Read to be challenged, not only affirmed

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

A few years ago, another blogger, who was writing a review of a pretty terrible book, began with the following story:

A professor at Southern (who shall remain nameless) once said in class “Incestuous breeding produces bastard children.” In context, I think what he meant was that serious scholars and pastors should not consume themselves with only reading things with which they agree. It is good for the mind and even sometimes good for the soul to read people who have different opinions and even different theological positions.

This really left an impression on me when I first read it. It still does.

We who live in this peculiar world of the “Young-restless-reformed/gospel-centered/whozamafaceit” have a nasty habit: we tend to be pretty insular in our reading.

While there’s much to like (even love) about writers from this particular group—we are right to appreciate writing that makes the gospel great, to be sure. But there’s a danger, too: if you’re not careful you can wind up only reading and listening to people you agree with.

Your arguments become second- (even third-) hand. Your discernment dulls. You risk becoming, well, kinda boring (and not in a good way).

“Incestuous breeding produces bastard children” indeed.

This is why I try to regularly read people who are firmly within the evangelical sphere who aren’t in the same camp as me. As frustrating as I find them to be at times, it’s helpful to read something by Craig Groeschel or Andy Stanley every once in a while. Sometimes you pick up a genuinely good insight that makes it worthwhile.

It’s why I also regularly read material from outside the Christian sphere altogether. Reading books by non-Christian authors allows me to see what people are picking up on via the common grace of God, while also getting a better sense of where the world around me is going.

It’s why I also have a simple rule I’ve been following faithfully for the last several years: Read at least one book a year that I know I’m going to flat-out disagree with. This year, I’ve read at least two, one on being a “biblical” woman, and another that wasn’t even worth talking about by a very famous hipster ex-pastor (there are probably more, but I can’t think of them).

Why would I do this to myself? Do I have some sort of perverse need to bang my head against a wall?

I do it because reading something I disagree helps me to think clearly about what it is I do believe—and why.

It forces me to not rely on the arguments and opinions of others, but to actually interact with the assumptions of someone very different than me, turn to the Bible and see for myself whether or not it lines up, and to see where these authors may be asking the right questions (even if they’re giving the wrong answers).

At the same time, though, this should only be done within the context of an ever-increasing knowledge of the truth. Handing a new believer a Rob Bell book, for example, is rarely going to end well. He or she needs a firm foundation before being able to test the mettle of the voices vying for his or her attention.

The point of reading is not only to be affirmed in what we believe, but also to have our assumptions challenged. Reading outside of our comfort zone allows us to do both—to be affirmed in what we know is true, to embrace truth that is coming from outside our usual sphere of influence, but also to test our discernment to the glory of God.

What have you read lately that’s been particularly challenging for you?

Links I like

Ten Things I’ve Learned on Twitter

Ed Stetzer:

Yesterday, I passed 100,000 followers on Twitter and abruptly announced I was quitting. Needless to say, it was a joke.

But, it did lead me to consider a few things about social media. Here are ten things I’ve learned about Twitter that I thought I’d pass on to you.

Lenny Kravitz crashes high school orchestra

Does this make Lenny Kravitz the coolest rock star ever? For these kids, maybe:


When Jesus Doesn’t Want You On A Mission Trip

Jeff Medders:

The Holy Spirit might be calling you to other parts of the world. Hallelujah! But before you pack up and go, does Jesus want you to stay home and do the very same thing you are leaving to do? Learn from Legion. One is not better than the other. Overseas and across the street both need the good news of the Kingdom of God. Our Emperor Christ is sending all of us (John 20:21). Honduras, Thailand, Kenya, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, London, Tomball, TX—all need missionaries like Legion, like you, and like me.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Crossway’s Theology in Community series is on sale for $3.99 each:

Also on sale are The Call by Os Guinness for $2.84, and Trophy Child by Ted Cunningham (FREE!).

Finally, today’s your last chance to get ten books from Cruciform Press for 99¢ each:

Outrage Is Easy, But Is It Good?

Stephen Altrogge:

There is a place for legitimate, godly outrage. But so often we treat moral outrage as if it is a virtuous thing in and of itself. But it’s not. In spite of what all the talk radio shows and Fox News hosts and bloggers say, moral outrage is not an inherently good thing.

Three books on my reading pile

Lots of books on the reading pile right now. Here’s a quick look at a few:

1. To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler (with Jared C. Wilson)


I’m about halfway through this one. Really, really solid stuff. Here’s a favorite passage:

Who are the dogs? They are the ones who want to mark their faith in Christ by what they do or do not do. And they want to get a list of things that they do well. They want to say, “I’m not as bad as I was in college. I’m not as bad as I was when I first got married. I’m not as bad as you.” And they want to use that as some sort of evidence of their superior spirituality, their higher-quality goodness, their unassailable morality. They are in fact scattered in the imaginations of their prideful hearts.

The dogs stay focused on “I do. I don’t. I have. I never.” And look at what they have done. Look at what they have accomplished. Paul here, as loudly as he can, is saying, “Who cares? I did all that too. On the scale, I’m even better than you!” “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7)…

Paul is unpacking these reasons for you to violently and lustfully pursue Christ at all costs, because even if you get all of those good, morally superior attainments—if you clean up your life and manage to somehow never struggle ever again—but you never get Jesus, you’ve totally lost. You’ve actually attained a whole lot of nothing. In the end, if you look great and sound great and act great, but you don’t know Jesus, who cares?

(Learn more or buy it at: Amazon | Westminster Books)

2. Doxology and Theology: How the Gospel Forms the Worship Leader by Matt Boswell and friends


Worship—whether you’re talking about singing (in the narrowest sense) or every thought, word and deed (in the broadest sense)—has long been a source of fascination/frustration for me. we need a better, more robust theology of worship. Matt Boswell and co. have done an impressive job on this one. Here’s a great example from Zac Hicks’ chapter, “The Worship Leader and the Trinity:”

Many in recent years have commented on the anemic state of much of evangelical worship in the twenty-first century. We are me-focused, a-theological, biblically illiterate, and entertainment-saturated, they say. Many of these critics offer a prescription for recovery, ranging from things as practical as a reform of liturgy or musical styles to things as philosophical as media ecology and aesthetics. I’m convinced, though, that many of these (important) observations find resolution when we begin to be more intentional as worshippers, worship planners, and worship leaders about allowing our worship to take the shape of our beloved Object.

(Learn more or buy it at: Amazon)

3. Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley


I’m probably cheating a bit by including this one since I finished reading it on Sunday. It is, however, so, so good (a more thorough critique is coming soon). Here’s a passage that really stuck with me:

…common, everyday choices are the guts of discipleship. Following Christ is not just about selling everything you have for the sake of the poor (though it might indeed be that at some point); it also involves managing your time; appropriately handling your throwaway thoughts; glorifying God through your eating and drinking; seeing the small things of life as things that either move you toward or away from Christlikeness. Disciples understand the true significance of these choices. (66-67)

(Learn more or buy it at: Amazon)

That’s a quick look at my reading pile. What are you reading these days?

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Pastors, we are not anchormen

Michael DiMarco:

Pastors, we are not anchormen; pretty faces with voices full of gravitas reading a gospel teleprompter full of pay per view wisdom from another’s scholarship. No, we are to be eyewitness reporters, delivering credible accounts of the Good News as we’ve experienced it, as His Spirit has revealed it.

To us.

Through His Word.

Not from someone else’s sermon notes and fruit of their study as our primary source.

Billy Corgan and the New Traditionalism in Christian Music

Mike Cosper:

While I think Corgan’s critique rings true at a certain level, at another, it rings very false. He has obviously not heard people like Gungor, Mars Hill Music, Indelible Grace, and many others who venture into other sonic territory. The U2 sound might rule the radio waves, and might have a strong foundation in the CCLI Top 10, but it isn’t the only game in town.

What Your Passions Say About You

Tony Reinke:

Actions speak louder than words — but desires speak loudest.

The pursuit of pleasure is what drives all our actions and decisions, driving us into relationships, driving us to watch football, driving us toward excellence at work. We authentically pursue what we are convinced will bring us pleasure.

John Bunyan was a pastor who spent considerable time thinking about how pleasures operate in our lives. In one of his sermons Bunyan said: “desires are hunting things.” Stalking through cornfields in boots, camo overalls, and a blaze orange hat is a fitting metaphor for the restless heart in search of pleasures. Our hearts are hungry and our hearts hunt this world for something (or someone) to fill a void.

But of course not all of our desires are good and helpful. Our desires may be pure or sinfully twisted.

Free eBook—Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes Our Salvation

Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Trust are making Anthony Carter’s new book, Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes Our Salvation, available for free through September 30th.

In this book, Anthony Carter traces the theme of the blood of Christ through the New Testament, showing how the biblical writers used the powerful metaphor of the blood of Jesus to help Christians grasp the treasures Jesus secured for them in His death on the cross. In doing so, he provides a fresh perspective on the atonement Jesus made.

You can get the book now from Ligonier Ministries (ePub), Amazon (Kindle) and iTunes (iBooks).

Leisure and Labor—Two Gifts from God

Albert Mohler:

Christians understand labor as a duty, but miss the fact that it is also a gift. In the first place, God has made us able to work: e.g., to manipulate things, to cultivate the ground, to manage herds, and to invent microprocessors. Secondly, He has allowed us through labor to understand at least part of our purpose in life: to fulfill a vocation. Furthermore, we can often see the result of our labors: the farmer takes pride in his orderly rows of crops; the carpenter sees the beauty of his cabinet; the doctor is fulfilled in his recovering patient; the mother sleeps content after a day of unceasing work with children.  Still, many people have difficulty seeing labor—especially their own labor—as a gift.

The backlist: the top ten posts on Blogging Theologically


Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in August:

  1. Memorizing God’s Word: Colossians (July 2013)
  2. I’m giving away a personal library! (August 2013)
  3. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  4. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  5. The three most amazing letters in the Bible (August 2013)
  6. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  7. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  8. The point we miss in Genesis 1-2 (August 2013)
  9. The real secret of keeping millennials in the church (August 2013)
  10. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  2. How do your favorite preachers do sermon prep? (August 2013)
  3. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  4. Grace at work in dementia (August 2013)
  5. The Value of Reading Our Church Fathers (August 2013)
  6. God’s gag reflex (August 2013)
  7. Kindle deals for Christian readers (August 2013)
  8. What does the Bible say about worship? (March 2013)
  9. Gospel-centered discipleship: 7 questions with Brandon Smith (August 2013)
  10. Live As You Are Called (August 2013)

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these posts, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check them out, especially those written by August’s fantastic group of guest bloggers.

What to do when you’re stuck


If you write long enough, you’re bound to get stuck—and you’re going to need help getting unstuck.

In April, I was hit with a moment or two of inspiration. I finally figured out what I’d like to write about for my next book (if a publisher picks it up—which means, of course, I can’t say hardly anything publicly yet). More than that, I wound up having ideas for two very different books, which, Lord willing, could be very very cool.

Since April, though, aside from a few moments where I’ve been able to dedicate time to these ideas, I’ve been stuck. The proposals sit there, waiting to be completed. The ideas are clear enough in my head. I know why the books would be helpful for readers…

But whenever I try to put the material publishers need together… I get stuck.

Which is really, really frustrating. 

So what do you do? How do you get unstuck on a writing project long enough to get it off the ground?

1. Pray. I’m not talking about the witchcraft-y trying-to-back-God-into-a-corner type of prayer here. I’m just talking about the simple, everyday discipline of coming before the Lord and praying that His will be done that day in your actions. This should be obvious, but I’ll be honest, I’ve been rather feeble in my prayers when it comes to these projects. This is something that needs to change.

2. Get a real deadline—one you have to meet. Whether you set it or you have a friend do it, set a deadline and get it done. (If you’re someone who’s blessed to have an agent, maybe they can help.) Deadlines are great motivators, so set one up. NOW.

3. Eliminate distractions. It might also be that you’e got too many distractions that are preventing you from focusing. Do you have something you need to stop doing in order to be disciplined enough to finish? Email, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix… turn them off.

4. Take a day off. For the vast majority of us, writing is the lowest paying, most laborious, yet incredibly rewarding part-time job we could ever have. Depending on your work situation, it might be good to take a day off from your day job to get stuff done (although this is only realistic if you’ve got enough vacation time available). Get out of the office, shut off your phone and go to it.

5. Be okay with letting it go. The idea might be good, but are you the one to tell this story or share this idea (even if it’s yours)? It might be that it’s nothing more than a fanciful notion, but not something you’re super-passionate about. Sometimes, even when it’s an idea you are passionate about, though, it might be the wrong season of life for you to write it.

I’m working through these things right now regarding my own projects. Right now, I’d say that (aside from prayer) my biggest issue has been distractions. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on that’s really just had me looking for something to take my mind off the events of my day. This week I’ve got some time that’s going to allow me to focus on getting these done in a distraction free environment. Lord willing, I’ll get something accomplished in that time.

But what about you, writers out there? What how do you get unstuck?

Links I like

Three Ingredients For An Evangelistic Church Culture

Mike McKinley:

I’m convinced it’s better for your church to have an evangelistic culture than just a series of evangelistic programs.

In a church with a program-driven approach to evangelism, sharing the gospel can become something mostly for certain people at certain times, like when the evangelism team goes out visiting.

But in a church with an evangelistic culture, each member is encouraged to play a role within the larger church’s effort to reach the people around them with the message of salvation in Jesus. It becomes a part of every believer’s life.

Jeff Bezos’ PowerPoint prohibition

I found this interesting:

Bezos instead requires that employees compose 6-page narrative memos, and he starts meetings with quiet reading periods—“study halls”—in which everyone reads the memo from beginning to end.

So the company that is devoted to helping customers do things quick-quick-quick—“1-click ordering,” same-day delivery, the instant download—creates an environment where employees take the time to write and think slowly.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

The following from Kevin DeYoung are still on sale:

Cruciform Press’ summer Kindle sale continues until September 4th. The following books are a steal at 99¢ each:

Finally, while it’s not a Christian book by any means, but Mark Stein’s book, How the States Got Their Shapes, looks intriguing and is on sale for $2.99.

A fool despises correction

Sam Freney:

I hate getting things wrong, and I’m gripped at really odd times by a certainty that I’m about to publicly do something incorrect. When I preach at church, for example, I check about ten times that the Bible reading is actually the one for which I’ve prepared. Perhaps you don’t share quite that level of obsession, but I don’t know many people who really embrace being wrong, or relish having it pointed out by others.

The Preacher At His Best

Kevin DeYoung:

Too many preachers are at their best when they are telling a personal anecdote or ripping into some sacred cow or riffing on in a humorous fashion. There is a time for all of that, but we ought to beware if those times are when we are at our best. We can be orthodox preachers of good, gospel truths and still tickle people’s ears. If we’re not careful, we’ll train the large conference audience and our local congregation that the time to really pay attention is when we start drifting not when we start digging.

Come as you are to Him


Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than you really are; but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly. A great artist some short time ago had painted a part of the corporation of the city in which he lived, and he wanted, for historic purposes, to include in his picture certain characters well known in the town. A crossing-sweeper, unkempt, ragged, filthy, was known to everybody, and there was a suitable place for him in the picture. The artist said to this ragged and rugged individual, “I will pay you well if you will come down to my studio and let me take your likeness.” He came round in the morning, but he was soon sent about his business; for he had washed his face, and combed his hair, and put on a respectable suit of clothes. He was needed as a beggar, and was not invited in any other capacity. Even so, the gospel will receive you into its halls if you come as a sinner, not otherwise. Wait not for reformation, but come at once for salvation. God justifies the ungodly, and that takes you up where you now are: it meets you in your worst estate.

Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

Ideas enfleshed


Atheism is an idea. Most often (thank God), it is an idea lived and told with blunt jumbo-crayon clumsiness. Some child of Christianity or Judaism dons an unbelieving Zorro costume and preens about the living room.

Behold, a dangerous thinker of thinks! A believer in free-from-any-and-all-goodness! Fear my brainy blade!

Put candy in their bucket. Act scared. Don’t tell them that they’re adorable. Atheism is not an idea we want fleshed out.

Atheism incarnate does happen in this reality narrative. But it doesn’t rant about Islam’s treatment of women as did the (often courageous) atheist Christopher Hitches. It doesn’t thunder words like evil and mean it (as Hitch so often did) when talking about oppressive communist regimes. His costume slipped all the time—and in many of his best moments.

Atheism incarnate is nihilism from follicle to toenail. It is morality merely as evolved herd survival instinct (non-binding, of course, and as easy for us to outgrow as our feathers were). When Hitchens thundered, he stood in the boots of forefathers who knew that all thunder comes from on high.

N.D. Wilson, Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent (19-20)

Links I like (weekend edition)

Wedding Photography, Sacrifice, and the ‘Price’ of Citizenship

Derek Rishmawy:

Elaine Huguenin had a policy of photographing same-sex clients, but not same-sex ceremonies, as that would render her a celebrant and constitute an endorsement of the practice in violation of her conscience. The main decision rejected the distinction between action and identity in this case because marriage is so closely tied to sexual identity. According to the Justices, refusing to photograph a ceremony would go against the core point of the NMHRA. By refusing to photograph such ceremonies, in the court’s opinion, it “violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

I won’t offer much comment on the legal coherence of majority decision. Others already have more ably than I could. Nor do I want to spend time talking about the nature of ‘equality‘, or whether ‘gay is the new black‘, or deal with the trope that this is the same thing as the Civil Rights battle.

But Justice Bosson’s concurring decision? Well, that’s something worth a few comments.

Are we trading street corners for social media?

Barnabas Piper:

Most people who posted about praying for Miley Cyrus likely did so with good motives and hearts of compassion, but something seems amiss about this public display of conversations with God. My mind gravitates to Jesus’ command to take our prayers to a private place and not to “pray publicly on street corners” as the hypocrites do (Matthew 6:5). Have we simply traded street corners for social media? Such billboarding of our private talks with God comes off as much as a display of self-righteousness as it does an exhibition of mercy or care for others. Praying for people, like Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, is good, but to proclaim that we’re doing so borders on hypocrisy.


You Do Not Labor in Vain

Dan Doriani:

I regularly preach about work and must confess: It is easy to share stories of executives, doctors, and engineers and forget that the most common occupations in America are retail salesperson and cashier. A series of recent conversations with Millennials reminded me that even among professionals, there is a chasm between Christian rhetoric and reality. Young Christians know the basics: God ordained work from the beginning so that it is good. Further, God commands mankind to fill and exercise dominion over the earth, but also to keep the garden. So we preserve creation even as we develop it (Gen. 1-2).

God Doesn’t Hand Out Hypotheticals

Aimee Byrd:

Last weekend Matt and I had a young, engaged couple from our church over. It was so encouraging to talk to them about our faith. Although they are barely in their twenties, Greg and Mim are very mature in their thoughts about God.

As the men were showing off their corn hole skills (maybe this is just a WV game??) in an intense match against our children, Mim and I were talking on the deck about the recent loss of her baby niece. As Mim was processing her thoughts from her experience over the last couple of dramatic weeks, she recalled something very wise her father told her. She said something to the fact that God doesn’t give us hypothetical grace, he gives us grace for today.

Jesus on Every Page by David Murray


In the first Bible study I ever led, I did something stupid: I took the group through the book of Daniel. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but in hindsight it wasn’t something I could call good. Why? Because someone kind of important was missing:


At the time I was a far newer believer than today. I loved the Bible, but I didn’t know the “big story” well. I couldn’t see the big picture—that all of Scripture is about Jesus.

If I could build myself a time machine and go and visit past-me, I’d do two important things:

First, I’d tell past-me to smarten up and read some good books before trying to teach a book (any book!) of the Bible.

Second, I’d put a copy of David Murray’s Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament in past-me’s hands.

Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, wants Christians to read the Old Testament Christianly—that is, to see it for the piece of Christian Scripture that it is. It’s the Bible Jesus read. The Bible Jesus taught. The Bible Jesus Himself said testifies to Himself.

So wouldn’t it be in our best interest to know what it says? [Read more...]

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Hungry for Real Christianity

Darryl Dash:

I started pastoring in the early 1990s when church growth principles and the seeker-sensitive movement were big. A decade later, beginning soon after 2000, the emerging church seemed to take off. We’re now beginning a new decade. What does the future hold for the Church in Canada?

According to John Neufeld, senior pastor of Willingdon Church in Burnaby, B.C., it won’t be another fad. “People are hungry for a Christianity that is real, lasting, and historic,” he says. Neufeld believes that many, especially younger people, have grown tired of a methodologically driven church-growth movement, and that the emerging church will not last because it doesn’t offer people enough certainty. “It’s the old mainline liberal movement with ripped jeans and guitars,” he says. But he’s noticing that younger people, as well as new immigrants to Canada, are hungry for a deep understanding of classic, orthodox Christianity. “My real hope is in the next generation,” he says.

Social Justice and Young Evangelicals: Encouragements and Concerns

Interesting discussion between Matt Chandler, John Piper and David Platt:

Get The Expository Genius of John Calvin in today’s $5 Friday at

The hardcover edition of The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven Lawson is on sale in today’s $5 Friday sale at Other items on sale:

  • How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas (ePub)
  • Developing Christian Character teaching series by R.C. Sproul (DVD)
  • Anne Bradstreet: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Poet by Heidi Nichols (paperback)

$5 Friday ends tonight at 11:59:59 PM Eastern.

The Cul-de-sac of Stupidity

Matt Chandler:

This is where the bulk of humanity is stuck. We are alienated from God because, instead of running to Him, we just want His stuff. We think that His stuff will somehow fulfill us when the Scriptures clearly say that His stuff was given to us so that we might worship Him. Food should create worship. Wine should create worship. Marriage should create worship. Children should create worship. All creation should point us toward the God of the universe who alone satisfies.

Why Desmond Tutu Is So Right and So Wrong

Andrew Shanks:

​When a man like Desmond Tutu, who spent his life defending the rights of the disenfranchised, views homosexuality from this perspective, we’re not surprised to hear him say that he would not want to worship a homophobic God. Nor is he, in this sense, wrong. For who would want to worship a God who truly “hates fags”? Who would want to worship a God who smiles on those who torture and murder gay youth? What kind of God would mock those who struggle with their sexual identity? Certainly not the God of the Bible, and Archbishop Tutu is absolutely right in disowning such a false god.

​At the same time, the law of God clearly condemns the unrepentant who practice homosexuality (1 Tim. 1:10). Each of us must lay aside sin and worship God alone through Christ. This is simple, albeit personally costly, gospel truth. This is not homophobia. But we cannot rely on the culture to make the distinction. To the extent that Tutu conflates God’s law with homophobia, he is absolutely wrong.

The point we miss in Genesis 1-2

Source: NASA

Source: NASA

What’s the point of Genesis 1-2?

Whenever we come to the opening chapters of the Bible, we usually spend a great deal of time focusing on one thing:

God’s creative work.

This is good and right, to be sure. But too often, it seems our time is spent coming up with ammo for the ongoing creation vs evolution debate.

As important as developing a biblically sound view of how the world came into being is (and it is), in doing so, we sometimes wind up missing the point of the text.

David Murray’s Jesus on Every Page offers a really helpful reminder on this point. Although the creation account has nothing to fear from true scientific inquiry, it is less about science than it is about Jesus—His power, His wisdom, His character and His redemptive work.

From beginning to end, the creation account points us to Jesus. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1 tells us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made,” expands John 1:1-3.

“[In] these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power,” explains the author of Hebrews (Heb. 1:2-3a).

Paul likewise tells us, “For by [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).

The New Testament authors refuse to budge on this point: God created the world—and He did it through Jesus. This world is His. “He is Lord of the creation,” Murray writes, “as He further demonstrated when He came to this earth: ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’ Answer? The Creator of them.” (51)

This is the real reason people get in a tizzy about creation vs evolution.

It’s less to do with the particulars of how the world came into being and more to do with an issue of autonomy.

If the world came into being through happenstance, and we’re merely the result of the equation of time + matter + chance successfully adding up again and again and again, then we are beholden to no one.

But if the Bible is true, then Jesus is over us, having made purifications for sins, seated at the right hand of the Most High (Heb. 1:3b). We are not little sovereigns free to run amok.

We are under authority. That’s why people really reject the creation account, and it’s the point that we so often miss.

Jesus is the Creator, and His command for all the earth is clear: Yield.

Links I like

Has Dr. King’s Dream Come True?

Ed Stetzer:

We have an African American President. We’ve had African-American cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, Oscar winners, Nobel Peace Prize winners, star athletes, astronauts, and titans of business. These positions were likely pipe dreams for those participating in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on that historic day 50 years ago.

For many, Dr. King’s dream has come true.

Unfortunately for many more, the dream has not come true.

When the Popular Youth Pastor Gets Arrested Again

Scott Slayton:

As a pastor in the Birmingham suburbs, I have been drawn to this story. But my fascination has little to do with his arrests or the bizzare 12-minute local news station interview where he compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and accused the police of targeting him when he started reaching “black kids.” Nor am I mostly intrigued by the drama of that same TV station reporting his parole violation to the police, who chased him down after he jumped off a 45-foot cliff. Instead, I want to know how we got here. How did this happen?

What I wish I’d known…

Matt Chandler:

I wish I had understood that if our church is seeing people come to know Christ consistently, we will always look a bit immature and messy around our fringes.

I would often lose heart in my first few years at what I believed was a lack of holiness in some of our members. My eyes would skip right over those who had been significantly transformed and the maturing center of our membership, and would fixate on the baby Christians struggling with their flesh.

People Aren’t Following You Because You Aren’t Being Clear

Donald Miller:

Recently I attended a poetry reading from America’s former poet laureate, Billy Collins. Billy teaches poetry at Lehman College at City University of New York and during the interview portion of the program he was asked what one thing he emphasised to his students the most. Collins answered confidently: clarity. He said many of his students naively felt it was beneath them to be clear, as though their poem would be perceived as more sophisticated if its meaning was elusive. He jokingly asked his interviewer what he thought his poem Fishing on The Susquehanna in July was about, and the interviewer shrugged his shoulders as though he didn’t know. It’s about fishing on the Susquehanna in July, Collins laughed.

Collins challenged the audience to dare to be clear. I’ll never forget it. He wasn’t just giving advice about writing poetry, he was giving advice about life.

Dare to be clear.

Is your heart an idol factory?

Mike Leake:

Yet, I still have to wonder if we aren’t misreading and wrongly applying that Calvin quote. I don’t think “perpetual idol factory” is an accurate description of the heart of one transformed by Jesus Christ. Nor do I think that is what Calvin, or more importantly the apostle Paul, is saying. The reference for Paul—and Calvin after him is one that has not yet been redeemed.