Links I Like

Are We All Just Broken People?

Stephen Altrogge:

These days it’s cool to use the word “broken” when talking about human sinfulness. There is something down and dirty and real life-ish about the word. It sounds authentic, and as everyone knows, authenticity is what it’s all about these days. “We’re all just broken people,” is what I typically hear, and what I’ve said myself from time to time. And there is something true about the statement. In one sense, sin has broken everything. Our entire personhood, from our health, to our intellect, to our sexuality has been “broken” and distorted by sin. We are not how God originally made us. . . But I think we need to be really careful when we use the word “broken” to describe us as Christians. Our fundamental identity is not as broken people, our fundamental identity is found in Jesus Christ.

21 Things They Don’t Tell You About Church Planting

Darryl Dash:

It’s been six months and a day since I started the adventure of church planting. We’re still early on, but I’m learning lots. Here are 21 things I’ve learned that they don’t tell you about church planting.

Without an Invitation, It’s Just a Story

Marc Cortez:

I love it when people share the gospel story. Especially when they do a good job. Hearing them trace the grand narrative from creation, through the fall, into God’s faithful presence with his people Israel, all the way to the coming of Messiah and his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. And I get particularly excited when they go on to talk about the outpouring of the Spirit, the mission of the church, the way God will wrap everything up in the end, and how all of this relates to the good news that is the gospel.

This is a good story.

But, unless you go the next step, it’s just a story.

What Girls Should Know About Guys: 40 Tips

David Murray:

At last week’s Youth Camp, I hosted a workshop for the guys on 10 things they should know about girls. Before I got into the topic, I distributed index cards to each guy and asked them to write on it the one thing that they wanted girls to know about guys. “This is your one chance in life to send a legitimate anonymous message to the girls about what you wish they knew about you.”

I then collected the cards and sent them up to my wife, Shona, who read them out to a similar workshop for the girls. So what did the guys want the girls to know about them? Here’s a selection from the cards.

Book Review: Disciple by Bill Clem

disciple-clem

How do we make disciples? This is the question that so many are asking these days. Do we do it by creating new programs and courses? Do we do it informally, getting together and “doing life” one-on-one?

While there are many different approaches, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, Pastor Bill Clem suggests the key to making disciples isn’t so much figuring out a program that works, but understanding a disciple’s identity in Jesus in the first place. In his recent book, Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus, Clem unpacks what it means to get our identity from Jesus through the storyline of redemption. The result is a book that offers a more robust view of discipleship than, perhaps, we’ve become accustomed to.

There is much to be commended in Disciple. Most fundamentally, this is a book about Jesus. He is the starting point, the hero of Scripture and the example of what true discipleship looks like. This is an approach I’ve not really seen before, but it works exceptionally well. Jesus, in his 33 years on earth, was the epitome of what it meant to be a worshipper of God—indeed, He was the only one who ever wholeheartedly did so. He perfectly expressed a heart of worshipful obedience to the Father. He perfectly lived in community with His disciples. And He perfectly walked with intentionality—He was single-minded about His mission to seek and save the lost, and redeem a people unto Himself.

This is something that’s easy for us to overlook, even when we are reminded again and again from others that Jesus’ life is to be an example to those who follow after Him. Fortunately, Clem doesn’t just say, “Hey look at Jesus and do what he does; then you’ll be a disciple.” Such exhortations, no matter how well intended, rarely lead to godly living.

Instead, Clem reminds us that our ability to be disciples flows from our identity and our original purpose—that of God’s imagebearers. We were created to image God within creation, and though sin marred our ability to do so, the redemptive work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, renews and restores that purpose and desire. Fundamentally, that is what it means to be a disciple. Anything else is idolatry. [Read more…]

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What Is the Rapture?

R.C. Sproul:

I once spoke with one of the leading representatives of this school of thought, a man who teaches the “pretribulation” rapture. I said to him, “I do not know a single verse anywhere in the Bible that teaches a pretribulation rapture. Can you tell me where to find that?” I’ll never forget what he said to me: “No, I can’t. But that’s what I was taught from the time I was a little child.” I told him, “Let’s get our theology from the Bible rather than from Sunday school lessons we heard years and years ago.”

What Does Your Church’s Statement of Faith Protect?

Thabiti Anyabwile:

This past Saturday night, the elders of FBC had the privilege of meeting with a number of potential elders and deacons for another night of fellowship and discussion.  Over the past couple of monthly meetings we’ve been discussing our church’s statement of faith and its use in the life of the church.  As we discussed the statement Saturday, the conversation turned to the importance of the statement of faith in protecting various aspects of the church and its ministry.  As I’ve noodled on that conversation, it seems to me that a local church’s statement of faith should protect five important things.

Should Christians Refuse to Pay Taxes When They Are Used to Finance Abortions?

R.C. Sproul Jr.:

It is one of my great passions, the desire to see me, and the evangelical church take the evil of abortion more seriously, to have our hearts more deeply broken, and our actions more faithful. We have all, I fear, come to accept the status quo. We are content to vote for Republicans hoping they will give us justices that will slow down the horror. What we are generally unwilling to do is go through any kind of hardship to stop abortion. When I am asked about this, should we stop paying taxes, I am at least heartened to know that there are some willing to pay dearly to win this battle. Not paying taxes rarely ends up comfortably for those who won’t pay.

Have Our Children Forgotten How to Play Outdoors?

Al Mohler:

Author Richard Louv believes that America’s children are now suffering from a syndrome he identifies as “nature-deficit disorder.” In his recent book, Last Child in the Woods, Louv suggests that the current generation of American children knows the Discovery Channel better than their own backyards–and that this loss of contact with nature leads to impoverished lives and stunted imagination.

The TMI Factor

Conversations are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re terrific—you can talk about life, work, family, faith, whatever—and you come away feeling closer with your friends. But other times, you can be having a good talk and all of a sudden it gets… kind of weird.

That’s been my experience reading a number of the latest marriage books when they come to the subject of marital intimacy. There’s been a renewed interest in applying the Scriptures to this important subject—one of the many for which Christians have a less than stellar reputation. When it comes to the subject of sex and Christianity, you typically hear the terms like “repressed,” or “old-fashioned”—terms that, despite some less than excellent teaching on the subject, don’t actually square with the way the Bible paints it.

However, in an effort to correct the misconception, I wonder if we’re guilty of an overcorrection. Some undersell sex as a wholly unpleasant act that should only be performed for the purposes of child bearing and as a result of this terrible teaching, many married couples have been weighed down with guilt and shame for doing something they enjoy. Others oversell it as basically being the greatest thing you’re ever going to experience, and in doing so put a huge amount of pressure on married couples to perform.

In all honesty, the oversell gets a little weird (sometimes downright creepy), and probably isn’t entirely helpful. It’s the problem of the overshare—and sometimes you have to raise the TMI flag. So how can we avoid the overshare? Here are a few things I’ve been considering that might help:

1. Avoid being prescriptive where the Scriptures aren’t.

Honestly, I’m not sure it’s wise for an author or preacher to be too specific when talking about how often couples ought to be intimate. Some folks have thrown out a daily challenge as a “sure-fire” way to cure what ails you in your marriage, others have gotten really specific about their own marriages. But here’s the thing: the Scriptures themselves don’t get terribly specific at all. You’re not going to find a commandment to the effect of “thou shalt sleep with thy spouse daily.” The most prescriptive teaching on the subject would be 1 Cor. 7:1-5, which effectively says, “Be together as frequently as you both agree upon.” So, if the Bible isn’t terribly specific about something, perhaps we should avoid doing so as well.

2. Consider the influence of the culture on you.

In North America, we live in a completely sex-saturated culture. You can’t walk into a mall anymore without having a 30-foot tall scantily clad (and heavily Photoshopped) woman hit you in the face. As such, we would be foolish if we failed to recognize the culture’s impact on us or to think that somehow we’re immune to its effects. If we were to do so, it would make us no better than those Jeremiah preached to when he said “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9).

Yet, we are called to not only reject sexual immorality, but to strive to not have even a hint among the body of Christ (cf. Eph. 5:3). This should impact the advice we give in sermons and books on this subject by frequently calling us back to our own need for the gospel and to think about that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (cf. Phil. 4:8).

3. Remember to be sensitive to the consciences of others.

Finally, Paul reminds us to never cause another believer to stumble in exercising our freedom in Christ (cf. Rom. 14:13-23). Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ should always lead us to be careful to consider what we teach about marital intimacy. As such, we need to remember that our experiences of freedom in this area (and any other) are not normative for all believers. Some feel free to exercise a great deal of liberty in their own marriages and that’s wonderful—but not everyone does. When we treat our own experiences as the standard for all believers, we risk causing them to experience feelings of inadequacy and shame. So instead of sharing a bit too much info, maybe we always ask, “In saying this, am I showing the greatest amount of love and respect to the consciences of my brothers and sisters in Christ or am I putting my freedom ahead of the needs of others?”

Links I Like

On Talking to Those Who Doubt

C. Michael Patton:

If you do not show your true colors—worse, if you don’t have true colors, they will go to someone who does. Unfortunately, the crowd that they will find are made up of atheists, agnostics, and relativists. Why? Because they are almost always honest about their struggles. If they cannot find identity in a Christian crowd, they will find it in another.

Why No Denomination Will Survive the Homosexuality Crisis

Kevin DeYoung:

There is no way, short of a miraculous and full-scale changing of hearts and minds, for North American denominations to survive the homosexuality crisis. Denominations like the PCUSA, ELCA, RCA, UMC, and Episcopal Church will continue. They won’t fold their tents and join the Southern Baptists (though wouldn’t that be interesting!). I’m not suggesting most of our old, mainline denominations will disappear. But I do not see how any of these once flourishing denominations will make it through the present crisis intact.

Arizona Pastor Arrested, Jailed for Holding Bible Study in Home; His Wife Says It ‘Defies Logic’

Bible study leader Michael Salman is sitting in jail today after his home was raided earlier this week by more than a dozen Phoenix, Ariz. police officers and city officials. His offense? The city says people aren’t allowed to hold private Bible studies on their own property.

Finding Your Way out of Burnout

Josh Reich:

Over this past week I’ve shared some things I’ve learned about stress, adrenaline, fatigue and burnout. You can read part 1part 2 and part 3 if you missed them. All of this can be overwhelming and when you are tired, fatigued, burned out, you feel helpless. The things that used to energize you, excite you, bring you passion no longer do. Your family walks on egg shells around you, those who work with you avoid you. You are angry, resentful, depressed, your mood swings move from one extreme to the next in a matter of seconds. . . . Today, I want to move out of the darkness many people feel and live with everyday to a place of wholeness and living the way we are designed to live. Here are some of the things I did starting in February of 2012.

Life Enough to Set the World Aglow

machen

If the Church were led to wipe out of existence all products of the thinking of nineteen Christian centuries and start fresh, the loss, even if the Bible were retained, would be immense. When it is once admitted that a body of facts lies at the basis of the Christian religion, the efforts which past generations have made toward the classification of the facts will have to be treated with respect. In no branch of science would there be any real advance if every generation started fresh with no dependence upon what past generations have achieved. Yet in theology, vituperation of the past seems to be thought essential to progress. And upon what base slanders the vituperation is based!

After listening to modern tirades against the great creeds of the Church, one receives rather a shock when one turns to the Westminster Confession, for example, or to that tenderest and most theological of books, the “Pilgrim’s Progress” of John Bunyan, and discovers that in doing so one has turned from shallow modern phrases to a “dead orthodoxy” that is pulsating with life in every word. In such orthodoxy there is life enough to set the whole world aglow with Christian love.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

Knock Loudly at the Door of Grace

praying

It is not that a person should shout, or scream, or be very loud, in order to prove that they are in earnest. But it is desirable that we should be hearty and fervent and warm — and ask as if we were really interested in what we were doing! It is the “effectual fervent” prayer that “avails much.” This is the lesson that is taught us by the expressions used in Scripture about prayer. It is called, “crying, knocking, wrestling, laboring, striving.”

This is the lesson taught us by scripture examples. Jacob is one. He said to the angel at Penuel, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26. Daniel is another. Hear how he pleaded with God: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for your own sake, O my God.” Daniel 9:19. Our Lord Jesus Christ is another. It is written of him, “In the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” Hebrews 5:7.

Alas, how unlike is this to many of our supplications! How tame and lukewarm they seem by comparison. How truly might God say to many of us, “You do not really want what you pray for!” Lets us try to amend this fault. Let us knock loudly at the door of grace, like Mercy in Pilgrim’s Progress, as if we must perish unless we are heard. Let us settle it in our minds, that cold prayers are a sacrifice without fire. Let us remember the story of Demosthenes the great orator, when one came to him, and wanted to plead his cause. He heard him without attention — while he told his story without earnestness. The man saw this, and cried out with anxiety that it was all true. “Ah,” said Demosthenes, “I believe you now!”

Adapted from J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer

3 Quotes on Expository Preaching

holding-bible-lr

There are few subject related to public ministry more critical than preaching. Here are three quotes I’ve found from some of my favorite theologians on the subject:

The size of the text is immaterial, so long as it is biblical. What matters is what we do with it. Whether it is long or short, our responsibility as expositors is to open it up in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly without addition, subtraction or falsification. In expository preaching preaching the biblical text is neither a conventional introduction to a sermon on a largely different theme, nor a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said.

John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

Whatever the reason, however, the results are unhealthy. In a topical sermon the text is reduced to a peg on which the speaker hangs his line of thought; the shape and thrust of the message reflect his own best notions of what is good for people rather than being determined by the text itself. . . In my view topical discourses of this kind, no matter how biblical their component parts, cannot but fall short of being preaching in the full sense of that word, just because their biblical content is made to appear as part of the speaker’s own wisdom. . . That destroys the very idea of Christian preaching, which excludes the thought of speaking for the Bible and insists that the Bible must be allowed to speak for itself in and through the speaker’s words. Granted, topical discourses may become real preaching if the speaker settles down to letting this happen, but many topical preachers never discipline themselves to become mouthpiece for messages from biblical texts at all.

J.I. Packer, The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art

To me still, I must confess, my text selection is a very great embarrassment. . . . I confess that I frequently sit hour after hour praying and waiting for a subject, and that this is the main part of my study; much hard labor have I spent in manipulating topics, ruminating upon points of doctrine, making skeletons out of verses and then burying every bone of them in the catacombs of oblivion, sailing on and on over leagues of broken water, till I see the red lights and make sail direct to the desired haven. I believe that almost any Saturday in my life I make enough outlines of sermons, if I felt the liberty to preach them, to last me for a month, but I no more dare to use them than an honest mariner would run to shore a cargo of contraband goods.

C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

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Talking Galatians with J.V. Fesko

Kevin Fiske:

KF: How important is the Old Testament to Paul’s discourse as he writes this letter?  Would you briefly touch on some of the more prevalent OT motifs that Paul incorporates, and how they enrich our understanding of the redemptive work God has done for us in Christ?

JVF: Paul’s Bible was his Old Testament. If you were to ask him to quote the Bible, he would have undoubtedly quoted the Old Testament. If you pricked his finger, he bled Old Testament Scripture, themes, and its narratives. At a number of points Paul cites a series of Old Testament texts in his discussion of justification by faith alone, such as Deuteronomy 27:26, Psalm 143:1, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5, Deuteronomy 21:23, Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22, Joel 2:28, and Isaiah 32:15 (Gal. 3:10-14). He cites at least seven different Old Testament texts, if not more, in the span of five verses. Paul also refers to the Genesis narrative with his appeal to Hagar and Sarah as types that represent Mt. Sinai and Zion (the Jerusalem above) (Gal. 4:21-31). And at key points Paul employs language that is evocative of Israel’s Old Testament exodus and wilderness wanderings when he characterizes the law as something that held Israel in captivity and bondage (e.g., Gal. 4:8ff), but through Christ they have been set free to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16ff). In a word, the reader of Galatians really has to know his Old Testament to appreciate fully Paul’s epistle.

Recalculating: How Study Bibles Can Limit Bible Study

Jen Wilkin:

If I am not careful, they can mask my ignorance of Scripture and give me a false sense that I know my way around its pages. I do not labor for understanding because the moment I hit a hard passage, I immediately resolve my discomfort of feeling “lost” by glancing down at the notes. And hearing their authoritative tone, I can grow forgetful that they are, in fact, only man’s words—commentary, an educated opinion, profitable but not infallible.

$5 Friday at Ligonier

This week’s selections includes Dr. Sproul’s Knowing Christ: The I AM Sayings of Jesus, and Think Like a Christian teaching series (download), and A Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named (paperback), among many other items. Sale ends at midnight (Eastern Time).

5 Reasons Why I’m Going to Seminary

Dan Darling:

Over the past year I have prayed long and hard about going back to school to pursue my Master’s of Divinity. I’ve sought the counsel of perhaps a dozen pastors and Christian leaders. I’ve researched schools, financial options, and everything related to seminary. I have come away feeling moved of God to pursue a Master’s of Divinity degree. The school that I ended up choosing, based on a variety of factors, is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Choosing the school was the hard part, with several other schools very closely “in the running” if you will. I’m excited and a bit nervous. I haven’t been in school for about ten years. There is a significant financial obligation. And, I’m a busy man already with my role as senior pastor at Gages Lake Bible Church, and author, and a husband of one and a father of four.

So why attend seminary? Well, in true blog fashion, here are five reasons.

Putting the Art Back in “How Great Thou Art”

Kyle Hatfield:

God loves music. He created it. The problem is that sometimes us Christians act like we hate the art of song. That must be the case, for how else could we justify the mass production of what attempts to pass for “Christian” radio these days?

Theological Famine Relief and Christian Identity

Bridges 364

One of the things I’m so thankful for is the gift of beneficial resources God has blessed us with in North America. We have so many wonderful, God-glorifying books and resources at our finger tips and we should thank God for these things. But God has not given these things to us for our benefit alone. Thousands of pastors all around the world have virtually no access to any sort of theological education.

That’s why I’m incredibly excited about The Gospel Coalition’s International Outreach:

As God directs and equips, The Gospel Coalition’s international mission is to see thousands of congregations in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe receive solid biblical teaching from their leaders, because of new access to theological resources, both physical and digital, in helpful languages and formats. . . .

The focus of our work is in launching Relief Projects consisting of physical and digital resources in English, Spanish, Russian, French, and other languages. The scope of the need is larger than any single ministry can fill. We are looking for partners to help us cultivate relationships, develop and deliver resources, mobilize networks, and build support. We want to connect with donors, churches, translators, publishers, missions senders, and goers who sense a call to engage in Theological Famine Relief. You can help us to create and deploy these resources where they are most needed around the world.

One of the ways they’re seeking to equip pastors is with a terrific book from Cruciform Press (the publisher of my first two books and where I work part time handling some of their marketing): Who Am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges (reviewed here).

This is a book all about who we are in Christ, one of the most critical things any Christian needs to understand. But, as my friend Tim Challies recently pointed out, it can take years (if ever) for many of us to “get” this, depending on the teaching we receive and the books we read. That’s where Bridges’ book serves as a wonderful gift to the Church, both here in North America and around the world, as he unpacks the following eight truths:

  1. I Am a Creature
  2. I Am in Christ
  3. I Am Justified
  4. I Am an Adopted Son of God
  5. I Am a New Creation
  6. I Am a Saint
  7. I Am a Servant of Jesus Christ
  8. I Am Not Yet Perfect

I can think of few resources outside of Scripture that would be a more helpful gift for pastors in need of Christ-exalting resources to increase their own understanding and share with their congregations.

Please consider helping The Gospel Coalition make 3000 copies of this wonderful book available to our brothers and sisters in the global church by donating to TGC’s relief project.

Pain is a Wonderful Symptom

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The world, it is obvious, has fallen into this primary and fundamental error, an error which one could illustrate in many different ways. Think of a man who is suffering from some painful disease. Generally the one desire of such a patient is to be relieved of his pain, and one can understand that very well. No-one likes suffering pain. The one idea of this patient, therefore, is to do anything which will relieve him of it. Yes; but if the doctor who is attending this patient is also only concerned about relieving this man’s pain he is a very bad doctor. His primary duty is to discover the cause of the pain and to treat that.

Pain is a wonderful symptom which is provided by nature to call attention to disease, and the ultimate treatment for pain is to treat the disease, not the pain. So if a doctor merely treats the pain without discovering the cause of the pain, he is not only acting contrary to nature, he is doing something that is extremely dangerous to the life of the patient. The patient may be out of pain, and seems to be well; but the cause of the trouble is still there. Now that is the folly of which the world is guilty. It says, `I want to get rid of my pain, so I will run to the pictures, or drink, or do anything to help me forget my pain.’ But the question is, What is the cause of the pain and the unhappiness and the wretchedness? They are not happy who hunger and thirst after happiness and blessedness. No. `Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled.’

Adapted from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

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Jesus’ Doctrine of Scripture

Kevin DeYoung:

On Sunday I finished aneight week sermon series on the doctrine of Scripture. In this last sermon I encouraged the church to have the same doctrine of Scripture that Jesus did. If he his our Lord and our Master—even if he were only a great teacher—surely we want his view of the Bible to be our view of the Bible.

After working through four main texts (John 10:35, Matthew 5:17-19; 12:38-42; 19:4-5) I provided a summary of Jesus’ doctrine of Scripture.

Cookie Monster: “Share it Maybe”

Because we have young kids, Sesame Street is kind of a staple in our house. Check out the new parody song by Cookie Monster:

[tentblogger-youtube -qTIGg3I5y8]

Together for Adoption 2012

Last year I had the chance to live blog the Together for Adoption conference and it was a terrific, spiritually-edifying experience. Here are a few details regarding this year’s conference:

The primary objective of our September 14-15 national conference is to take Christians deeper into God’s story of Adoption to give hope and practical tools to walk with deep joy through “the sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:18-23) for God’s glory and the good of orphans around the world. God’s work of adoption within the world is a story that encompasses all of human history, from its pre-temporal beginnings when God predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to the renewal of the heavens and the earth. From the Apostle Paul’s perspective, Adoption is the story that makes sense of the universe, that makes sense of our broken lives and gives the existence of all creation ultimate meaning.

…Join us September 14-15 in Atlanta for Together for Adoption National Conference 2012. Over 1,000 people will gather together at Cross Pointe Church to explore God’s Story of Adoption for a Broken World.

Humility: This, Not That

Jared Wilson:

The gospel is a great humbler, empowering us with such confidence that we become clear-minded about ourselves, as Paul urges in Romans 12:3. Compare and contrast these two stories.

The New Sexual Identity Crisis

Jeff Buchanan:

We live in a culture addicted to identity labels. We seek to summarize everything essential about an individual in a word, phrase, or 140 characters. With every label and category there comes another level of segregated identity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of sexual identity.

A Surrendered Will is a Free Will

disciple-clem

This past week I finally got around to reading Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus by Bill Clem. While the book didn’t have me at “hello” as they say (more on that when I eventually review the book), the further I read it, the more impressed I become. Clem gets the tension that we all feel in our discipleship journey well and he’s able to articulate it well.

For example, how many of us haven’t been frustrated at one time or another about the idea that God does indeed have a determined plan for all of creation—one that cannot and will not be hindered. We wrestle with questions of free will, choice and (as some have put it), whether or not God gets what God wants. Some camps have, in an effort to respond to the tension, wound up subscribing to peculiar ideas about God that suggest that He grows and changes in His understanding—that, in effect, He is not as all-knowing as He claims.

Check out Clem’s response to this tension:

Most of us wrestle with the legitimacy of God’s having a preset story line, and we experience much drama as we seek to exercise our will. One of the main reasons for such a faith-challenging struggle is that we define choice or free will as “the ability to determine an outcome between two or more options.” We reason, “If God already has the story line established, I must not have a free will.” But this is not the model Jesus gave us in the garden (Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Jesus did not need the power of contrary choice to join God in his story as a willful participant. Jesus modeled that a surrendered will is a free will. His free choice was to do what he most wanted to do; that is, Jesus most wanted to do what the Father wanted him to do; he surrendered his will to the Father’s will. (pp. 80-81)

There is a lot of wisdom in these words that is well worth considering: what would our lives look like if we shifted our mindset from “free will” being about choosing between options to recognizing that a heart given life from the Holy Spirit, despite the tension of our ongoing battle with sin, has one primary desire—to do the will of the Father.

Would we look at our circumstances differently? Would we perhaps grumble less? Would we find more reasons to rejoice throughout the day?

What would it look like for you?

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Theology Of Glory Vs.Theology Of The Cross

Tullian Tchividjian:

It is not exactly breaking news to say that our culture has an aversion to suffering, regardless of how inescapable it may be. This is because we—you and me—have an aversion to suffering. Who wants to suffer? But the conscious avoidance of pain is one thing; the complete intolerance, or outright denial of it, is another.

The Torching of Earthen Vessels: A Reply to Frank Turk

Matt Anderson:

It’s oddly fitting that while we were examining whether and how patriotism is compatible with Christianity on the Fourth of July, Frank Turk of the Pyromaniacs was torching my book.

“Torching,” for those who are keeping score at home, is a figure of speech. At least I am pretty sure it is. Judging by the review itself, I wouldn’t be half surprised to learn he actually pulled out the gas and matches. In short, he really did not like it.

Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’

Tim Keller:

I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” Most often I hear, “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what you want to believe from the Bible?”

Asking the Wrong Question in Salvation

Dan Darling:

“So you mean I can do whatever I want and still be a Christian?” I’ve been asked that question numerous times when sharing the gospel. It’s a hard question to answer and mostly, up until recently, I would answer with a “Yes, but.” sort of vague statement. Yes, technically, grace covers all of your sins, post salvation. But you shouldn’t think this way because you should live for Jesus out of appreciation for what He did for you.

But I’m finding that’s a terrible response to an even more terrible question.