Apr 302010
 

I’m reading John Stott’s last book…last as in final, not most recent.

The beloved Anglican wrote this from the nursing home he now lives in and it’s contents include his instructions for the disposition of his library when he dies.

These are Stott’s last thoughts that he wanted to share with the church he has served so well.

It’s called “The Radical Disciple” and that is a perfect description of Stott’s pilgrimage.

It’s a great little book, full of wisdom and love written with the winsomeness that is part of all Stott has done.

The book is intended to help us live likewise.

Unfortunately, I’m not John Stott.

I’m not a radical disciple…sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m a disciple at all.

I despair of ever being Stott-like, let alone Christ like.

The downside of reading a lot of books about great men of God is that they are constant reminders that you are not one of them.

If I wrote a final book it would be called “The Guy Who Barely Made It and Got In Smelling Like Smoke”.

Not really…even though it would be true from my perspective.

From God’s perspective the same blood covers me and brother John and he has given me the same robes of righteousness that Stott will soon be clothed in.

That, my friends, is stunning truth.

The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

That… is the Gospel.

No one preached it better than Stott, nobody needs to hear it more than me.

It’s truth…it’s true for you as well…even if your walk looks more like mine than Johns.


Apr 292010
 

Early on in my “conversion” to Calvinism I relied heavily on a couple well known Calvinistic apologists for my education.

I remember one in particular wrote a scathing article about Rome focusing on a man from Catholic history named Bernard of Clairvaux.

I read the article carefully and indignantly and marked that Bernard as a heretic in my mind.

In later years, I was compelled to go to the fount and read Luther and Calvin for myself.

Imagine my horror in finding that both revered Bernard.

They both quote him approvingly early and often.

In modern parlance, they ate the meat and spit out the bones.

They noted the errors, rejoiced at the insights, and his writings helped the Reformers change the world.

They also forced my mind open with a crowbar and my heart with their wisdom.

This morning, I’m getting the flack I expected for my comments on Skip Heitzigs capitulation to the ODM’s.

“This is a victory for the cause of Christ.  Let’s just hope their claim to not support the agenda and teachings of the EC is true.  Jackie Alnor comments: “And Phoenix Preacher bloggers have a collective conniption fit! PP’s leader, Michael Newnham says: “Heitzig just breathed new life into the ODM movement…they are now empowered as never before.” Translation ODM means “online discernment ministries” which is a derisive term.” … Ken Silva comments: “Today however, I was contacted by Nelson Walker, who is a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque (CoA) where Skip Heitzig is Senior Pastor. What pastor Walker told me was that CoA happens to have “beautiful facilities” that are also sometimes used by others, which would be the case of this National Worship Leader Conference. He told me that this was not a CoA event, but even so, Leonard Sweet has been asked “not to speak though he will be in attendance. Pastor Walker said that CoA was in not supportive of the Emerging Church.”

Ken Silva:

“And that would lead me to Breaking: Sweet Silenced by Newnham and his comment “Fear and loathing wins again…” The comments section is most enlightening; apparently it’s better to simply ignore false doctrine than it is to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)”

We allow comments here…it enables us to grow and learn and be challenged.

The ODM’s have the pole set, the ropes at the ready, and the fire started for Leonard Sweet.

I just want to know what false doctrine he’s teaching and what sacred truth he denies before I add my match.

I stopped burning heretics at others words years ago.

Leonard Sweet is flesh and blood…a person.

He claims to be a Christ follower who takes the path less traveled.

That would make him family.

For what reason are we ruining his name and shunning his ministry?

I’m still waiting for an answer…


Apr 282010
 

Matthew Paul Turner’s book Hear No Evil brought back memories of numerous things I’ve seen and experienced during my several-year foray into the evangelical Christian cultural bubble.

Hear No Evil is his recollections of a series of personal episodes from childhood through the present day that will resonate for many who grew up in the Christian subculture, or for those like me who were immersed in it after becoming Christians.

Here’s a sampler of what Turner, and I, experienced:

  • being told that contemporary Christian music is of the devil
  • accountability groups
  • encountering Christians who were convinced that the Holy Spirit told them everything to say and everything to do – including bizarre, nonsensical things (Turner’s example involved a man who stopped his sermon to squat down and waddle and cluck like a duck. Thankfully, neither the Holy Spirit nor the impressions I mistook for the Spirit ever told me to do this).
  • meeting some rather peculiar people (like Turner did when he managed a Christian coffeehouse).

Now I can’t relate to his love of Amy Grant, and my experience with the Christian music industry never went beyond helping set up for a Carman concert years ago here in town (as well as attending concerts, and buying hundreds of cassettes and CDs). But I think I share somewhat with Turner a love for good Christian music, and I enjoyed reading CCM Magazine (including when he was its editor several years back).

The most important chapter, in my mind, was an episode during Turner’s editorship of CCM. Turner was told by his publisher that Turner must go to Amy Grant and demand she apologize for her divorce three years earlier from Gary Chapman (that chapter was excerpted on Patrol Magazine’s website). The publisher is portrayed as quite arrogant and convinced of his utter correctness on what to him was a black and white issue, and rather willing to twist the facts to fit his agenda.

Turner of course asks the question in a more humble (and apologetic) way, but the article he submits with her answer turns out not to be the one that runs in the magazine.

It shows a snippet of the dark side of the Christian music industry and indeed of the church, of men who would rather twist the truth to accomplish moralistic aims than to address complex life situations in truth and with a lot of grace for people in the process of becoming like their Savior.

Thankfully, such outrageous behavior is rare in Hear No Evil, as Turner’s experiences with the various idiosyncracies of the Christian world are more likely to make one laugh, either at his experiences or how they compare to the readers’ own recollections.

Turner may be not quite as conservative as some would like, but he’s rooted in the Christian world, and sometimes it does a soul good to laugh at the quirkiness of it.

Hear No Evil is available through Amazon (paper and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paper and Nook) and christianbook.com.

Apr 282010
 

Calvary of Albuquerque has asked Leonard Sweet not to speak in their building.

ODM Apprising Ministries posted this;

“Today however, I was contacted by Nelson Walker, who is a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque (CoA) where Skip Heitzig is Senior Pastor.

What Pastor Walker told me was that CoA happens to have “beautiful facilities” that are also sometimes used by others, which would be the case of this National Worship Leader Conference. He told me that this was not a CoA event, but even so, Leonard Sweet has been asked “not to speak though he will be in attendance.”

Pastor Walker said that CoA was in not supportive of the Emerging Church.

Fear and loathing wins again…

Apr 282010
 

N.T. Wright retires as a bishop to return to academia.

Daniel Fusco interviews Bryan Stupar.

Lee Grady: The Holy Spirit is God, not an “it”.

Todd Rhoades asks how your church might respond to a young lady in Mississippi who was barred from her school’s prom because she is a lesbian.

Dan Edelen: “...in a bookstore in Rhode Island, a man realized a $6.95 used book may not have been in the condition he described, so he refunded the purchaser $2.95. In contrast, on Wall Street we have morally bereft con men who knowingly sold worthless securities because they could get rich, even if their jackpot ruined other people.

Audio links for the recent 2010 Mockingbird conference, featuring Rod Rosenbladt.

Michael Patton defines evangelicalism in a (long) nutshell.

Don Miller believes doctrine is only half the message.

Todd Rhoades on Ed Young’s latest “attack” by the media.

Eric Metaxas speaks on his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (fast forward 12 minutes or so to hear the talk).

Darryl Dash: We need gospel movements not just better churches.

Jordan Green from Burnside Writers Collective on the Arizona immigration controversy.

Jon Acuff on the 759th thing Christians like: Fearing we’ll outsin grace.

Chris Elrod’s lessons from an older pastor.

Deborah Finnamore of Ligonier interviews Sinclair Ferguson.

Apr 272010
 

The gloves are off: what William Lane Craig really thinks of Calvinism.

C.J. Mahaney on how to prepare your church for suffering (with video of Matt Chandler’s talk at T4G a few weeks ago).

Christian radio is washing its hands of Jennifer Knapp.

Denny Burk on Derek Webb’s connection to the Knapp controversy and his views on homosexuality.

Gabe Taviano on Knapp, Christian music and NashVegas.

Nine habits of the world’s healthiest people.

Scott Clark believes watching the NFL on Sunday is breaking the sabbath…and that super Christian QB Tim Tebow should not be playing on the Sabbath either.: “Nevertheless, the specter of (Tim) Tebow standing on the sidelines, holding a clipboard for the next few years until he gets up to speed makes me a little uncomfortable. You see, the Broncos, Tebow’s new employer, play their games on Sunday. For Reformed Christians, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Assembly that’s the Christian Sabbath…As much as I love football, especially Nebraska Cornhusker football, I’m quite certain that football t is not the “rest” envisioned by Scripture and it is not the means of grace.”

(Note: everyone please see Dr. Clark’s clarification, and my response, in the comments section. Sometimes when you do these things you miss the mark.)

Joseph Loconte reviewed Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy for the Wall Street Journal (HT: Burnside Writers Collective).

Englewood Review of Books review of Jim Belcher’s Deep Church. (HT: Jim Belcher tweet)

Michael Hyatt on how busy leaders find time for social media.

Denny Burk says Tom Schreiner is subbing for John Piper in a debate with N.T. Wright later this year.

Jim Hamilton’s three easy steps in blowing up a church.

Audio from the recent Wheaton conference on N.T. Wright (HT: Ben Witherington).

Jeff Purswell’s lecture on elders and the local church, as transcribed at SGM Refuge.

Apr 272010
 

Over the weekend I read a stunning book that described the plight of Mexicans living in Juarez.

The loss of jobs due to NAFTA combined with the drug wars have created a killing field that has sent hundreds of thousands of Mexicans across the border in search of life.

Better said, they come to escape death.

As of Sunday evening, there have been more than 760 murders this year,raising to 4,992 homicides in the Juárez area since 2008 when a drug cartel war erupted, according to a tally kept by the El Paso Times.

The war between the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels that began in January 2008 sparked an unprecedented wave of murder, including daytime street shootings, mutilations and massacres.

By comparison, the number of deaths in Juárez surpasses the 4393 members of the U.S. military who have died in the Iraq war since 2003.

In Arizona, they just passed a new law enabling authorities to rigorously enforce federal immigration laws because the state can’t handle all the illegal immigrants.

Without legal papers an immigrant now faces jail time, fines, and possible deportation.

California and other states face bankruptcy as they try to cope with the human flood.

“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
(Deuteronomy 10:18–19 ESV)

“¶ “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
(Exodus 22:21 ESV)

“You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.””
(Leviticus 24:22 ESV)

“Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
(Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)

All over the internet the usual representatives of the religious right are applauding the new Arizona lawshould we?

How should the church respond to the flood of immigrants coming across our borders?

How do we deal with the sojourner among us?


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