Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taking a Break...

Since I've been in seminary, I've struggled to keep up with the blog as much as I used to. I've managed to post enough that I felt it was still worth doing up to this point, but lately, my opinion on that investment of time has changed.

So I'm taking a break from blogging for a while. Not sure how long, maybe permanently. We'll see.

In the meantime, I leave you with Propaganda and the gospel. Take care.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield on Conversion

From her book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, p. 34:

"Making a life commitment to Christ was not merely a philosophical shift. It was not a one-step process. It did not involve rearranging the surface prejudices and fickle loyalties of my life. Conversion didn't "fit" my life. Conversion overhauled my soul and personality. It was arduous and intense. I experienced with great depth the power and authority of God in my life. In it I learned -- and am still learning -- how to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. When you die to yourself, you have nothing from your past to use as clay out of which to shape your future."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Music Video of the Week: Propaganda

Propaganda - "Crimson Cord"

And here's a short video explaining his heart behind the song:

Why Call it Crimson Cord? from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Russell Moore on Same-Sex Marriage and the Future

Russell Moore:
When it comes to what people want to hear, it seems to me that the church faces a similar situation as we look to the future of marriage in this country. Many want the sort of prophetic witness that will spin the situation to look favorable, regardless of whether that favor is from the Lord or in touch with reality. 
Some people want a court of prophets who will take a surgeon’s scalpel to the Word of God. They want those who will say in light of what the Bible clearly calls immorality, “Has God really said?” Following the trajectory of every old liberalism of the past, they want to do with a Christian sexual ethic what the old liberals did with the virgin birth—claim that contemporary people just won’t have this, and if we want to rescue Christianity, this will have to go overboard. All the while they’ll tell us they’re doing it for the children (or for the Millennials). 
This is infidelity to the gospel we’ve received. First of all, no one refusing to repent of sin—be it homosexuality or fornication or anything else—will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). This strategy leaves people in condemnation before the Judgment Seat of Christ, without reconciliation and without hope. 
Second, it doesn’t even work. Look at the empty cathedrals of the Episcopal Church, the vacated pews of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and right down the line. Let me be clear. Even if embracing same-sex marriage—or any other endorsement of what the Bible calls sexual immorality—“worked” in church-building, we still wouldn’t do it. If we have to choose between Jesus and Millennials, we choose Jesus. But history shows us that those who want a different Jesus—the one who says, “Do whatever you want with your body, it’s okay by me”—don’t want Christianity at all. 
But there will be those who want prophets who will say that the gospel doesn’t call for repentance, or at least not repentance from this sin. These prophets will apply a selective universalism that denies that judgment is coming, or that the blood of Christ is needed. But these prophets don’t speak for God. And, quite frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves since, for too long, too many of us have tolerated among us those who have substituted a cheap and easy false gospel for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Too many have been called gospel preachers who preach decision without faith, regeneration without repentance, justification without lordship, deliverance by walking an aisle but without carrying a cross. That gospel is different from the one Jesus and his apostles delivered to us. That gospel doesn’t save. 
So when these prophets emerge to tell people they can stay in their sins and still be saved, we must thunder back with the old gospel that calls all of us to repentance and to cross-bearing, the gospel that calls sin what it is in order to call grace what it is. J. Gresham Machen warned us that our Lord Jesus himself never attempted to preach the gospel to the righteous but only to sinners. Those who follow him must start by acknowledging themselves to be in need of mercy, to be in need of grace that can pardon and cleanse within. 
There’s also another form of court prophet of these times. This one has no problem identifying homosexuality as sin. He may do so with all sorts of bluster and outrage, but he still does what court prophets always do—he speaks a word that people want to hear. What some people want to hear is that sexual immorality is moral after all, and what other people want to hear is that same-sex marriage is simply a matter of some elites on the coasts of the country. This prophet implies that if we just sign checks to the right radio talk-show hosts, and have a good election cycle or two, we’ll be right back where we were, back when carpets were shag and marriages were strong... 
...The marriage revolution around us means we must do a better job articulating a theology of marriage to our people, as well as a theology of suffering and marginalization. It means we must do a better job articulating to those on the outside why children need both a Mom and a Dad, not just “parents,” and why marriage isn’t simply a matter of court decree. It means we must start teaching our children about marriage “from the beginning” as male and female when they’re in Sunday school. It means we may have to decide if and when the day will come in which we will refuse to sign the state’s marriage licenses.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Third Commandment and "OMG"

Ryan Kelly:
If taking God's name in vain means using it frivolously or insincerely, then the third commandment speaks to more than just overt profanity. It also applies to the more common, more culturally acceptable phrases like "Oh God!" or "Oh my God!" I sense that some of us have let down our guard. I suspect that some of us have let the world's saturated use of these phrases shape us. 
Granted, it is possible to speak the words "Oh God" or "Oh my God" and not sin. These words may begin a prayer at a moment of shocking tragedy. Imagine a mother finding her son with a near-fatal injury. She may look upward and cry "Oh my God!" as a pregnant prayer that implies a need for divine help. But surely that tragic scenario is a world away from today's thoughtless, needless uses. These phrases litter the speech we hear. Surely "OMG!" are three of the most frequently typed letters on social media and in texts. These are useless, thoughtless fillers used for anything and everything that is barely amusing or surprising. 
Let's be clear, Christian: these common phrases are using God's name emptily, frivolously, insincerely. It's no surprise when the world steals from God's honor, but as for us, these things ought not to be. We must not rationalize and say, "It's just one word; God knows my heart; he knows I don't mean anything blasphemous." The third commandment is in fact about a word, a name. More than that, it is about God's honor. God's name isn't empty, frivolous, or insincere; indeed, God isn't empty, frivolous, or insincere. We must not treat him as such, whether in our hearts or in our speech. 
This is not a point that good Christians can and do disagree on, like the use of alcohol, or celebrating Halloween, or using off-color words like crap. This one is more black and white than whether you should designate that receipt as a tax deduction or not. God reveals his holy names in the Bible, and we cannot borrow them for frivolous, useless speech.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Desiring God: When Scripture is the Controversy

If we learned anything from last week, maybe it’s that the real controversy among evangelicals in the coming days will be about the Bible, not homosexuality.  
Beneath the surface of the recent scuffle is the more vital issue of how disciples of Jesus posture themselves toward God’s word. It’s not simply about our grasp of what Scripture is, or our conviction of Scripture’s inerrancy, or even where we land with different interpretations. It’s fundamentally about how we approach the words of God, even before we get to the interpretation part. It’s about how we look when we’re looking at Scripture.  
The question is: What is the church doing when it’s doing what it does with the Bible?  
...When it comes down to it — when the consensus of what’s important relies on the church’s feelings that are disconnected from what the Bible says — then the only legitimate motivation for the consensus is the pressure of society. The spirit of the age becomes the real spirit we follow, and then that becomes the path of life into which we try to cram God’s word, lopping off whatever parts don’t fit. Here is where is found the “convictions, practices, and concerns” that shape the understanding of Scripture.  
And when it comes to taking actual stances, if the consensus is unclear — say, if the issue remains divisive — then the only option is to claim neutrality. Until the real authority of consensus comes out to play, all we can do is buy time on the sidelines and say this whole thing is about personal sensibilities.  
This posture toward Scripture is far removed from the discipleship to which Jesus calls us. He says teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. Take up your cross, let the dead bury the dead, don’t look back. Not turn your back on my word. Not take your fill of popular opinion. Not keep calm and make sure everyone likes you...  
...Sure, the Bible must be interpreted, and that matters. And there are disagreements on some parts, and there have been ridiculous things in history that were supported by wrong readings. But humility here isn’t throwing our hands up in the air and saying that everyone’s reading is legitimate. Humility isn’t looking at one another and confusing hermeneutics with human dignity.  
Humility has to do with how we come to the Book.  
It means we move toward Scripture, even before we open its pages, by clinging to God, not ourselves. We come yielded, with eager ears, hoping for God to sanctify our minds, not our minds sanction his will. As Calvin puts it, we “bid our reason give way, submit, and subject itself to the Holy Spirit” — who works with his word, not apart from it. Never against it.
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