Friday, October 29, 2010

Sharing the Good News of Christmas



Crossway:
Crossway is inviting churches all across North America and around the globe to reach one million homes with the gospel this December!

Share the Good News of Christmas is designed to complement what churches are already doing this year—helping them connect with their communities, reach out with the gospel, and invite people to a Christmas service in their church. Share the Good News kits will be sent to participating churches, allowing them to tailor the kits for their specific communities. Each kit contains 50 ESV Outreach New Testaments, 50 gospel tracts, and 50 customizable invitations to the church’s Christmas service or event...

...Learn more about how can you and your church get involved or purchase your kits today at http://www.goodnewsofchristmas.org/. Pastors or church staff can sign up for a free sample bag as they consider this opportunity.
HT: JT

Amazing Parkour Dog

You've probably seen some Parkour videos in the past. You know, those video where the guys run around town climbing everything in their path and doing ridiculous jumps across things? Have you ever seen a dog doing Parkour, though?



HT: Rhett and Link

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: John Piper - Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

Genre: Christian Living/Theology
Publisher: Crossway
Publication Date: September 15, 2010


There are two basic errors that Christians tend to fall into. One is the elevate thinking and the life of the mind with regards to theology to a point where it fails to connect with real life and results in theoretical Christians who are lacking in love. The other is to essentially demonize thinking and theology because “it only divides” and focus solely on love, which results in Christians who may love others but who worship a God they don’t really know. John Piper’s new book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, seeks to destroy the underlying assumptions and problems behind both of these errors.

Piper begins the introduction with these words: “This book is a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people.” Ultimately, as Piper points out numerous times throughout the book, if thinking hard about God and the bible doesn’t translate into love for him and the people around you, it’s pointless. Thinking is a means, not an end. It’s how we come to know God for who he has really revealed himself to be. In response, our love for him grows and spills over into love for people as well. As someone who can get very academic in my theological pursuits sometimes, I was encouraged to step back and examine my motives. This is a good thing for any Christian to do from time to time.

The structure of the book is very helpful. Piper begins by clarifying the aims of the book, as well as what he means by thinking (mostly, he means reading, and, more specifically, the bible). He then details the role of thinking in coming to faith. From a view of election, he details the futile nature of our thinking apart from the new birth which God initiates in us. Piper treads carefully as he notes our role in thinking with regards faith and God’s role in granting that faith. This all spills over into the next chapter on what it means to love God with your mind.

Piper also takes on two ways of thinking that are dangerous to the pursuit of truth through thinking, relativism and anti-intellectualism. I found Piper’s comments on relativism very powerful and virtually devastating to that way of thinking. He says:
Relativism enables pride to put on humble clothes and parade through the street. But don’t be mistaken. Relativism chooses every turn, every pace, every street, according to its own autonomous preferences, and submits to no truth. We will serve our generation well by exposing the prideful flesh under these humble clothes.
Ultimately where Piper comes down is that any way of thinking that does not submit to God’s truth and acts as though we can’t know God’s truth in the bible and creation is centered on pride, whether it is conscious or not. God has determined what is true, and any way of thinking that distorts this places us in the place of God. A humble approach to thinking that seeks to understand God’s Word and submit to that truth inevitably leads to a greater love for God and others. I would highly recommend this book for all Christians, both thinkers and those who aren’t naturally built that way, as a means to understanding the role of our minds in our faith.



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

"Double Pre-Blessed!" - Pre-Blessed Food

Ah, Julian Smith. You continue to crack me up. This one's also got an interesting thought process underlying it.



HT: Abraham Piper

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rapping the Heidelberg Catechism

Curtis Allen (aka Voice) recently took a challenge from C.J. Mahaney to do a rap song about the Heidelberg Catechism seriously. Here's the result.

Heidelberg Catechism by avoice

Lyrics:

Verse 1

Yeah I'm on a mission like a couple spies, and that guys is the reason why I catechize. The good news we almost forgot I recognize, Heidelberg rediscovering the gospel prize. It's not scripture but the truth in it will mention he, introduction hide and seek the 16th century. Written in a time when your mind was the weaponry, this document is back into the populace shouts to Kevin D. Better than you think not as bad as you remember, purpose driven truth, from Frederick the elector. He would initiate, the 129 questions to illustrate truths like Christ propitiates. All in a document, whose purpose was to teach children, a guide for preachers, and confessions in a church building. And this is all fact The Heidelberg Cat has been around but now it's seem like it is coming back.

Hook

We believe in the cross, believe in his life,
We believe in his death, believe he's the Christ.
We believe that he rose from grave yes it is him
And we read the Heidelberg Catechism

We believe in the after life and we believe nothing's after Christ, so we stand our ground, cuz the truth's been around from the word to Heidelberg.

Verse 2

Year of the Heidelberg resulting in renewed passion, and we could see it in our lives lights camera action. Let's take a gander and address a few questions from Heidelberg document then look at the answers. But before that make sure that, you know how it's broken down, in a Q & A format, a few sections. Suggestions how to read this not to sound promotional, but Kevin put it in his book to make it a devotional. Each question each answer has a bit of commentary, so the application of it is not some involuntary. Mystery, the history screams through rings true but I'll just leave that up to God, cuz that's between you. to believe, but to believe you gotta read you and then you meditate on all the truths that the Heidelberg will illustrate. What's that the catechism homey where you been the good news we almost forgot let's get it in!

Verse 3

From the word to the Heidelberg, we see that what's the comfort of life should come first. And in death that I with, body and soul but belong to the savior, commentary from me man, tell this to your neighbor. Moving on, how many things are necessary for thee, enjoying this comfort, to live and die happily? Three, my sin's misery, deliverance from sin, and gratitude for God is how the answer ends. Let's stretch it out the Lord's day 23 the grandaddy of them all, questions 59 and 60. What good does it do to believe in all this? In Christ I am right heir to the promise. Paraphrase, anyways I'm kinda limited I'm just trying to say a couple things my man Kevin did. On the Heidelberg, go and get you one, and by the way CJ homey this was fun.

Russell Moore on Testimonies

Interesting timing. After posting Josh Hamilton's testimony below, I came across a post that got me thinking about testimonies in general.

Is there a danger in testimonies from people who have been completely freed from sin and even the temptation to certain sins? Have you ever felt demoralized because you are still fighting against something you've fought for years? Yes, progress has been made, but you're still not free.

I found this commentary from Russell Moore very interesting:
I think personal testimonies, as part of Christian worship, are a good thing to do. And I think we need more of them. I wonder, though, if sometimes our testimonies might unintentionally empower Satan rather than combat him...

...If Satan cannot draw people into sin, and thus into death, he’ll draw them into despair because their fight against temptation hasn’t dissipated. Don’t leave those people with a message of condemnation, when the gospel promises freedom.

Yes, celebrate those who have escaped the grip of sin. But don’t just pretend that this means an escape from temptation. Even the ex-drunk who doesn’t want alcohol anymore (and there aren’t many) just has his temptation moving to some other area. Let’s celebrate too the sinner who wants what he doesn’t want to want, but who dies to self, picks up his cross, and follows Christ.

It might be that God frees someone instantly from the appetite for whatever he or she is drawn toward. But typically he instead enables one to fight it. This might go on for forty days, for forty years, or for an entire lifetime. That’s all right. In the meantime, we’re going to be there to bear burdens for one another.

Satan hates the gospel, and he hates the testimony of grace. Let’s make sure our people (and their demonic accusers) hear the whole message. Temptation isn’t instantly nullified by conversion. Even our sinless Lord Jesus was tempted. The grace of God leads us to Christ, and then joins us to him in the war zone.

That’s painful. Crucifixion always is. But it’s grace, and, however strong the fight, it’s amazing.
Read the whole article.

Josh Hamilton - I Am Second

As he prepares to play in the World Series tonight, here's Josh Hamilton's testimony on IAmSecond.com. They have some great testimonies on their site, but Hamilton's story is extremely powerful when you hear where God has brought him from. Great stuff.



HT: Challies

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pride: "You owe me!"

Great discussion on humility and pride last night in our bible study as we continue to work our way through Romans. Then, in God's never-ending providence, I came across this video today. I love Piper's comment about pride essentially being a sense of entitlement that looks at everyone and says, "You owe me."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Battling Anxiety with Scripture

Scripture is a sword for us to use by faith in battling sin. Specifically, it's useful to battle the unbelief that typically resides behind whatever sin or challenge we are confronting. I heard John Piper give a talk at the New Attitude Conference a few years ago (2008 Conference, "Fighting For Faith with God's Word") where he basically just talked through different challenges and struggles and showed us how he used sin to fight the unbelief.

Here are some examples for fighting against anxiety that Justin Taylor posted at his blog:
  • When I am anxious about some risky new venture or meeting, I battle unbelief with the promise: “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
  • When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise, “So shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not come back to me empty but accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
  • When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and “As your days so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
  • When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
  • When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31).
  • When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise that “tribulation works patience, and patience approvedness, and approvedness hope, and hope does not make us ashamed” (Romans 5:3–5).
  • When I am anxious about getting old, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).
  • When I am anxious about dying, I battle unbelief with the promise that “none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself; if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9–11).
  • When I am anxious that I may make shipwreck of faith and fall away from God, I battle unbelief with the promise, “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful. He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Music Video of the Week: John Mark McMillan

John Mark McMillan - "Ten Thousand"

Friday, October 15, 2010

$10 to Save a Life

Jonathan Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like has partnered with SafeWorld to help save kids in Uganda. Only $10 will buy a malaria net and help save a child's life.
For the next 24 hours, we’re going to save 1,000 lives in the Nakaseke District, of Uganda with SafeWorld. How? With a malaria net. That costs $10. It’s that simple. 1 net costs $10, and will save at least 1 life. More than a million people die each year from malaria and the majority of them are under the age of 5. They are someone else’s [child].

100% of the money goes to buying the nets and distributing them. And you’ll be sent the GPS coordinates of where your exact net goes and be able to Google Earth the location of the person who’s life you saved.
They are trying to raise $10K today for this. It's already over halfway there as of 10:20 AM. Very cool cause and extremely easy to give (took me about 30 seconds or so). Head over and help save lives or just click on the banner below. Select "SCL10K" from the drop down once you on the giving page.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Heart Is So Predictable

I had the privilege of teaching our Bible Study on Romans 11 last night. In preparation, I found this sermon from John Piper when he preached through this section of Romans. You can listen to the sermon and read the notes at Desiring God.

I was also drilled by this verse again and again in my preparation:
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
(Romans 11:6 ESV)
I love how Paul, in emphasizing to the Romans over and over and over that God is completely sovereign in salvation, constantly stops to cut off the people's pride. I love that because it shows God really, truly understands us.

My heart is so predictable.

God knows that my heart is prone to take these doctrines which should promote nothing but humility and brokenness before God and morph them into a basis for pride.

Continue to break me, Lord. Remove the deep-seeded pride in my heart that even in the face of your holiness and sovereignty would hold onto the idea that I contributed anything to the salvation you have granted me. Thank you for constantly reminding that apart from your grace which granted my faith, I would be lost. Keep this knowledge driving me to love the lost and pray for Your work in their hearts as well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Former Planned Parenthood Head to Stay-at-Home Moms: "Cut it Out"

This is one of the more absurd quotes I've seen. It's from Gloria Feldt, the former head of Planned Parenthood. Speaking about stay-at-home moms:
They make it harder for the rest of us to remedy the inequities that remain. We have to make young women aware of how their choices affect other women. It should be acceptable criticism to point out that, although everyone has the right to make their own life decisions, choosing to “opt out” reinforces stereotypes about women’s priorities that we’ve been working for decades to shatter, so just cut it out. And, the “individual choice” women have to become stay-at-home moms becomes precarious when they try to return to the workplace and find their earning power and options reduced. If we could see child-rearing as a necessary task and not an identity, and if we could collectively recognize that facilitating it benefits us all, we would go much further in guaranteeing women’s choices than we do when we are expected to uncritically celebrate every individual’s decisions.
HA! A feminist who supported millions of women's "individual decision" to kill their baby thinks we can't "uncritically celebrate every individual's decisions"? Wow. Simply don't know what to say.

I have HUGE respect for women willing to be stay-at-home moms. There's room for individual decisions here, but personally, I can't imagine having someone else raise my kids. Thanks, Leah, for doing the much tougher job of the two of us.

Music Video of the Week: Lecrae

Lecrae ft. C-Lite - "Background"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Congrats Mike and B

My parents have another grandkid, and I have another nephew. In our quickly multiplying families, adults have become quickly outnumbered, but when they're this cute, we're completely OK with that.

Congrats to my little sister and her husband on the birth of their beautiful first child, Jackson Aeneas, who was born on Monday night (they got Aeneas from Acts 9:33-34). Aside from the utter weirdness of my baby sister having a baby, it's simply amazing. Seriously, having new babies in the family never gets old or routine at all. Can't wait to meet you Jackson.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Francis Chan - Think Hard, Stay Humble

This is Francis Chan's message from the Desiring God Conference last week. He speaks about how the purpose of learning and gaining knowledge about God (other than to love and know God better) is that you would love people more. I don't remember the last time I was more convicted while listening to a sermon. My wife and I watched this last night and it triggered a great discussion about some things we want to change.

Take the hour and watch this. It is well worth the time. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lecrae's Rehab - "Background ft. C-Lite"

Lecrae's newest album Rehab released last week, and it is simply fantastic. I don't think I've ever heard a rap album with this many great songs. There are simply no songs on this that I'm skipping right now. All kinds of diversity in the sound and powerful lyrics.

Seriously. If you like rap at all, go get this album.

Most favorite songs: Killa, Gotta Know, Children of the Light, Walking on Water, God is Enough, Boasting, and Background.

Speaking of "Background," here's the song with the lyrics.



I could play the background
I could play the background
'Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Verse 1:
It's evident you run the show, so let me back down
You take the leading role, and I'll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I'm sticking to your script, and I'm reading all your signs (Aye)
I don't need my name in lights, (Aye) I don't need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I'm just going lose my soul?
And my ways ain't purified, I don't live according to Your Word
I can't endure this life without Your wisdom being heard
So word to every dancer for a pop star
'Cause we all play the background, but mine's a rockstar
Yeah, so if you need me I'll be staged right
Praying the whole world would start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
'Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessin'
That I'm not that impressive, matter of fact
I'm who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar

Hook:
I could play the background
I could play the background
'Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Verse 2:
Yo, I had a dream that I was captain of my soul
I was master of my fate, lost control, and then I sank
So I don't want to take the lead, 'cause I'm prone to make mistakes
All these folks who follow me, goin' end up in the wrong place
So just let me shadow you, just let me trace your lines
Matter of fact, just take my pen, here, you create my rhymes
'Cause if I do this by myself, I'm scared that I'll succeed
And no longer trust in You, 'cause I only trust in me
And see, that's how you end up headed to destruction
Paving a road to nowhere, pour your life out for nothin'
You pulled my card, I'm bluffin', You know what's in my hand
Me, I just roll and trust you, You cause the dice to land
I'm in control of nothing, follow You at any cost
Some call it sovereign will, all I know is you the boss
And man, I'm so at ease, I'm so content
I'll play the background, like it's an instrument

Hook:
I could play the background
I could play the background
'Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Bridge:
I know I'm safest when I'm in Your will, and trust Your Word
I know I'm dangerous when I trust myself, my vision blurred
And I ain't got no time to play life's foolish games
Got plenty aims, but do they really Glorify Your name?
And it's a shame, the way I want to do these things for You, yeah
Don't even cling to you, take time to sit and glean from You
It seems like You were patient in my ignorance
If ignorance is bliss, it's 'cause she never heard of this

Hook:
I could play the background
I could play the background
'Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Hook:
I could play the background
I could play the background
'Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won't You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whose Fame Do You Seek?

Excellent post by Chris Tomlinson today over at his blog, Crave Something More. He talks about how at the Desiring God Conference last week, John Piper was presented with a book of essays (For the Fame of God's Name) that had been put together in his honor. For 3 years, friends and colleagues worked on the volume, and they surprised him at the conference with it.

Chris observes that many in that situation would be extremely tempted to pride, something I'm sure Piper felt and fought against. It's dangerous to be in Christian leadership and be recognized for doing anything. We would fully admit to the fact that God deserves all the glory, but inside our sinful nature might be feeling and thinking otherwise.

I found the conclusion to Chris' post very encouraging and helpful:
[D]o I care more about the fame of my name or the fame of God’s name? I confess that far too much of my own ministry is aimed towards increasing the fame of my name. I find it clings to me like mud, and I try to shake it off as I run towards God, but I am tainted with its smell and its presence. My sin runs deep, but God is deeper still, and I sense a profound desire to orient more and more of my being and my work around the gospel, the person of Jesus. In this desire, I pray God’s Spirit will continue His cleansing work in my life and ministry.

As we reflect on this question, whether we care most about the fame of our name or God’s, we should acknowledge that a man like John Piper should be honored. And a pastor like you, or a writer like you, or a colleague like you, should be honored as well, insofar as you have labored in the work of Christ. The ministry of the gospel to parishioners and readers and co-workers is noble, and our souls are deeply satisfied in the expression of our God-given gifts, so the feelings of joy and affirmation we might have are not our foes. We corrupt the gift not when we receive the praise, but when we rest in it without seeing it ultimately as the praise of God.

So let us join with Paul, who “decided to know nothing among [them] except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Let us join with John Piper as he seeks to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. And let us follow with the wholeness of our heart, and mind, and spirit, the crucified Son of God, who humbled Himself, and is now exalted with a name that is above every other name, so that the fame of His name would bring every knee to earth, and that God would be glorified.
Read the whole post.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Timberlake and Fallon - A History of Rap

Give it a minute at the start. It's worth it. This is hilarious.

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