Friday, September 30, 2011

Race and Christianity

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

Bloodlines Documentary with John Piper from Crossway on Vimeo.

What difference does the presence of Christ make?

What would change if churches took more seriously Luke's message - the Holy Spirit's message - that the life of the church is the continuing teaching and doing ministry of Jesus Christ, the risen and exalted Lord?...

How would an awareness of Christ's presence affect all the issues surrounding the control and direction of the church: planning, strategizing, budgeting, chain-of-command, church councils, etc.? Is it clear from Acts that it would not mean dismantling all structures of human leadership, leaving the church as an amorphous, emotion-driven mass of spontaneity, flowing in whatever direction the Spirit seems to 'lead.'...The presence of Jesus among us by his Spirit does not exempt us from careful planning and courageous leadership. But it does demand that we not take our plans too seriously. We dare not trust in our plans for success, nor can we 'bend' God's word or our consciences to fit what seems expedient. Do church leaders so idolize their own control of the church that the Spirit's gifts to all its members are shackled? Do we resent the delays and detours that the Lord of the church may decide to inject into our itineraries for church growth? The presence of Jesus demands that we formulate and reformulate our fallible plans in order to keep in step with his invincible plan. We must stay alert to unplanned, unexpected opportunities for witness and service, remaining patient and full of hopes when encountering setbacks, and being sensitive to the surprising resources he gives to all his people.
Dennis Johnson, The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption

Monday, September 26, 2011


Paul Tripp's newest book is entitled Forever. WTSbooks is offering it right now for 35% off. Check it out HERE.

Publisher's Description:

Is this all you're living for? For years, pastor Paul Tripp understood we were 'hardwired for forever.' But he didn't understand that it was more than a valuable insight. It is a practical tool to help us face the disappointment of everyday life. Now he knows, and he can help you discover how to survive and thrive in the middle of your story, with the final chapter of heaven in view.

Instead of embracing the world's motto---'you only live once'---follow Tripp as he unpacks the biblical truth of the world as a broken place, longing for a second chance. And come alive as you discover the meaning and redemption all this brokenness can bring to your life today. With practical insights on how eternity impacts your relationships, your job, your kids, and your deepest struggles, you'll be encouraged to relax into the eternal story God is writing for you.

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I began a new series of messages entitled The Mission. The messages will examine the church's commission to make disciples. The first sermon is entitled "God: The Original Missionary" and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

Presiding over the ruins...

The longer I am an "evangelical" the more I realize that I have less and less in common with this far too broad, unserious, banal, (feel free to supply your own adjective) movement.

I was going to comment on Phil Johnson's latest sobering and excellent post but Carl Trueman supplies the commentary quite nicely.

Trueman writes:

I read 2 Cor 6 this morning. Then, in an idle moment, my attention was brought to Phil Johnson's latest post over at Pyromaniacs. As usual, the good doctor nails it. And I was more sickened than I have been for many a year by what he highlights there -- the videos and the defence of what the videos contain by one of the great and the good.. WARNING: it contains material, language and behaviour many viewers will find offensive. Sadly, that is not unusual in 'gospel' circles these days.

My mind went to 2 Corinthians 6:6-7. And given the identities of the men involved and their "great white hope" status in terms of gospel outreach, I was left wondering if I really do believe a different gospel after all.

Check it out for yourselves, bearing in mind the `viewer discretion' notice I posted. And thanks to Phil Johnson for having the courage the blow the whistle on such wicked ugliness parading itself as the light of gospel hope. I am sure he'll get ignored or creamed or ridiculed by the establishment; but such was always the way. That is what Paul describes elsewhere in that same chapter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Take and Read

WTSBooks is offering Paul Tripp's excellent book Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands for 50% off. This is one every Christian ought to read.

A wonderful application of the old Gaelic saying, 'God strikes straight blows with crooked sticks.' As inadequate as we are, God is eager to use us to help others change. The more you apply the biblical principles discussed in this book, the more readily you will fit into his mighty hand.
-Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker

Tripp is a careful and skillful physician of the heart. He unites a loving heart with a mind trained to the Scriptures. This book is a great companion for pastors and counselors. It will guide anyone who wants to give real help to others, the saving help that is found in Christ's redeeming work.
-Richard D. Phillips, author of Walking With God

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why you should be bringing your children to "big church"

David Fitch has posted a great article concerning the reasons why parents should, indeed must bring their children to the corporate worship of God's people. To the complaint that "My children don't get anything out of the service," Fitch offers three responses:

1.) There’s an encounter with the living God here at our worship service. Your son/daughter need to be coached into that reality. They need to be prepared for the reality that we gather into His presence so that we might in turn know His presence in every area of our everyday lives. Let us join together then, we the church and the parents, to help our children become people sensitive to the encounter with the Almighty Forgiving and Saving/Renewing God in our lives and in our daily walk.

2.) But Discerning God is Rarely Immediately Obvious. God is hidden. So your son and/or daughter and our church need to learn and be sensitized to discerning the presence of God. If we put God into sound bites or hyped up worship experiences, then your child will learn instinctually that church is the only place he or she can find God. And this simply isn’t true. In our world, especially given the dominant educational and media frameworks, God has been framed out of our sightlines. God has become a privatized internal experience. Part of being in worship together is the place for all of us, including our children, to learn how to discern God. It takes subtle encouragement, asking questions, nurturing in the right direction, not pushing too hard. We the church and the parent must come together to help our children or else they will become moral therapeutic deists (I love that nomenclature J).

3.) Children Ultimately Will Follow/Imitate Their Parents and Adults They Can Respect – therefore one’s children and how they are progressing can function as an excellent diagnostic for our own level of engagement with God. I must be careful to not overstate this because children all develop differently. But let’s face it, eh? If we are forcing our children to do something we are ourselves are disconnected from, it ain’t going to happen. If we send our children to a more “passive” entertaining form of worship service, they will ultimately learn to become observers of the Christian faith not livers of the way of Jesus and His Kingdom. If they see our life with God as something we do when it offers us something pragmatically advantageous to the American life, it will become something to be used when helpful, put on a shelf when not, they too will do this. Any differential between what we do and how we live as a family could prejudice them for a lifetime against Christianity as a false form of ideological existence.

Read the entire article HERE.

The beauty of assurance...

It is not God's will that we live our lives doubting our salvation. Unfortunately some formulations of regeneration depend upon our feelings at any given moment or whether or not we prayed the right prayer or prayed it and really meant it. Many of you grew up in this kind of doubt enducing, joy robbing, man-centered approach to salvation.

In the following video, pastor J.D. Greer explains why he was baptized four times growing up.

Baptized Four Times from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday's Sermon

Sunday marked ten years to the day after September 11, 2001. In light of that calamatous day, I preached a sermon entitled "When the Tower Fell" based on Luke 13:1-5. You can listen to or download it HERE.

Are you a small group leader?

Community: Taking Your Group Off Life Support

From the Publisher:

House examines healthy, gospel-centered small groups in three sections. In the first, he lays a foundation for the need and purpose of small-group community. He then presents a big-picture "health plan" for small groups, looking closely at the nuts and bolts of small-group ministry. The book ends with a practical section detailing ways churches can move forward to missional small groups that bless each other, the church, and their communities.

With wisdom and candor, House helps churches think carefully about the state of their own small groups and, where necessary, take steps toward a healthier, gospel-centered community. Pastors and church leaders, as well as small groups, will find this guide to be a catalyst in their growth and development.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Take and Read

A Place for Weakness by Michael Horton

Read my review HERE.

In the aftermath of September 11, Christians have been asked, once again, to address the problem of evil. While acknowledging evil’s mysteriousness, part of my response to those requests has included a question for the questioner, namely, ‘How do you explain the problem of good?’ In other words, while some of us are less likely than others to become terrorists, in the mirror of God’s law we are all wicked. We all fail to love God and our neighbor in countless ways every day. So the real question is, ‘Why does the world include any good?’ Apart from God’s providence, September 11 would have been a normal day. Yet we all know that it was, in fact, abnormal. Even though such terrorism is an ever present threat, God’s common grace usually restrains it from happening. Because of the depravity of the human heart and the corruption of institutions in which sinful habits have become deeply embedded, things are often bad, but they are never as bad as they could be, thanks to God’s common grace (p. 96).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Facing Evil

Ultimately Christians will take refuge from their questions about evil not in proud theories that explain evil away, but in combating evil, opposing it, especially evil within themselves but also in the larger world as well. Christians will take refuge from their questions about suffering not in bitterness, self-pity, resentment against God, or trite clich├ęs but in endurance, perseverance, and faith in the God who has suffered,who has fought with evil and triumphed, and whose power and goodness ensure that faith resting in him is never finally disappointed.
D.A. Carson

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/11 - Ten Years On...

Today, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a panel discussion on the theological implications of the 9/11/2001 calamity. Check it out HERE.

Sermons From Ruth

Last Sunday I completed a six week series through the book of Ruth entitled "Faithful God".

The sermons in the series were:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On NOT fitting in...

From Carl Trueman:

It seems a bit of a brouhaha is developing over the exclusion of (or, perhaps better, lack of invitation to) evangelical Protestants to participate in the religious ceremonies at the National Cathedral this weekend to commemorate 9/11. The prayer vigil will, according to Fox News, include the dean of the Cathedral, the Bishop of Washington, a rabbi, a Buddhist nun and incarnate lama, a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North America and a Muslim musician. But no Southern Baptists, and, presumably, no Missouri Synod Lutherans, PCA pastors, OPC ministers etc. And no musicians from the classic rock fraternity either, for that matter -- unless we are perhaps talking Cat Stevens here. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention is apparently upset at this act of `tragic intolerance towards Protestants.'

I think the Rev. Page has misunderstood the reason for the exclusion: it seems the powers that be in Washington understand the implications of the biblical evangel better than some evangelical leaders (emphasis mine). Rather than lamenting the situation, the Southern Baptists should be delighted that the organizers had the sensitivity and foresight not to place them in the grim position of having to turn down such an invitation in order to avoid compromising their orthodox, Protestant identity. The public relations disaster that would have followed this elementary stand for biblical truth and exclusivity would have been spectacular. After all, how could one maintain that one is taking seriously 1 Timothy 2 while sharing prayer time with a real-life incarnate lama?

The Southern Baptists need to stop feeling disappointed that such a well-intentioned but theologically incoherent gathering does not want their presence and they should instead remember the wisdom of Marx - not Karl, but Groucho: you should never want to join any club that would have you as a member.

Why Is The Church Here?

Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert's new book, What is the Mission of the Church is now available at a deep discount HERE.

"In what appears to be a growing tension over what the mission of the church encompasses, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a remarkably balanced book that can correct, restore, and help regardless of which way you lean or land on all things ‘missional.’ I found the chapters on social justice and our motivation in good works to be especially helpful. Whether you are actively engaging the people around you with the gospel and serving the least of these or you are hesitant of anything ‘missional,’ this book will help you rest in God’s plan to reconcile all things to himself in Christ."
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Highland Village, Texas

"Among the many books that have recently appeared on mission, this is the best one if you are looking for sensible definitions, clear thinking, readable writing, and the ability to handle the Bible in more than proof-texting ways. I pray that God will use it to bring many to a renewed grasp of what the gospel is and how that gospel relates, on the one hand, to biblical theology and, on the other, to what we are called to do."
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The Mission of the Church from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday's Sermon

On Sunday I wrapped up the series through the book of Ruth with the sixth message in the series. It is entitled "Mission Accomplished" and can be listened to or downloaded HERE.

The sometimes painful obedience of preaching...

Without the preaching place, I think few would have occassion to be offended at me; and there I am not master of myself, but must obey Him who commands me to speak plain and to flatter no flesh on the face of the earth.
John Knox

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to destroy a culture...

Joe Carter has written a fascinating article entitled How to Destroy a Culture in 5 Easy Steps. Check it out.