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7 Different Ways to Read a Book

Tim Challies:

Reading is kind of like repairing a bicycle. Kind of. For too long now my bike has been semi-operational. It has one brake that just doesn’t want to behave and all my attempts to fix it have failed. Why? Well it turns out that I haven’t been using the right tool. To get the bike working I need to use the right tool. And when it comes to reading, well, you’ve got to use the right tool—you’ve got to know what kind of reading to do. Here are seven different kinds of reading.

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6 Critical Truths To Understand About Anger

Mark Altrogge:

The Bible has a lot to say about anger.

I don’t mean righteous anger, the kind of anger we can experience toward injustice or evil but sinful anger. Many times we may feel we are “righteous” in our anger, because someone wronged us. Anger often involves our sense of justice.  But it’s very easy to slide into sinful anger, hatred and bitterness. Here are some Biblical truths and principles that God has used to help me make progress in conquering my own sinful anger.

How Do Sinners Help Sinners Stop Sinning?

David Murray:

Christians are not only called to repentance but are also called to call others to repentance. This is often one of the hardest tasks in the Christian life. How do we approach someone who is sinning in a way that will help lead them to repentance?

The solution to “Peter Pan” syndrome

Chris Martin:

Over the last few years, young pastors have followed the lead of guys like Mark Driscoll, yelling at college guys to grow up, move out of their parents’ basement, provide for themselves, get a wife, and otherwise. Driscoll often refers to guys who live with their parents as, “boys who can shave,” citing the common name for the phenomenon, “Peter Pan Syndrome.”

It frustrates me when pastors like Driscoll and others make passing comments in sermons or blog posts about how young men who live with their parents are less-manly or less-Christian than other men. As if it is somehow more Christlike to pay for your own meals and apartment the second you graduate from college.

One of the Greatest Gifts a Man Can Give His Family…

…is modelling repentance.

A few weeks back, Mark Driscoll preached through Luke 11:5-13 and spoke well to this as he examined verse 13:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Here’s the transcript for the video:

Gentlemen, one of the most powerful things you can do is acknowledge your own evil to your wife and children. This is telling your wife and your children when you’ve sinned and it’s owning it and naming it. All right, Jesus says that earthly fathers are evil. So when we do or say or fail to do good and we act in a way that is evil, it is very helpful for our families to see us repent of sin. Some of you have never heard your dad say things like, “It’s my fault. I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” You’ve never heard that. Because even when your dad was wrong, he didn’t acknowledge it. He didn’t confess it. He didn’t agree with Jesus, “Yeah, that was evil.”

And so fathers, if you want to create a loving, nurturing, godly home, you model repentance by acknowledging your own evil. If you want to raise really stubborn, obstinate, rebellious, religious kids, tell them to repent of their sin but never repent of your sin. Tell them when they say or do evil, but do not acknowledge your own. You will then create a very religious culture with very discouraged children who will realize that they live under a father who is aware of their sin but ignorant of his own and that he is a cruel taskmaster and overbearing hypocrite.

So it’s important for us fathers to tell our children, “I want to be the best father I can be. God the Father is the perfect Father. You need him. I need him, too, because we’re both sinners that he’s working on and he’s dealing with our evil.”

Modelling repentance is not easy. Abigail looks at me like I’ve got two heads sometimes (she’s still in that age-range where Daddy apparently can do no wrong), but it’s slowly) helping her to understand that it’s okay to admit our sins and ask for forgiveness from those we’ve wronged.

I’m not sure if it will ever get easier, but I’m looking forward to seeing the fruit in her life.

Book Review: Church Planter by Darrin Patrick – The Man

“[W]e have a cultural crisis and a theological one,” writes Darrin Patrick in Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. “We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grown-ups. . . . This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even, frighteningly, vocational ministry.” (p. 9).

In short, we have a man crisis. Modern society shuns the traditional role of the man as the head of the home, the breadwinner and the spiritual leader of the family. Advertising and entertainment show the man as the oafish buffoon, Mom’s “other child.” Emasculated, men have abdicated their responsibilities and escaped into the fleeting pleasures of hobbies, video games and pornography.

They are neither men nor boys. They are are “Bans,” a hybrid of both a boy and man. They’re in our communities, our churches, our workplaces, and our families.

Ban needs godly men and women to show him there is more to life than he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God’s man who is being transformed by God’s gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God’s mission. (p. 18)

That’s why Patrick, the pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis and vice-president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, wrote Church Planter. In its pages, Patrick offers sound advice and biblical wisdom as he challenges prospective church planters, longtime pastors and the average churchman alike to be God’s man armed with God’s message and on God’s mission.

So what kind of man does it take to plant a church?

What kind of man does the church need to carry out its mission? What kind of man is needed to see lives transformed?

Patrick breaks down who that man is as follows:

He is a rescued man. He is, quite simply, a man who has indeed personally experienced forgiveness and acceptance from Jesus Christ. He must be growing in genuine love for God and people. When an unregenerate man (even one who is self-deceived) is given oversight of the church, both his well-being and the church’s are at risk. “[T]he church under such a pastor [one who is not truly a Christian] generally suffers spiritually, communally, and missionally, and it eventually withers and dies.” (p. 24)

He is a called man. Pastoral ministry is impossible for man on his own. He must be clearly called by God. Here, Patrick offers a three-fold way to discern the call: heart, head and skills. A heart-call is a deep inclination that says, “I must do this or I will die.” A head calling is asking the question, “How am I to specifically serve this church?” And a skills confirmation is the church examining and testing the gifts and character of the one who believes himself to be called.

He is a qualified man. He is a man growing in the character qualifications of a biblical elder as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. While the pastor/elder is specifically called to these qualifications, Patrick notes, “Almost all of what is required here of elders . . . is required of any believer elsewhere in Scripture. . . . Elders are not a higher class of Christians. . . . [They] are called to uniquely focus on and live out the virtues to which all Christians aspire.” (p. 45)

He is a dependent man. He is a man who solely depends on the power of the Holy Spirit for the success of his ministry. He knows that it’s not by his will that anything can be done and seeks to grow deeply in his dependence by cultivating his relationship with God.

He is a skilled man. He is a man who exhibits (in varying degrees) the three basic skills necessary for pastoring: leading, teaching and shepherding. Patrick examines these through the lens of the three-fold offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest and King. He explains:

Prophets are those pastors who guide, guard, protect and proclaim the truths of Scripture. They tend to ask questions like, “What does the text say?” and “Where is the church going?” (p. 69)

Priests lead the church by identifying and helping to meet people’s felt needs. They tend to ask the question “Who?” (p. 72)

Kings develop strategies for bringing the vision and mission of Christ-centered living to fruition. They tend to ask the question “How?” (p. 73)

He is a shepherding man. He is a man who cares for Jesus’ sheep, and is prepared to lay down his life to protect and nurture them.

He is a determined man. There are going to be seasons in every pastor’s ministry where it will be very tempting to “tap out” and give up. But, Patrick writes, “Pastoral ministry requires dogged, unyielding, determination, and determination can only come from one source—God himself.” (p. 94)

This first section of the book provides a compelling and captivating picture of what a godly man should look like—not simply a pastor or church planter. As I read through these pages, I had to stop and seek the answers to the questions that Patrick posed along the way:

Do I love people?

Am I (and others) seeing the fruit of the Spirit become increasingly characteristic of my life?

Is there a call on my life?

How am I wired in reflecting the spiritual offices of Christ?

Am I depending on the Holy Spirit or on sheer willpower and effort to get through?

These were really challenging questions to answer—but the clarity that came from wrestling with them is refreshing (especially in that I learned that yes, I do in fact love people!).

We do have a man crisis in our culture and in our churches—and the picture of a godly man presented here is much-needed. Already I’ve started using it as a discipling tool for younger men. Because many of us have not had an example of a godly man in our lives, we’re usually trying to make it up as we go along. This has certainly been the case for me. However, the book’s structure and insights allow for real and reliable self-examination, as well as examination by others. And this alone makes Church Planter a worthwhile investment.


Next: The Message


Title: Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission
Author: Darrin Patrick
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

Around the Interweb (08/08)

The Awesomeness Driven Church

Jared Wilson offers the following heart check:

It is widely repeated that a Korean pastor once visited the United States and remarked at the end of his stay, “It’s amazing what you people can do without the Holy Spirit.”

Yesterday I watched a video of a motocross bike jumping over a pastor on stage. Now, I’m not saying that church or its pastor don’t have the Holy Spirit, but I am saying that setting up a dirtbike track in your sanctuary is profoundly stupid.

What is profoundly stupid is the sheer amount of innovation, creativity, energy, ambition, and astounding levels of human wherewithal that go into crafting the most amazing worship experiences Americans have ever seen inside churches where the gospel isn’t preached. I can say this because there’s only one thing we hold that the New Testament calls “power,” and that’s the gospel.

Read the rest at Jared’s blog.

In Other News

Funny: Help Lord–The Devil Wants Me Fat!

Theology: Read the preface to Andy Naselli’s new book, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology

Men being Men: What I Didn’t Learn About Manhood from Esquire

In Case You Missed It

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

Some thoughts on being evangelistically challenged

My review of Dave Harvey’s new book, Rescuing Ambition

Matt Chandler: Because God is Good

Mark Driscoll: Stop Chasing Mountaintop Experiences – Read Your Bible Instead

Think About What You’re Reading

Around the Interweb (03/28)

A Roommate is a Roommate? I Wonder What Her Dad Thinks

Kayla, left, and Lindon say sharing a dorm room hasn't been awkward. The mixing of genders is a generational issue, Lindon says, and "Over the years, this division between men and women, which was so big, is slowly closing." (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / March 9, 2010)

The other day, Albert Mohler posted some commentary in response to a recent LA Times article on Harvey Mudd College’s move to mix-gender housing for students:

The rise of co-ed dorms is the inevitable result of a breakdown in all rationality about sex, gender, and sexuality. . . . All of this adds up to a perfect jumble of moral confusion. Consider all that is mixed-up here. First, we have schools collapsing under the logic of gender rebellion. Instead of respecting boundaries, they remove them. . . . Second, we have students insisting that there is nothing remotely odd or sexualized about two heterosexual students of opposite genders living in the same small space. That is both unbelievable and deeply sad. Third, we have activists and administrators lecturing parents that they have no right to resist all this. When Jeffrey Chang insists that college students are adults who “have every single right to choose the person they feel most comfortable living with,” he assumes, probably rightly, that many parents will just accept that argument at face value.

This is nuts. If these students are adults with such rights, let them pay the steep bills at Harvey Mudd and Pitzer colleges. What self-respecting parent would cave to this logic, or to the lectures from college administrators that they have no right to intervene?

Read Dr. Mohler’s article, as well as the LA Times article. It’ll be well worth your time.

In other news

Stephen Altrogge reminds us: “You’re not the point of the gospels.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers thinks statements of faith are incompatible with academic freedom. Christian post-secondary institutes beware.

Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk) has discontinued cancer treatment and is receiving assistance from the local hospice. He and his wife are asking that we all pray for minimal pain and a peaceful passing.

In case you missed it

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

This week, I released a free e-book based on Jude’s epistle, Contending: A Study & Discussion Guide. It’s ideal for personal and small group use. Download it and share as you like.

A review of John Piper’s latest, A Sweet & Bitter Providence

Whatever makes you feel good about you,” what I’m learning from Christian Smith’s research on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Some encouragement from John Calvin

Zac Smith shares his battle with cancer

Act Like Men

act-like-men

One of the greatest joys I have found as a Christian is learning how to be a man—a real man. One who is honest with his wife, who plays with his kids, who takes care of the needs of the family and strives to give wherever there’s a need. And I see a few men around me who, by God’s grace, are in pursuit of the same things. Two of my best friends are very much good, strong Christian husbands and I look forward to the day when they’re good, strong Christian daddies. It’s going to be a joyous day.

These guys bring great joy to my life and I’m incredibly grateful for them, especially the older men who are willing to speak into my life and the lives of others.

But there are some guys… Guys who are grown men, but act like little boys wearing man-pants. [Read more…]

Book Review: What’s He Really Thinking?

Title: What’s He Really Thinking: How to Be a Relational Genius with the Man in Your Life
Author: Paula Rinehart
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Recommended: Ladies, embrace the man in your life for what he is: A man.

Sometimes it’s fun to read a book for which you’re definitely not the target audience. What’s even better is when you actually find it helpful.

Paula Rinehart’s book, What’s He Really Thinking? wants women to understand one thing: Men are not women with beards and big feet. We are a truly distinct gender, despite our culture’s general thrust to try and feminize us. We think, react and feel completely differently. And relationships are so much better when women stop trying to “train” us and embrace us for who we are instead.

As a man reading this book, I came into it expecting to be thrown under a bus. After all, that’s been the general theme of any book written about men (for women) for the last twenty-odd years. The portrayal of men today tends to be that of the doofy husband. But What’s He Really Thinking? is particularly interesting because, rather than affirming this attitude, Rinehart seeks to provide women a view of maleness that’s built on research, practical experience and biblical wisdom. And as an added bonus, because it’s written to women, there were more than a few “Aha!” moments where it helped make sense of some of my wife’s reactions to the things I do.

What’s He Really Thinking? is a very helpful book, one that I would, with little hesitation, recommend to any woman who wants to better understand how to approach her relationship with the man (or men) in her life—because God made us men, and that actually is a very good thing indeed.

Made in the Image of God: Relationship and Responsibility

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

Last week, I wrote about man’s likeness of God relating to the spirit. This week, let’s take a look at two more ways we’re made in the image and likeness of God: Relationship and responsibility.

Relationship

In Genesis 2:18, after God had finished creating everything and had declared it all good, there was one thing that He said was not good: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Out of everything that God created—plants, animals, insects, New Jersey—the only thing God said was not good was that the man was alone. [Read more…]

Why I love my wife

This week has been a good one for us. Emily is recovering well and generally in good spirits (thanks go out to all who have been praying for her). But it’s also been rough for me, simply because I was hit a little more profoundly with the reality of the last two weeks’ events when my good friend Adam (correctly) mentioned, “your wife almost died.”

That really shook me, because while I knew, it hadn’t really sunk in. He was right. She had almost died nearly two weeks ago.

Tuesday night, Emily and I had a hard talk about her not taking the time she needed to take to heal. And I almost lost it emotionally; I just felt like a wreck. I explained to her how I was feeling, that I needed her to slow down as much as she needed to. I begged her to please just let me take care of her. And she did.

The rest of the week was pretty well. I didn’t think about this too much more until Saturday, when I stumbled into a debate on gender roles. It’s strange how the mind connects things sometimes, but… [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (04/05)

James MacDonald: The Public Rebuke of False Teachers

I love James MacDonald. He is a smart, godly man and a gifted teacher of the Scriptures. This is one more reason why I respect him:

What was amazing about some of the comments I received was that they were not put off by the critique, but by the naming of the specific person who promulgates these deceptions.  Several comments stated in the strongest of terms that it is unbiblical and unwise, even unloving, to name the names of false teachers and opponents of the biblical gospel.  Is that true?  Is it wrong to publicly call out those who attack the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Even when their denials are much more public?  Let’s see what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John have to say about how to deal with false teachers.  Do they confront it?  Do they, in many instances, actually name the people involved?

Read the entire post, and, for context, his post on Brian McLaren.

HT: Justin Taylor

Marriage and Men

A couple weeks back, Mark Driscoll delivered a very hard, very convicting sermon on the necessity of being a godly man in marriage.

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Iron Man, Spurgeon, and the Gospel: Thoughts on a Purpose Driven Life

My friends at Evangelical Village posted a very intriguing article connecting Iron Man to the gospel. Well worth the read:

One key transition scene showing Tony’s inward change has continued to stick out in my mind. In this scene, Tony and his assistant Pepper Potts have a somewhat heated dialogue in which Tony describes the determination of his life’s purpose.  Tony firmly states his new-found purpose: “There is nothing except this. There is no art opening; there is no benefit; there is nothing to sign. There is the next mission. And nothing else.”

This scene has been on replay in my mind the past few days until this morning when in I encountered a quote by Charles Spurgeon…

Read the rest here.

Easter

Today begins the most important week in the Christian calendar: The week celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry, betrayal at the hands of one of His closest friends, false trial, brutal execution and glorious resurrection. I would encourage all of us to take some time this week and re-read the story of the crucifixion and thank Jesus for the wondrous gift of salvation He has given in His death on the cross.