Monthly Archives: November 2009

Links to Help Your Grip (Monday 11.30.09)

My sermon from Sunday, November 29, 2009 is up:  “Got Those Highway ‘4D’ Blues?  4 D’s of a Missions-Active Church.”  This sermon is from Romans 10:1-17 and kicked off our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which emphasizes giving, praying, and going to International missions. 

Trevin Wax writes an excellent article regarding low expectations:

In recent years, we have seen a number of TV dramas that eschew the traditional formula that leads to a neat resolution by the end of each episode. Instead, shows like Lost and 24 demand that the viewer stick with the program for its entire run.

Plot lines have become complicated, introducing dozens of main characters and a story line that taxes the memory and the stamina of the viewer. And yet, these shows are rated highly each year and have garnered millions of fans.

Is it not odd that the entertainment industry (whether through board games or television shows) is seeing success when it places high demands on the consumer? Fans of Lost talk about how nice it is to watch a show that actually expects something of the audience. Fans of Catan talk about how much more satisfying it is to win such a difficult game.

What can the church learn from this?

Kevin DeYoung brings to light the differences between the “old gospel” and the “new gospel” being put forth by contemporary evangelicals. 

The New Gospel generally has four parts to it.

It usually starts with an apology: “I’m sorry for my fellow Christians. I understand why you hate Christianity.  It’s like that thing Ghandi said, ‘why can’t the Christians be more like their Christ?’  Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, and self-righteous.  I know we screwed up with the Crusades, slavery, and the Witch Trials.  All I can say is: I apologize.  We’ve not give you a reason to believe.”

Then there is an appeal to God as love: “I know you’ve seen the preachers with the sandwich boards and bullhorns saying ‘Repent or Die.’ But I’m here to tell you God is love. Look at Jesus.  He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors.  He loved unconditionally.  There is so much brokenness in the world, but the good news of the Bible is that God came to live right in the middle of our brokenness. He’s a messy God and his mission is love.  ‘I did not come into the world to condemn the world,’ that’s what Jesus said (John 3:17).  He loved everyone, no matter who you were or what you had done. That’s what got him killed.”

Zach Nielsen questions how helpful the Focus on the Family’s “Stand for Christmas” boycott really is to the cause of Christ:

This kind of stuff only hurts our mission to communicate the truth of the Gospel. If you think people using the word Christmas somehow makes our materialistic holiday extravaganza more pure you are probably not paying attention very well. Boycotting secular businesses that do not exhibit the kind of behavior that we think they should is the last thing that an unbelieving world needs to see.

Joe Thorn led a session at the Acts 29 Bootcamp in Louisville, Kentucky a few weeks ago on “How Theology Can Kill Your Church” (audio available here) (no, it does not go in the direction you may think).  Thorn values theology (after all, he led the “Pastor as Resident Theologian” breakout session at the Bootcamp). 

1. Your Theology is Under-developed
Under-developed theology leaves your church defenseless against false doctrine and heresy, and corrupts the spiritual growth of the body. We need a robust theological confession and culture in our churches.

2. Your Theology is Over-valued
Theology is over-valued when we find our identity more in a system than in the Savior. The dangers here are often pride and pugnacity. Good theology will always give a clear picture of God and self, which promotes strong convictions and humble hearts.

3. Your Theology is Compartmentalized
Compartmentalized theology is a purely academic discipline removed from Christian experience. The danger here is being satisfied with knowledge over transformation. We need “experimental Calvinists” who are not content to be right, but desire to be made right by the Spirit of God in conjunction with the truth of God.

4. Your Theology is Disconnected
When our theology is disconnected from the gospel, all of the above dangers are likely, and additionally our preaching will be little more than moralism. Imperatives apart from the gospel tell people to “do this,” and doctrinal preaching divorced from the gospel tell people to “know this.” In both cases people are not led to the grace of God in Christ, but to their own attainments. We need theologians who can show the connection between doctrines like sin, creation, the Trinity, etc. and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

In short, I was aiming at encouraging our men to be passionate, convinced, humble, experiential, gospel-centered theologians.

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Categories: Christmas, Gospel, sermons, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mark Driscoll on Joel Osteen

Driscoll takes about 10 minutes to describe and dissect the most popular preacher in the world, Joel Osteen.  We must be very discerning!

Categories: Charismatic, Charismatics, prosperity gospel, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

“The Design of the Law was to Lead People to Christ”

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. The design of the law was to lead people to Christ. The moral law was but for the searching of the wound, the ceremonial law for the shadowing forth of the remedy; but Christ is the end of both. See 2 Co. 3:7, and compare Gal. 3:23, 24. The use of the law was to direct people for righteousness to Christ.

(1.) Christ is the end of the ceremonial law; he is the period of it, because he is the perfection of it. When the substance comes, the shadow is gone. The sacrifices, and offerings, and purifications appointed under the Old Testament, prefigured Christ, and pointed at him; and their inability to take away sin discovered the necessity of a sacrifice that should, by being once offered, take away sin.

(2.) Christ is the end of the moral law in that he did what the law could not do (ch. 8:3), and secured the great end of it. The end of the law was to bring men to perfect obedience, and so to obtain justification. This is now become impossible, by reason of the power of sin and the corruption of nature; but Christ is the end of the law. The law is not destroyed, nor the intention of the lawgiver frustrated, but, full satisfaction being made by the death of Christ for our breach of the law, the end is attained, and we are put in another way of justification. Christ is thus the end of the law for righteousness, that is, for justification; but it is only to every one that believeth. Upon our believing, that is, our humble consent to the terms of the gospel, we become interested in Christ’s satisfaction, and so are justified through the redemption that is in Jesus.

(Matthew Henry, from his Commentary on Romans 10)

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An MMA Strawman I Built: A Classic Blogging Blunder on My Part

I usually am careful about what I blog, but there is one instance where I was not only careless, but I was to the degree that I cast all the participants of an entire sport under one umbrella. I built up a strawman regarding a certain sport, then tore it down.

About eighteen months ago, I wrote a brief article regarding mixed martial arts (MMA) (June 3, 2008).  I’ve reproduced it here:

Whether it’s MMA, UFC 84, Elite X — by whatever name you call it, this  gruesome, blood-stained, body-maiming phenomenon started in the shadows but now has become mainstream.  Elite X had some matches debut on CBS this past Friday night (no, I didn’t watch it).

I foresee a debate arising: should Christians partake of the MMA Phenomenon?  Before I answer, I am reminded of one person’s observation of their reaction to the coliseum games in Roman times.  The lions would be turned loose on the Christians.  This man noted, “At first, I covered my eyes.  Before I knew it, I was watching through my fingers.  Then at last, I was cheering for blood with everyone else.”

My answer to this question is an undeniable “No!”  My simple answer is that all of us are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-31).  We have been created with the fingerprint of God.  Are we called to participate, watch, or approve of a sport whose total goal is to injure and do bodily harm to another?  And please, do not tell me that this is simply a sport like boxing (called the “sweet science”) only amplified.

We as Christians need to uplift and protect the idea of humanity being the image bearers of God.  We must never encourage anything in which the primary aim is to injure a fellow image bearer.

At the time I had written this, I had watching about a dozen fights or significant clips of fights on ESPN.com to try and understand this.

One of the young members of my church aspires to participate in MMA on a professional level.  And by his record, he has all the tools and giftings of speed, agility, strategy and strength to be able to do just that. You can see his reply at the original article.

Even though I am still leaning away from this sport, he makes some good points. I have become more educated on the sport since I wrote the original article in June 2008 and since the series came out CBS last year.

Some lessons and observations:

First, I truly regret writing the article the way I did in casting the entire sport under one umbrella. While I do not change how I feel about this sport or other sports of this genre, I recognize that my language was far too general and need to do more research than I did.

Second, I’ve learned never to write out of mere knee-jerk reaction, as was the case in this. I did not watch that series because I had seen other MMA fights previously and could not take it. Yet, I saw other Christians (even pastors) who, after finishing preparing their sermons, would get together to watch MMA. I had a difficult time reconciling the two activities: one to try and show people how to love God and love neighbor more effectively, followed by watching an activity when, by force, they sought to subdue through various physical maneuvers. In my mind and understanding, I did not see how these two could go together from a Christian worldview.

So, in light of this, I would have shared the same basic conviction (we are all image bearers of God and must be careful in allowing anything to remotely diminish that) and would have taken away the extreme language (for instance, “We must never encourage anything in which the primary aim is to injure a fellow image bearer”).

We have chatted since, and everything between us is good (praise God). I plan on getting with this young man and finding out from him personally the appeal of this sport in light of his Christian faith–even (hopefully) sitting down and watching one of his matches with him and having some good back and forth regarding this.

Lesson learned–and I am all the better for it.

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Explicitly Christian Constitution from the Constitution State (Heustis)

Reed Heustis has written a compelling article from his blog, Christian Constitutionalist, regarding the nature of the Constitution of the Constitution State, Connecticut.   It is not simply a godly Preamble, but a Christian one.  Interesting.

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Music Friday: “There is a Time” by the Darlings

Some of you may be fans of The Andy Griffith Show.  If so, you remember a family named the Darlings.  They played some unbelievable bluegrass (in real life, they are the Dillards—sans Briscoe Darling/Jesse Duke).

Here is one of the nicest tunes you’ll ever hear of any genre. It’s called “There is a Time.”

Have a great weekend!

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Far More Than We Ask or Think? (Part I)

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, has written a new book entitled Counterfeit Gods, with the subtitle being: “The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters.” He opens up his book with a reference to the global economic crisis which began in mid-2008, after which a string of suicides of some “formerly wealthy and well-connected individuals.”

He mentions that the acting CFO of Freddie Mac hanged himself in his basement. The chief executive of Sheldon Good, a leading U.S. real estate firm, shot himself in the head behind the wheel of his Jaguar. A French money manager who invested the wealth of many of Europe’s royal and leading families, and who had lost $1.4 billion of his clients’ money to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, slit his wrists and died in his Madison Avenue office. A Danish senior executive with HSBC Bank hanged himself in the wardrobe of his 500-pound a night suite in Knightsbridge, London. These are just a few.

Alexis de Tocqueville came from France to America in the 1830s to look over this young country, he made a comment about a “strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants . . . in the midst of their abundance.” What did he mean? He meant that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy the longings of the human heart. He called them “incomplete joys.” That was true then, and even more true today. The pursuit of abundance and affluence (whether pursuing millions, or even just finding joy in padding our retirement or just to that extra vacation we think we deserve).

There is a beauty to this passage of Scripture. Some of you may see this beauty now, others of you will see it, Lord willing. Layer upon layer, we see the glory of the Trinity bestowing the riches of his glory, love, mercy, grace, and power upon His people. Everything in the first three chapters of this letter to the Ephesian church leads to this point. And I must say, everything in the realm of our lives as Christians must lead to this point as well: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think… .”

Given that this Sunday is our Arise and Build Commitment Sunday, this verse can most definitely apply to much of what we hope God will do—more than we ask or think! He is able!

But as we read this verse, one question kept coming into my mind—and it needs to be answered straight away! Are we asking and thinking? I know in my six years as pastor here, Boone’s Creek Baptist Church has occupied the majority of my thoughts! From sermon preparation to leadership training to mobilizing evangelistic and missions initiatives from our neighbors to the nations, praying and hurting for the lost and sick, and wanting Boone’s Creek to be a great church now for the glory of God—this has occupied my thoughts and fed much of my prayers.

And I recognized soon in the ministry, that just because I spent the majority of my time thinking about and asking God things regarding Boone’s Creek, I naturally assumed everyone else felt that same thing I did. But the truth is, there is much in our minds and desired that competes with the Kingdom of God and its desired rule over our hearts. School, work, sports, bills to pay, the economy, elections, matters in Washington, family matters, hobbies. All of these issues vie for our attention! All of these issues require our presence, require our money, but many cry for our attention and we become addicted to things that are not of any eternal consequence whatsoever.

(Tomorrow:  Is our asking and thinking strengthened by submission?)

Originally preached on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.   To listen to it in its entirety, click here.

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Driscoll on Oprah/Tolle Pantheism/Panentheism

Pastor Mark Driscoll examines Luke 2, where an angel announces the birth of Jesus, Christ the Lord, to shepherds in a field. The angel reveals how we are to see Jesus. We are not to insert him into a false ideology (e.g., atheism, deism, pantheism/panentheism, or theism) that offers no hope, no good news, no savior. Rather, we are to praise Jesus like the angels, Mary, and the shepherds did.

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Former President Bush’s First Post-Presidency Speech

Thought this video might be of interest to you.  It took ten months, but here is Bush’s first speech as a private citizen.

Categories: politics | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Eighth Grader Suspended for Haircut Paying Tribute to the Bengals

An Ohio 8th-grader received an in-school suspension for what school officials call a “distracting” haircut. As some of you NFL fans may know, the Cincinnati Bengals are having a great season thus far (6-2), so this fan wanted to show pride in his team.

What think ye? Did this teen go to far? Did this warrant an in-school suspension?

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