Thursday, September 30, 2010

Building Your Marriage Brick by Brick

A modified excerpt from Paul Tripp's What Did You Expect? from the Crossway blog:
So, you have to view yourself as a marital mason. You are daily on the job adding another layer of bricks that will determine the shape of your marriage for days, weeks, and years to come. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The problem is that we simply don’t pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn’t.

Here are a handful of helpful questions to consider:

* Do you fight for your own way in little things or see them as an opportunity to serve?
* Do you allow yourself to go to bed irritated after a little disagreement?
* Do you leave for work day after day without a moment of tenderness?
* Do you allow yourself to do little rude things you would never have done in courtship?
* Do you still ask for forgiveness in the little moments of wrong?
* Do you complain about how the other does little things, when it really doesn’t make a difference?
* Do you make decisions without consultation?
* Do you invest in the friendship intimacy of your marriage?
* Do you complain about the others weaknesses? Or do you see these as opportunities to encourage?
* Do you search for little avenues to express love?
* Do you keep records of wrongs?
* Do you regularly express appreciation and respect?
* Do you swallow little hurts that you once would’ve discussed?
* Do you turn little requests into regular demands?

You can have a good marriage, but you must understand that a good marriage is not a mysterious gift. No, it is, rather, a set of commitments that forges itself into a moment-by-moment lifestyle.
Read the whole post.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thanks Bobby

And switching gears ENTIRELY from yesterday...

As the baseball season winds down, it's bittersweet for Braves fans like me. Bobby Cox, long-time manager of the team, is retiring at the end of the year. It's been a great run with him as the skipper, with the Braves winning it all in 1995 and winning their division year and year after year....

The last 4 years have been a little down, but the Braves look to have a great chance to make the playoffs as the Wild Card team this year. Once they're in, who knows? Wild Card teams have had great success recently.

Anyway, some guys down south put together this farewell song for Bobby. You might remember them from the Mark Teixeira Tribute or even the Tim Hudson Song. Great job again guys.



Thanks B-O-B-B-Y
His last season, makes me want to cry
B-O-B-B-Y
We met him once he's a jovial guy
B-O-B-B-Y
Greatest skipper ever, that ain't no lie

Thank you, bless you Bobby
For collecting titles as a hobby
In a hotel for champs you'd run the lobby
Sorry if as fans we're sounding snobby (Bobby in the lobby)

Players consider him their second dad
Fans love him like a lumberjack loves plaid
Miss a call and like the hulk he's mad
He turned ejections into a fad (when Bobby's mad)

Pre-Chorus:
A manager that wears his spikes
He'll never back down from a fight
That's why he gets thrown out every other night
He can't help it if he's always right

CHORUS

And so, this time next year
Chill out relax somewhere on a pier
Because of everything you've done here
The competition better stand clear

All he's ever done is win, win, win
He communicates volumes touching chin, nose, chin
As legendary as England's Anne Boleyn
He doesn't realize what a pleasure it's been

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

David Platt - A Holy Vision of God and the Scandal of the Gospel

David Platt, author of Radical, one of my all-time favorite books, recently gave a talk at Southeastern Seminary from Isaiah 6. Platt paints a beautiful picture of a holy God, a sinfully depraved people, a scandalously merciful Savior, and a indescribably urgent mission. You simply cannot listen to Platt's awe before God and not be affected by it. The humility before God is palpable and inspiring. If you have an hour, I highly recommend this talk.

9Marks at Southeastern - Biblical Theology: Session 3 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Even More John Piper Quotes

I linked to a list of hysterical John Piper quotes a while back. On that same blog, he's come out with another list of completely out-of-context Piper-isms. Great stuff.

Here are some of my favorites, but check out the post for even more.
  • . . . But that’s another sermon. And it’s really good, really precious. I haven’t written it yet
  • There’s no other way for the great commission to be done than for a group of people to learn a new language, cross cultures, incarnate the gospel, plant the church. There’s no other way. It won’t be done with twitter.
  • We owe our lives to the death of Stephen. . . But you don’t have to wait for that to happen. So I’m suggesting that you not wait. He will do that. He’ll take somebody out. He might take me out. Tonight. That’d be cool. “Whoa! We better go!”
  • I don’t know what kind of sentimental ideas you have about Jesus. Just read your Bibles and they’ll go away.
  • Asking for a miracle is dangerous because you might become a charismatic, . . . or worse.
  • So he’s talking to a person who knows everything you’re going to say before you say it. What would a conversation like that be like? “Why am I talking?”
  • (At the Missions Week alter call) We aren’t going to play any music and no one is going to close their eyes. We’re just going to make this as hard as possible.
  • One of the reasons that God made bread – really good bread, not bread that’s ninety percent air – German bread – is to give you a faint taste of heaven.
  • At this point I realized that I didn’t get to the verse after which I had named this sermon, so that’s the name of next week’s sermon.
  • If you’re listening to ideas that aren’t this book you’re hearing the wrong stuff. Sects happen that way . . . That’s S. E. C. T. S.
  • “And yet one of you is a devil” This is not encouraging to the disciples. . . . they don’t know who it is. I mean, picture me at a staff meeting . . . “
  • That’s one way to read the scripture: Problems, problems, problems and then you die.
  • God can’t be boring. The world is boring! Avatar is boring! . . . That’s not in the manuscript. It must be of God. You decide.
  • We are, by the way, going to get to the text. Unlike last week.
  • I don’t know about you, but I was really helped by my sermon last week.

Music Video of the Week: OK Go

These guys just continue to make ridiculous videos....

OK Go - "White Knuckles"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cultivating a Love of Reading in Boys

I've mentioned to my wife in the past that I'll be OK if my son doesn't end up excelling at or even playing sports when he gets older. I'd like him to. I think there's a lot of benefit in it. I played basically every sport possible growing up and managed to play basketball through college. But I'm OK if Seth doesn't follow that.

I won't feel the same if he isn't a reader.

Reading is a passion of mine. I've been so rewarded by it as well. Being a good reader has so many benefits to it that I won't even attempt to lay them out here, but as they say, leaders tend to be readers. Not only that, as Christians, we are a "people of the Book." I want my children to read for the side benefits, of course, but mostly, I want them to love reading so they can read the Bible and learn for themselves about God revealed in Jesus Christ. So of course I'm looking for any ways possible to cultivate a love of reading in my children.

Al Mohler
looks at a story in the Wall Street Journal today about how to get children, specifically boys, to read. There are some good insights in the article. In our increasingly digital, nanosecond-attention span world, it's becoming more and more difficult to train boys to love and be rewarded by the discipline of reading.

Here's Mohler's conclusion:
There are several enemies of reading in the lives of boys. The educational system is largely feminized, and boys are often not challenged. We must remember that boys have always been boys, as the saying goes. There is nothing in the constitutional makeup of boys that is opposed to reading. Generations of boys grew to love books and lost themselves in stories, adventures, historical biographies, and the like.

The most direct enemy of reading in the lives of today’s boys is the video game and digital media. These devices crowd out time and attention at the expense of reading. Spence cites one set of parents who tried to bribe their 13-year-old son to read by offering video games as a reward. Spence is exactly right — Don’t reward with video games, instead take the games away. If parents do not restrict time with digital devices, boys will never learn to read and to love reading.

In another interesting section, Spence cites C. S. Lewis, who expressed agreement with both Aristotle and Plato in arguing, without apology, that boys must be trained in matters of taste. Lewis wrote: “The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likable, disgusting, and hateful.”

That is worth savoring, especially if you have those little human animals in your house.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Troops Suprising Loved Ones

This has been around for a while now, but I haven't posted it before. Came back to my attention today. If this doesn't just rip at your heart, you are not human.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Think" by John Piper

Cannot wait to read John Piper's new book, Think:



You can read the introduction, the table of contents, and chapter one below (click on it to view full screen):



HT: JT

Atta Boy, Matt

Can't believe I didn't get this posted immediately.

I love my Atlanta Braves, and Matt Diaz is one of my favorite players. He's a great guy, a solid Christian, and his brother, Jonny Diaz, is a pretty good Christian musician as well.

Monday night, a ridiculous Phillies fan ran onto the field. After eluding the security guards for a bit, Matt decided to help out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Always Get to the Gospel

An absolutely fantastic conversation here between Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James McDonald about the pastor and personal evangelism.

A couple things I noted:

1. I loved the comment from the lady who said they could have heard McDonald's sermon he references in a Mosque. Now that's probably not true, but how many times do sermons or even just our discussions with non-believers center around morality and ethics that Jews and Muslims would simply nod along with? A Jewish person should not be comfortable listening to Christians discuss the Old Testament, because the Old Testament is all about Jesus!

2. The Gospel cannot ever be assumed. I'm constantly around very strong believers. My church is fantastic and has many very mature Christians. The downside of that for evangelistic purposes sometimes is that we talk about the gospel without actually talking about the gospel. We use shorthand. We say "because of Jesus, we have freedom from sin." Well that makes clear sense to believers and assumes the penal substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ, but non-believers likely won't get that. How does Jesus make me free from sin. How does this message actually affect me. It's all very abstract. We need to be specific when non-believers are listening.

3. The gospel isn't overly complex. I think the biggest barrier to personal evangelism for me sometimes is anticipating every argument the person might come back with. I don't have to have every single answer loaded up and ready to go. I just share the truth, answer honest questions as best I can, point them to Jesus as revealed in the Bible, and trust God to work through that. Living with Christ as the center of your life will naturally lead to those conversations as God puts those people in front of you.



HT: The Resurgence

This is just funny..."Now that's a beatdown."

Matt Chandler, preaching from Acts 19:11-19:



HT: Challies

Monday, September 20, 2010

I am not what I once was...

I am not what I ought to be —
ah, how imperfect and deficient!

I am not what I wish to be —
I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!

I am not what I hope to be —
soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
“By the grace of God I am what I am.”

- John Newton, as quoted in The Christian Pioneer

HT: Trevin Wax

Music Video of the Week: Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon - "Radioactive"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Free Will, Hell, God's Glory and Romans 9

In my small group, we're going through Romans, and we covered Romans 9 the other night.
[God's Sovereign Choice]

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
(Romans 9:1-23 ESV)
I found these 2 quick "Ask Pastor John" clips over at Desiring God that applied and thought I'd share.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Fantastic Music Video from Rhett and Link

An entirely backwards video that's visually impressive and mildly disturbing about what we sleep on at night. You can see the forwards version at sleepbetter.org.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Video of the Week: John Mark McMillan

Never get tired of hearing this.

John Mark McMillan - "How He Loves"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Can Trust God

Paul Tripp:
Do you ever struggle with God’s sovereignty? Do you wonder why he has ordained for you to face the things you face? Are you ever tempted to doubt his goodness or question his love? Or do you experience rest of heart even when your relationships are messy and your circumstances are difficult? The following words are about where the rest can be found.

I did it again and again when our children resisted our instruction and correction. I did it again and again when they debated a command or questioned our plans. I did it again and again when they opposed our authority and quested for self-rule...

...So I did the same thing again and again. I would kneel down in front of them at eye level and say, "Please look at Daddy's face. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know that your Daddy is not a mean, bad man? Do you know that I would never ask you to do anything that would hurt you or make you sick? I am sorry that you can't understand why Daddy is asking you to do this. I wish I could explain it to you, but you are too young to understand. So I am going to ask you to do something—trust Daddy. When you walk down the hallway to do what Daddy has asked you to do, say to yourself, 'My Daddy loves me. My Daddy would never ask me to do something bad. I am going to trust my Daddy and stop trying to be the Daddy of my Daddy.'"

God does the same thing with you, over and over again. He meets you in one of the difficult hallways of your life, kneels down before you in condescending love, and asks you to trust his loving and wise rule, even though you don't have a clue what he is doing.
HT: Desiring God

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: Darrin Patrick - Church Planter

Genre: Theology
Publisher: Crossway
Publication Date: August 31, 2010


Here’s the takeaway from this review: If you have any interest/desire to be a church planter, pastor, or simply a leader of any kind in your local church, you need to read Church Planter.

Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, is very qualified to write about church planting and pasturing. He’s done both well and God has worked through him to form a vibrant church. He uses that experience, as well as a thorough understanding of the gospel and biblical doctrine, to craft a very useful resource in the form of his new book (with one of the cooler book designs I’ve seen).

There are 3 parts to the book:

  1. The Man – What kind of man is best suited for church planting/pastoring? What characteristics are most helpful? How does someone aspiring to these roles go about determining if God has called him to it? I really appreciated the practical discussions that went along with Patrick’s look at the biblical qualifications in Paul’s letters. Also, I loved his focus on the fact that the man must first be redeemed and regenerated by God. Too many men are hiding in ministry from something (sin, failure, guilt, etc.).
  2. The Message – This section is basically Patrick’s doctrinal statement about the gospel. After all, that’s the purpose of church planting, right? We want everyone to hear the gospel of God’s grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is historic, biblical, Christian orthodoxy done well.
  3. The Mission – What’s the mission of the church? What’s the heart behind that mission? What does it mean to contextualize? This is the section where some groups will be divided. In the first 2 sections, most Christians will agree on almost all points. Here, the discussion is helpful even though some will have issues at points. Contextualization in particular is a divisive term to some (although it needn’t be). Those who line up with the Acts 29 Network will find much to agree with here; other will have hesitations about it. The book also changes in tone from systematic to narrative as Patrick puts a human face on things like contextualization with stories from The Journey. I found these examples helpful, but it was kind of jolting set against the rest of the book.
Overall, this is a fantastic book. Like I said, any man aspiring to leadership roles in the church will benefit from it. It should serve as an inspiration to many in my generation to step up and help carry to gospel to the lost and “guard the deposit” entrusted to us. My only nit-pick with the book would be the title, as it implies that the book would only be for those wanting to plant churches. I hope that doesn’t keep those aspiring to other leadership roles from reading. I was encouraged, challenged, and motivated by Church Planter, and I think many others will be as well.



This book was provided for review by Crossway in exchange for a review. No expectation of a positive review existed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

David Brooks on David Platt's "Radical"

I reviewed the book Radical by David Platt a little while back. It's probably my #1 book of the year so far. Apparently, a lot of people agree because it's still on the NY Times Bestsellers list as of today.

Platt details a biblical view of Christianity that challenges believers to truly line up their lives with the teachings of Jesus, to fight against the culture that says to be happy you have to have a certain income level, own a certain house, and drive a certain car. These distractions drive us away from the heart of God in Christ.

This message has struck a chord with many in the wake of the recession, and David Brooks at the New York Times comments on the book:
Platt’s arguments are old, but they emerge at a postexcess moment, when attitudes toward material life are up for grabs. His book has struck a chord. His renunciation tome is selling like hotcakes. Reviews are warm. Leaders at places like the Southern Baptist Convention are calling on citizens to surrender the American dream.

I doubt that we’re about to see a surge of iPod shakers. Americans will not renounce the moral materialism at the core of their national identity. But the country is clearly redefining what sort of lifestyle is socially and morally acceptable and what is not. People like Platt are central to that process.

The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined.
Read the whole article at The New York Times, and buy Radical at Amazon.

The Story

This looks like cool new evangelistic resource for churches and organizations to use.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Mysterious Islands

This looks like an interesting documentary. Might be worth checking out.



Here's the synopsis from their website:
At the far end of the world, there exists a strange and unusual chain of islands, resting above vast tectonic plates in the ocean below.

This is the world of the Galapagos Archipelago, home to salt-spitting marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and giant tortoises that can live to be more than 150 years of age. It is also the birthplace of Darwinism. For here in 1835, a young Charles Darwin began to formulate a theory which would turn the world upside down. More than a century and a half later, these mysterious islands remain at the center of a controversy that has shaped the way modern men perceive science, religion, culture, and life itself. While Christians look to Jerusalem, and Muslims to Mecca, evolutionists look to the Galapagos as the spiritual center of their scientific faith. And the unique ingredients found on the Galapagos Islands have led many of Darwin's most devoted followers to describe it as Darwin's Eden, and a "laboratory for evolution."

Now, for the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th of his magnum opus, On the Origin of Species, Doug Phillips leads a Christian team of scientists and investigators to this "ground zero" in the war of the worldviews. Seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Joshua Phillips, who joins his father and noted researchers like Dr. John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, The Mysterious Islands is the story of one boy's search for answers to the greatest controversy of the modern world. It is a refreshing father and son adventure that combines cinematically breathtaking footage with high adventure. The Mysterious Islands is a fast-paced film that tracks their journey of discovery as this unusual team walks where Darwin walked and engages with the amazing creatures that he chronicled in his research. Their quest: To determine whether the Galapagos Islands are a laboratory for evolution, as Darwinists claim, or a showcase for the biblical account of creation.

This beautiful ninety-minute documentary takes viewers deep beneath the ocean waves among hundreds of white-tip sharks, into volcanic craters with giant lizards, and to the unusual habitat of the blue-footed booby. Featuring a Christian team of scientists and investigators to shoot a documentary on the Galapagos in 2009—Darwin's anniversary year—The Mysterious Islands brings a fresh perspective on the Theory of Evolution and presents sweeping cinematography of one of the most remote, desolate, and fascinating locations in the world.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is he getting her digits?

My son with our neighbor's little girl. 2 of the cutest kids on earth. Notice the pen, Seth's working his game...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Money Isn't The Root of All Evil


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

(1 Timothy 6:10 ESV)
I've struggled intensely in the past to understand the tension between contentment and materialism. I've felt guilty for living a comfortable life while many in the world suffer starvation and disease. I've wanted to give away everything and live with nothing. I have friends who have basically done this. I envy them on some levels.

But then I look at my family, my beautiful wife and 2 kids (21 months and 5 months). God gifted me with this family and commands me to be His conduit to provide for them. This creates a tension in me, but I'm learning to live in that tension and trust God to provide and give me the wisdom to steward His resources better.

With this as the background, you'll understand why I resonated with this piece by Andrew Peterson so much. It's an absolutely fantastic take on these issues. Here's the conclusion, but trust me, read the whole thing. It's worth it.
The point: being poor is not the only way to radically follow Christ. Some people are called to it. I have long felt a tension between all that I learned from the Kid Brothers and Rich Mullins about identifying with the poor and the weak, versus my holy responsibility to tend to my family’s spiritual and physical needs. Had Rich ever married, I’m certain his wife would have appreciated a nice dress every now and then, or a bouquet of flowers, or a decent kitchen, and she probably would have lovingly insisted that he not give all his money away, especially after she bore his children and needed to buy diapers, and school supplies, and shoes for goodness sake. And the other thing is, Rich Mullins had hit songs that are still making money. He gave a lot of his money away, but he also had a constant stream of it flowing in. Lots of it. And I’m sure the ministries he supported with the surplus were grateful that he channeled it to them for Kingdom work.

Money isn’t the root of all evil. The Bible doesn’t say that. Here’s the verse: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) We’re called to keep watch so that we don’t fall in love with money. To be sure, wealth is a heavy burden and isn’t for everyone, just as poverty is a burden and isn’t for everyone. The people of the church are varied in strengths and weaknesses. Money itself isn’t evil. In fact, money can be a great tool for Kingdom work. It’s easy to tout ideals about how wrong it is to be wealthy until you’re on the receiving end of someone’s generosity.
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