(Audio)Book Review: Worldliness by C.J. Mahaney

 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

Are those words in your Bible? While (I hope) we would all say yes, if we carefully examined our lives, we’d probably have to admit that we don’t live in light of them. Yet we can’t afford not to. Our lives are not to be characterized by the pursuit of “the things in the world,” lest we hinder our witness to the greatness of God.

And while we know this… again, if we had to be honest, what would we say our lives are marked by?

Concerns over the creeping influence of worldliness motivated C.J. Mahaney, along with Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell and Craig Cabaniss, to write Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.

Mahaney kicks off the book with a strong opening, dealing with what John means when he writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” It’s not that he’s saying “don’t love creation” or “don’t love the godless heathens with their MTV and Cinnabon.” Instead, he means that we are not to love “the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God.” This is a critical (and biblical) distinction that Mahaney is wise to bring to address because when you talk about avoiding “worldliness,” it’s really easy to jump to all sorts of peculiar legalisms. Without this foundation, the remainder of the book could almost certainly come off as exactly that. [Read more...]

#TGC11 Day 2 Reflections

Emily and I took a few minutes last night to talk about some of the highlights of day 2 of the Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference. Check out the video below for our thoughts:

 

And just a reminder—the Don’t Call It a Comeback giveaway is still on until Friday afternoon. If you’ve not entered already, now would be a great opportunity. Go here for more details.

Disturbed by Christmas

© Gareth Weeks

From William H. Smith’s 1992 World Magazine article, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (emphasis added):

Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed.

Why aren’t people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to sanitize the birth narratives. We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. We beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don’t miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.

Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, to be either the Savior or Judge of all people? He is a most threatening person.

Malachi foresaw his coming and said, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn’t disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply.

What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work.

That baby was born so that “he who had no sin” would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The baby’s destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.

That’s the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man’s sin has alienated him from God, and man’s reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing.

HT: CJ Mahaney

Genuine Humility

When is humility genuine? How do you know the difference between pride and loving correction?

James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney sit down and discuss how to offer guidance and correction to those we love in a way they can receive—and how we can do so with godly motives.

HT: Collin Hansen

“Who Am I that I Should Have Been the Object of His Mercy?”

C.J. Mahaney is the founding pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland and the author of several books including Humility: True Greatness.

His testimony is a powerful testimony to God’s grace in saving the ill-deserving.

Around the Interweb (07/04)

Happy Belated Birthday, Canada!

Thursday was Canada Day. I celebrated it by visiting a Compassion church partner in the Copan Ruins area of Honduras. In honor of my homeland, enjoy Clark, the Canadian Hockey Goalie

I think that counts as a great Independence Day gift to all my American friends, too, eh? 

Free Audiobook of the Month: The Pursuit of God

A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God is available for download as this month’s free audiobook at ChristianAudio.com. Use the coupon code JUL2010 when ordering. 

Jonathan Rourke Imitates C.J. Mahaney

From the recent Resolved conference. Amazing: 

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"My Goal is to be a Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ until He Calls Me Home" – Matt Chandler at Together for the Gospel 2010

Matt Chandler was a special guest at Together for the Gospel 2010, sharing about how his experience with cancer has impacted him and his theology:

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“My goal is to be a faithful minister of Jesus Christ until he calls me home,” says Chandler.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’ve got that kind of faith. But I want it.

When we suffer, will we suffer well? Will we look at our circumstances with despair or will we join Paul in saying,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Philippians 1:21-24

HT: Matt Robbins

Up the (Willow) Creek: Chip and Dan Heath

Willow-Creek

heath_brosIn the final post summarizing my take-aways from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, I want to take a quick look at Chip & Dan Heath’s session: Switch.

The Heaths, authors of Made to Stick and the upcoming Switch (available in early 2010!), address the question, “Why is change sometimes so hard, and other times so easy?”

Any sort of successful change, say the Heaths, “requires convincing the organization that change is the right thing.” Once we’ve done that, we move on to the next issue: Identifying what is working. The Heaths suggest that we first “look for the bright spots—the things that show that success is possible. Find what works and duplicate those things… Bright spots are proof that people are capable of solving their problems.” [Read more...]

Sunday Shorts (07/05)

Crazy Love: Free Audiobook of the Month

Francis Chan’s much talked about Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God is this month’s free audiobook at ChristianAudio.com.

Here’s the video introduction to the book:

Use the coupon code JUL2009 to get this audiobook for free.

Why Do the New Calvinists Insist on Complementarianism?

Kevin DeYoung recently took some time to respond to the question of why the “new” Calvinists insist on complemetarianism. Here’s a snippet:

I think you can be a Calvinist and an egalitarian. My denomination–the one I grew up in and have always been a part of–strongly supports egalitarianism. This is very problematic to me. I can understand why some would leave an egalitarian denomination, but I don’t think egalitarianism necessitates that one must leave. For the time being, I am content to work with, through, and in my denomination, where both views are at the table (though my view is usually put at a card table somewhere in the basement far away from the corridors of power).

But (you knew there was a “but” coming) I am glad that the network of “New Calvinist” organizations and conferences have made complementarianism a plank in their platform. I can live in a church environment without this doctrinal boundary, but I think it would be better to have it.

Read the rest at Kevin’s blog.

The Gospel Coalition Serves Pastors – C. J. Mahaney

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more about “The Gospel Coalition | The Gospel Coa…“, posted with vodpod

In case you missed it

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

The Watchmen How does Ezekiel’s call to preach repentance to Israel apply to believers today?

Book Review: The Truth War Reviewing John MacArthur’s call to contend for the faith.

Reflections on the Old Testament What have I taken away from my brief study of the Old Testament? Anticipation.

Book Review: Humility

humility

Recommended: A helpful, Christ-exalting look at the pursuit of a most elusive character trait.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5b)

We live in a culture that is built on pride. Facebook, blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, our self-esteem centered education system (our city has a no-fail policy), marketing… Everything about our culture is centered around “me.”

The message we constantly receive is, “You’re special. You’re worth it. You’re a winner. You’re unique. Be the best you that you can be.”

It is a message designed to bolster our pride. Without question, pride is considered a (if not the) primary virtue in our society. And, most troublesomely, it’s an attitude that’s crept into the church. It affects how we serve, how we give, how we participate in corporate worship, how we interact with non-believers.

But, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, doesn’t He?

In Humility: True Greatness, C.J. Mahaney reminds us of the spiritually-critical need for every Christian to pursue humility by the grace of God, and provides readers with some helpful tools to aid us in our pursuit.

Humility is, without hyperbole, is the most needed character trait for all Christians. It’s also the most elusive, because as soon as we profess to be humble, we reveal ourselves to be proud. But what is biblical humility? Mahaney defines is as, “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness” (p. 22). It is an honest assessment that affirms the need of the Savior. We cannot possibly hope to be holy as God is holy without grace. And grace requires humility.

As Mahaney methodically moves through both his arguments about the perils of pride and how we can cultivate humility in our own lives, he reminds us that pride is not simply a sin, but it is one hated by God with a particular passion—indeed, John Stott calls it “the root of all sin.”

Because of pride, we make idols for ourselves (or of ourselves). Because of pride, our first parents rebelled. Because of pride, Satan fell. Because of pride, Jesus was beaten and crucified.

This book is particularly helpful to me because I struggle with pride to a frightening degree. As those who know me can attest, I can be extremely prideful about everything. It tempts me to rebel against the authorities over me. It tempts me to indulge my selfish desires over the desires of my wife and friends.

I’ve read this book several times, and every time I’ve found something that I didn’t notice or appreciate in the previous reading. But every time, I’m struck by the profundity of what I believe to be the heart of the book:

Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ… To truly be serious and deliberate in mortifying pride and cultivating greatness, you must each day survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

And (quoting D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones):

Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner…that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust…Nothing but the cross can give us the spirit of humility (p. 66).

The cross destroys our pride as we see our true selves when we gaze upon it. May we gaze upon it all the more as we appreciate the important reminder from a “proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God” (p. 13).

Purchase your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca