message of the Cross-Centered Ministry
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (ESV)

These are sobering words not least of all because they stand in such contrast to much of the foolishness that goes on in the name of Christianity these days. The church in our day is guilty of what Michael Horton calls “Christless Christianity.” Jesus is present. He is mentioned and in some cases talked about a lot. But it is Jesus apart from his atoning work. It is Jesus as moral example. It is Jesus as therapist or life coach. It is Jesus as a nice fellow who likes us and desperately wants us to like him. But he is not Jesus the Christ who died as our substitute to satisfy the just wrath of God.

The word “crucified” in this passage is a perfect, passive participle in the Greek. The perfect tense describes actions completed in the past whose effect continue into the present. So when Paul summarizes the Gospel by writing “Christ crucified” he is saying that Jesus’ present and eternal identity is stamped by the cross – his atoning work.

The cross was not a momentary tragedy that was canceled out by the resurrection. Rather, to know the risen Christ is to know him as the crucified Savior. Any account of Jesus’ life and work that leaves out his atoning work on the cross is not the Gospel.

Paul tells the Corinthians that he came to them for this purpose: to proclaim the good news of Christ crucified. In chapter 15 he calls this message the thing he passed along to them as of first importance. No other message can save but this one of Christ and His cross. What does Paul say in Romans 1:16? “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe…”

What a remarkable and counter-intuitive statement. The power of God, Paul says, is a message. God’s power to save, His power to raise the dead to new life, His power to open blind eyes is found in the proclamation of a message. And the message is not, “Jesus was nice, you be nice too.” It is the message of Jesus Christ crucified.

Little wonder then why Paul wrote, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This verse has been puzzling to many. But it is critical. This is, I believe, the defining statement of Christian ministry. Did Paul mean that he preached only the narrative of the crucifixion event? Obviously not. Indeed Paul reminded the elders at Ephesus that in his ministry among them he preached "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

In saying that he knew nothing among the Corinthians save Christ and Him crucified means that Paul preached the Bible as it ought to be preached. Christ and His atoning work is the axis point of Scripture. Spurgeon famously said that just as all roads in England will eventually lead to London so all portions of Scirpture will eventually lead to Jesus. Jesus himself made it plain that He was revealed throughout the Old Testament.

Paul never preaches what Edmund Clowney used to call “synagogue sermons.” He never preached moralistic messages about how to be better persons that could just as easily be preached by someone who did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. Without the doing, dying, and rising of Christ Paul’s preaching would have made no sense. The standard that all Christian proclamation must stand up to is this: Does this message make any sense apart from Jesus Christ and Him crucified?

If we are merely culling the Bible for useful quotes or principles for successful living then we are not proclaiming a distinctively Christian message. Our message remains the same message that the apostles pressed upon their hearers: the message of Christ and Him crucified. Nothing else will do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mahaney & Bridges

Click HERE to listen to C.J. Mahaney's interview with Jerry Bridges. Great stuff.

The State of the Church

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We Preach Christ Crucified

As I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 for this Sunday's message I resonated with Paul Washer's "hard words" in this address at the Deeper Conference:

Still More on Southern Baptists and Calvinism

Tom Ascol is a guy I like. He is a scholar and a pastor. He is gracious and shows great care in what he writes. Dr. Ascol, a Southern Baptist pastor in Florida has been a pivotal player in the discussion about Calvinism in the SBC. He has brought dignity to the discussion while many others have only thrown fuel on the fire.

In a recent post at the Founders blog Dr. Ascol addresses three issues that have fostered further division and confusion within the SBC regarding the issue of Reformed theology.

He writes:

"Three events over the last few weeks have called fresh attention to one of the serious doctrinal issues currently brewing in the SBC. There are others, and they are not unimportant, but the one that looms large on the horizon is the debate over Calvinism or reformed theology. Terminology matters, so let me quickly assert that what I mean by "Calvinism" is exactly what the great Southern Baptist statesman, John Broadus, meant when he wrote,

The people who sneer at what is called Calvinism might as well sneer at Mont Blanc. We are not in the least bound to defend all of Calvin's opinions or actions, but I do not see how any one who really understands the Greek of the Apostle Paul or the Latin of Calvin and Turretin can fail to see that these latter did but interpret and formulate substantially what the former teaches.
"What we are talking about is the sovereignty of God in salvation including unconditional election, total depravity of sinful nature, definite atonement of particular sinners by the death of Christ, the monergistic work of the Spirit in regeneration and the preserving grace of God operating in the life of every believer. We are not talking about sprinkling babies.

"The three events that have put the spotlight on this issue recently have come from those who are not merely non-Calvinists, but are more accurately described as anti-Calvinists. They profess to have no axe to grind against Calvinism but their tone and treatment are unhelpful to the kind of fraternal dialogue that Southern Baptists desperately need to be cultivating at this point in our history."

Read the entire post HERE.

You may also be interested in reading the dialogue between Dr. Ascol and Dr. Malcolm Yarnell of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the comment thread.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God's Word is greater than grand rhetoric

In preparing to preach from 1Corinthians 2:1-5 I have once again come up against Paul's words concerning his lack of rhetorical flair. He points out to the Corinthian believers that he was with them in "weakness, fear, and much trembling." What is more, he writes, "my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom" (v. 4). Now, we know that Paul was no backwoods yokle. He was well educated and had a sharp mind. He was certainly a compelling writer. But Paul was persuaded, and rightly so, that if sinners were to be regenerated then what was needed was God's powerful Word, not the apostle's impressive rhetoric.

In studying this week I found this little gem:
For it was not without an admirable arrangement of Providence, that the sublime mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have for the greater part been delivered with a contemptible meanness of words. Had they been adorned with a more splendid eloquence, the wicked might have cavilled, and alleged that this constituted all their force. But now, when an unpolished simplicity, almost bordering on rudeness, makes a deeper impression than the loftiest flights of oratory, what does it indicate if not that the Holy Scriptures are too mighty in the power of truth to need the rhetorician’s art?

Hence there was good ground for the Apostle’s declaration, that the faith of the Corinthians was founded not on “the wisdom of men,” but on “the power of God,” (1 Cor. 2:5), this speech and preaching among them having been “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” (1 Cor. 2:5). For the truth is vindicated in opposition to every doubt, when, unsupported by foreign aid, it has its sole sufficiency in itself. How peculiarly this property belongs to Scripture appears from this, that no human writings, however skilfully composed, are at all capable of affecting us in a similar way. Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any other of that class: you will, I admit, feel wonderfully allured, pleased, moved, enchanted; but turn from them to the reading of the Sacred Volume, and whether you will or not, it will so affect you, so pierce your heart, so work its way into your very marrow, that, in comparison of the impression so produced, that of orators and philosophers will almost disappear; making it manifest that in the Sacred Volume there is a truth divine, a something which makes it immeasurably superior to all the gifts and graces attainable by man.

John Calvin, from his Institutes of the Christian Religion

Hitchens and Wilson: The God Debate

Check out this debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson held at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Whose Voice?

It seems that the Emergent folks have come up with a Bible they can call their own.

Thanks to Chris over at Extreme Theology for this update:

Emergent church leaders such a Brian McLaren and Chris Seay in conjunction with a pack of poets, songwriters and storytellers have just released a new “translation” of the Bible that they claim is a “fresh expression of the timeless narrative known as the Bible”. The name of this fresh “translation” is The Voice and it claims to be a dynamic translation of the Bible. Unfortunately, not since the release of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures in 1950 has there been a bible published that so blatantly mangles and distorts God’s Word in order to support a peculiar and aberrant theological agenda.

I recently purchased a copy of this fresh “dynamic translation” of Bible and spent some time doing comparative work with key passages of the New Testament from The Voice, The ESV and the Greek text. Sadly I must report that this new Emergent “translation” is so far off the mark that I think one could reasonably argue that by producing their own distorted version of the Bible the Emergent church has crossed the line from being a ‘movement’ to actually becoming a cult.

Read the entire post HERE.

Sure Sign of the Apocalypse

Weakness, Fear, and Much Trembling

My family and I have been in Philadelphia for a little over three weeks. The transition has been a good one. The people of COS are to be thanked for their kindness and sensativity. During these days we have been learning the lay of the land both literally and figuratively. I have a better understanding of the history and personality of COS which has been helpful. Also being out of the pulpit during this time, while frustrating, has been useful in allowing me to pay more attention to my family than I otherwise would have.

That said, I will be preaching my first sermon as pastor of Church of the Saviour this Sunday. I will be preaching from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. It reads as follows:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

I am challenged by Paul's unswerving confidence in the message of the cross to be a message freighted with God's power. I am also moved by his humility. Though unquestionably intellegent and gifted, Paul placed no confidence in himself. Though able to reason a point well he placed no confidence in his ability to win a debate. Rather his confidence lay in a message that was then and is now considered foolish. It is the Gospel, the message of the cross, the proclamation of Christ's doing, dying, and rising.

Paul's weakness and trembling corresponded to the weakness and foolishness of the message he was charged to proclaim. Also, I am sure his fear stemmed from the magnitude of his task. What an awesome thing it is to be entrusted with the oversight of the Body of Christ. It is indeed a burden to lead and teach the flock of God. It is a glad burden but a burden none-the-less. All those given that responsibility would do well to tremble.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Take and Read

Michael Horton is a writer and theologian who always challenges me. He writes both for the academy and a lay audience. I appreciate that about him. Dr. Horton is Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary California. He is also the host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of my favorite magazine - Modern Reformation.

Dr. Horton's latest book, Christless Christianity has been rocking my world lately. It's not that he is saying something novel. Indeed, he is identifying a problem that is right under our collective nose but that few of us are able or willing to articulate: for all of our talk about Jesus we have lost Christ. Jesus as moral example, revolutionary, religious reformer, or loving prophet is fine. But Jesus as The Christ, the propitiation of God's wrath and substitute for sinners is as out of fashion as He was in Paul's day.

Read what William Willimon (a United Methoodist, no less) writes in the foreword of Christless Christianity:

He we are in the North American church - conservative or liberal, evangelical or mainline, Protestant or Catholic, emergent or otherwise - cranking along just fine, thank you. So we're busy downsizing, becoming culturally relevant, reaching out, drawing in, making disciples, managing the machinery, utilizing biblical principles, celebrating recovery, user-friendly, techno savy, finding the purposeful life, practicing peace with justice, utilizing spiritual disciplines, growing in self-esteem, reinventing ourselves as effective ecclesiastical entrepreneurs, and, in general, feeling ever so much better about our achievements.

Notice anything missing in this pretty picture? Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ indeed. In Flannery O'Conner's wild, wickedly funny novela, Wise Blood, her antipreacher, Hazel Motes, preaches a "Church without Christ" where nobody sheds blood, and there's no redemption "'cause there ain't no sin to redeem," and "what's dead stays that way." I always thought O'Conner's book an outrageous, wildly improbable satire. Then Mike Horton comes along and names the "Church without Christ" as our pervasive ecclesial reality. Horton accuses us of achieving what has never transpired in the entire history of Christendom. Somehow we've managed to preach Christ crucified in such a way that few are offended, a once unmanageable God suddenly seems nice, and the gospel makes good sense - as we are accustomed to making sense. We just can't stand to submit to the machinations of a living God who is determined to have us on God's terms rather than ours, so we devise a god on our own terms. Flacid, contemporary Christianity is the result.

Now read what Horton writes in the opening chapter:
It is easy to become distracted from Christ as the only hope for sinners. Where everything is measured by our happiness rather than by God's holiness, the sense of our being sinners becomes secondary, if not offensive. If we are good people who have lost our way but with the proper instructions and motivation can become a better person, we need only a life coach, not a redeemer. We can still give our assent to a high view of Christ and the centrality of his person and work, but in actual practice we are being distracted from "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). A lot of the things that distract us from Christ these days are even good things. In order to push us offpoint, all that Satan has to
do is throw several spiritual fads, moral and political crusades, and other 'relevance' operations into our field of vision. Focusing the conversation on us - our desires, needs, feelings, experience, activity, and aspirations - energizes us. At last, no we're talking about something practical and relevant...

Yet even in this pursuit, he is more subtle than we imagine. He lulls us to sleep as we trim our message to the banality of popular culture and invoke Christ's name for anything and everything but salvation from the coming judgment...

I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself. Aside from the packaging, there is nothing that cannot be found in most churches today that could not be satisfied by any number of secular programs and self-help groups.
I commend Christless Christianity to your careful reading.

Other books by Michael Horton you may want to check out:

Putting Amazing Back Into Grace (one of my "must reads")

Too Good To Be True (dealing with suffering and disapointment)

The Law of Perfect Freedom (Christians and the Ten Commandments)

Where in the World is the Church (Christians engaging the culture)

God of Promise (understanding covenant theology)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The "peaceful" religion of Hinduism

Over at Times Online Rhys Blakely writes about the continuing problem of Hindu violence against Christians. I am posting it here because the mainstream media is usually quite deaf to the sounds of Christians being murdered.

Blakely reports that Hindus are being paid to kill Christians. He writes:

The US-based head of a Christian organisation that runs several orphanages in Orissa – one of India’s poorest regions – claims that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and carry a price on their heads. “The going price to kill a pastor is $250 (£170),” Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India, said.

A spokesman for the All-India Christian Council said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties. They are being offered foreign liquor, chicken, mutton and weapons. They are given petrol and kerosene.”
Read the entire article HERE.

Music Break

I have a lot of affection for the music of the 70's. The bands at that time were expected to know more than three or four chords. In other words, they were actually musicians. Back in the day Kansas was an amazing band. Steve Walsh had one of the best voices in popular music. Another thing I like about Kansas is that they were not exactly a pretty boy band.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does this surprise anyone?

"I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Trangendered, Queer] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."
- Tony Jones

Read the entire statement HERE.

Basic Christianity at 50

One of the books I always keep in stock in my office is Basic Christianity by John Stott. There is no telling how many people have come to Christ and/or been instructed in their early days as Christians through this little book. I commend it not only to your reading but also as resource to give to friends and associates who are inquiring about Christ. Give a copy of Basic Christianity to new believers and offer to meet with them over a period of weeks to discuss the content.

Over at Ref21 Dr. Derek Thomas (one of my favorite preachers) offers just about the best testimonial possible for any book.

He writes:

This past week, I received a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of John Stott's widely acclaimed best-seller, Basic Christianity. I first read this book in December 1971 as a thoroughly agnostic non-church-going freshman at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. I was reading Karl Popper at the time fascinated by his advancing of the method of empirical falsification. My world consisted of physics, mathematics and some of the philosophical assumptions in vogue in the sixties. And, of course, Wagner!

Then along came John Stott's Basic Christianity.

"Out of the blue" it came (through the mail in fact from a friend who had just been converted to Christianity) and I began to read it. I didn't stop until the last page when I fell on my knees late one evening and asked if God was there, that he'd make himself known to me.
Or something like that. To be honest, I knew nothing about Christianity and even less about the Bible. But John Stott's Basic Christianity introduced me to Jesus Christ who, until that time, had been but a swear word.

Re-reading Basic Christianity has been a moving experience for me for at least three reasons:
First, I remain as convinced now, thirty-seven years later, as I was that day in December that Jesus Christ is both the only God there is and that his sacrificial, propitiating death on my behalf is the only hope I have of reconciliation with God.

Second, I remain as convinced now as I was then, that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. I had never opened the Bible until that day (in fact, I didn't possess one), but as soon as I did, I knew immediately that this was no ordinary book that I was reading. Men were speaking in it to be sure, but they spoke "from God" (2 Pet. 1:21).

Third, I remain convinced now as I became convinced then that nominal Christianity wasn't enough to save. As John Stott himself wrote in Basic Christianity:

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit the convenience. no wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism." (p. 108).
Thank you, Dr. Stott.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Case for a Christ-Centered Interpretation of Scripture

I value the work of Vern Poythress. He has been enormously helpful in the field of biblical hermeneutics.

In an article entitled "Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation" first published in the Westminster Journal of Theology Dr. Poythress writes:
Since human interpretation is corrupted by sin, it no less than other human activities stands in need of redemption. Interpretive sins no less than other sins can find a remedy only in the sacrifice of Christ (Acts 4:12). Hence we must affirm that Christ is the Savior of interpretation. We acknowledge this truth indirectly whenever we speak of the indispensable work of the Holy Spirit in illumining to us the message of Scripture (1 Cor 2:14-16). Yet this work of the Holy Spirit can never be independent of the work of Christ in dying and rising in order to save us. Hence it is worthwhile to make explicit ways in which Christ redeems our human interpretation, as one aspect of his redemption of the total creation (Rom 8:18-27; Col 1:20).

We are accustomed to thinking of biblical interpretation as Christocentric. Biblical theologians correctly observe that NT use of the OT is consistently Christ-centered in character (note Luke 24:25-27, 44-49). "No matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes" in Christ" (2 Cor 1:20). Certainly this conviction should affect our hermeneutical procedure: we ought to come to any particular passage of the Bible asking the question of how the passage speaks about Christ. In a real sense, Christ is the central content of the Bible's message.

But Christ is the center of interpretation in at least two more senses besides this familiar one. First, he is the Lord of interpretation. As the omnipotent God and the eternal Word he is not only the author and speaker of Scripture, but also the creator, the providential ruler, and the standard for every step in every person's interaction with the Bible.

Second, Christ is our redeemer with respect to interpretive sinfulness. He is the substitute, sin-bearer, and purifier for our interpretive rebellion.

Read the entire article HERE.

Fight the Freedom Of Choice Act

Click HERE to sign a petition against the Freedom Of Choice Act.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would eliminate every restriction on abortion nationwide.

  • FOCA will do away with state laws on parental involvement, on partial birth abortion, and on all other protections.

  • FOCA will compel taxpayer funding of abortions.

  • FOCA will force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions.

Pray that President-elect Obama will have a change of heart about his promise to sign the FOCA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The Abbreviated Jesus"

Good stuff from Michael Spencer:
You’re going to discover that there’s a remarkable resemblance between the abbreviated Jesus and the current version of political correctness. (Isn’t it unusual how Jesus takes an interest in whatever happens to be the current rage on CNNMSNBCCBSSUSATODAY?

I’m not sure this abbreviated Jesus believes in hell.

He seems considerably more flexible on sexual matters than one would believe reading the Bible.

Living together before marriage? The abbreviated Jesus seems to have not issued a statement on that one.

I actually think the abbreviated Jesus doesn’t like to be bothered with issues of morality, character or behavior. He’s mostly interested in larger political and cultural issues, or your experience at your local church, or how you’re doing in your relationships.

The abbreviated Jesus has quite a bit in common with contemporary “life coaches,” talk show hosts, political apologists, faith-based advocates, teachers of “principles,” community organizers and family values lobbyists.

The people who talk about the abbreviated Jesus don’t seem to know much about the Bible. Not at all.

Read the entire post HERE.

Reading Robinson

I love reading Marilynne Robinson. One of my favorite books in recent years is her novel Gilead. Her ability to write as an aging midwestern pastor is remarkable. The book is a moving account of a Lutheran pastor who, coming to the end of his life keeps an extensive journal to pass on to his young son. I commend it to your reading. You will be rewarded.

Home, Robinson's follow-up to Gilead is on my nightstand ready to be opened.

The Washington Post recently carried an interesting piece on the Pulitzer Prize winning author.

If you want to understand how different Marilynne Robinson is from other contemporary novelists -- how different, in fact, from most contemporary human beings -- all you need to do is walk into her dining room.

"These are my favorite books in here," says the author of "Housekeeping," "Gilead" and the recently published "Home" as she motions toward the bookcase that fills one end of the small space. "See, look: Calvin, Calvin, Calvin."

Sure enough, here are the multivolume "Commentaries" of the great 16th-century Protestant theologian, whom Robinson considers one of the most falsely caricatured figures in history. Here are the two volumes of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," without which she thinks you can't understand Herman Melville. Surrounding these are a multitude of other theological and educational works, few less than a century old.

Read the entire article HERE.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Driven by the Word

Recent research has found some troubling trends in America. One trend that ought to cause us great concern is that since 1991 the number of unchurched in our country has almost doubled. The adult population has grown by 15 percent but the number of adults who do not attend church has risen from 39 million to 75 million. In light of this growing secularism many voices within the church have offered a variety of remedies. Some of the most popular remedies offered have resulted in a diminishing of the Word of God in the pulpits of our churches. We are told that to simply preach expositionally from the Bible is “boring” and “not relevant to the needs of modern Americans.” The result has been a church that is fascinated by fads and captivated by the trendy. We should not be surprised by the growing secularization within the church. We have thrown away the preaching of the Word in favor of “talks” driven by the latest fads in therapy, management, and personal growth. Ironically, by aping cultural trends we have sown the seeds of our own irrelevance. Is it any wonder that statistics show little or no difference between the lifestyles of those who call themselves Christians and those who do not? The remedy is not to be skilled at adopting or even adapting the techniques of the world but rather to once again affirm our reliance upon that which is unchanging.

Perhaps a letter from Bose that explains the superiority of their sound will illustrate my point:
“We strive to reproduce the musical sounds as closely as possible to those of the original performance. And we strive to avoid flashy sounds such as those associated with accentuated bass and/or treble frequencies. While these sounds may be initially attractive to the novice, they are not real and are not enduring.”
I can tell you from personal experience that the “initially attractive” sounds emanating from our culture can be very attractive to a pastor seeking to reach people. But where is our confidence? Do we trust the enduring Word of God? Do we believe that modern Americans are too sophisticated or too shallow to receive God’s Word taught and preached? Sadly, if one were to take a tour of the average evangelical church in America today the signs of the temporal and the flashy would be abundant.

I have often bemoaned the growing consumerist mindset in the church today. “If you want me to come to your church then offer me the goods and services I demand.” Pastors, wanting to preside over a large congregations, easily give in to the demands of parishioners-turned-customers. One recent article I read noted, “When people see themselves as the purpose and center of life, the church becomes a store of sorts where they can shop what the church has to offer and settle on the best value: which church gives the most to me while requiring the least from me?”

I don’t mean to sound simplistic but the remedy for this is found in the Bible. Divinely inspired, unerringly authoritative, and timelessly relevant, the Bible, through the power of the Holy Spirit, provides for the church both the content of our instruction and the measuring rod for our ministries. For the self-absorbed consumerist God’s Word says, “Whoever loses his life for Me (Jesus) will find it.” For the pastor wondering about the relevance of preaching the Bible says, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” For the church wondering about the relevance of the Bible I offer these words from II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Contrary to the shallow thinking in much of the church growth movement, the faithful and passionate preaching of God’s Word has great appeal to a generation that has lost its moorings. Our culture’s immersion in technology and the banal has heightened rather than lessened the relevance of a man standing to proclaim: “Thus says the Lord.” The current conditions of our world have made a real flesh and blood person faithfully teaching God’s Word to a small group or Sunday School class as needful as it has ever been. In an age that seems to have no category for a grand, divinely ordered narrative that guides our existence, the need is great for a church who points to a source of authority outside itself. God’s Word must drive our preaching, our teaching, our discipleship, our praying, and our fellowship. I know of no other way to be faithful to our calling to be a city set upon a hill.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God is Good...all the time?

In Genesis, Scripture tells us that the first thing God did after He created the universe and everything in it was to observe all He had done and conclude that it was “very good.” The goodness was not something inherent in creation nor was it some randomly acquired characteristic. That creation was “very good” was and is a by-product of the fact that God the Creator is very good. And yet this essential goodness that is a part of God’s character was questioned early on by His crowning achievement: man. Helped along by the serpent, man questioned why God would want to withhold something (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) from His creation. Though everything in the garden was perfect, the vegetation, the animals, the weather, and most notably man’s communion with God, Adam and Eve nevertheless chose to indulge in the one thing they were told to avoid. Something happened in that moment that would forever infect man with the propensity to question God’s goodness. In a sense that is what sin is: calling into question God’s utter goodness. We take things we should not take, linger on thoughts we should resist, and embrace habits we should shun all because we believe these will provide for us something that God has failed to give. Our sin, among other things, is a bold declaration of our disbelief in the goodness of God.

The serpent in the garden was not stupid. He knew if he could lead mankind to call God’s goodness into question it would place a wedge between God and man that would not easily be removed. How can we trust someone whose goodness we question? How can we honor and love someone we do not trust? When God told the Israelites to take possession of the Promised Land, we are told that they trembled at the thought because the inhabitants of the land were so powerful and fierce. They cried out, “The Lord hates us so He brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us” (Dt. 1:27). We read those words and shake our heads at the Israelite’s lack of faith. We wonder how anyone, particularly God’s people, could actually think that God hates them. And yet, what bitter waters flow through the private corners of our mind when our dreams crash, our health fails, our job disappears, or a loved one contracts cancer? Do we not sometimes find ourselves toying with the idea that God’s intentions toward us are less than good?

Our problem is that we have a fundamentally flawed definition of goodness. We call a person good if they make us feel good. We call a circumstance good if it makes us feel good. The people who make our list of closest friends are there primarily because they do things that make us happy. We apply the same standard to God. If God is good and in control then certainly He will purpose for us only those things that are pleasant. When we think like this our faith rests on very shaky ground. The crises of life, be they major or minor, begin to slowly erode our confidence in God. Oh for the faith of Job who, in the face of devastating heart break, cried out, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him!” Eli is another example of this kind of thick confidence in God’s goodness. Angered by the wickedness of Eli’s sons, God brought judgment down upon his entire family. Upon learning of the Lord’s judgment from Samuel, Eli confessed, “He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes” (I Sam 3:18). Eli understood that God is a better judge of what is truly good than is sinful man.

God is good all the time. God is doing us good when He convicts us of our sin because He is committed to our sanctification. When God disciplines us He is doing us good because “the Lord disciplines those He loves” (Heb. 12:6). God is doing good to us when He humbles us.
“In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.”
Dt. 8:16
God is doing us good when he prunes us. One of the things I cannot quite get used to doing is pruning my trees. It seems so counterintuitive to cut off new and vibrant growth. That is, however, exactly what is required if greater and fuller growth is to occur. When God cuts away things in my life that seem good to me I must understand that He is making a way for greater growth and that is always for my good. God’s ancient promise to His people in Jeremiah 32:40 still stands: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them.” Whether we know it or not, whether we feel like it or not, God has not stopped doing us good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Misunderstanding the doctrine of election

Read this excellent essay by Dr. Wayne Grudem. Many of the people I have met who oppose the doctrine of God's sovereign election do so on the basis of common misunderstandings. Grudem examines and effectively deals with those misunderstandings.

Contextualization run amok

Check out this interview with Ed Young Jr. on CNN. The interviewer seems to have more wisdom on this issue than the tragically hip pastor.

Young is the pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. Although he dodges it, Fellowship Church is a Southern Baptist Church.

Oh for pastors who will preach Christ and His cross!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rowan Williams gets God off the hook

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of the Church of England was in New York on September 11, 2001 not far from the World Trade Center. This article tells of Williams' experience that fateful day and the days that followed. What is revealed is a man whose concept of God is quite small.

“When [Rowan] got to the rubric for the homily he was totally surprised; he hadn't expected to preach, so he preached off the cuff. He went back to an encounter that he had with an airline pilot on the streets at 7am that morning. The pilot said to him, “Where the hell was God?” Rowan's answer was that God is useless at times like this. Now that's pretty shocking, but actually what he then went on to unpack is that God didn't cause this and God [was not] going to stop it, because God has granted us free will, and therefore God has to suffer the consequences of this like we do. So in a sense he exonerated God...”

Is it any wonder why the Church of England is in such a state of chaos?

Any thoughts?

How would you have answered the pilot?

Just for fun

Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Disrupting Church

I am very curious to get your take on a recent event at a Lansing, Michigan church where homosexual protestors disrupted a service.

Read the story HERE.

How should a church respond to such an event?

Is the body of Christ called to "welcome" homosexuals? If yes then what does it mean to welcome? If no then what is the alternative?

Is there a difference between "welcoming" and speaking the truth in love?

How Not to Raise a Pagan

Check out this excellent message by Al Mohler. Dr. Mohler delivered this message at a chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Al Mohler is one of the outstanding scholars / leaders / communicators in evangelicalism. He is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Southern is the oldest and largest Southern Baptist Seminary.
You can hear more of Dr. Mohler's teaching and preaching HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Challenging Atheism

Writing for Christianity Today, William Lane Craig reports some encouraging news concerning college philosophy departments and atheism.

He writes:

Back in the 1940s and '50s, many philosophers believed that talk about God, since it is not verifiable by the five senses, is meaningless—actual nonsense. This verificationism finally collapsed, in part because philosophers realized that verificationism itself could not be verified! The collapse of verificationism was the most important philosophical event of the 20th century. Its downfall meant that philosophers were free once again to tackle traditional problems of philosophy that verificationism had suppressed. Accompanying this resurgence of interest in traditional philosophical questions came something altogether unanticipated: a renaissance of Christian philosophy.

The turning point probably came in 1967, with the publication of Alvin Plantinga's God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God. In Plantinga's train has followed a host of Christian philosophers, writing in scholarly journals and participating in professional conferences and publishing with the finest academic presses. The face of Anglo-American philosophy has been transformed as a result. Atheism, though perhaps still the dominant viewpoint at the American university, is a philosophy in retreat.

Read the entire article HERE.

For Further Reading:

The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath

The Last Superstition by Edward Feser

Monday, November 10, 2008

Southern Baptists and Calvinism (cont.)

Michael Spencer had the following to say about the recent John 3:16 Conference:

The fundamentalists who run the Southern Baptist Convention are after the Calvinists again. Obviously despairing that the “Building Bridges Conference” didn’t give the right preachers the opportunity to call Calvinists the right names, and faced with nagging possibility that out and out lies don’t go over as well when the guys you’re lying about are present in large numbers, the fundamentalists had a “John 3:16″ Conference at SBC President Johnny Hunt’s church. Speakers preached about the five points of Calvinism and straightened everyone out.

No recordings are posted, but Calvinistic live-bloggers were present (See their posts at My favorite part is the Caner Contention; the continual denial that Southern Baptists have any theological heritage at all except what the Bible says. We aren’t Arminians or Calvinists or anything else, they say. We’re just plain ‘ol Bible believing Baptists. Biblicists.

Bring up those crickets, Van Til. Thank you.

That’s a lie from anyone who says it. Not ignorance. Lying. They all know better.
I’m not a Calvinist, and some Calvinists ought to be put far, far away from the rest of us. But in general, the Calvinists in the SBC are more Gospel-centered and missionary than the rest of the convention. (Guess what seminary has sent the most IMB missionary candidates to the field the last decade? Yep, Southern. Where, of course, they can’t believe in missions. (jn)

The John 3:16 crowd is a sloppy bunch when it comes to scholarship, as Justin Taylor deftly and embarassingly demonstrates on his blog. Just about their every sentence at this kind of meeting makes an informed student of theology pause and wince. But they have Jerry Vines on their side, hawking his products and telling you what the greek really means.

Really, this is silly. Just silly. Calvinists in the SBC are doing far more good than harm, and the truth is that the fundamentalists need someone to blame for the fact that Jerry Falwell-style Evangelicalism is falling apart. One live-blogger said that 90% of the audience was middle-aged and over. That’s your problem old white guys: younger SBCers aren’t even listening to you anymore. You are talking to yourselves.

Martin Luther's Birthday

Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483.

Young Martin was brought up in a typically faithful Catholic family. Planning to become a lawyer he suddenly changed his vocational goals during a horrific thunderstorm. He became an Augustinian monk in Erfurt. He would later be ordained as a priest.

In 1512 Luther earned his doctor of theology degree at the University of Wittenberg. He was appointed as professor of theology, a position he held for the rest of his life.

Luther would probably had lived out his life as a professor and priest in the Roman Catholic Church had he not truly started to study the Bible.

Luther wrote:

I had been possessed by an unusually ardent desire to understand Paul in his epistle to the Romans. Nevertheless, in spite of the ardour of my heart, I was hindered by the unique word in the first chapter: 'The righteousness of God...' I hated that word 'righteousness of God,' because it accordance with the usage and custom of the doctors I had been taught to understand it philosophically as meaning, as they put it, the formal or active righteousness according to which God is righteous and punishes sinners and the unjust.

As a monk I led an irreproachable life. Nevertheless I felt that I was a sinner before God...Not only did I not love, but I actually hated the righteous God who punishes sinners...

Day and night I tried to meditate upon the significance of these words: 'The righteousness of God is revealed in it, as it is written: The righteous shall live by faith.' Then, finally, God had mercy on me, and I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that gift of God by which a righteous man lives, namely, faith, and that this sentence - 'The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel' - is passive, indicating that the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: 'The righteous shall live by faith.' Now I felt as though I had been reborn altogether and had entered Paradise...

Just as intensely as I had before hated the expression 'the righteousness of God,' I now lovingly praised this most pleasant word. This passage from Paul became for me the very gate to Paradise.

The World has not been the same since.


Today is all about unpacking my library. It is not an unpleasant task but it is time consuming. I am a little particular about my books so there is a very specific order in which I like them to be. I know this is opening me up to all kinds of pranks.

Karen has been valiantly trying to get our house in order. Since our current living arrangement is temporary it would be great to leave as much in boxes as possible. There seems, however, to be a little bit of something we need in each box.

The COS family has been very gracious during our transition. We are receiving gift cards and meals and many well-wishes.

The kids started school today at Delaware County Christian School. The drop off went well. Saturday was a flurry of buying uniforms and school supplies.

I won't be preaching until November 30th. That will give me a welcome break. I must confess however that I am chomping at the bit to preach my first sermon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why Pro-Life?

Randy Alcorn's indespensable book "Why Pro-Life? is available in pdf format HERE.

A few endorsements:

“Why ProLife is an invaluable resource for anyone trying to
help a friend or family member understand the pro-life
perspective.With clear, compelling language, Randy Alcorn
lays out the case for life, using the power of both reason and
—Charles W. Colson
Prison Fellowship,Washington, DC

“A well-thought-out and thorough analysis of why protecting
all human life is not only the right position but the only
position we as a society should support. I believe minds will
be changed after reading this book.”
—Kristen Day
Executive Director, Democrats for Life of America

“Randy Alcorn’s concise but comprehensive presentation of
the pro-life position is an invaluable resource for openhearted—
yet often tongue-tied—pro-lifers everywhere.”
—Frederica Mathewes-Green
Columnist, commentator, and author of
Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion

Should pastors be allowed to discuss politics?

There are some pastors on the left and the right who seem to do little else than rant about politics. I am one of those who has strong opinions about politics but will not publically endorse any candidates. I also do not "do politics" from the pulpit. For some, abortion and the sanctity of marriage are political issues and should therefore be off the table of pastoral discourse. But for a pastor to ignore the abortion outrage or the threats against a biblical construct of marriage would be pastoral misconduct.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to bring a biblical frame of reference to a whole variety of issues. In short, I am trying to "do" biblical worldview on this blog. That means, in part that I must deal with something as consequential as the election of our next president. It makes a difference who leads the most powerful nation on the planet. It would be ludicrous for me as a Christian and a pastor to act as if I had no thoughts on the matter or that Scripture was silent concerning such important issues.

On this blog I have made no secret of the fact that I could never vote for a pro-abortion candidate. I know that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate. We are all sinners and deeply flawed. But abortion is a non-negotiable for me. We all have them. None of us, thankfully, are pure pragmatists.

One of the things I am already noticing about the northeast is that there seems to be a very dismissive attitude toward those from the south and midwest. As a native Texan who lived and pastored in Wichita, KS the last nine years I am sure that some of my bretheren in Pennsylvania have a "bless his heart, he's never seen a Democrat" attitude toward me. The fact is, Kansas has one of the most liberal governors in the U.S. Also, the neighborhood in which I lived (College Hill) had a higher percentage of Obama campaign signs than any neighborhood I have seen since first visiting Philadelphia in June. What is more, I have brothers and sisters in the church I pastored all those years who proudly voted for Barack Obama.

As a follower of Jesus I must regularly interact with men and women with whom I have significant disagreements. It is a reality in which I live every day. I think, by God's grace, I do a pretty good job of agreeing to disagree in a loving manner. I don't expect my brothers and sisters in Christ to agree with me about everything. To my recollection that has never happened. I have worshipped and served with people who disagree with me about President Obama. Since politics is not my life I don't lose any sleep over that. I would hope that my brothers and sisters would extend to me the same love and acceptance.

I certainly have disagreements with our new President. But I will treat him with far more respect than President Bush was afforded over the last eight years. Barack Obama is my president. I will pray for him and hope for his success. I will not slander him. In addition to praying for his safety and that of his family I will also pray that the ideas of men like Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers do not find their way into his administration. This seems to me to be an honorable, indeed biblical position.

Redeeming the past

Anthony Carter has made some observations about President Obama's election that I found quite moving.

"Forty-five years ago a terrorist bomb ripped through the walls a church in Birmingham, AL, killing four young blacks girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) just getting out of Sunday School. This bomb not only ripped through the church, but it also ripped through the heart of America. It tore a wound in the fabric of our country that has been a long time healing. Since then, laws have been passed, schools have been desegregated, and in 2000 the court system finally brought to justice some of the racist men who were responsible for the demonic act. Yet, our nation still grieved for those little girls because we knew that justice still had not been done and healing could not take place. Redemption for this heinous act has been hard coming – until now. God has taken forty-five years to bring some level of redemption and healing to our hearts. Someone has said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. God’s redemptive purposes sometimes ripen slowly in our estimation, but they do ripen nonetheless. You see, with the election of Barack Obama, we will soon see two little black girls, Malia and Sasha Obama, running the hallways and playing on the lawn of the White House.

"Hearts that were broken with the tragic murder of little black girls in a house of worship will be somewhat mended by the playful laughter of two beautiful young black girls in the White House.Yes, there are other issues to consider. The plague that is abortion in this country still needs to be redeemed. Apparently, God in his wise, sovereign providence has not saw fit to address that issue with the election of Obama. I say, let us continue to labor to see this scourge upon our land come to an end. However, let us not so focus on what God did not do and miss what God did. In a real sense, God has redeemed the lives and legacy of those four little black girls and in doing so brought some redemption and healing to us all. Will we accept it? Will we rejoice in God’s purposes and ways?

"Yes, Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned. Abortion clinics need to be closed, boarded up, or turned into houses of refuge. It may take 45 years for this redemption. It has taken 45 years for the painful cries of little black girls to be turned to joyful laughter. Let us rejoice that God has brought this nation a bit of redemption. And let us pray that repentance for the cries of the unborn will soon follow."

Anthony Carter is a church planter and lead pastor of East Point Church in East Point Georgia.

Eric Redmond on Christocentric voting

My humble proposal of an attempt to be Christocentric rather than Afrocentric will not be received with approval by many African Americans that I know. I hope to live long enough to witness another African American become a candidate for President of the United States of America—a candidate who is pro-life and pro-righteousness. Yet my hope may ring hollow to many other African Americans who are celebrating a Democratic victory that happens to seem pro-African American. To the celebrants, I might be labeled as sore loser seeking to justify his reasons for siding with conservative white America rather than with Black America.In writing elsewhere about "how I have wrestled through the Christian version of the Uncle Tom epithet" (with respect to my embracing of Reformed Theology), I have penned this thought:

If a person would allow himself to be pigeonholed into becoming a person of a nationalistic or ethno-centric thought out of the fear of being viewed as an Oreo or Uncle Tom, then Reformed Theology is not for that person. But neither is the Gospel, for the Gospel calls each of us to stand against an ethnic-centered philosophy of one's own race, for such a philosophy is naturally conformed to this present world and is in need of redemption. If you cannot stand against your own culture where it does not square with the Scriptures, you are the one who is ashamed of Christ, and such shame has nothing to with philosophical or ontological Blackness; it only has to do with your view of the majesty of the God who calls you to deny yourself in order to follow Christ. ("Sovereign in a Sweet Home, Schooling, and Solace," in Glory Road: Our Journey Into Reformed Christianity, ed. Anthony Carter [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, Wheaton, forthcoming])

I am fairly certain that if J. C. Watts had been the Republican nominee for President, and if he had been running against Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, the great majority of African Americans would have found reason to vote for the wife of the "first Black President" and her liberal ideals rather than for Watts and his conservative ideals. In doing so, such a vote would indicate that the great majority of African Americans have feelings about the type of African American who would be deemed worthy their votes for the seat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—who would be worthy of African Americans' approval as their choice for their representative in the White House. Seemingly, for the Black Nationalist and the liberal, not every African American would qualify to wear an honor for which our ancestors were stolen, enslaved, whipped, lynched, dehumanized, and killed. Likewise, it is my opinion that my ancestors experienced such suffering and injustices so that it would be possible for any African American to reach the Oval Office, but not so that every African American, regardless of qualifications, could reach the Oval Office. Those who fought for civil rights for African Americans were doing so out of a moral impetus to see African Americans treated humanely—as human beings rather than like chattel or as 3/5ths-human. I think the best way to honor their work and lives when the office of Commander in Chief is within reach would be to continue that moral quest. That quest is continued by finding a candidate who seeks to see African Americans, even those in the womb, treated humanely—as people rather than as cattle for our labor and experimentation or as a 3/5th-human fetus.

Read the entire post HERE.

Praying for those in high position

Here are some helpful thoughts from John Piper concerning a proper attitude toward those in civil leadership.

Piper writes:

Grateful for (Almost) Any Government

How does the Bible instruct us to pray for “all who are in high positions”? It says,
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4).

A few observations:

1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.

And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler. We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever.

Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.

2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”

Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions.

So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.

3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.

This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How I am going to pray for President Obama

It seems inevitable that Barack Obama will be our next President. Some of my previous posts should indicate clearly what I think about the election results. But we do not base our joy or sense of identity on presidents or any other political leaders. What is clear from Scripture is that God is sovereign and no one comes to a position of power apart from the wise providence of God. That does not mean that all kings, presidents, senators, and judges are good or qualified. History and the witness of Scripture prove this.

What is also clear from Scripture is that it is the duty of Christians to honor those in civil leadership (Romans 13:1-7). This does not mean that the ruler's character is always worthy of honor. Nor does it mean that we are to obey the authorities if obeying them would put us at odds with what God has commanded. But all things remaining equal we must pray for our new president whether we voted for him or not.

So here is how I intend on praying for President Obama:
1. That he and his family will be kept safe from harm.
2. That he will seek to honor the Lord in his governing.
3. That he will be wise.
4. That he will surround himself with wise advisors.
5. That he will repent of his position on abortion.
6. That he will take seriously the threat of evil-doers against the U.S.
7. That he will sever ties with radicals (William Ayers) and racists (Jeremiah Wright).

While many of us will disagree with much of President Obama's decisions and beliefs we nevertheless must do what is right. If I am called to pray for my enemies then I can certainly pray for my president.

Ecclesiastes and the Election

Eric Redmond has posted some very helpful thoughts on his blog. Skillfully applying words from Ecclesiastes pastor Redmond reminds us that our joy must not rest in the outcome of political contests.

He writes:
So what is the point of the Preacher-Sage’s political analysis? What wisdom does he wish the righteous to gain from his musings? What is the link between the hope of the oppressed and the audacity of a poor boy to become a head of state? The message within the most explicitly Christianly hedonistic book in the Scriptures is this:

One’s observation of the nature of national political rule ought to lead the wise one to understand his/her true joy and meaning lay beyond any one political cycle or regime in this life.

Thus, the righteous cannot put all of their hopes in an election cycle,or earthly regime change. There is no earthly regime that will remove the meaninglessness of a life that is not centered around the enjoyment of God and his gifts. Our hope is in a King whose rule endures eternally—a rule that will be fully expressed without fear of being toppled by war or the democratic process.

I would suggest that at the end of the day – of Election Day – it would be wise to eat a slice or two of pound cake, drink some English Breakfast tea, rejoice with our families over all that the Lord has given us, and look to Him who will reign forever and ever. The joy we have in him will give meaning to life under the sun so matter who wins tonight’s election.


Read the entire post HERE.

Finally Here!

It's a long drive from Wichita, Kansas to Philadelphia. After a long three days on the road with two vehicles, three kids, pets (that's plural), and two periodically cranky adults we finally arrived in Philadelphia this evening at 6:30.

Our movers are going to be two days later than what was originally thought so we'll have to spend a few more nights in a hotel. But after today anything resembling a bed is a welcome sight.

Looking forward to this...

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I am a day late but here it is...

On The Road...

All is going well so far in our transition to Philadelphia. We have stopped over for a few days at my in-laws. They live just north of Kansas City. The plan from here is to travel to St. Louis on Sunday following church, lunch and other festivities. From St. Louis we will drive to Columbus, Ohio and then on Tuesday pull into Philly sometime after noon. Please hold us in your prayers for a safe journey. Pray also for Metro East Baptist Church as they begin the process of replacing me and for Church of the Saviour as they prepare to deal with me.

Sizing up the election

John Piper being his usual non-controversial self.

Phil Ryken: "The Suffering and the Glory..."

Check out this excellent message by Phil Ryken, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia entitled "The Suffering and the Glory: Pastoral Ministry in Union with Christ":


Also, this interview with Dr. Ryken is well worth the time: