Sunday Shorts (08/09)

Plant a Church or a Campus?

Over at Evangelical Village (another blog I occasionally contribute to), Matt is asking a very important question: What are the benefits of planting a church versus planting a campus (ie multi-site)?

Weigh in on the discussion here (although ignore the second comment; it’s just weird).

35 Reasons Not to Sin

The Harris Brothers (founders of The Rebelution) stumbled across 35 reasons not to sin. They’re well worth thoroughly reading and meditating upon. Here’s one of that I found particularly revealing:

Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it’s own.

Read the entire list here.

The Gospel in 10 Words or Less

Trevin Wax, Kevin DeYoung and 10 others are attempting to summarize the gospel in 10 words or less. The approach each is taking is very interesting, with some summarizing the entire storyline, with others addressing specific doctrines that make the good news good news.

Read the responses here.

Out of the Archives: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

memoirs-carson“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population… Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

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

Everyday Theology: “God wants your best life… Now!” God doesn’t want you to be happy, healthy and wealthy at the expense of your holiness.

Making Assumptions Exploring the dangers of making assumptions about the character of God.

Daniel Akin on Preaching Great questions you need to ask when preparing to preach from Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Up the (Willow) Creek: Bill Hybels The first post in a series reflecting on the recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit and the challenges made by the faculty

Making assumptions…

Generally speaking, it’s unwise to make assumptions about a person or situation. While on occasion, our assumptions turn out to be correct, they most typically wind up being hurtful or creating an unrealistic expectation.

And about no one is it more critical to not assumptions than God.

Yet, we do it all the time.

When we understate our sin, we make an assumption about God—that being, that He doesn’t really care all that much.

When we do what God commands out of obligation or fear of punishment, we make an assumption about God—that He’s capricious and mean-spirited, looking down on us and just waiting for us to screw up. And when we do, oh, boy…

Reading the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:12-27 reminded me of this: [Read more...]

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit & John Bunyan

john_bunyan

John Bunyan

Pretty much since the moment I became a Christian, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it means to “blaspheme the Holy Spirit.” How does that happen?

A few days back, I was once again reading Matthew 12:22-32, which deals with this issue. Here’s the story so you have some context:

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, a he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someoneenter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not withme is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man l will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (emphasis mine).

Jesus casts out a demon, and the people begin asking if He is the Messiah. The Pharisees say that Jesus performs miracles by the power of Satan, rather than by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Essentially, they say that he’s practicing witchcraft (something punishable by death according to Old Testament law).

I’ve read this story probably a couple dozen times at this point, but when I read it this time, it was like a light was turned on in a dark room. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to continually and stubbornly reject His work and testimony concerning the identity of Jesus. To reject His work as that of Satan’s, and to unrepentantly reject God and His commands is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. And those who persistently & unrepentantly resist the Spirit and salvation through faith in Christ, will not be saved. A troubling thought, to be sure.

So, can a Christian blaspheme the Spirit?

No.

The testimony of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, sheds some light on why this is so. [Read more...]

Reflections on the Old Testament

A short time ago, I completed my read through the Old Testament. After I told Emily that I’d finished, she asked me a great question: “What do you take away from it?”

Anticipation.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read of men and women who try to pursue God on their own terms and fail. Who pursue things other than God and it destroys them. And we see the hopelessness that comes from trying to follow the Law apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

The Law and the Prophets teach us one thing: We are completely incapable of following the Law. And even if we conform morally, our hearts become proud and we trust in our moral conformity rather than in the God who gave us His Law!

So when we don’t follow the Law, we sin. And when we do follow the Law, it shows us just how broken and evil we really are.

But in the midst of that, there’s so much hope.

Salvation will come.

God has not left us in the darkness of our rebellion.

He has not left us in our pitiful moral conformity.

The Lord will come (Zech. 14:5) and will be king over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1b).

God is coming, and His herald will come before Him to prepare the way… “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” (Mal. 3:2).

Dave Ramsey – Town Hall for Hope

On April 23rd, 2009, Dave Ramsey hosted the Town Hall for Hope. Over one million people in 6,000 locations were given the real answers about where the economy is going and how we can find hope in the midst of what many media outlets have dubbed “The Great Recession.”

You can watch the Town Hall for Hope in its entirety below:

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more about “Dave Ramsey – Town Hall for Hope“, posted with vodpod

The Persevering Prophet: My Heart is Sick!

PP-Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)

Jeremiah defines the depravity of man in a way that is surpassed by few other passes in it’s uncompromising honesty:

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick!

There is nothing more deceitful than the human heart—the center of our will and desires. We want, what we want, when we want it, consequences be damned!

Me, I have a horrible sweet tooth. I love sweet things, and when I eat something sweet, it’s like something in my mind says, “You should have more of this; it’s awesome!”

I try to restrain, and often fail. I try to avoid, but doesn’t help me in the least that my mother owns a bakery, dang it. Sweets aren’t good for me; they cause me to gain weight rapidly; they can lead to diabetes… all this stuff is serious. But, dang it, I want them, and I would not restrain myself were I left to my own devices.

This is the deceitfulness of the heart. It tells me that bad things are good for me. It makes morally neutral things gods. And we consume, we indulge, we capitulate to whatever the desire we have is, and we worship our false god. [Read more...]

The Persevering Prophet: Harsh Language

PP-Language

Reading through the first several chapters of Jeremiah, I am struck by the harshness of Jeremiah’s preaching. Throughout the book, there is a palpable hatred of sin, that is expressed with incredibly strong language.

Before I continue, if you are offended by such language, you may not want to read this post (perhaps this light-hearted one instead?), as I’ve pulled together some of the more intense examples from the early chapters of the book of Jeremiah.

Within the book’s first five chapters, we see the following extremely intense words preached by Jeremiah: [Read more...]

The Stupidity of Idolatry

The other day, in reading through Isaiah, I was struck by the emphatic, repeated warnings about the absolute stupidity of idolatry. Isaiah 44 in particular illustrates this point with this biting passage:

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isa. 44:12-17, emphasis mine)

This is how ridiculous idolatry is in the eyes of God: We are so foolish that we will take a tree, chop half into firewood, and worship the other half.

We would rather worship a “god” that we knowingly create, rather than the One who created us.

[Read more...]

Sunday Shorts (05/10)

SIN: Resolved 2009 Conference

From Resolved.org:

Resolved 2009 will focus on sin. What is sin? How bad is it? Where did it come from? How can I be saved from it and its consequences? Is it possible to stop? Our 5th Resolved Conference will explore these questions and provide biblical answers.

John Owen wrote, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Join us at Resolved ’09 as we rally to understand and battle sin.

The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs, CA 92262.

To register, visit Resolved.org

50,000 Shoes in 50 Days

Julian Smith wants you to help get 50,000 shoes for children in developing nations:

There are 13 days left to reach the goal.

Did you know…

…that you can get read several of John Piper’s books online? This is just one of the great ways that Desiring God is blessing the Christian community at large. Go and read some, and if you like what you read, purchase a copy in their store.

Breathed Out by God

“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” says Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16. Honestly, if you have ever had any doubt about this, you need to look at a passage like this:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22).

It’s such a bizarre concept, isn’t it? This concept of loving your enemy.

This is not an idea that people could come with on their own. The best we can come up with on our own is “don’t fight back.” Don’t retaliate. But Jesus went so much farther than that, commanding us to repay evil with good:

To love our enemies.

But why? Why should we do this? Why not just seek justice (or more correctly, vengeance)?

“[S]o that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:16-17). [Read more...]

Sunday Shorts (05/03)

No Truth Without Love, No Love Without Truth

Albert Mohler recently wrote a stellar article on the relationship between truth and love (that being you don’t get one without the other):

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truth, and refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love–and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

Read the rest at Mohler’s blog.

Modern Times

Jesus is the Litmus Test

HT: Evangelical Village

One week in

So, here I am, a week into the challenge, and I’ve noticed something very important: I spent a good chunk of this week thinking about what I’d like to read.

That is not a good sign.

It also didn’t help that my friend and coworker Noel brought down commentaries that he had duplicates of, with the offer to purchase today; but that’s beside the point.

I’ve also spent a good chunk of time reading through Proverbs and have been incredibly convicted by what I’ve found there. Reading Proverbs 4:24 (“Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you.”) opened my eyes to some issues I really struggle with.

What I’ve been reminded of over the last few days, in part because of the John MacArthur/Mark Driscoll debacle, is that you can be right about something and still be a complete jerk, if you’re saying something to be right. [Read more...]

Blogging the Psalms: Psalm 106

The Psalmist gives us a sharp, stinging description of the absolute ridiculousness of idolatry when he says, “They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass” (Psalm 106:20).

Read that again:

“They exchanged the glory of God
    for the image of an ox that eats grass.”

They exchanged worshipping God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, serving Him, gazing upon His glory…

For a cow.

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.

And yet… how different are we? How different am I? [Read more...]

A Question for Wednesday

This is more directed towards the men who might be reading, so ladies out there, I hope you’ll forgive me.

Gentlemen, how are some ways that you show your wife you love her? What are some of the things you do that fail to show that?

Last week, I wrote about why I love my wife, but there’s something I do that frustrates her to no end: When I forget to write things on the calendar, it drives her nuts. It may seem like a small thing, but go with me for a second. When I don’t write something down on the calendar, a meeting, a social event, an appointment, it creates a false expectation for a day or evening. If Emily doesn’t know I’m meeting with a friend, or have a business engagement, she expects me (rightly) to be at home with her and Abigail. She makes plans accordingly.

Last night is a perfect example. I forgot to write down that I was meeting with someone; we talked about it, but because of bus schedules, it caused me to have to leave very early—before I had the opportunity to eat the meal she was lovingly preparing for me and spend some quality time with her.

This was not very loving of me, to say the least.

[Read more...]