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Three Types of Christian Scholarship

C. Michael Patton:

While most of us will see ourselves more in one than the others (I find myself in 2), we need to be careful. Of course we need to recognize the dangers and listen to the critique of the others, but more than that, we need to be continually committed to finding balance. Our gifts and calling are going to clearly drive us to one more than the others so I am not saying neglect one to brush up on the others. But I am saying that if you neglect the others, it will make you less proficient in the one. I have seen sloppy theologians. I have been a sloppy theologian. I have seen exegetes who seem to continually miss the obvious. I have seen pastoral-types compromise. All I am saying is that you need to be aware of where you stand and committed to excellence by being appreciative of all three.

3 Ways to Crush Your Inner Control Freak

Nathan W. Bingham:

I’ve been thinking about what I observe to be man’s almost insatiable desire to control. How should Christians stand apart in this area from the world? As I reflected, I thought of 3 ways in which Christians can crush their “inner control freak.”

Cheap eBooks

The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith by Peter Hitchens (2.99 US/3.43 CAD)

For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter (2.99 US/3.43 CAD)

Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker (2.99 US/3.43 CAD)

Education or Imitation? Bible Interpretation for Dummies Like You and Me by Curtis “Voice” Allen (99 cents!) – Also available in Kindle, ePub and PDF formats at CruciformPress.com

Hell: No Biblical Concept is More Grim or Terror-Inducing

R.C. Sproul:

Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

It’s a Strange Thing Being a Pastor

Julian Freeman:

Being a pastor is a strange thing.

We proclaim a message with the power of God to change people, but we can’t even change ourselves. We call others to perfection, as Jesus did, but our lives are full of imperfection. We must shepherd like the Shepherd though we’re just one of the sheep.

A Minister’s Prayer

O My Lord,

Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections
of people;

But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessing on their souls.

Adapted from “A Minister’s Prayer,” Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Kindle Edition)

The Best Attraction is the Gospel in its Purity

To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavour to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-lime, or lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else. Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel. You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfilment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.”

Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner

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Seven Ways To Pray for Your Prayer Life

Tim Challies:

Here are seven ways that you can pray about your prayer life. These are seven items you can add to your prayer list as you consider your own prayer life or another person’s.

When Church Planters Want to Drink Sweet Tea from a Garbage Can

JD Payne:

Missionaries do strange things.

These Kingdom servants do not know the phrase, “we’ve never done it that way before.” To them, everything is new. They are entering into the fields. They are starting with nothing and moving toward something. They do not begin with structures and organizations; they begin by entering into the kingdom of darkness to bring out the captives into the Kingdom of light.

Are We Connecting?

John Johnson:

One of the indicators, to my kids for sure, that I have come perilously close to obsolescence is the fact I do not text, do not tweet, and rarely visit Facebook. My response to them, feeble as it may seem, is that everyone draws some boundaries around their accessibility. Landline, cell phone, mail, email, a personal visit—they all work for me. Occasional communication comes via Facebook and blog sites, but that is about it. In their eyes, I am disconnected. And maybe so, but there is something to the adage—if you are always available, you are not worth much when you are available. Being unavailable is often much more necessary than being available. But it is more…

The Value of Textbooks

HT: Trevin Wax

Book Review: Dallas and the Spitfire by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke

Dallas&theSpitfire_Cover+Treatments.indd

These days, there’s a lot of emphasis being put on the need for one-to-one discipleship (and rightly so). Christians need to be encouraging one another in the faith and those with a more seasoned faith ought to be coming alongside newer or less mature believers to guide them into maturity. But how do we do it?

That’s the dilemma that Ted Kluck faces when he’s assigned by his church to disciple Dallas Jahncke, a recovering drug addict, ex-convict, and brand-new Christian who Kluck would take under his wing—a pairing that, at first glance, might seem more appropriate for the plot of a summertime buddy comedy than a title you’ll find in a Christian bookstore. But Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship, the book chronicling their burgeoning relationship, offers an often painfully honest but encouraging look at the fruit of Christian discipleship.

While the popular thing seem to be to set up shop at a coffee shop and do a book study over coffee, it’s not for everyone—including Kluck and Jahncke. He explains:

The book-and-coffee model of discipleship seems semi-absurd to me, partly because we don’t see Jesus doing this. Jesus taught, He led by example, He came alongside, and He healed. Of course, He also had the distinct advantage of being sinless, all-knowing, and the Son of God. I am none of these. It’s clear to me that I’ll have to learn to disciple Dallas by mimicking the person who discipled me: my dad. He was far from perfect—and in fact, I would argue that this honesty about his imperfections made him an even better discipler—but the way he talked with me, listend to me, and spent time with me will provide a road map for my time with Dallas. (p. 32)

So how would this whole discipling thing work? They’d rebuild a 1974 Triumph Spitfire. And that, for Kluck, was the thing that made discipleship click. As they built a relationship doing something that Dallas was extraordinarily gifted in (auto mechanics), the formality of “discipling” gave way to becoming friends. Kluck took on the role of friend and father figure to a young man who desperately needed both, complete with all the joys and heartaches that come with both roles. But through it, Kluck learned a key lesson about discipling, one that we all would do well to consider: [Read more…]

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That Idol That You Love, It Doesn’t Love You Back

Justin Buzzard:

Here’s what you need to know about your idol: That idol that you love, it doesn’t love you back. False gods don’t love you. Idols don’t keep their promises. Anything you worship and build your life on other than God will suck the life out of you and destroy you.

Stop Your Cheatin’ Ways

Kevin DeYoung:

I have a theory that I’ve made into an aphorism: you can borrow time, but you can’t steal it.

The saying is mainly about sleep. If you have to finish a paper by 8am you can stay up all night to finish it. This may seem like a brilliant move because, after all, what were you going to do with the hours between midnight and 7am anyway? You were just going to waste it in bed. So now your paper is done and all you missed was a night’s sleep.

$5 Friday at Ligonier

This week’s selections include Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas (paperback), Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson (eBook), and Dr. Sproul’s Chosen by God teaching series (audio & video download).

Bourne Vivaldi

Great twist on the theme from the Bourne movies:

[tentblogger-youtube 09RUuTAM2H0]

HT: Stephen Altrogge

You Don’t Need to Blog About Everything. Seriously. Stop.

John Saddington:

One of the tell-tale signs of a non-focused, newbie blogger is that they decide to blog abouteverything, instead of blogging about the few things that make that blogger standout and unique and make them a leader with a point instead of a busy blogger with no point.

The Gospel and the Organized Heart

About a year ago, I received a copy of Staci Eastin’s book, The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos, which I joyfully gave to my wife as a gift (which she appreciated because, a. she loves organization and b. she loves books almost as much as I do). She found the book so helpful she kindly reviewed it here in her first parachute vlog.

While at Together for the Gospel in April, 2012, Staci and I sat down to discuss the book. In our interview, we talk about her reasons for writing The Organized Heart, how the gospel applies to organization and what she hopes readers will learn through the book. Take a look:

The Organized Heart is now available at CruciformPress.com, Amazon, WTS Books and a number of other online book stores.

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Make That Digital Elephant Disappear!

Nathan W. Bingham:

There is an illusion—an act far more enchanting than having an elephant disappear before your eyes—that has spread far and wide across the world wide web. It’s an illusion that is captivating millions. The line of thinking goes something like this: if it’s online then it’s easy. If it’s digital then it’s inexpensive. If it’s composed of bits and bytes then it’s quick.

5 Words for Millennial Christians

Dan Darling:

lot has been written and said about the millennial generation in the church. . . . We are a generation characterized by action, by activism, by new resurgent interests in orthodoxy and theology. In many ways, it’s a great time for the church. But with every movement comes pitfalls and cautions. And so as a young leader, I just wanted to offer five words leaders in my generation may want to consider.

Why “Asking Jesus Into Your Heart” is Superstitious and Unbiblical

David Platt:

[tentblogger-youtube JPhEEzjU8xQ]

3 Simple Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

R.C. Sproul, Jr:

Pastors are human too. That means, of course, that they sin, but it also means that they have ordinary human needs. While no one joins the ministry in order to receive riches or accolades, honor or power, while shepherds are called to serve others rather than themselves, such doesn’t mean that they are not given to discouragement.

The Price of Earthen Vessels and the Value of Writing

Matthew Anderson:

As an author, I sometimes feel a tension between something like charity for my audience and a burning to simply say something that needs to be said, in the precise way I want to say it.  Such a burning isn’t necessarily rooted in a lack of concern for the audience.  Rather, there is a sense of disaffectedness, a detachment from the need to listen to the market’s opinions that selling a book necessarily introduces.

Teaching Begins The Work And Crowns It Too

What is the real winning of a soul for God? So far as this is done by instrumentality, what are the processes by which a soul is led to God and to salvation? I take it that one of its main operations consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God. Instruction by the gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men’s minds. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Teaching begins the work, and crowns it, too.

Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner

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T4G Debrief: Questions about Contextualization

Thabiti Anyabwile:

One of the panels at T4G focused on contextualization. If you like, you can listen to the panel here. It was one of the panels cut short due to time constraints. As a consequence, we didn’t have time to develop important conversations about basic definitions and about current applications like “insider movements” and so on.  So, I think many people (myself included) were left hoping more conversation could have happened.

When You Should Flee Your Church

Trevin Wax:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the response I’d received from my article in Tabletalk – “Not So Fast” – which basically encourages most people to stay with their congregation during a difficult church situation rather than flee. Based on the notes I’ve gotten, some have misunderstood my suggestion not to be hasty in leaving a church (hence the title “Not So Fast”) as a hard, fast rule against ever leaving a church, no matter what happens.

2012 Band of Bloggers Audio

The audio from this year’s Band of Bloggers is now available. Download or listen here:

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Why the Kindle is a Really Bad Kisser

Aimee Byrd:

Kindle and I had our first date this morning. What a letdown! It was the kind of date where you feel compelled to kiss and tell.

Your instinct is wrong

Jeff Brooks:

The big myth they’re talking about here is that one-page fundraising messages are somehow better than longer ones. This is totally wrong; experience tells us that longer letters are better than short ones.

Book Review: Out of the Depths by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Time and again, I find myself turning to the Psalms. Of all the books of the Bible, they’re among the most “human” (if that’s not too blasphemous to say)—in these prayers and songs of pleas and praise we arguably see the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. Words of joyful exaltation stand alongside cries out of the depths of despair.

David’s psalms often feature this contrast. It’s no wonder, then, that we would turn to his prayers and use them as our own in times of trial and tribulation. Alongside David, we can rejoice in the Lord, our Rock and Redeemer, even when our enemies seem poised to crush us. We can exalt in his steadfast love, even when He seems to be far off. We can stand before Him with confidence, even as we confess the most horrendous of sins.

Psalm 51 is one of those, offering what is arguably the classic Old Testament statement on repentance. Innumerable sermons have been preached from this text, among them four by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which have been collected into the recent release from Christian Focus, Out of the Depths. In its pages, Lloyd-Jones unpacks the state of man before God while holding out God’s gracious provision of salvation offered through Jesus Christ.

The Need for Confession

Lloyd-Jones begins his exposition by explaining the need for repentance—something foreign to the unbelieving mind—and particularly the need for the confession of sin. “[W]ithout repentance there is no salvation,” he writes. “The need for repentance is one of those absolutes about which the Bible does not argue. It just says it. It just postulates it. It is impossible, I say, for a man to be a Christian without repentance; no man can experience the Christian salvation unless he knows what it is to repent.”

This is a reality that I suspect we too often overlook. We want people to feel good about coming to Christ, but we forget that people need to recognize their own sinfulness (which is, of course, the problem behind every problem). When we refuse to acknowledge our sin against God, when we refuse to confess, there can be no repentance. We don’t think we need to. But we just keep running in a circle, like a dog chasing its own tail.We’ll get tired and burn a lot of energy, but we won’t get far. [Read more…]

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Three Questions To Ask Before You Post Something On Facebook

Stephen Altrogge:

Facebook and Twitter can be fantastic tools for communication, encouragement, laughter, playing Farmville, posting pictures of your cute dog “Eloise”, and general rollicking goodness. But, like every good gift, there can also be a dark side to social media. An unhelpful side. A sinful side. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you post something on Facebook or Twitter.

Chuck Colson and the Conscience of a Hatchet-Man

Russell D. Moore:

I suppose I should see some irony in some of the more vindictive journalistic pieces slinking out since the death of Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson. It’s not that I mind these articles focusing on Colson’s Watergate crimes and his rather nasty political persona prior to conversion; Colson emphasized that too. More problematic is the smug undercurrent that somehow Colson’s life in ministry to criminals was somehow just some sort of “cover-up” for who he “really” was: a dirty trickster for whom everything was politics. Even as they bury the hatchet-man, some journalists just can’t bury the hatchet. And, as they center everything on Watergate, they demonstrate that Nixon wasn’t the only one with an Enemies List.

Hypocritical Leadership

Tim Keller:

Perhaps the greatest dilemma of the pastor – or any Christian leader – is the danger of hypocrisy. By this I mean that, unlike other professionals, we as ministers are expected to proclaim God’s goodness and to provide encouragement at all times. We are always pointing people toward God in one way or another, in order to show them his worth and beauty. That’s the essence of our ministry. But seldom will our hearts be in a condition to say such a thing with complete integrity, since our own hearts are often in need of encouragement, gospel centeredness, and genuine gladness. Thus, we have two choices: either we have to guard our hearts continually in order to practice what we are preaching, or we live bifurcated lives of outward ministry and inward gloominess.

5 Things To Remember About Melody When You Write Worship Songs

Chris Vacher:

A classic sign of a beginning songwriter is the rulebreaker attitude: “Rules? I don’t need rules! I’m an artist!” Of course you’re an artist – that’s why you need rules! There’s all kinds of time in your life to be creative, play outside the box, colour outside the lines but the ones who are truly successful at this are the ones who know the rules of songwriting and push the boundaries within the boundaries.

Remember Who’s in Charge

Every once in a while, I’m reminded of some of the conversations friends and I had during our very early years as Christians—ones marked more by ignorance than any particular insight into the things of God. One of the most common phrases I remember coming out of our mouths is, “When I get to heaven, Jesus and I are going to talk about [insert issue here].” This was almost always uttered with that certain arrogant tone that makes you want to flick someone in the forehead (even if it’s you).

This weekend’s message at our church brought this foolish talk to mind once again, and I found myself wishing I could travel back in time to share the following truths from God’s Word with my younger self. I would tell past-me to read the following verses (among many others) and consider the implications:

Isa. 40:13-14:

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

2 Chron. 20:6:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Psa. 75:7:

It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

Psa 135:6:

Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

Psa. 139:16:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Jer. 1:5:

“Before I [God] formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Dan. 4:35:

…all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and [God] does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Rom. 9:18:

So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

The Lord determines our days; He executes judgment; He appoints our purpose (whether a prophet, pastor or pastry chef); He brings low and exalts. He does whatever He pleases and no one can say to Him, “What have you done?” No one can give Him counsel, nor is anyone qualified.

It is arrogant and foolish in our thinking that we have any authority over Him. That I—or any of us—had the audacity to flippantly suggest that I could question Him… Had I really understood this back in those early days, I hope it would have turned my grumbling into prayerful questions. From “we’re going to talk about this,” to “help me to understand your purposes in this.” When we get to heaven, we will have questions, but we won’t be arrogantly demanding answers.

Sometimes we (especially me) need a reminder on who we’re talking about when we talk about God. We need to remember who’s in charge—because it’s not us.

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The Deep Limitations of Digital Church

Albert Mohler:

Do you go to the Internet for church? Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today reported this week on the increasing use of digital technology by churches. This trend is not new, of course, but some of the developments she traces are fresh and innovative.

Let the Dummies Give the Answer

David Murray:

Sometimes –  it doesn’t have to be lots of times, just sometimes – let the dummies give the answer.

You don’t need to hold back your wisdom on the BIG questions, the MEGA decisions, but if the opportunity arises on a really small, insignificant, tiny matter (like the time of a meeting, or where to put the trash cans, or the paint-color for the cupboard, etc) why not ask Mr Know-nothing his opinion (he’s probably stopped offering his pathetic views many meetings ago).

Knowing When to Walk Away

Tyler Braun:

Every couple weeks I meet with a professor at my seminary along with a few fellow seminary students to talk life and ministry. Last week I brought up this subject of how we, as ministers, can know when God is leading us somewhere else. Everyone, at some point, will have to deal with wondering whether it’s time to go, but it seems very few are equipped to notice the cues that point us in new directions.

Mind Mapping and Personal Planning

Tim Brister:

I found myself this weekend at a juncture where the majority of my time was mapping out a multiplicity of things–from personal planning to discipleship investments to book proposals. Rarely do I mention mind mapping on Twitter that I do not get several folks asking about what program(s) I use and how I utilize them.  I’m sure there’s more of a science to them than what I employ, but I nevertheless have greatly benefited from the mental exercises of visual information dumping and creative brainstorming.