Jul 232013
 

links_image1Sometimes, my limitations as a thinker and writer are made glaringly obvious.

Such is the case today when I open with two articles by Carl Trueman that basically say everything I’ve tried to say every day for the last five years.

The difference between being childish and child like and the hatred of authority...

What if the church became the Evangelical Industrial Complex?

“The aesthetics of success would subtly and imperceptibly supplant the principles of faithfulness or would indeed come to be identified with the same.”

“The key books on pastoral ministry would be written by men who either have no real experience of anything approaching normal pastoral ministry or have not had such for decades.”

“Leaders would gradually and sometimes self-consciously become brands. The instruments of fostering that intimacy of strangers which is such a part of celebrity culture – for example, the faux-chumminess of all those tweeted exchanges and retweets, lives lived as soap operas mediated by the internet – would feed smoothly, humbly, and imperceptibly into the building of one’s brand.”

Dr. Packer on the doctrine of Scripture…

Rejection actually hurts…

Julie Anne thinking about divorce and the church…

Christians and the protection of animals…

Why we Reformed folk are such jerks…

Polite words fail to express what an ungodly, lying, “bleep”  Ergun Caner is and how anyone (like Norm Geisler) who supports him should be ashamed.

Why Christians should be speaking up about the surveillance state…

The Gospel Coalition primer on child abuse…good, but they won’t sign the statement on it because it reflects badly on their buddy.

Simplicity and faith…

Why Americans care about the royal baby…

Matt Redmond…is the best.

Finally today, there has been a flurry of writing over the last year or so about the “God of the Old Testament” and how He is so different from Jesus, and how do we reconcile the two Gods of Christianity?

I confess…this has never troubled me, nor does it trouble me today.

At all.

Sorry.

The Bible is the progressive revelation of God to His people…and His ways and purposes in dealing with Israel were shadows of what He would fulfill in Christ.

God was showing two things primarily, in my opinion.

One, His desire that His people be a separated people from the prevailing culture and two, the depths of both our sin and His hatred of it.

We cherish and nurture our sin and would rather die than have people think we are different than what is popular.

We construct a “better” God in our own minds, one who looks a lot like ourselves, only taller.

Everything in the older testament points to Christ…and how God answered every question about His character on the cross.

Here then, for those who are troubled by those like me who are not troubled, is a collection of links on the topic.

Roger Olson gives a number of explanations, but leaves the answer to the eschaton…

Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God…

Learning to love Leviticus…

Can we trust the God of genocide?

Lots of stuff to talk about here…as I prepare for a couple of days seeking God in prayer on my beloved mountain at the end of the week.

Jul 222013
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251.“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you,”(2 Corinthians 7:6–7 ESV)

I’m convinced that the internet is actually isolating us from each other rather than bringing us together.

I used to joke that I knew more about what was going on in the churches of Albuquerque or Orange County than I did in my own hometown. It’s not a joke… it’s true, and it’s sin. The Bible speaks over and over again about the ministry and power of being present….not online, but in person. The most important “mission field” you have is your home, followed by your workplace and the local community. Your spiritual legacy will be the lives of the people you were actually present with….not the ones you emailed. God didn’t just send a book, He came Himself…

2. Conversely, the importance and effectiveness of your ministry declines in direct proportion to the distance from your home. We can make a temporary impact in far away places, but what you do at home lasts for generations.

3. We’ve had triple digit heat here for days and thus have had the need for careful hydration. The church bought us a case of bottled water for the skateparks (and ourselves) to aid in this. On the side of the bottle, underneath all the fancy graphics, it reads… “from a community water source.”. Trey asked me what that meant…”a faucet,” I replied. I’m convinced that the moral decline of this country began when we were convinced that we needed to buy bottled water from the store…

4. Speaking of that moral decline…has anyone (besides me) noticed that it has happened during a time when every pastor in town (and out of town) thinks they need their own radio or television broadcast? That it has happened while the airwaves are full of “the Gospel?” I think we’re entertaining the faithful and missing the masses by a country mile.

5. I also wonder about the conversion rate of the church in general…it seems like new church plants count more on transfer growth than evangelism. Actually, it seems like most churches are counting on transfer growth over evangelism these days. I could be wrong.

6. “The work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us.”~ N. T. Wright, from Surprised by Hope.

7. The celebrity “leadership” (and I use the term loosely and with a snide smirk) of American evangelicalism is so far divorced from the work of the local pastor and the lives of the common person in the pew as to be utterly useless to both and nothing more than Bible quoting politicians promoting nothing more than themselves.

8. My greatest struggle with the flesh is to contain my desire for significance to God alone.

9. “The acquisition of knowledge always involves the revelation of ignorance.” Wendell Berry

10. For those of you who remember her…keep our long time friend and co-laborer Dusty in your prayers. She spent many an hour interceding for us…

Jul 202013
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbWhat did you teach?

What did you learn?

Did you hear the Gospel?

PROPITIATION

 

 

Here we reach the real heart—the heart of the heart, we may say—of Christianity; for if the Incarnation is its shrine, the Atonement is certainly its holy of holies.

If the Incarnation was the supreme miracle, it was yet only the first of a series of steps down from the joy and bliss of heaven to the pain and shame of Calvary (Philippians 2:5-8).

The reason why the Son of God became man was to shed his blood as (in the Prayer Book’s words) “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”

God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32): that was the measure of his love (cf. Romans 5:5-8). It is in the same terms—terms, that is, not of tolerant avuncular benevolence but of this particular precious gift—that John explains what he means by his great and glorious, but much-misunderstood, declaration, “God is love.” “In this is love,” he explains, “not that we loved God but that [when we didn’t] he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation [better, propitiation] for our sins” (1 John 4:8-10).

The cross of Christ has many facets of meaning. As our sacrifice for sins, it was propitiation (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; cf. Hebrews 2:17)—that is, a means of quenching God’s personal penal wrath against us by blotting out our sins from his sight. (“Expiation” in the rsv rendering of these texts signifies only “a means of blotting out sins,” which is an inadequate translation.)

As our propitiation, it was reconciliation, the making of peace for us with our offended, estranged, angry Creator (Romans 5:9-11). We are not wise to play down God’s hostility against us sinners; what we should do is magnify our Savior’s achievement for us in displacing wrath by peace. Again, as our reconciliation, the cross was redemption, rescue from bondage and misery by the payment of a price (see Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24; Revelation 5:9; Mark 10:45); and as redemption, it was victory over all hostile powers that had kept us, and wanted still to keep us, in sin and out of God’s favor (Colossians

Packer, J.I. (2009-04-10). Affirming the Apostles’ Creed (Kindle Locations 679-682). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Jul 202013
 

thumbnail.aspxWe are your people and mostly we don’t mind,

except that you do not fit any of our categories.

We keep pushing

and pulling

and twisting

and turning

 

trying to make you fit the God we would rather have,

and every time we distort you that way

we end up with an idol more congenial to us.

In our more honest moments of grief and pain

we are very glad that you are who you are,

and that you are toward us in all your freedom

what you have been toward us.

So be your faithful self

and by your very engagement in the suffering of the world,

transform the world even as you are being changed.

We pray in the name of Jesus,

who is the sign of your suffering love. Amen.

 

Jul 192013
 

I almost sat in it.

We had come to this skatepark because the one closest to home was closed…locked up “because of vandalism”.

This park was open, but had been far more “vandalized’ than the one we were locked out of.

The bowls were full of painted on graffiti and obscenities, there was garbage everywhere and it was in a general state of disrepair.

To top it all off, someone had defecated directly upon the bleachers.

You may now thank me for not attaching an image…

The crowd of kids we were used to seeing were gone, replaced by just a few who lived nearby and had no other place to go.

The rest of the park, the part where adults meander (and churches hold open air services) was well kept up and lovely as usual.

My son made a few desultory runs and then we too, left the park.

As we left, my thoughts turned to the pile left on the bleachers.

Why would someone do that?

There’s a bathroom fifty feet away and lots and trees and shrubbery if you prefer a natural setting to relieve yourself in.

Someone was making a statement…or leaving a comment about a statement already made.

Perhaps someone was leaving a comment about being invisible to the rest of the society in that place, a comment about what their perceived worth is to the polite society that borders them.

Perhaps they were commenting on the parents who never are there or the church that meets in big numbers fifty yards away, but whose members never stain their garments by coming by to offer what they claim they possess.

Perhaps they were leaving a comment about the fact that so many people wish they would disappear… and they feel like they already have.

Whatever that person was saying, we don’t want to hear it, not even in the church.

We’ll wait until they fit into the jail ministry, then we’ll listen.

Jesus never said anything about visiting those in the skateboard park…He’d rather you wait, I guess.

Make your own application…

Jul 182013
 

blog-j-i-packer“I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before. Church-growth theorists, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, news reporters, and others all speak as if

(1) numerical increase is what matters most;

(2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;

 

(3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;

(4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.

I detect four unhappy consequences of this.

First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.

Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.

Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.

Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.

In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.

Shrinking spiritual stature and growing moral weakness thence result, and in pastoral leaders, especially those who have become sure they are succeeding, the various forms of abuse and exploitation that follow can be horrific.

Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.

The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”

J. I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995), 207-209.

Jul 172013
 

bike_fallGot it Saturday. Was riding my new BMX bike in a downpour with the neighborhood kids when I lost control of my bike and road-rashed my right wrist and elbow bad. Caught most of my right arm too. The perpetual pain is horrific. I busted my collar bone when I was a kid. It also rotated and compacted my top two vertebrae below the skull causing migraines that last to this day, but I have long since forgotten about the pain of that injury. This road rash is horrible!!!

 Posted by at 12:08 pm
Jul 172013
 

grace_logo_bigger_02G.R.A.C.E. has released a very powerful public statement regarding child abuse in the church.

That statement has already been signed by men like Steve Brown, Scott McKnight, and William Paul Young.

“Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children. This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse. We do not just believe we should do better; as those who claim the name of Jesus and the cause of the Gospel, we are convinced we must do better. In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten. 

Click the link to read the letter in it’s entirety and sign it.

Send the link to your pastor and encourage him to sign it…and if he doesn’t, ask why.

Jul 162013
 

links_image1Musical duo “The Civil Wars” live up to their name.

Reactions to the Zimmerman verdict…

The difference between being a critic and being a “hater”…

UK soon to legalize gay marriage…

 

I post this piece on “liberal Puritans” simply to show once again that most have no clue as to what the Puritans taught, but invoke them as a pejorative anyway.

Twinkies are back…

An organized collection of irrational nonsense…

Another  insipid book meant to convince you that Jesus was just a political hack…

Twentieth anniversary of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”…my tribe still hasn’t forgiven J.I. Packer for being thoughtful…

John Lennon wrote Oral Roberts…

Horrific allegations against an SGM pastor still in the pulpit

Lee Grady’s five biggest mistakes made in prophetic ministry...next weeks article will be about mistakes made when hunting Bigfoot with unicorn horns.

The daughter of Matt Slick,founder of C.A.R.M… is an atheist. 

McDonalds kindly shows you how to live on minimum wage…as long as you don’t eat.

Kim Riddlebarger on Orange County as a “burned over district” and Calvary Chapels influence there.

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