Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twitter - Do You Get It?

Josh Harris linked to this article at PCWorld about Twitter. A new poll showed that 60% of new Twitter users stop using the service within the first month. Clearly, many people don't see the value of it, and this is slightly disappointing from my view, as I see it as a helpful, entertaining way to network and learn.

There were 3 very key points in the article:

1. Follow people. A lot of people.
Whether you're the last in your social group to sign up or the first, it helps to follow a whole lot of people. Don't just add the dozen or so of your friends who are tweeting; look up and add some of your favorite authors, newscasters, and others you trust to deliver information that has meaning for you. Don't be shy, and don't worry about offending them if you later decide to stop following them because they turn out to be too noisy, boring, or self-promotional for your tastes. Following or unfollowing someone is a one-click affair. But if you don't follow enough people to keep your stream filled with fresh tweets each day, you'll never get a real feel for how the conversation works.

2. Don't self-promote. (Or, at least, don't overdo it.)
The recent surge in Twitter's popularity has everyone thinking that joining Twitter is a smart way to boost their business, raise their public profile, or otherwise improve their social and monetary standing. In most cases, that's bull. If all you tweet about is your latest blog post, book, or other commercial venture, you'll quickly turn off most of the people who follow you. So even if you did sign up just for the hope of pecuniary gains, make a point of at least occasionally tweeting about something that real people might care about. If your followers are intrigued by the latest news story you've linked to, they might think twice about dumping you over all those get-rich-quick posts you've been spamming them with.

3. Use a Client App
Twitter's Web site is terrible. Even if it weren't constantly over capacity, its interface is static and unhelpful. But a decent client app will put all of Twitter's coolest features at your fingertips, as well as helpful third-party features like URL-shortening and photo support. I've tried most of the leading clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and my personal favorite across all three platforms is TweetDeck.


FYI...I use Tweetie on my iPhone and TweetDeck on my computers for Twitter, and I highly recommend both.

Read the whole article.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Are Here - Catalyst Conference

Here's a really powerful video that opened the Catalyst West Coast Conference recently. Amazing presentation of the biblical story.

It won't let me embed the video, but you can just click over to Vimeo to watch it. It's worth it.

HT : JT

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Anger and Unbelief

Jonathan Dodson has a great post over at Boundless on anger. He works through the underlying causes behind most anger, and how anger actually causes us to reflect the image of Satan and not Christ.

I found this section to be particularly helpful for me, someone who routinely struggles with anger and frustration:

When I grow angry I find myself losing belief. I lose faith in God's goodness amid my circumstances. I lose belief in his promises, that "he works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28).

This unbelief arises from sinful discontent with God's wise providence, a failure to trust in His perfect will to do me good, whether through bad weather or good, emotional intimacy or none, apology or no apology. From emotional outbursts to weather complaints, anger arises from a failure to believe the truth, and belief that God owes me something: better weather or better marital intimacy or whatever.

Belief in this false promise is unbelief in God's promises.

Powlison points out that we express our anger towards God in three main ways. First, anger either ignores or rejects the sovereign freedom of God. Second, it's a refusal to believe God's promise to work for our good in all things, even drastic changes in climate. Third, it enthrones our will for comfort over God's will, effectively assuming personal supremacy over God. It puts God in the dock.

We've seen these three elements from my personal struggles with anger, noting their Satanic, not Christlike character. At the root of anger is an enthronement of our will, an idolatry of our way, and a refusal to exercise a contented trust in God's providence.

Read the whole article.

HT : Z

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Site Re-Design

If you actually follow my blog on a somewhat regular basis, you'll notice that things look quite a bit different today. After just over a year on this blog, I decided it was time for a change of scenery.

I think this new design is much easier to read and looks much cleaner. Hopefully, you'll agree. I especially like the new header. It definitely helps having a photographer/graphic designer in the house (thanks Leah...).

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope you like the new digs.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Audio/Video from the 2009 Gospel Coalition Conference

Most of the audio and video from the first couple days of the Gospel Coalition 2009 National Conference is up on their site now. Just click on the name of each talk in the schedule and you'll get to a page where you can stream the audio or video feed. At this point, you can download the audio file, but only stream the video.

I highly recommend Tim Keller's talk on idolatry, but they're all amazing so far so check them out.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who is Your Paper Pastor?

In an age where we can listen live to a conference happening in Chicago (GCNC09) from anywhere in the world, it's amazing to have access to hear the wisdom of brilliant, godly men like Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper. There is a danger, of course, of using this access to compare your own pastor to these men and feel like he's less because he's not them. With that in mind, I found this article by Dan Phillips over at The Pyromaniacs very helpful and convicting.

A sample:

[H]ow many pastors know that there are people in their flocks, thinking, "John Piper would never say it that way. Dave Hunt says that what he just preached is heresy. John MacArthur isn't like that. Mahaney says that... Mohler says that... Lloyd-Jones said...."

So, because it's awkward for your pastor to say it to you — and because I've no church who'd suspect I'm talking to them, at the moment — I'll just tell you plain:

Brother, sister: John Piper isn't your pastor. John MacArthur knows nothing about you. Dave Hunt never got on his knees and prayed for you. Lloyd-Jones won't come to your house when you're recovering from surgery, or one of your children shatters your heart, or your marriage is shaking and rocking and barely hanging on. Charles Spurgeon won't weep with you as you weep.

You could buy or not buy _____'s next book, and he'd never know it. But if you're in a manageable-size church with a caring pastor and you're suddenly gone next Sunday, he'll be concerned. He may call. He may ask if everything's okay.

God gave you the pastor He gave you.

Read the entire article. It's worth it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Gospel Coalition 2009 National Conference

The Gospel Coalition 2009 National Conference kicks off in Chicago today at 2:00 CDT with Tim Keller. For those of you who couldn't make it to the conference (like me), they are streaming a live webcast of the entire conference at Christianity.com. The audio and video from the conference will also be up at the TheGospelCoalition.org. (By the way, they have amazing resources on this site...the conversation between John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Tim Keller is ridiculous-good.)

Here's the entire conference schedule:
Tuesday 21 April 2009
10:00 am Registration Opens
1:30 pm Introduction, Worship
2:00 pm Session 1: Tim Keller, “The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry” (Acts 19:21-41)
3:00 pm Break
3:30 pm Sung Worship
4:00 pm Session 2: John Piper, "Feed the Flame of God’s Gift: Unashamed Courage in the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:1-12)
5:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm Session 3: Phil Ryken, “The Pattern of Sound Words” (2 Timothy 1:13-2:13)
8:00 pm Session 4: Mark Driscoll, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:14-26)

Wednesday 22 April 2009
7:30 am Information Session: Tim Keller and Don Carson explain how to start an official chapter for The Gospel Coalition in your area
9:00 am Worship
9:30 am Session 5: K. Edward Copeland, “Shadowlands: Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
10:30 am Break
11:00 am Session 6: Bryan Chapell, “Preach the Word!” (2 Timothy 3:10-4:5)
12:00 pm Lunch
Band of Bloggers 2009
A Logos Bible Software presentation will begin at 12:30 pm in the main lecture hall. All pre-registered attendees will receive a free
Logos gift pack—containing over $60 worth of digital and print resources. Register here
2:00 pm Workshops: Session 1
3:15 pm Break
3:45 pm Workshops: Session 2
5:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm Session 7: Ajith Fernando, “Gospel-Faithful Mission in the New Christendom”
8:00 pm Session 8: Panel Discussion: Tim Keller, John Piper, Ligon Duncan and Crawford Loritts (chair: Stephen Um)

Thursday 23 April 2009
9:00 am Worship
9:30 am Session 9: Ligon Duncan, “Finishing Well” (2 Timothy 4:6-22)
10:30 am Break
11:00 am Session 10: Don Carson, "'That By All Means I Might Win Some': Faithfulness and Flexibility in Gospel Proclamation" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)


7:00 pm Special Event: "The Pastor as Scholar, and the Scholar as Pastor". This event will feature reflections on life and ministry by John Piper and Don Carson. This event is sponsored by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding and will be held at Park Community Church in Chicago, IL.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kathy Ireland - Her Testimony and Pro-Life Stance

Kathy Ireland used to be a famous model. Now, she's promoting a book for mom's and speaking out for the pro-life cause. She recently appeared on Mike Huckabee's show on FoxNews. Her testimony is great, and her reasoned, rational arguments for why she is pro-life are some of the most lucid I've heard. Check out the interview.

Scott Thomas - How Mark Driscoll Leads

Great article from Scott Thomas, the Director of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, about Mark Driscoll. If you don't know much about Mark, or have heard things about him and are curious, check out this article from a man who knows him very well. Great job, Scott.

An outline:

1. Jesus leads Mark.
2. Mark leads with passion.
3. Mark leads through his family.
4. Mark leads through his gifts.
5. Mark leads through the Gospel.
6. Mark leads with the end in mind.

Read the whole article at the Acts 29 Blog.

HT : The Resurgence

Music Video(s) of the Week

Have a couple to share today. Very different, but both good.

Lecrae - "Don't Waste Your Life"



Reilly - "Sunlight"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great (and Timely) Post from Steve Camp on Confronting Others in the Blogosphere

In light of some of the controversy created this week at certain blogs, I thought this post from Steve Camp about confronting error in others on the blogosphere was amazingly refreshing:

I know about this tactic first hand, for I say to my shame I was really good at it. I enjoyed it. I justified it and clothed my stinging words biblically and theologically. I mixed careful - thorough research with biting sarcasm and a touch of irreverent humor. I belittled my oppenent to make his claims look foolish; did the necessary homework on most everything they had preached or written on a given topic; and at the end of the day usually won the argument. People applauded me; cheered me on; and even thanked me.

But I was very wrong in doing so. I may have been on the right side on most issues - but I was dead wrong on the methods. I've seen this of late again with some other blogs; it reminds me of how wounding my pen had become a thing to behold.

Beloved, truth wielded in love takes time and care to communicate. Strong doctrine and theological conviction spoken pastorally for the restoration of another and their edification, encouragement and exhortation must be bathed in prayer to heal. Confronting another who has a blind spot in their life and ministry takes humility, grace, gentleness, patience and forbearance to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We must remember that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Word, and the Lord Jesus Christ in sanctification that will conform us to Himself. "The Lord loves those whom He chastens..." But it is He who does the chastening beloved; and may God convict us all if we try to assume that role that only belongs to Him alone.

Should we speak boldly for the truth, contend for the faith, and champion the gospel? Absolutely! Should we encourage each other to love and good works? Yes! Should we plead with others with tears to turn and repent if we see them heading down a wrong path? Unquestionably! But let us do so with self-sacrificial love, reverence for God and respect for one another. May we do so abandoning anger, wrath, slander, gossip, bitterness and malice. May we not strive to just be right, win an argument, publicly champion an issue, and on our blogs try to one up each other by tearing each other to pieces in the combox turning someone's life, ministry, and failings into blogging sport for the week...

...May we seek another's restoration, reconciliation, and repentance to see them useful for the kingdom; for the furtherance of the gospel; for the benefit of His church; and for the glory of God as a testimony of His unfailing love and fathomless grace.

Read the whole post.

Also check out this post by Steve where he talks about his past quarrels with Mark Driscoll.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ehrman Dominated by Colbert

Bart Ehrman is supposed to be an "expert" on why Christianity is wrong, the bible is wrong, Jesus isn't who Christians claims he was, etc. He recently went on Steven Colbert's show to promote his new book. Colbert, a Catholic, proceeds to own him during this debate of sorts, answering all of Erhman's claims and getting an ovation from what is almost surely an un-believing audience. Great stuff.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest


HT : Jonathan (The India I Know)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unity Amid Differences

There has been a lot of drama created the past couple days from John MacArthur's posts (see part 1 and part 2) about some preachers' handling of sex and The Song of Solomon (which has basically turned into a Driscoll v. MacArthur argument on some blogs). In light of that, I found this post by John Piper helpful. He's talking specifically about the leadership within his church, but I think it's applicable in a broader context.

Six Biblical Guidelines for Loving Each Other Amid Differences

1. Let’s avoid gossiping.

The New Testament warns against gossiping. The Greek word translated “gossip” means whisper or whisperer. In other words, the focus is not on the falsehood of the word but on the fact that it needs to be surreptitious. It is not open and candid and forthright. It has darkness about it. It does not operate in the light of love. It is not aiming at healing. It strokes the ego’s desire to be seen as right without playing by the rules of love.

For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find...that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. (2 Corinthians 12:20)


2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.

The church in Corinth was deeply flawed. But Paul found reason to thank God for them because of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4). The most flawed pastor on this staff—and we are all flawed—is a work of grace. It honors Christ, and keeps criticism in perspective, to see it and say it often.


3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.

The point is not that we will always agree on everything, especially the practical application of shared principles. Paul’s word in Romans 12:18 is, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” It may not be possible, but we should try.


4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.

When Paul deals with disagreement in Romans 14, one of the things he appeals to is that those with opposite practical convictions have identical heart-motives. “The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Christ-honoring passions, Paul says, can unite us in spite of differences of application.


5. Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” (Psalm 40:16)

To mention a few things we hold in common: the Elder Affirmation of Faith, the sovereignty of God, the supremacy of his glory in all things, the majesty and meekness of Christ, the all-sufficiency of his saving work, the precious and very great promises summed up in Romans 8:28 and 8:32, the value and sweetness of the Bible, the power and patience of the Holy Spirit in transforming us, the hope of glory, a profound biblical vision of manhood and womanhood, a common global mission to see the nations know Christ...


6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.... And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)

“The one who is forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47). In other words, think more of your own sins and how amazing it is that God saved you than you do about the other person’s flaws.

What is the Gospel? - John Piper

John Piper talks to The Gospel Coalition about the 6 main points of the gospel.

1. It was planned from eternity.
2. It is an event in history - Christ died.
3. It is an achievement through the historical event - sins were paid for and righteousness was completed.
4. It is extended to the world as an offer that is FREE.
5. The achievement is personally applied to me.
6. Through this application, I am brought to God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent

You have to see this audition from Britain's Got Talent. Check out Simon's face at -1:26. Priceless. Also check out this article.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Conversation with Death

John Piper:

CHRISTIAN:

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.

CHRISTIAN:

I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

That's My King!

I've posted a video of this sermon before, but I had to post this version as well. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Matt Chandler on the Rose

Becoming a big fan of Matt Chandler recently. I watched this talk from the Desiring God Conference a little while back, but now they have a clip edited down with my favorite part from the talk.

What's the point of the gospel?

Guitar Hero - Put on Some Pants, Pops

This commercial is awesome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why Isn't Easter as Commercialized as Christmas?

Article from last year by James Martin:

Sending out hundreds of Easter cards this year? Attending way too many Easter parties? Doing some last-minute shopping for gifts to place under your Easter tree? Getting tired of those endless Easter-themed specials on television?

I didn't think so.

Unlike Christmas, whose deeper spiritual meaning has been all but buried under an annual avalanche of commercialism, Easter has retained a stubborn hold on its identity as a religious holiday...

...So what enables Easter to maintain its religious purity and not devolve into the consumerist nightmare that is Christmas? Well, for one thing, it's hard to make a palatable consumerist holiday out of Easter when its back story is, at least in part, so gruesome. Christmas is cuddly. Easter, despite the bunnies, is not...

...The Easter story is relentlessly disconcerting and, in a way, is the antithesis of the Christmas story. No matter how much you try to water down its particulars, Easter retains some of the shock it had for those who first participated in the events during the first century. The man who spent the final three years of his life preaching a message of love and forgiveness (and, along the way, healing the sick and raising the dead) is betrayed by one of his closest friends, turned over to the representatives of a brutal occupying power, and is tortured, mocked, and executed in the manner that Rome reserved for the worst of its criminals....

...Even the resurrection, the joyful end of the Easter story, resists domestication as it resists banalization. Unlike Christmas, it also resists a noncommittal response. Even agnostics and atheists who don't accept Christ's divinity can accept the general outlines of the Christmas story with little danger to their worldview. But Easter demands a response. It's hard for a non-Christian believer to say, "Yes, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the dead." That's not something you can believe without some serious ramifications: If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, this has profound implications for your spiritual and religious life—really, for your whole life. If you believe the story, then you believe that Jesus is God, or at least God's son. What he says about the world and the way we live in that world then has a real claim on you.

Easter is an event that demands a "yes" or a "no." There is no "whatever."

HT : Erik Raymond

What's Easter About?


THAT'S EASTER Life to Death from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.


THAT'S EASTER Death to Life from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

HT : Challies

Monday, April 6, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Read Your Way to Better Health


Al Mohler:

Well, here is a health alert we can all understand. Researchers at the University of Sussex have determined that the very best way to relieve stress, both physical and mental, is to read a book. Got your attention?

As reported in The Telegraph, the researchers found that stress levels and heart rate showed a 68% reduction in measurable stress after reading from a book. After achieving a high stress level through exercise and mental tests, just six minutes of reading slowed the heart rate and decreased other measures of physical stress in the muscles. Reading reduced stress to levels even lower than the baseline before the high stress was reached...

...The power of words on the page is incredible. The experience of reading requires mental attention and the investment of imagination. Creativity characterizes the reading mind, because reading brings a constant flow of ideas, thoughts, impressions, suggestions, and mental images.

No other experience brings the same ability to transport the imagination and to transfer ideas. Those who would lead, must read. Those who would learn, must learn to be avid and skilled readers.

Now we have even more reason to read books -- and to advocate libraries, reading, and the literary experience. Who knew that reading was good for your health? Of course, reading is even more closely linked to mental development, intellectual growth, and, as reading Christians know, spiritual growth as well.

Finally, medical justification for my obsession.

God in OT vs. God in NT

John Piper answering the question, "Why was God so harsh on people in the Old Testament and more forgiving in the New Testament?":

My first reaction to that question is to say, "He wasn't," or "He is." He wasn't as harsh as you think, and he is more harsh than you think. But that may not be the most helpful thing to say...

...with Jesus has come into the world salvation. "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 3:17). So the window that we have of Jesus in the world is a day of salvation, a day of offering forgiveness, a day of dying for sinners, and a day of holding out his hands and beckoning.

And all that in the Old Testament was preparation to show how wrathful and how just and how true and how glorious God is, and how terrible sin is. And now you're getting Jesus, who is mercy incarnate, grace incarnate, forgiveness incarnate, open-heartedness incarnate, saying, "This is what is available for you."

So I think there is an intention that the Old Testament look bleak, sin look horrible, God look just, and that there be much less mercy, proportionate to what you see in the three years of the ministry of Jesus. And that's intentional. This is what God's heart is to the world right now. Come!
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