Nothing So Little as Grace at First

There are several ages in Christians, some babes, some young men. Faith may be as `a grain of mustard seed’ (Matt. 17:20). Nothing so little as grace at first, and nothing more glorious afterward. Things of greatest perfection are longest in coming to their growth. Man, the most perfect creature, comes to perfection by little and little; worthless things, as mushrooms and the like, like Jonah’s gourd, soon spring up, and soon vanish. A new creature is the most excellent creature in all the world, therefore it grows up by degrees. We see in nature that a mighty oak rises from an acorn. It is with a Christian as it was with Christ, who sprang out of the dead stock of Jesse, out of David’s family (Isa. 53:2), when it was at the lowest, but he grew up higher than the heavens. It is not with the trees of righteousness as it was with the trees of paradise, which were created all perfect at the first. The seeds of all the creatures in the present goodly frame of the world were hid in the chaos, in that confused mass at the first, out of which God commanded all creatures to arise. In the small seeds of plants lie hidden both bulk and branches, bud and fruit. In a few principles lie hidden all comfortable conclusions of holy truth. All these glorious fireworks of zeal and holiness in the saints had their beginning from a few sparks.

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Kindle Edition)

The Gift Before the Demand

On November 20, 2011, I had the opportunity to preach at Tree of Life Church in Smithville, Ontario. The message was preached from Matthew 5:1-12. The audio is forthcoming—I hope you find my sermon notes below helpful.

When you’re reading your Bible, have you ever just stopped and wondered what it would have been like to be at the event being described? What would it have been like to see the Red Sea part? What would it have been like to see the sun stand still so the Israelites could defeat their enemies?

And what would it have been like to see Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount?

This message, which begins in Matthew chapter five and continues through to the end of chapter seven, is without a doubt the most comprehensive collection of Jesus’ teaching that we have.

And it’s absolutely devastating, isn’t it? This teaching wrecked its hearers in Jesus’ day and continues to do so in our own. It flipped their world upside down as Jesus described what life in the kingdom of God is like. Why? Because the sermon’s powerful ethical teaching offers us a clear understanding of what is expected of God’s people—perfection.

In your love, in your actions, in all you say, think and do, “you therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus says in Matt. 5:48.

Be perfect.

Can you imagine being part of that crowd and hearing Jesus say that God’s standard is perfection? How do you measure up?

You can’t. Read the whole thing and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be left in a little ball on the floor thinking, man, I suck! But here’s the good news: Jesus didn’t start with the demands of citizenship. He started with grace! And that’s what I want you to see today—Jesus, before He ever makes demands, gives grace.

Something we need to consider as we read the Sermon on the Mount—and particularly the Beatitudes, which we’ll look today—and the content of the sermon almost give the impression that perhaps he was standing with his hand outstretched as he preached with passion and thousands marveled as he taught.

But that’s not what we read in verse one. While some of Jesus’ listeners were present merely out of curiosity, he delivered this sermon to and for the benefit of his disciples. He was not talking to neutral observers, people on the fence. He was talking to the committed. Verse one tells us that, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.” So this is not a massive open-air preaching type event—this is not Paul at the Areopagus, it’s more like a fireside chat. “And,” the text says, “He opened His mouth and taught them, saying”,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1-12 ESV)

So, what does Jesus tell His disciples in the Beatitudes? [Read more...]

The Bible is a Strange Book

The Bible is a strange book, and with every decade that passes, its strangeness becomes more apparent. it is virtually the sole survivor, in the western world at least, of the books of antiquity. Caesar, Plato and Augustine are still in print and read by any. But they have no audience even remotely comparable with the Bible. Its sayings and stories have entered the culture as no other book has. But biblical illiteracy is apparent, and where the Bible is read its message is not always understood. It is as if we have been asked to host a visitor from another culture, where the possibilities for misunderstanding are high. Such a visitor poses a threat to our own way of doing things by showing us alternatives we may never have thought of. Equally, we may judge the stranger by the mores of our own society and find him lacking for all the wrong reasons.

The human disciplines in whose name we question the integrity of the Bible do not have the last word. In many ways the Bible has always been an outsider, challenging its own contemporary culture as it challenges ours. The opening chapters of Genesis fitted no more comfortably with ancient cosmogonies than with our own; the Bible’s willingness to provide the human narrative from its origin to its destiny and to judge the meaning of it all in terms of good and evil always threatens the evaluation of those who do not have such a lofty viewpoint. But strange thous the Bible is, it is also perennial and profoundly human. The ancient wisdom of the Proverbs, the cries of the Psalms and the stories of the ‘former prophets’ speak recognizably to human experience to this day. Much of the church’s present-day unease with the Bible is all the wrong reasons, a tragic capitulation to worldliness. Like the cross, the Scripture is a paradox of God’s self-revelation — foolish to the cultured, but wise beyond all measure to those who are being saved.

Peter Jensen, The Revelation of God, pp. 203-204

Book Review: Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson

An idea that gets thrown around a lot these days is being “incarnational.” We’re desperately trying to figure out how we are to live out our faith in the here and now—but we might have missed a step, suggests Matthew Lee Anderson. Before we can really figure out how to live our our faith, we need to understand why our bodies matter to our faith. That’s his goal in Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith, where he seeks to help readers develop a theology of the body.

Anderson’s book is roughly divided into two parts—the first gives readers the theological framework for thinking about the body (chapters 1-4) and the second (chapters 5-11) deal heavily with a working doctrine of the body’s implications. When seeking to develop a theology of the body, Anderson (perhaps surprisingly) turns to a broader stream of thought, one that includes John Paul II’s work on the subject. This is helpful for readers as it drives the point home that we’ve done a pretty lousy job of addressing the topic directly. It’s not that evangelicals have been ambivalent or hostile toward the body per se, bu there is a sense in which “evangelical attempts at understanding the body’s role in our spiritual lives seems to have been dominantly reactive rather than proactive” (p. 41).

But why is it that we need to discuss this topic at all? Because how we think about the body directly affects how we live in the body. Or, as Anderson puts it, “What the body is shapes what the body does” (p. 53). So our view of the body directly impacts what we do with it. If we think of the body as a prison or a machine, we’re less likely to properly steward and enjoy it as God intended. But if we see the body in the way that Scripture describes it, which is that who we are (our inner life) is inextricable from what we are (embodied beings), then it changes everything. “What our bodies do, we do,” explains Anderson. “What we do to other animated bodies, we do to other persons” (p. 60). Because we are social creatures whose authority over creation has been divinely appointed, we can’t be reduced to the naked individual, choosing only the relationships we deem to have value, anymore than we can use our authority to “exploit creation for our own (broken) ends” (p. 78).

As Anderson digs deeper into the implications of our view of the body, he leaves few controversial subjects untouched. He looks at tattoos (chapter 6), he does so by asking what is a tattoo? Because the ancient practice of tattooing is incredibly distinct from our modern version (ours is primarily about aesthetic self-expression, where the ancient world’s was primarily about ownership, and thus a point of shame), we must be careful to examine both the Scriptures and our motivations for getting tattoos. Is it a means of self-expression or attempt at self-construction? Anderson’s handling of this subject is one of the highlights of this book. [Read more...]

Inerrancy, the Church and the Cults

Today’s post continuing our series on the doctrine of inerrancy is by Dave Jenkins, Director of Servants of Grace.

The doctrine of inerrancy means that the Bible is entirely truthful and reliable in all that it affirms in its original manuscripts. The Bible does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. As Aaron pointed out last week, the Bible’s authority is derived from the character and authority of God. A tree has a root structure that supports the base and the weight of the tree. Inerrancy is the root structure and base upon which the doctrine of Scripture is built. God has given special revelation of Himself, and inspired His servants to record it. Believers want assurance that the Bible is a dependable source of revelation from and about God. The doctrine of inerrancy gives believers the assurance that God’s Word is without error, and entirely reliable in all that it teaches.

Inerrancy, the Church and Cults

There is evidence that when a theologian, school or a movement begins by regarding biblical inerrancy as unimportant or optional, and abandons this doctrine that such a move is frequently joined by other doctrines such as the deity of Christ or the Trinity. Church history is the laboratory in which theology tests its ideas. From church history one learns that moving away from the doctrine of inerrancy is to move away from the complete trustworthiness of Scripture. This move away from the doctrine of inerrancy is a serious step not only because of what it does to one’s doctrine of Scripture, but because of what happens to other doctrines as well.

Some may object at this point that I am overstating my case about inerrancy. Inerrancy is a test for orthodoxy, but it is not a test for salvation. One can deny inerrancy and be saved, but he/she is being inconsistent in his/her beliefs. All salvific truths are found in the Bible, but how can one trust those salvific truths without inerrancy? What if the salvific statements are wrong? To be consistent in her/her beliefs, one should affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Further, one can be orthodox or evangelical in all other areas and still be unorthodox on inerrancy. For example, the neorthodox theologian Karl Barth affirmed the Virgin birth, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and Christ’s bodily resurrection, but denied the inerrancy of Scripture.

Inerrancy is not only an issue that is facing the Church, but it is also one that is under attack from cults. The Mormons teach that the Bible is correct only so far as it is correctly translated. It is basically trustworthy according to them. It is the only one of the four standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) and is not considered infallible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God but only in so far as they use their own translation (New World Translation) as the basis of their belief in inerrancy.1

Over and against all of these views is what the Word of God says about itself. The Bible teaches that it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, most prominently in 2 Timothy 3:16—“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” All Scripture in distinction “from the sacred writings” in 2 Timothy 3:15 means everything which, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church, is recognized by the church as canonical, that is, authoritative. Paul is referring here to the Old Testament, and later “all scripture” at the close of the first century A.D. had been completed. [Read more...]

Three Things You Can Do When You’re Reading a Bad Book

Given the amount of reading I do, I am extremely thankful that I end up reading mostly really good books. There are always a few that leave me with a bit of a “meh” feeling, but by and large there aren’t too many that have made me regret ever having read them.

Still, there are some that are just so awful that I don’t know quite what to do with them. And after I’m done, I find myself in an even more precarious predicament—I don’t want them on my bookshelf, nor do I want to give them away, lest they wind up on someone else’s. So what, then, shall we say, dear brothers and sisters? What can you and I do when we find ourselves reading really bad books? Obviously, burning them is not an option (unless you’re trapped in the wilderness and you need then for kindling, then it’s cool), but there must be something that can be done with them that doesn’t involve giving them away and risking untold irritation to other readers.

In order to help, I’ve come up with three thing you do when you find yourself reading a really bad book:

1. Mark it like you’re a high school English teacher. Nothing is more fun that whipping out a nice red pen (I like these ones) and crossing out whole sections of a book. Plus, it sometimes it helps to put a big fat “F” on the title page when you’re through. It’s cathartic.

2. Run a play-by-play on Good Reads. Your commentary not only allows you to vent your frustrations, but entertain tens of people (depending on your friend’s list) in the process! For a great example, check out Aaron Gardner’s play-by-play on this book.

3. Build a fort. With all the books about people taking trips to heaven and vampires dating werewolves, I could build the most wicked-awesome “princess castle” ever, as Abigail prefers to call them.

Or, y’know, you could just stop reading it. But where’s the fun in that?

Got another idea to add to the list?

Around the Interweb

Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?

C. Michael Patton offers this insightful article:

First of all, no one hates Rob Bell (or at least they should not). But, speaking for myself, I am very comfortable handing out C.S. Lewis books by the dozens while I don’t keep a stock of Bell books on hand. There is not a book that Lewis wrote that I don’t encourage people to read and grow from. Even A Grief Observed, where Lewis attempts to retain his faith in God, questioning everything, in the middle of the crucible of doubt and pain, is one of my favorite books to give to people who are hurting. But I doubt I would ever recommend one of Bell’s works to establish someone in the faith. In fact, I might only recommend them for people to see “the other side.” Let me put it this way (and I must be very careful here): While I fully embrace and endorse the ministry of C.S. Lewis, I do not endorse or embrace the ministry of Rob Bell.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.

Also Worth Reading

Themelios: The new issue of Themelios is available at The Gospel Coalition

Generosity: A PLAN for Giving Generously

Life: Only Trusting In God Can Keep Me From Freaking Out

Funny: Tim Hawkins is always good for a laugh—

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Life and Technology: Are You an Internet Busy-Body?

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Inerrancy, Inspiration and Authority: A Clearing of the Throat

Inerrancy, Inspiration and the Character of God

5 Ways to Get Attention in the Christian Blogosphere

Awaiting a Savior: Review Round-up 3

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Richard Sibbes: A Holy Despair in Ourselves is the Ground of True Hope

Christmas Shopping for the Bible Guy (and Gal)!

A Holy Despair in Ourselves is the Ground of True Hope

A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope. In God the fatherless find mercy (Hos. 14:3); if men were more fatherless, they should feel more God’s fatherly affection from heaven, for the God who dwells in the highest heavens dwells likewise in the lowest soul (Isa. 57:15). Christ’s sheep are weak sheep, and lacking in something or other; he therefore applies himself to the necessities of every sheep. He seeks that which was lost, and brings again that which was driven out of the way, and binds up that which was broken, and strengthens the weak (Ezek. 34:16). His tenderest care is over the weakest. The lambs he carries in his bosom (Isa. 40:11). He says to Peter, `Feed my lambs’ (John 21:15). He was most familiar and open to troubled souls. How careful he was that Peter and the rest of the apostles should not be too much dejected after his resurrection! `Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter’ (Mark 16:7). Christ knew that guilt of their unkindness in leaving of him had dejected their spirits. How gently did he endure the unbelief of Thomas and stooped so far unto his weakness, as to suffer him to thrust his hand into his side.

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Kindle Edition)

How Do You Become Poor in Spirit?

How does one therefore become `poor in spirit’? The answer is that you do not look at yourself or begin by trying to do things to yourself. That was the whole error of monasticism. Those poor men in their desire to do this said, `I must go out of society, I must scarify my flesh and suffer hardship, I must mutilate my body.’ No, no, the more you do that the more conscious will you be of yourself, and the less `poor in spirit’. The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God. Read this Book about Him, read His law, look at what He expects from us, contemplate standing before Him. It is also to look at the Lord Jesus Christ and to view Him as we see Him in the Gospels. The more we do that the more we shall understand the reaction of the apostles when, looking at Him and something He had just done, they said, `Lord, increase our faith.’ Their faith, they felt, was nothing. They felt it was so weak and so poor. `Lord, increase our faith. We thought we had something because we had cast out devils and preached Thy word, but now we feel we have nothing; increase our faith.’ Look at Him; and the more we look at Him, the more hopeless shall we feel by ourselves, and in and of ourselves, and the more shall we become `poor in spirit’. Look at Him, keep looking at Him. Look at the saints, look at the men who have been most filled with the Spirit and used. But above all, look again at Him, and then you will have nothing to do to yourself. It will be done. You cannot truly look at Him without feeling your absolute poverty, and emptiness. Then you say to Him,

Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.

Empty, hopeless, naked, vile. But He is the all-sufficient One-

Yea, all I need, in Thee to find, 0 Lamb of God, I come.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in The Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Edition)

Inerrancy, Inspiration and the Character of God

A few days ago, we started digging into this question of inerrancy—the idea that the Bible is completely and totally truthful in all that it says. This doctrine is one of the most critical, but is tied to a larger issue, one of authority.

If the Bible truly is inerrant, then it’s authority over how we think and live cannot be questioned (even if we are uncertain as to how we should interpret some of what it says). But why would it have such total authority—where does this authority come from? The answer is a simple and complicated one:

The Bible’s authority is derived from the character and authority of God.

Of all the ways God is described, as being merciful, faithful, full of steadfast love, there is one description that encompasses and controls all these: His holiness. God is completely and utterly perfect in all He says and does—and in His being.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,” the angels sing. “The whole earth is filled with His glory!” (Isa. 6: 3) This holiness, this perfection, undergirds everything else that is true about God.

His love is a holy love.

His wrath is a holy wrath.

His truth is a holy truth.

And because God is holy, everything He says and does will always be completely and totally truthful.

The claim of God’s complete and total truthfulness is not something that is tucked away in an obscure part of the Bible, but rather it permeates the entire thing. It’s rare to find a book that doesn’t make an appeal to the truthfulness of God in some fashion. Some are more obvious, such as in Numbers 23:19, which boldly declares, “God is not man, that he should lie.” Likewise, as Paul reminds Titus of the assuredness of the hope of eternal life, he does so by appealing to the truth that God “never lies” (Titus 1:2). Again and again, the claim is made:

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true.” (2 Sam. 22:31; Psa. 18:30)

“Every word of God proves true…” (Prov. 30:5)

“The rules of the Lord are true…” (Psa. 19:9)

“…all your commandments are true.” (Psa. 119:51)

“The sum of your word is truth…” (Psa. 119:160)

“…the word of the Lord in your [Elijah’s] mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:24)

“…your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

These are but a few of the places where we are repeatedly and emphatically told that all that God says is truth. So, the question is, can God’s Word declare something untrue?

No. Because He is holy, He can be nothing less than perfect. Because He is perfect, He can be nothing less that completely truthful. It would be against His character to be anything less.

So we have to be really careful as we consider this question of inerrancy. Because God so strongly identifies with His written word (cf. Psa. 119:42; John 17:17), we risk impugning His character by suggesting that Scripture errs (even if we suggest that it is still infallible—a subject for a future post). And God identifies strongly with His written Word, not simply because He has ordained it be His method for revealing His character, but because He was intimately involved in it’s writing and continues to use it as His means of saving and sanctifying His people.

Scripture is “God-breathed,” says 2 Tim. 3:16, as God the Holy Spirit worked through the unique personalities of every author to set forth the exact message He intended for humanity. It “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). God’s Word—His written Word—has power unlike any other book ever written.

The question for us, then, is what do we do with it? Do we continue suppress the truth in our unrighteousness—do we risk impugning the character of God by suggesting that He could err? Or do we, like the Thessalonians, accept it, “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13)?


Once a Man has the Love of Christ in His Heart…

The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it.

Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart, you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics.

The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent ours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make the activity an end in itself.

Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3, 253

Awaiting a Savior: Review Round-up 3

It’s been a few weeks since I last gave an update on Awaiting a Savior. Since the last update, I wrapped a month-long interview series on The Cross Current Radio, got to answer a bunch of questions for my friend Daniel Darling and had my mind blown by some really cool stuff that’s been happening just in terms of reaction to the book (sadly, I can’t really talk about most of that). However, the reviews I’ve seen come in over the last few weeks have been fantastic!

God’s been very kind in giving this book favor with those who are reading it—take a look at some of their thoughts:

While Awaiting a Savior proves an excellent read as a biblical introduction to issues of poverty, Armstrong builds upon the work of other authors on the subject offering many insights that the well-read will surely find invaluable. To present a book that is short, easily understood, foundational, theologically deep, and insightful to readers from a variety of backgrounds is no easy feat! But I believe that Armstrong accomplished this well by the grace of God.

Andrew Guastaferro for The Gospel for OC

Initially I was tentative to read this book as I was fearful it was yet another in a long line of books inspiring us to live ‘radical’ lives of Christian discipleship. Radical discipleship is not wrong in and of itself, but focusing on ourselves and what we must do instead of Christ and what He has done, and is doing is. Mr. Armstrong completely put me at ease in this regard as I read his book. This is a book that is saturated with Jesus.

Chris Canuel

I loved this book. It was both convicting and encouraging. Most of all, it points us to that glorious day when those called by the Lord will enjoy eternity with him in a new heavens and a new earth, with no sin in his perfect economy of grace and justice. All praise be to God!

Aimee Byrd

Once you’ve read the introduction, your mind begins to question all other attempts at dealing with the issue of poverty. After all, the whole world is trying to deal with the issue of poverty. . . . The appendix, while only three pages in length, is much needed today. Personally, I think that if all you read is this appendix, you will begin to realize that a paradigm-shift must take place when striving to deal with the issue of poverty. You will begin to think of poverty not so much as a lack of material possessions but a lack of a knowledge of the gospel. That is extremely important and is a message that must be heard.

Terry Delaney

The less than generous Christian will be convicted by their lack of generosity and desire to help the poor both physically and spiritually (Chapter 7). The overly optimistic Christian who thinks poverty can be dealt a fatal blow because of their ministry will be brought back to earth with the stark realism of sin and Jesus’ own statements about the poor (Chapter 6). It directs our attention to the consummation of all things and a new heaven and a new earth (Chapter 8). I highly recommend this book to Christians who are wrestling with how to help the poor around them. In fact, the sections in Chapter 7 “Should I Give at All”, “To Whom Should I Give” and the Appendix are worth the price of the book for their practical advice on giving and helping the poor.

Mike Hyatt

Understanding that the root of poverty is sin, and realizing that poverty will continue as long as sin is present in the world allows us to love and serve the poor freely as an act of worship. It also reminds us that though we must do what we can to help relieve suffering in the world, we should also be pointing those in need to the Savior. . . . This book will help anyone confused or frustrated about how Christians can best show mercy to the world. I think it would also be helpful for anyone planning to serve areas of the world where poverty is rampant.

Staci Easton (author of The Organized Heart)

The shining truth in Aaron’s book is that poverty is an outgrowth of sin and that any attempts to provide a fix that don’t deal with the human heart will always fall short. It’s a provocative statement that could easily be met with disdain by founders of philanthropic organizations in the world, and even mercy ministries within the local church. In a world where we’re very concerned with finding a “fix,” Aaron makes the point that Christ is truly the only fix for a suffering world. Charitable works and generosity are an outgrowth of overcoming the poverty in our souls without Christ.

Louis Tullio

This book is practical and full of grace. I loved the practical suggestions at the end, and the way the author tackles the guilt associated with our giving throughout the book.

Ed Goode

This is a book that I greatly recommend as a tool to train the young people who want to come and do missions to poor countries. In Latin America, sadly to say, we receive many missionaries, many youth groups that come every summer to help build churches, and paint walls, and sing children’s songs in poor areas; but we need to go deeper, we need to go to the root of poverty: sin in the heart man.

Becky Pliego

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out their reviews—and I’d love it if you’d order a copy of the book at Cruciform Press or Amazon.

5 Ways to Get Attention in the Christian Blogosphere

One of the common concerns I’ve seen come up again and again about blogging (and Twitter… and Facebook…) is that it’s inherently selfish. Well, while I think that critique is a tad overstated, there’s no denying that blogging certainly can stroke our egos.

No one said that pride was logical.

Or intelligent.

There’s a sense in which we all (even introverted weirdos like me) love attention—and on the internet, it’s surprisingly easy to get it. Now, the best way to get people to pay attention to what you’re saying is to have something worth saying… but sometimes that takes too long. Here are a few ways you can get attention on the internets (even if they’re not the right way):

1. Start a “Victims of big church/popular preacher” blog. Controversy sells. And speaking of controversy…

2. Start an online “discernment” ministry. There is an art to the discernment ministry. I’m always impressed at how someone can write a post smashing Rob Bell by citing something by Mark Driscoll can then turn around and smash Driscoll in the next post (or paragraph). That takes serious skill. Although I’m not sure it’s what Jude had in mind when he exhorted us to contend for the faith.

3. Post about sex. You’ll be guaranteed to get the wrong kind of traffic, but you’ll probably get a boost (and maybe someone will stop and read a gospel appeal…)

4. Choose a nemesis. Whether it’s public school, giving babies formula or Mark Driscoll, you’ll probably get some crazy traffic. Or at least crazy comments.

5. Quit blogging (or at least post that you’re thinking about it). Read the comments from people telling you how much they’ll miss you. Blog more than ever. Repeat ad infinitum.

Did I miss any?

(P.S. It should go without saying that this post was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek.)