Links I like

Today is my 35th birthday. To celebrate, I’m doing sermon prep. I’ll be preaching Psalm 8 on Sunday morning at Orillia Baptist Church (10 am—join us!), and I still have no idea what to preach for my evening message. Please pray the Lord would bring something to mind.

And now for some links:

‘Aha’ Moments: Theirs and Mine

Andrew Wilson:

Pete Enns has been hosting a fascinating series over at his blog in which biblical scholars give their “aha” moments. Exactly what an “aha” moment is varies by contributor, but it’d probably be fair to say that, generally speaking, it’s a “that time I realized inerrancy wasn’t true” moment. With a strong lineup of scholars, some clever writing, and a well-loved narrative shape—who doesn’t like the “I used to reason like a child, but then I put childish ways behind me” format?—it has gained significant attention and apparently hammered nail after nail into inerrancy’s coffin. So, as a prospective biblical scholar, a paid-up member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and an author of a new book about Scripture, I thought it might be worth interacting with the series a bit, as well as revealing one of my own “aha” moments when it comes to the Bible.

It’s Wrong for Christians to Mistreat Creation

Justin Holcomb:

It is true that a false view of dominion has played a role in the mistreatment of creation, but a correct understanding of the concept can lead to service, responsibility, and stewardship.

How sin is most deceitful

Ray Ortlund shares a particularly powerful quote from Martin Luther.

Should We Stop Singing Vicky Beeching Songs?

Russell Moore:

In recent days, singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching announced that she is a lesbian, and that she disagrees with the historic Christian sexual ethic. Prior to this, Beeching wrote many songs used as praise choruses in evangelical churches. Some are asking if they should continue to sing her songs in corporate worship.

At first glance, the question is a good one. After all, this is not the equivalent of an intramural disagreement about the ordinances or church government or the authorship of the Book of Hebrews. At question here is whether or not the church will tell unrepentant persons that they will “not surely die” if they proceed in this way. This is a gospel issue.

The issue becomes more complicated, though, when we ask what it means to sing songs written by someone in some area of doctrinal or moral error.

The Unforgivable Sin?

Mark Jones:

At an OPC youth camp over a year ago I had the privilege of addressing young men and women on the topic of masturbation, among other topics (e.g., Machen, Machen, and more Machen). As some of you may know, the OPC are notorious for letting the PCA do their theological dirty-work. But I digress…
So, what do you say to young men and women who, if they have hit puberty, are likely to have already masturbated or find themselves enslaved to the said practice? Do you quote Genesis 38:9 and move on quickly?

The Other Side of Ferguson: Local Churches Fighting Injustice

Kara Bettis:

If the media alone is to be believed, Ferguson, Missouri, is currently a battleground, wafting with tear gas, mangled storefronts, and face-offs in which power-hungry law enforcement uses German Shepherds and armored trucks to stave off furious rioters.

Thousands of Americans in over 90 cities have marched in outrage over the seemingly unjust killing of rising college freshman Michael Brown. Many demand justice for a young man who was apparently killed, defenseless, in broad daylight, his body left for hours uncovered on the street. But demonstrators most desire a more far-reaching change.

Meanwhile, similar to most wars—both global and civil—the church has quietly worked from dawn until dusk without much notice from the press. Many of Ferguson’s citizens recognize a narrative missed by the press.

Links I like

But What About Gluttony!?!

Kevin DeYoung interacting with a common argument:

Why do conservative Christians make such a fuss about homosexuality and give everyone a free pass—most notably themselves—when it comes to gluttony?

That’s a question you hear a lot of us these days and one you should expect to hear again and again, posed in a hundred different ways, in the years ahead.

Why are we asking about gays in heaven when we should be asking if there will be fat people in heaven? How can we say “their” sin of homosexuality is terrible while “our” sin of gluttony is no big deal? Everyone’s a biblical literalist until you bring up gluttony. Besides, the Bible contains three times as many exhortations against gluttony than against homosexuality.

How should Christians think about these claims? Well, the operative word in that question is “think.” We can’t settle for gotcha headlines and arguments that are more slogan than substance. We have to be open to reason, open our Bibles, and think this through.

The Surprising and Sickening Outrage over Josie Cunningham’s Abortion

Trevin Wax:

A woman in the United Kingdom faces an unplanned pregnancy that prevents her from taking the next step in her career. She makes the choice to abort.

And Great Britain erupts in judgment and anger toward the woman.

What gives?

Why the outrage toward a woman exercising her “reproductive rights?”

Always Apologize First

Barnabas Piper:

On occasion a particularly young and/or naïve person asks me for advice about being a husband or a dad. (No one seasoned or wise bothers.) Since I got married young and had kids young I have “experience”, I guess. By “experience”, of course, I mean scars and bruises from stumbling into obstacles created by my own idiocy and arrogance.

When the question is put to me “what piece of advice would you give to a new husband/dad” I want to leave minds blown and mouths agape. I want to utter a witticism that would make Solomon jealous and Confucius plagiarize. Instead, all I have ever been able to come up with is this: “Always apologize first.”

Sinner, Come Home

Albert Mohler:

I was honestly unprepared for where John would take us at the conclusion of his message. He took us into a crowded tent where he, as a young boy, saw his own father, an evangelist, plead with sinners to come to Jesus — “Won’t you come? . . . Won’t you come?”

Time and space seemed to collapse for me as I remembered being in the same kind of meeting, hearing the same gospel pleading, many, many times as a boy. I remember one time in particular, when as a nine-year-old boy I heard a part-time preacher who was a full-time phosphate miner preach the gospel and then plead with us to come to Christ. And I did.

God’s Word is most powerful in context

Sandy Grant:

Yesterday, I shared how words from an old youth fellowship song came back and comforted me when the birth of our twins turned into something of an emergency, and I was unable to articulate any prayer of my own.

Later I realised the words came from Psalm 61:1-3. And they give beautiful pictures of what God is like; the concern of a mother hen, the strength of a strong tower, the security of the higher rock. He is a refuge to all who turn to him.

And God’s Spirit brought these realities home so very powerfully to me that day so many years ago. However I make a confession to you. When the words of that song came into my mind, I didn’t know they were from Scripture. I knew the general ideas were Scriptural. But even though I was a Moore College graduate, I didn’t know those song lines were direct quotes from Psalm 61.

It was only several years later, while I was reading the Psalms one day, that the penny dropped. And so I had another surprise

Because the song only uses the first few verses from the Psalm. But there are several more verses. And those extra verses add a context. And to my mind, they made the psalm even more powerful.

Links I like

Holy Relics: The Church Pew

Martyn Wendell Jones:

Unlike the Lord, they are hard and unforgiving. Wherever two or three hundred are gathered, there they will be also. The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head, but his followers will have somewhere to rest their behinds, even unto the end of the age.

Evangelical church pews are a sign of our identification with the Christian Church universal because they are not unique to our houses of worship. Austere, they stand in sanctuaries all over the world, colors changing with those of the available materials for building them in different countries and climates. I’ve seen them bolted to stone floors, hardwood floors, and floors covered in carpet to mask the material underneath; I’ve dozed on them in balmy Mediterranean weather and shivered on them through a bitter midwestern winter’s worth of Sundays, helplessly caught in the draft of God’s house and praying for the Lord to seal the door, as he sometimes does.

Tribes and the lost art of discernment

Yancey Arrington:

Unfortunately for some, looking to leaders who don’t share your theological distinctives or church philosophy is anathema. I’ve been places where if you quote [a non-tribe leader’s name] or say you like [said leader’s] approach to dealing with a specific issue you run the risk of being regarded as some kind of sellout, pragmatist who’s a heartbeat away from purchasing a laser light show and circus clowns for your Sunday morning “event.” You definitely are in need of a strong rebuke…or better yet, a gossip session: “Did you hear who [leader in your tribe] has been influenced by? What’s he thinking? We started our tribe because we don’t want to be like those guys!” The sad result is that isolationism and insularity become shibboleths for who the real faithful are. Do they quote our guys, go to our conferences, read our books? Another unfortunate product is the fostering of an either/ormentality which tragically pits good things against each other, forcing a tribe’s faithful to embrace one at the loss of the other. For example, one person’s tribe is either into theology or leadership but it can’t be into both. Embrace theology and you’re regarded as too doctrinaire for your own good. Embrace leadership and risk being branded as guy who puts ends over means. It’s crazy, pick any tribe and often you’ll get subjected to all kinds of false dichotomies (attractional church vs. incarnational church, Sunday school vs. missional communities, etc.) forcing you to pick the “right” side.

Whenever I see this either/or mentality I want to scream, “Whatever happened to discernment?”

Youth-Driven Culture

Stephen Nichols:

The subtle and not-so-subtle pulls of the idolization of youth manifest themselves in three areas. The first is an elevation of youth over the aged. This reverses the biblical paradigm. The second is a view of being human that values prettiness (not to be confused with beauty and aesthetics), strength, and human achievement. Think of the captain of the cheerleading squad and the star quarterback. The third is the dominance of the market by the youth demographic. That is to say, in order to be relevant and successful, one must appeal to the youth or to youthful tastes. These manifestations of our youth-driven culture deserve a closer look.

How I Almost Became a False Teacher

John Knight:

[Disability] touched every area of my life, including my understanding of who God is. I looked for this issue in the Bible and thought hard about it. But I didn’t just read the Bible, I scoured memoirs, scholarly journals, testimonials, history, academic textbooks.

I responded to the strong temptation to look for somebody else — somebody with experience with disability — to provide the theological answers to the questions I had about the Bible and disability. Some of those voices made sense to me.

One such voice was a well-known blind theologian dealing directly at some of the hardest passages in the New Testament. His writing was clear and organized. He was seriously engaging the Bible. He knew and understood the history of the church on this topic. His argumentation was tight, and his experience with the subject was relevant. His emotional appeals gelled with his rationale. He was no prosperity charlatan trying to get rich off his followers. It was a serious look at God’s word and its impact on his life as a man living with blindness.

And he was wrong

The real problem with female masturbation

Jordan Monge:

When men talk about masturbation (or at least what I have heard and read), everyone pretty much settles on the basics: It’s hard to practice self-control. It’s hard to resist indulging in lust. Really hard. Few men try to psychoanalyze the process, explaining masturbation away by realizing that they secretly have underlying issues relating to real women. (Though, it’s true that many men do struggle to relate to real women in the flesh, if the movie Her is any indication.) Men realize that even if they do resolve those relational issues with women or somehow meet their “unmet needs,” that won’t solve their real problem. Their real problem is lust.

Book Review: Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

There are few subjects touchier than the question of homosexuality and Christianity.

In recent years, in order to shift the portrayal of Christians as vicious homophobes, many mainline denominations have fully embraced homosexual practice as compatible with Christianity, as have some in “post-evangelical” circles, such as Tony Jones.

Given the enormous pressure to affirm and embrace homosexual practice, it can be really tempting to go along with it, or worse to give unsatisfying, pat answers to hard questions about Christian faithfulness and homosexuality.

So what do you do if you earnestly believe that God’s Word is true, and what it says about homosexuality is in fact the truth?

What if you truly believe that homosexuality is a serious sin as outlined in Scripture?

And what do you do if you believe it—and you’re gay?

Wesley Hill seeks to answer that question in Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. What qualifies him to do so?

It’s his struggle.

Washed and Waiting tells Hill’s story of seeking to be faithful to Christ while struggling with homosexuality; at the same time it provides an encouragement to gay Christians who are convinced that “their discipleship to Jesus necessarily commits them to the demanding, costly obedience of choosing not to nurture their homosexual desires” (p. 16). [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (10/31)

The Reluctant Revolutionary

Today, for those who know a bit of Church history, is Reformation Day—the day upon which the Protestant Reformation unofficially kicked off when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses to the door at Wittenberg.

A few years back, PBS put together this hour-long documentary on Luther, the “reluctant revolutionary.” (And yes, it is an hour long, but it’s quite good):

HT: Justin Taylor

In Other News

Education: Vote for Mark Lamprecht (who runs HereIBlog.com) to win a $10,000 blogging scholarship. Please take a couple of seconds and vote for him!

Audio Books: Christian Audio is celebrating Reformation Day by offering Martin Luther: In His Own Words free. The sale ends today, so go and get your copy now.

Culture: Kevin DeYoung examines the fluidity of statistics while offering a critique of AOL Health’s recent story announcing that 1 in 10 teens has had a same sex partner

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Fred Sanders’ new book, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything

A God-sized Gospel

Becoming balanced

John Piper on the highest, best, final decisive good

D.A. Carson on the accent of warning in the parables of Jesus

How do we pursue justice without undermining evangelism?

Around the Interweb (08/15)

Prop 8 Got Struck Down – Now What?

In light of the recent ruling in California over Proposition 8, Kevin DeYoung offers some helpful next steps to Evangelicals Here’s an excerpt:

We should not disengage. It’s tempting to say “We’re going to lose this one. So let’s just try to love people and not put up a fight” But laws do have consequences. Seeking the peace of the city means we defend marriage because we believe it is for the common good. We need thoughtful, winsome Christians engaging with this issue on television, in print, in the academy, in the arts, and in politics and law. . . .

We must not be afraid to talk about homosexuality.  Don’t be silenced by Christians calling for umpteen more years of dialogue or those who say you need at least one gay friend before you can open your mouth. The Bible speaks openly about sexuality and we must not be embarrassed to open God’s word. BUT when we do speak we must do so with broken hearts not bulging veins. A calm spirit and a broken heart are keys to not being tuned out immediately. . . .

We must accept that no matter how hard we try, some people will conclude we are bigots, homophobes, and neanderthals for thinking homosexuality is wrong. Our goal must not be to stop people from viewing us in this way. We can’t control perceptions. Our goal is that those ugly perceptions do not match reality.

Read the rest at Kevin’s blog.

In Other News

Correctives: Dustin Neeley continues his “Justification by X” series at the Resurgence with Justification by Theology

Culture: Al Mohler – Thank God for the new Atheists?

Free Audio: Did you know that Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy is available as Christian Audio’s free download of the month? Use download code AUG2010 if you’re so inclined.

Church Ministry: Jared Wilson offers some clarification on his recent post about the Awesomeness-Driven Church.

Housekeeping: I’m in the wilds of Northern Ontario this week enjoying a second week of vacation (last year, I got one all year, so this is progress). While I’m away, my friends Will Adair, Nate Bingham and a few others will be providing you with some terrific content.

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest, The Good News We Almost Forgot

Gleaning some insights on the art of the illustration

Mark Driscoll reminds us that discernment is a good thing by looking at Twilight

Charles Spurgeon shares the joy that these words bring: “Ye are clean.”

Truth and Lies: Dr. Peter Jones – Sexuality in a One-ist World

Dr. Peter Jones’ final session at The Exchange delved into the contentious subject of sexuality—and specifically the redefinition of what is considered normal sexual behavior. “This subject is, I believe, the tip of the spear of a societal transformation going on. And it’s unstoppable,” says Jones. “If there’s any way to stop it, it’ll be that the Christian church will have a discourse where we can describe what ‘normal’ is.”

A New Civilization

Jones believes we’ve come to a significant moment in American history. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” law is about to be repealed; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and new “anti-bullying” laws are ready to be enacted. We’re likely to see the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a new push for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.

“The goal is for a new civilization. It’s not just a question of civil rights,” says Jones. Yesterday (June 23, 2010), CNN reported that Hilary Clinton—speaking of the need to end discrimination in the U.S. and around the world—said, “These dangers are not gay issues. This is a human rights issue…human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights.”

This, in Jones’ words is “breathtakingly ambitious.”

“This is not the normal progress of civic theory and civil rights,” says Jones.  The speed of change is unprecedented, particularly since the influx of religious and spiritual options that have become available to Americans since the 1960s. [Read more…]

The Effects of Pornography

Ed Stetzer points readers to a new study by Patrick F. Fagan examining the effects of pornography:

A new study done by Patrick F. Fagan examines the effects of pornography on individuals, marriage, family and community. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion at the Family Research Council. He specializes in examining the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems. This study is important for everyone to read as it demonstrates that it has damaging effects on individuals and families. In the summary Fagan explains,

Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the factors in undermining social stability.Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its powerful negative effects.

Some of the findings inside the study include: [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (11/01)

Don’t Waste Your Life: New Desktop Backgrounds

Desiring God has just released a slew of new desktop backgrounds over at Don’tWasteYourLife.com. Here’s a couple:

dwyl2-jesus-saves
Treasuring Christ Above All Things


Tim Challies: Sexual Detox

Last week, Tim Challies ran a thought-provoking and challenging series directed toward young men about sex and, in particular sexual detoxification. I’d highly recommend this series to any man (and woman for that matter) who struggles with, or has struggled with, issues of lust and pornography. It’s well worth your time.

Part 1: Pornifying the Marriage-Bed
Part 2: Breaking Free
Part 3: A Theology of Sex
Part 4: Detoxification
Part 5: Freedom
Recommended Resources


Tullian Tchividjian: How to Identify a Reliable Preacher

Tullian Tchvidjian shows us how we can identify a reliable preacher with five questions based on the five solas of the Reformation:

Question 5 (Sola Deo Gloria): Does the preacher exalt God above all? A reliable explainer will always lead you to marvel at God. A true carrier of God’s truth will always lead you to encounter the glory of God. A God-centered teacher is just that: God-centered. He will preach and teach in such a way that you find yourself hungering and thirsting for God. You will listen to sermon after sermon and walk away with grand impressions of Divine personality, not grand impressions of human personality.

HT: Trevin Wax

Ligonier Ministries’ Relaunching Ligonier.org

Ligonier Ministries has been hard at work revamping their online presence and the new site looks pretty snazzy. Very reminiscent of The Gospel Coalition and a few others.

Check it out for yourself.


In Case You Missed It

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

Where the Wild Things Are, working through my unsettled feelings toward the new movie

Called to Worship, reviewing Vernon Whaley’s book on developing a biblical foundation for worship

A Decisive Act: The 95 Theses, presenting the work that ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation

A Fallacious View of Providence, J.I. Packer on the root issue of two common objections to the Evangelical view of the inspiration of Scripture

Religion Saves: Birth Control, Sexual Sin and Dating

Religion-Saves-Birth

893 questions posted. 343,203 votes cast. Nine controversial subjects. The resulting sermons were then reformatted and expanded in the book, Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions, released in June, 2009, through Crossway and RE:Lit.

This post will be dealing with three subjects from the book: Birth control, sexual sin, and dating.

Birth Control

Method or use of birth control is a subject that is almost always sure to bring up a great deal of heated discussion. For Catholics, to use any form of birth control would be unthinkable. At the risk of oversimplifying, it strikes me that many Catholics would believe that to use any method of birth control would actually be an attempt to thwart the sovereign will of God (this is certainly the impression we got from reading some Catholic literature on the subject).

For Protestants, however, there’s a great deal of debate on appropriate methods. In this chapter, Driscoll addresses five types of birth control: None, natural, non-abortive (barrier methods), potentially abortive, and abortive murder.

When reading, I was struck by how, with few exceptions, gently this subject was handled. Because there is a great deal of contention surrounding the various birth control that exist, it is one that requires delicacy. This is not something that Driscoll has historically been known for, but he did very well. [Read more…]

Timeless Truth: Mere Christianity

In my quest to read every book in the universe this year (perhaps I’m exaggerating, perhaps not), I’ve been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

Sometimes I wonder why certain books and authors remain favorites over the course of decades or centuries. But the answer really isn’t that difficult to discern. The reason that certain books are just as relevant today as they were when they were written is they are full of timeless truth. C.S. Lewis’ works, particularly his theological writings like Mere Christianity, address humanity’s state before, and relationship with, God in a way that is no less frank today than it was more than 60 years ago when first penned.

Take these words on human sexuality, for example: [Read more…]