Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moralism vs. Christ-Centered Preaching

Darrin Patrick:
Our problem is that we confuse the order of the indicative (what is true) and the imperative (what to do). As Bryan Chapell often says, "We put our 'do's' before our 'who's.'" The indicative is what is true about us in Christ. We are loved and accepted because of what Christ has done on our behalf. The imperative is what we do in obedience our of love for Christ. The key to the Christian life is to live out of the reality of who we are so that we can do what God has revealed in Scripture...

...Moralism can be defined as an attempt to appease God's wrath toward sin with our good deeds. It is an enemy of the gospel because, at best, it says that salvation = Jesus + my moral effort. At worst it ignores Jesus' atoning work altogether. In moralism we give God our moral record and demand that he bless us because of our compliance with God's law. Moralistic preaching, then, tends to place the wrath and holiness of God above the love and grace of God.

Moralistic preaching puts pressure of a person's will to comply with God's law. This kind of preaching produces hyper-rigid and uber-critical people...

...Christ-centered preaching doesn't discount God's holiness. It honors that holiness more than moralistic preaching because Christ-centered preaching asserts that we can't be holy enough -- only Christ was. It asserts that we are only practically holy when we understand and live in the reality of our positional holiness in Christ. It causes us to ponder and bask in the free grace of God in Christ, which motivates us toward practical holiness.
~ Church Planter, pp. 136-138.

Slightly Excited About College Football Season?

This should help.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Russell Moore on Evangelicals and Glenn Beck

Thank you, Dr. Russell Moore:
A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.
Read the whole post.

Music Video of the Week: Anberlin

Anberlin - "Impossible"

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Church Planter" by Darrin Patrick

I'm reading this book right now, and so far it's fantastic. A needed call for church planters, pastors, and young men in general. Very needed.

UPDATE: Not sure why the video was taken down. I'll re-post if I can find it again.

UPDATE: Found another version on YouTube.

Tim Keller - What Is The Bible About?


HT: Collin Hansen

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2 of the Best Words in the Whole Bible

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
(Romans 3:19-26 ESV)
D. A. Carson calls these verses the "Center of the Whole Bible." You can see his talk by the same name at a Resurgence Event below:

The Gospel Song Animation

HT: Bob Kauflin

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Music Review: Jeremy Camp - We Cry Out: The Worship Project

Genre: Worship/Rock
Label: BEC Recordings
Release Date: August 24, 2010

Rating: 4/5

Most people will already have their mind made up about Jeremy Camp’ new album, We Cry Out: The Worship Project, before they ever hear it. For some, he’s the epitome of what they love about CCM. He’s a passionate, talented Christian who isn’t afraid to sing about his faith. For others, he’s the epitome of why they never turn on K-Love on their radio. He’s cookie-cutter, manufactured music from the CCM machine.

I’ve criticized Camp in the past myself for a lack of creativity, and for straddling the line between CCM and worship. That problem disappears on this album, as Camp is completely in his element simply worshiping God through his music. Camp has said that he originally intended to launch as a worship artist, and if this album is any indication, he should spend more time as one. This style of music is definitely his sweet spot.

Now one look at the track list for this album will reveal that Camp, like seemingly every other worship artist, included a cover of Hillsong’s “Mighty to Save.” They’re great songs, but I’ll admit I rolled my eyes when I saw that, along with Brenton Brown’s “Everlasting God” and Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go.” But here’s the thing: the whole album feels like Camp is just worshiping and letting us listen, and these feel like songs that have meant something to him, so it mostly works. I still wish he had gone with some newer stuff instead, but his versions feel very genuine and not included simply because the songs are popular.

The real strength of the album is simply Camp’s obvious love for the Lord and faith in Jesus Christ. I love the fact that he explicitly mentions the name of Jesus on almost every song, and not in an Oh-look-I’m-singing-about-Jesus way. He’s just praising God the Father, and we can only do that through his son, Christ. It’s refreshing to hear a worship artist so singularly focused on Jesus in his songs. From the lead single, the gospel-proclaiming “Jesus Saves,” to the powerful and catchy “Not Ashamed” (I’m not ashamed of the gospel, I’m not ashamed of Jesus Christ, I will stand and boldly say, This is my life), all the way through the closer, “King Jesus,” Christ is lifted up on this album. Camp gets out of the way completely.

Other highlights include “The Way,” which features a fantastic bridge of hand claps and choir that seriously works, and a cover of Desperation Band’s “Overcome.” I’ve seen the length of this song criticized in other reviews, but I honestly had listened to it multiple times before I realized it was almost 8 minutes. I was just lost in worship and the power of the Bible-saturated lyrics. It feels like a live performance, and the climaxes in the song are weighty.

Some will still find things to complain about with this album. The complaints have some merit. It's not overly-creative, the melodic surprises are pretty minimal, and there are some songs that have been done way too much already. But no one can doubt the heart of Jeremy Camp. He loves the Lord. He loves Jesus. He loves praising his Lord for the salvation he’s been given. That’s infectious, and it’s hard to listen to him and not feel your heart moved towards God. That’s about all you can ask for from a worship artist, and Camp clearly fits that category.

*This album was provided for review by BEC Recordings.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wow...Nostalgia + Awesomness

This dude is seriously talented. This will take anyone about my age back.

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Monday, August 23, 2010

Delaying Adulthood

Al Mohler, writing on an article in The New York Times Magazine by Robin Marantz Henig:
The focus of Henig’s article is on young people in their 20’s — a period she describes as a “black box.” As a generation, they are constantly moving residence (one third move each year), changing jobs (average is seven jobs in their 20’s), and moving back home with parents (one third at least once). Two-thirds cohabitate with “a romantic partner” and delay marriage until their late 20’s.

Henig cites one sociologist who calls all this “the changing timetable for adulthood.” How big a change? Consider this: In 1960, the vast majority of young adults had accomplished the five standard milestones used to measure adult status. These milestones include completing school, leaving home, getting married, having a child, and establishing financial independence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than one half of all young women reached these milestones by age 30 in 2000. Even more concerning — fewer than one third of all young men did.
Less than 1/3 of men had accomplished these things by 30. I can understand the argument by some people that having a child by 30 isn't necessarily desired by everyone, and they want to wait, but I would have still thought that number would have been higher than 1/3. Either way, an interesting article.

Mohler's conclusion:
Christians must look at this phenomenon with great concern — not because we would heap scorn on this generation of young adults, but because we are concerned for them and for the long-term impact of this delay of the acceptance of adult responsibilities. It is not just that they are AWOL from adulthood and its responsibilities. They are also missing the joys, consolations, challenges, and responsibilities that make for maturity and long-term flourishing. They will pay a steep price for this delay, and we will pay it with them.

There are deep spiritual concerns here as well. The extension of adolescence (itself a dubious and problematic life stage) means further delay in accepting the kinds of roles and responsibilities that make for mature Christians. And the dangers are clear. As this report highlights, the extension of adolescence into the 20s was culturally facilitated by the acceptance of premarital sex.

Every family and local congregation has its work cut out for it in facing this challenge. The Church would demonstrate the power of the Gospel in a whole new way by assisting young people into the successful and faithful transition to adulthood, celebrating this transition as a matter of spiritual maturity to the glory of Christ. These young adults are desperately needed for the cause of Christ, and many are indeed making their way into authentic adulthood with faithfulness, energy, conviction, and excitement. Let’s pray that their example is infectious.
Read Mohler's whole post on it.

Music Video of the Week: Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers - "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Music Recommendation: House of Heroes - Suburba

A while back, I reviewed the album, The End Is Not The End, by House of Heroes. I loved (and still love) that album, and the band has moved into my top 3 bands (even to #1 depending on the day). A couple weeks ago, HoH released their newest album, Suburba.

After listening to the album for a couple weeks now, I'm loving it more and more. It's different than ...The End. That album was almost a concept album set around World War II, and touched on deep themes of life and death and other things war makes people think of. Suburba, while unified somewhat around themes of American suburbia, is much more upbeat, energetic, and showcases some extremely tight song-writing and musicianship.

My favorite songs include: Relentless, Love Is For The Middle Class, God Save The Foolish Kings, Somebody Knows, She Mighty Mighty, and the bonus track on Amazon, Galveston.

I would highly recommend this album for any rock fans, especially those of a pop/rock flavoring (it's only $5.99 still at Amazon). There are hints of all kinds of influences, among them Queen and other classic rock bands, but the album has a very fresh feel to it, a perfect end of summer album. I posted these a while back, but here are a couple videos to give you a taste of the album.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Darrin Patrick's "Church Planter" and "Ban"

I just started reading Darrin Patrick's new book, Church Planter (August 31, Crossway). While the book is geared towards those planting (or wanting to plant) churches, it so far seems like a solid book for any man aspiring to church leadership at all. It's a book for men, and Patrick pulls no punches in telling men to grow up and be men.

At a post over at the Resurgence about an upcoming Acts 29 Bootcamp, Patrick posted some thoughts pretty much taken directly from the fantastic preface to the book.
We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence.

They are neither boys nor men. They live suspended between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being a grown-up.

Let’s call this kind of male Ban, a hybrid of both man and boy. This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even vocational ministry.

Neither Boys Nor Men

Ban is a frightening reality in the church, but he is the best thing that ever happened to the video game and porn industries.

* Half of American males between the ages of 18 to 34 play video games every day—for almost 3 hours.
* The average video game buyer is 35 years old.
* Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography, 28,258 Internet users view pornography, and 372 Internet users type adult search terms into search engines.
* To no one’s surprise, men make up nearly 75% of Internet pornography traffic.

Our society is overrun with males who aren’t men. Assuming the responsibilities of husband and father makes a boy into a man, but Ban doesn’t like responsibility so he extends his adolescence and sets his focus squarely and supremely on himself.

Raising Up Real Men

These “man-wannabes” must learn how to progress toward manhood and become what David Gilmore calls “real men.” Real men “give more than they take... are generous, even to the point of sacrifice.” Being a man is about being tough and tender.

I have a son, Drew, and because of my keen awareness of and pastoral interaction with Bans, I know that my work is cut out for me when it comes to raising a godly man. I recently wrote a little prayer that reflects the kind of men we need. Drew and I pray this prayer together almost every night, for him and for me.

“God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people. God, make me a man.”

The Man, the Message, the Mission

The lack of godly men in our world is now a cultural crisis. We are not going to solve the problem by ignoring Ban and hoping that he eventually grows up. We are not going to solve the problem by encouraging women to take up the slack.

We might solve the problem by modeling biblical manhood and calling adult boys to forsake their youthful lusts and become the men that God is calling them to be.

We have Bans in our city, our neighborhoods, our churches, and our families. Ban needs godly men and women to show him that there is more to life than what he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God’s man who is being transformed by God’s gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God’s mission.
I haven't finished the book yet, but I have a feeling this is going to be a powerful tool in helping motivate and train a generation of new leaders in the church. We need men to step up and be men.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This is Awesome

Where was this when I got married...?

HT: Desiring God

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jon Stewart on the Mosque At Ground Zero

I very much do not agree with Jon Stewart on some things. I also don't believe it's right for them to want to build a Mosque there. But I also think it's a very slippery slope to start saying Muslims can't do something because of their religion. We start prohibiting religion, we may just get what we want, but not what we think it'll be.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Municipal Land-Use Hearing Update
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

HT: Abraham Piper

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Screwtape Letters

One of the all-time favorite books is the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. I've read it multiple times and every time, I'm blown away by Lewis' penetrating insight into the psyche of humans through the lens of the demons. His descriptions of the human interactions from that perspective never loses it's power to me.

For Christmas last year, I received an audio version of the book from my mom. Focus on the Family put together a fantastic cast with Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings) playing Screwtape. I listened to the entire thing back in January, but I've been listening to it again and have been impressed again.

I highly recommend this to any fans of Lewis or really just anyone in general. It's top notch.

Here's a behind the scenes video from Focus on the Family of the making of the project.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Loving Your Spouse

Andy Naselli's guest post at Between Two Worlds has some great quotes from Paul Tripp's book, What Did You Expect?, that really hit me.

Some of my faves:
1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
4. Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
5. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
8. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
13. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
20. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
21. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.

This realization should give you pause and then spur you to action: it is impossible for any of us to love as has been described. The bar is simply too high. The requirements are simply too great. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. This description of love in action has left me humbled and grieved. It has faced me once again with my tendency to name as love things that are not love. It has forced me to admit how self-focused and self-absorbed I actually am. It has reminded me that when it comes to love, I am not an expert. No, I am poor, weak, and needy.

Jesus died not only so that we would have forgiveness for not loving as we should, but also so that we would have the desire, wisdom, and power to love as we should.

Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love.
Read the whole post.

Music Video of the Week: Needtobreathe

Needtobreathe - "Something Beautiful"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Forgiveness in "Inception"

WARNING - don't read this article if you haven't seen the movie and don't want it spoiled...

I loved the movie Inception. It's one of the most original, thought-provoking, and entertaining movies I've seen in a long time. Lots has been written about the creativity and complexity of the plot. It's great fodder for conversation. Here's one of the more interesting takes I've see on the movie.

Barry Cooper:
If you’re having trouble bending your mind around Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception, Pablo Picasso’s observation may help: “Art is a lie that tells the truth.”

Just like his protagonist Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Nolan has discovered a way to insinuate a prefabricated “truth” deep in the mind of an unsuspecting person. It’s a technique called “inception.” And now he’s testing his dastardly method on us.

The idea Nolan wants to plant in our minds is that a lie can change reality for the better. It’s a notion that is played out for us at least twice in the film...

...The snag is that real forgiveness of real guilt demands that a real price be paid. Real wrongdoing demands real redressing; the stain stubbornly persists. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it. Fake blood, however realistic, simply will not do.

However, Jesus Christ’s death is real enough, and deep enough, to fully deal with the problem of guilt and shame. More than the mere inception of an idea, played out on a shallow screen, it is actual flesh and blood reality, lived out in history. Unlike the attempted resolution of Inception, Jesus’ death refuses to downplay or explain away the gravity of our sin. And only Jesus’ death and resurrection is able to offer the deep forgiveness and reconciliation that the film poignantly reaches for. In Christ, God’s love for his children overcomes all obstacles—all the guilt, all the shame—so that he can be finally reunited with them. In reality.

Can a film as masterfully made as Inception, a beautifully constructed dream, offer real forgiveness to guilt-haunted, shame-scarred souls? Well, in a world without a cross, it’s about the best we’ve got.
Read the whole post over at The Gospel Coalition.

Also, for another take on the movie, check out James Harleman from Mars Hill Church and his review of the movie and it's thematic elements relating to Christianity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Al Mohler on The Proposition 8 Decision

This is VERY big. Al Mohler:
The importance of the decision handed down yesterday by U. S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in California’s Proposition 8 trial will be difficult to exaggerate. Proponents of same-sex marriage immediately declared a major victory — and for good reason. The editorial board of The New York Times declared the verdict “an instant landmark in American legal history,” and so it is, even if later reversed upon appeal.

Judge Walker’s decision is sweeping and comprehensive, basically affirming every argument and claim put forth by those demanding that California’s Proposition 8 be declared unconstitutional. That proposition, affirmed by a clear majority of California voters, amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In one brazen act of judicial energy, California’s voters were told that they had no right to define marriage, and thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational.

Even as the case is immediately appealed, the reality is that a Federal court has now declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Pressing beyond this verdict, Judge Walker also released a set of “findings” that include some of the most radical statements about marriage yet encountered.

In rendering his verdict, Judge Walker declared that California’s Proposition 8 violates both the equal protection and due process rights of homosexual citizens. The proposition, he concluded, “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” He continued: “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

In order to reach this conclusion, Judge Walker provided more than 100 pages of legal reasoning, based on the evidence that he allowed or accepted. On page after page, Judge Walker arbitrarily accept the claims put forth by proponents of same-sex marriage as rational, and declares the evidence and arguments put forth by the defenders of Proposition 8 as lacking in any rational basis...

...The judge released enumerated “findings” within his decision. Among the most important — and startling — of these are the following:

“Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”

“Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.”

“The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in the child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent.”

“Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions.”

In a breathtaking and brief sentence, the Judge Walker asserted: “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.”

Until this verdict, such language had never appeared in a decision of a Federal court. If gender is not longer “an essential part of marriage,” then marriage has been essentially redefined right before our eyes.

The religious liberty dimensions of the decision are momentous and deeply troubling. While Judge Walker declared that the religious freedoms of citizens and religious bodies were not violated because no such body is required to recognize or perform same-sex marriage, the very structure of his argument condemned religious and theological objections to homosexuality and same-sex marriage as both harmful and irrational.
Read the whole article on Mohler's blog.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Music Video of the Week: House of Heroes

House of Heroes - "God Save The Foolish Kings"

The new album, Suburba, comes out tomorrow, but you can get it on Amazon MP3 right now, with a bonus track, for only $2.99. Trust me, this album is fantastic and to be able to get it for only $2.99 is ridiculous. Get it. Now. You won't regret it.

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