Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Outdoing One Another In Showing Honor

I just finished leading my small group bible study through the book of Romans. One verse in particular that stuck with me during that was Romans 12:10 - "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." That concept is rarely put into practice, even among Christians.

With all the venom being spewed on Christian blogs towards other Christians these days, I was encouraged to see this post by Jared Wilson, an open letter to Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Dear Ray,

Everyone else seems to be getting into this "open letter" business, and not one to be left out, I decided to throw my two pence in as well. I hope you will forgive my rush to join the herd, especially as my inaugural offering places its crosshairs on you.

First of all, before I say anything else, let me say that I cherish you as a brother in Christ, I have learned much from you, and I would never seek to impugn your heart for God and for God's people. All of those things are evident to those who spend any time with you.

But other things are evident as well.

I am frustrated, Ray. No, not in a debilitating or discouraging way, really. I am frustrated in a delightful way at how sweet your spirit is, which to me is a prime indication of the harmony of your heart with the Spirit of the living God. You always seek to "outdo one another showing honor," and I remember plenty of lunches and coffee conversations and moments in our Pastors Gospel Group back in Nashville where you'd take up nearly the entire time yakking and yakking about how great and wonderful the rest of us were. Really, Ray, you should try to focus more on yourself and your own awesomeness. The rest of us simply cannot compete with your selflessness.

I could go on and on with your flabbergasting fabulousness, but I will just hone in on one thing here. You really have a one-track mind. It's convicting. And encouraging. You just won't stop reveling in and exulting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really felt like I had to air this splendid grievance with you, so you would know. I'm sorry to do it in the form of an open letter, but I thought others should know about this too, so they may regard you accordingly. Doggone it, Ray, you make me want to love Jesus more. And that's daunting. And wonderful. I love you.

Your brother in Christ,

Jared

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DeYoung: Most Influential Books for Reformed Evangelicals

Kevin DeYoung compiled an unscientific list of the most influential books for Reformed Evangelicals, a group that would include myself. How many of these have you read? I've actually read all of them except the two Sproul books, even though I've read others of his. I also can't really say I've read Grudem's book, but I've used it a lot, so I guess that counts.

1. John Piper, Desiring God

2. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

3. J.I. Packer, Knowing God

4. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

5. John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

6. R.C. Sproul, Holiness of God

7. Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

8. C.J. Mahaney, The Cross-Centered Life

9. Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears, Doctrine

10 (tie). R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God; John Piper, God is the Gospel; Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep; Francis Chan, Crazy Love; David Platt, Radical

Here are DeYoung's observations of the list:
  • These are all good books. With a couple I’d want to throw in a few cautions (especially Mere Christianity), but on the whole these are important books that deserve to be read. I’m glad they have been.
  • Thank God for John Piper. Nine of his books were mentioned as the most influential. Next in line, J.I. Packer and Jerry Bridges with four a piece. R.C. Sproul had three books.
  • By a wide margin the three most influential books were Desiring God, Grudem’s Systematic Theology, and Knowing God. After that there’s a drop to Mere Christianity, then another big drop to all the other books.
  • Except for Lewis, everyone on the list is still alive. You could take this as a bad thing (start reading the classics!). But I take this to be normal: God raises up men in every generation to speak and teach.
  • Some dead guys who made the list: John Owen, John Bunyan, Richard Baxter, A.W. Tozer, Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Brooks, Louis Berkhof, Horatius Bonar, John Calvin, Martin Luther, J.C. Ryle, J. Gresham Machen, Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
  • Girls who made the list: Elyse Fitzpatrick (Idols of the Heart)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: Wesley Hill - Washed and Waiting

Genre: Christian Living
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: September 14, 2010


I decided to read Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill based on Abraham Piper’s recommendation on his blog, 22 Words. Hill is close friend of Piper’s, and Piper described the book as “unique and important.” I could not agree more.

Washed and Waiting is basically Hill’s story of what it looks like for him to seek to live a godly life, walking by faith in Christ, and seeking to be more like him daily. He describes his struggles against sin, his resolve to keep fighting, and how God has been teaching him things through the Scriptures and people that have been put in his life to support and teach him.

One other thing: Wesley Hill is gay.

I’ve read other books about the tension between Christianity and homosexuality, some good, and some very bad. I have to agree with Piper, though, that this was very unique. Hill is a believer, and believes the Bible is God’s Word and thus has authority in his life. He knows that being a believer means not only relying on the finished work of Christ for salvation, but also seeking to live in a way that brings God glory as the inevitable result of that faith. He also believes that Bible is clear that homosexuality is not in line with God’s created intent for homosexuality and thus a sin. Therefore, Hill has made the choice to live as a celibate, homosexual Christian.

This book is packed with interesting and heartbreaking sections. Hill is a very good writer, and is able to relate narrative from his life in a detailed, engrossing manner. He’s succinct (the book is only 150 pages) while still feeling thorough. He also discusses biblical doctrines in ways that feel very real as he shows that believing biblical truth isn’t the same as attempting to live it out when some of your core desires go against that truth.

Here’s probably the best summary statement made in the book:
“Washed and waiting. That is my life – my identity as one who is forgiven and spiritually cleansed and my struggle as one who perseveres with a frustrating thorn in the flesh, looking forward to what God has promised to do” (p. 50).
This book served two purposes for me:
  1. It made me stop and really think about how hard it must be for gay people, especially believers who struggle against it. Imagine being told all your desires for intimacy could never be acted upon, that you could never look forward in this life to having that level of closeness with another person. Hill recognizes heterosexual believers have faced a similar struggle if they never marry. The difference, though, is that the very desires themselves seem sinful for the gay person.
  2. It made me stop and re-frame some of my own struggles with sin. There’s a fantastic section of the book that deals with the idea of unfulfilled desires, and how the believer is told not to simply obey their impulses. This applies very uniquely to the gay person, but it also applies to all believers. Our physical appetites, our sexual desires, even our desire for sleep can become sinful things to fight against because of our sin nature. This type of thinking made Hill’s discussion of the redemption of all things feel extremely hopeful, as he looks forward to a time when he won’t be attracted to other men, and I won’t have to fight against my sinful desires either.
Christianity has struggled to find a balance with how to address the sinful nature of homosexuality without demonizing those who recognize their need to fight against it. This book strikes that balance for me. Hill is very clear about the Bible’s teaching, but that doesn’t make his obedience to it easy, and it’s obvious he’s only made it through because of supportive believers in his life. I wish every gay believer had these kinds people to love, support, and encourage them. If more people read this book, more of them probably would.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Response to Obama on Abortion

Here's what President Obama said on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
Here's Al Mohler's response:
So, the President of the United States puts his high office behind his hope to “encourage healthy relationships,” but not behind any effort even to reduce the number of abortions in this country. Currently, in America one out of five pregnancies ends in abortion.

As he concluded his brief statement, the President said: “And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

That paragraph is just a recitation of the feminist argument that was enshrined in Roe v. Wade — that women, no more than men, should be encumbered by the professional and personal limitations required by a pregnancy. That logic is enshrined as orthodoxy within the Democratic Party, and President Obama is one of its most ardent defenders.

Ever since Barack Obama emerged on the national political scene, he has been promoted and protected by a corps of preachers and religious leaders who have tried their best to explain that he is not so pro-abortion as he seems. Nevertheless, his record is all too clear — as is this most recent statement. There was not one expression of abortion as a national tragedy, even as a report recently indicated that almost 60 percent of all pregnancies among African American women in New York City end in abortion.

How can any President of the United States fail to address this unspeakable tragedy? There was no hope expressed that abortion would be rare, only the expression that he would remain “committed to protecting this constitutional right.” The only words that even insinuate any hypothetical reduction in abortion were addressed to reducing “unintended pregnancies” and promoting adoption. But no goal of reducing abortion was stated or even obliquely suggested. No reference at all was made of the unborn child. There was no lament — not even a throwaway line that would cost him nothing in terms of his support from abortion rights forces.

These words were not imposed upon this President. This is his own personal statement. It is one of the most revealing — and tragic — statements made by any political figure in our times.
And here's a great video of a sermon John Piper gave a couple years ago about the issue:



HT: JT

Music Video of the Week: Brandon Heath

Brandon Heath - "Your Love"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Randy Alcorn on Abortion

You've probably already heard the story about the disgusting PA abortion doctor who was charged with 8 counts of murder.

Randy Alcorn's response:
The article is generally correct, but incorrect in one major respect. This abortionist did not kill seven babies; he killed thousands and thousands of babies. Anyone who only counts them as babies once they get big enough is an accomplice to this man’s evil deeds.

I must say that while I agree this is all horrific, in fact I am not shocked about it. Why? Because I already knew what was going on in abortion clinics. I already knew that innocent people are killed there by the hundreds every week. Twenty-two years ago I looked in the dumpster of an abortion clinic and saw pieces of human flesh. This is not news to me.

I knew that the lives of women are ruined there, and I knew that the “doctors” who spend their lives killing babies in most cases know exactly what they are doing. (Yes, I have talked with them.) The “shocking discovery” that an abortionist who made millions of dollars from child-killing had such a low regard and such a profound disrespect for the lives of babies and women is properly responded to with a “Huh?” As in, didn’t we know that already? And, if we didn’t, what is wrong with us?

I think every congressman and congresswoman who has stood up, wearing their tailored clothes and giving speeches defending late term abortion—or abortion at any stage—should resign from office. I think every physician who quietly sends women to abortionists should lose his license. In fact, in a morally sane culture, far more serious measures would be taken. They would go to jail, because they have assisted in and promoted the killing of children.

I think that every Christian who keeps voting for “prochoice” candidates and who opposes showing the photos of dead babies, while defending what kills the babies in the photos, should question their faith (is it biblical, or does it merely mirror the current drift of our culture?). They should ask whether Jesus would ever defend and vote for the killing of children. (A graphic picture of the results of abortion is included at the end of this blog.)

I think every church member who is against the observance of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (this weekend in many churches) and thinks the church shouldn’t talk about abortion—and every pastor who refuses to speak about it from the pulpit—needs to be taken on a virtual tour of that Pennsylvania clinic and come to terms with what abortion really is.

And if the pastor still refuses to open God’s Word and talk about defending the rights of the poor and needy and fatherless, and including unborn children in that, then I think he too should resign. (Along with all members of the church board who lobby against dealing with abortion from the pulpit.) If you lack the conviction or the courage to stand up and say to your church, who you are accountable to lead, “It is wrong to kill unborn babies, God hates it and God will judge it,” then you should not be a pastor. If you don’t have the guts to say “These are children—we must stop killing them” then you need to do something that doesn’t even pretend to take on a biblical and prophetic mantle.

Could we please stop pretending? Abortion is in fact the ruthless killing of an innocent human being.
Read the whole post.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recognizing Individuals in Marriage

Tim Challies:
Both women write about their own struggles with what submission really looks like in a godly marriage. And as I read their thoughts, here is what struck me: We spend a lot of time talking in general about how men and women complement one another—generic men and generic women. This complementarity is obvious from a physical standpoint, but also from many others. But I wonder if we spend far too little time talking about how this husband and this wife complement one another. When we move beyond the generalities of gender roles, we find that the specifics may look very, very different from one couple to another. Within the Bible’s general guidelines, there are many ways to work out the details. Amy puts it like this:
My own husband would knock me silly (…figuratively) if I called him yesterday from the flooring store to solve and negotiate the huge issue that came up. He trusts me. He knows I am capable, and we are a team. (On the flip side, many husbands feel very respected to have their opinion asked about how to handle disasters.) We found a rhythm that works for us.

Greg has one Patriarchal rule for me. He will not let me use a paintbrush under any circumstances in our house. But I am OK with this.
Which is to say that the way my wife submits to me, as the leader in the home, may look quite different from the way another wife submits to her own husband. The big picture should be the same—he is to lead his wife and she is to follow within the role of a helper. But the particulars of that leading and following will vary a great deal based on the two personalities, based on the dynamics of the relationship, based on the stage in life, based on their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Read the whole post.

Amazon's Daily Deal: Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad's The House You're Building was one of my favorite albums of 2010. Thoughtful, poetic lyrics, and infectious melodies. For only $2.99 with Amazon's Daily Deal today, this is a steal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Do We Have Hope?

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“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.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:42-58 ESV)

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day - "I Am a Man."


Russel Moore:
On a wall in my study hangs one of my favorite pictures. It’s a photograph of a line of civil rights workers—in the heat of the Jim Crow era. They’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, all of them bearing a sandwich-board-type sign. The sign reads, simply: “I Am a Man.”

I love that picture because it sums up precisely the issue at that time, and at every time. The struggle for civil rights for African Americans in this country wasn’t simply a “political” question. It wasn’t merely the question of, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it from before the Lincoln Memorial, the unfulfilled promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (although it was nothing less than that). At its root, Jim Crow (and the spirit of Jim Crow, still alive and sinister) is about theology. It’s about the question of the “Godness” of God and the humanness of humanity.

White supremacy was, like all iniquity from the Garden insurrection on, cruelly cunning. Those with power were able to keep certain questions from being asked by keeping poor and working-class white people sure that they were superior to someone: to the descendants of the slaves around them. The idea of the special dignity of the white “race” gave something of a feeling of aristocracy to those who were otherwise far from privilege, while fueling the fallen human passions of wrath, jealousy, and pride.

In so doing, Jim Crow repeated the old strategies of the reptilian powers of the air: to convince human beings simultaneously and paradoxically that they are gods and animals. In the Garden, after all, the snake approached God’s image-bearer, directing her as though he had dominion over her (when it was, in fact, the other way around). He treated her as an animal, and she didn’t even see it. At the same time, the old dragon appealed to her to transcend the limits of her dignity. If she would reach for the forbidden, she would be “like God, knowing good and evil.” He suggested that she was more than a human; she was a goddess.

That’s why the words “I Am a Man” were more than a political slogan. They were a theological manifesto. Those bravely wearing those signs were declaring that they’d decided not to believe the rhetoric used against them. They refused to believe the propaganda that they were a “lesser race,” or even just a different race. They refused to believe the propaganda (sometimes propped up by twisted Bible verses) that they and their ancestors were bestial, animal-like, unworthy of personhood...

...The gospel that reconciles the sons of slaveholders with the sons of slaves is the same gospel that reconciled the sons of Amalek with the sons of Abraham. It is a gospel that reclaims the dignity of humanity and the lordship of God. It is a gospel that presents us with a brother who puts the lie to any claim to racial superiority as he takes on the glory and limits of our common humanity in Adam. Jim Crow is put to flight ultimately because Jesus Christ steps forward out of history and announces, with us, “I Am a Man.”
Read the whole post.

Music Video of the Week: The Autumn Film

The Autumn Film - "Enough"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interesting Take on Jesus' Calming of the Storm

Fascinating imagination of what it might have been like in the boat for the disciples (James, specifically) after Jesus calmed the storm.

Jon Bloom at Desiring God:
The sea was quiet now. And there was just peeze enough to push the boat along.

The disciples were quiet too. Andrew was steering. He had taken over for Peter, who sat wrapped in a cloak, exhausted and lost in thought. He had been soaked to the skin. Others were bailing out the remaining water.

Jesus was sleeping again.

James leaned on the bow gunwale watching reflections dance on benign waves. He was trying to absorb what he had just seen.

James knew this sea. He and John had spent most of their lives on or in it. His father was a fisherman. So were most of his male kin and friends. His mind flashed the faces of some of them who had drowned in unpredictable Galilean windstorms like the one that had pummeled them barely a half hour ago.

A seasoned boatman, James was not alarmed easily. But he knew a man-eater when he saw it. This storm had opened its mouth to swallow them all into the abyss.

Terror had been in John’s eyes when he grabbed James and yelled, “We have to tell the Master!” They stumbled to the stern. How Jesus had remained sleeping while the angry surf tossed the boat around was itself a wonder. They woke him screaming, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”

James would never forget the way Jesus looked at him. His eyes were at once potent and tranquil. Not a trace of fear. Laying aside the blanket, Jesus rose to full height on the rear deck. James, fearing Jesus was about to be pitched overboard, reached to grab him just as Jesus shouted, “Peace! Be still!”

No sooner had those words left his mouth and the wind was completely gone! The sudden hush of the howling was otherworldly. The waves immediately began to abate. Each disciple stood where he was, looking dumbfounded at the water and sky and each other.

Jesus’ gaze lingered for a moment on the steep hills along the western shore. Then he looked around at the Twelve and said, “Where is your faith?”

He had looked right at James when he said “faith.”

Now, as James leaned on the bow, he turned Jesus’ question over and over in his mind.

“Where is your faith?” When Jesus first said it, James felt its intended rebuke. Didn’t he trust God? Wasn’t the Father with Jesus? He had thought he believed this. But the storm proved that all the confidence he felt when the pressure was off was fair-weather faith. The Galilean westerlies had swept it away. He felt chastened and humbled.

But the more James thought about the question, the more profound it became. “Where is your faith?” Where is it, James? When the storm hit, what did you trust? I trusted what my eyes saw. I trusted what my skin felt. I trusted the violent force that was tossing the boat like a toy and would have rolled us over any minute. I trusted the stories told by my father. I trusted the tragedies I remember. I trusted the power of the storm because storms kill people.

Up until a few minutes before, this would have merely seemed like common sense. But Jesus had changed everything.

As James looked back to the sleeping Jesus, the Psalmist’s words came to mind:

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
Who makes lightnings for the rain and pings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Who then is this?5 Someone who can command a killer storm to die when he pleases. Holy fear washed over him again. However, this fear didn’t produce panic, but a deep, unnerving, reverent joy.

* * *

When the storm was raging and Jesus was sleeping, which looked more powerful?

This is an important picture to remember, because when the storms of life hit they almost always appear stronger to us than God’s word. And the important question to ask at that moment is, where is your faith?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Amazon's Deal of the Day: John Mark McMillan

Great deal today from Amazon MP3. If you don't already have it, check out John Mark McMillan's The Medicine, only $5 today. Great lyrics, worshipful spirit, and rock feel.


Here's a sample of his music with my favorite song on the album, "Death is His Grace."

All real, life-changing love is costly, substitutionary sacrifice

"I read some years ago in National Geographic that after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, some forest rangers began a trek up a mountain to survey the damage. One ranger found a bird of which nothing was left but the carbonized, petrified shell, covered in ashes, huddled at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by this eerie sight, the ranged knocked the bird over with a stick -- and three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother's wings.

When the blaze had arrived, the mother had remained steadfast instead of running. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings lived. And Jesus said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Luke 13:34). He did indeed gather Jerusalem's children under his wings -- and he was consumed. All real, life-changing love is costly, substitutionary sacrifice."
~Tim Keller, King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kevin DeYoung on the Tucson Shootings

Kevin DeYoung:
I remember the same thing happening with the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Dr. Richard Roberts of Oral Roberts University said the act was Satanic in origin, though he was unsure if it was demonic oppression or possession. Rabbi Peter Rubenstein suggested that Seung-Cho Hui lost contact with the good inclination within him. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo explained that “normal” individuals can be trapped in emotional prisons that create aberrant and evil behavior. Robert Schuller concluded, “it’s pure psychotic crack-up.” Thankfully Richard Lints from Gordon-Conwell provided the last quote in the same article. “The lesson,” he said, “is that when we don’t take our own evil seriously, we are much more liable to perpetrate acts of evil.” At least someone said the “e” word.

I have no doubt Loughner is messed up, crazy, off his rocker, and out to lunch. It seems that he’s needed help for a long time. By why jump to conclude that this is a “Tragedy of Mental Illness”? To be sure, mental illness is real but it does not honor those who endure it to rush a diagnosis and start naming disorders every time an anti-social, nihilistic, solipsistic young man with guns and grudges sins in the worst possible ways. Where have all the active verbs gone?

Words Have Meaning

Unfortunately, pundits shy away from explicitly personal and moral categories in the precisely the moments we need them most (9-11 may be the one exception). Whenever a public tragedy like this occurs everyone on the right and the left struggles to find some cause, and that cause is almost always outside the self—video games, strange novels, mistreatment by friends, a culture of hate, the second amendment, heated political rhetoric. And when an internal cause is suggested it almost always points away from personal responsibility to some element of us that doesn’t really belonging to us—like a mental disorder or our own personal demons.

We instinctively resort to passive speech, unable to bear the thought (let alone utter the words) that a wicked person has perpetrated a wicked crime. The human heart is desperately sinful and capable of despicable sins. Of course, no one commends the crime, but few are willing to condemn the criminal either. In such a world we are no longer moral beings with the propensity for great acts of righteousness and great acts of evil. We are instead, at least when we are bad, the mere product of our circumstances, our society, our upbringing, our biochemistry, or our hurts. The triumph of the therapeutic is nearly complete.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Taking The Bible for Granted - The Book of Eli

Good word from Ray Pennoyer over at The Gospel Coalition:
What if you and I discovered that God himself—yes, the God who made the universe—was scheduled to speak at a certain college lecture hall or sports arena? I contend that we would spare no expense, time, or energy to get to that event and hear exactly what he had to say. We would be desperate to hear that word from God. And yet, that is what we claim about the Bible. Orthodox Christians around the world affirm and believe that the Bible is the very word of God. Yet do you and I seek to hear it just as desperately? If we are being honest, the answer for most of us would probably be “no.”

Why this strange neglect of the Bible? One reason, I submit, is the superabundance of printed (and now digital) Bibles available here in the West. This abundance has lulled us to sleep. The film The Book of Eli (Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010) sheds important light on this issue, as good art often can. It portrays a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future in which the human race suddenly finds itself without the things it formerly took for granted. The character of Eli, played by Denzel Washington, puts it this way in a conversation with Solara, played by Mila Kunis:

Solara: “What was it like in the world before?”

Eli: “People had more than they needed. We had no idea of what was precious, what wasn’t.”

With access to so many Bibles today, our sense of its importance—and especially of the urgency of our truly knowing its content—has dwindled.
He goes on to use the example of Martin Luther, who read through the Bible twice a year for years and is a great model of one who hungered for God's Word. Convicting and motivating to me.

Read the whole article.

Music Video of the Week: C-Lite

C-Lite - "In My City"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Child Development in the Womb

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

(Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)


HT: Erik Raymond

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Visible Signs of Sanctification

These were very helpful to me in my understanding of sanctification. J.C. Ryle:
  1. True sanctification then does not consist in talk about religion.
  2. True sanctification does not consist in temporary religious feelings.
  3. True sanctification does not consist in outward formalism and external devoutness.
  4. Sanctification does not consist in retirement from our place in life, and the renunciation of our social duties.
  5. Sanctification does not consist in the occasional performance of right actions. (p. 32)
  6. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual respect to God’s law, and habitual effort to live in obedience to it as the rule of life.
  7. Genuine sanctification will show itself in an habitual endeavour to do Christ’s will, and to live by His practical precepts.
  8. Genuine sanctification will show itself in an habitual desire to live up to the standard which St. Paul sets before the churches in his writings.
  9. Genuine sanctification will show itself in habitual attention to the active graces which our Lord so beautifully exemplified, and especially to the grace of charity.
  10. Genuine sanctification, in the last place, will show itself in habitual attention to the passive graces of Christianity.
HT: Kevin DeYoung

In the Words of Satan

Powerful video. Worth the 6 minutes.



HT: Joe Thorn

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Short Film: The Man Who Never Cried

I don't understand exactly how the contest works, but the Doorpost Film Project is apparently having one and this short film by Bradley Jackson is entered. I would highly recommend taking 20 minutes to watch this and consider casting your vote. It's a very interesting short film and quite humorous and emotionally moving.

Thanks to Derek Webb and Donald Miller for linking to it.



If the video won't play, or if it is cut off in the frame (not sure how to fix it from their embedding code), you can click here to view it on the Doorpost website.

Recommendation: C.J. Mahaney - Don't Waste Your Sports

Genre: Christian Living
Publisher: Crossway
Publication Date: November 3, 2010


Having played pretty much every sport possible growing up, and then focusing on basketball in high school and college, my passion for sports has been both a gift and my downfall on occasion. At times, it was a great place for me to experience the relationships that can only exist within a team framework. It was also an outlet for an introvert who didn't feel like I belonged except on a basketball court sometimes. On top of those things, it was just fun to play.

Unfortunately, sports also became my God at times. It dominated my time, effort, and focus, pushing other more important things to the background. It also brought out many of my negative qualities (such as anger and pride). As a parent now, I'm concerned about how to engage my kids in sports in a way that will glorify God, and that's why I'm thankful for men like C.J. Mahaney and resources like his new booklet, Don't Waste Your Sports.

This short booklet probes some of the issues that arise in sports, and delves into the purpose behind the games we play. The brevity (only 56 pages) makes it ideal for working through with kids, and the application questions for both athletes and parents are very helpful.

Here's what the back of the booklet says:
This booklet for athletes, parents, and coaches provides a biblical worldview of sports so that we don't waste this gift. "I had the opportunity to glorify God in my sports," C.J. writes, "and I fumbled it. I wasted my sports. You have the opportunity, by the grace of God, not to waste yours."
In a culture that literally worships athletes and glorifies actions on the playing field that promote arrogance, pride, and selfishness, this booklet is a needed resource for parents who want to teach their kids a different way, God's way. I wish I would have had, and taken to heart, the things in this back when I played. I pray my kids will do just that.



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

You can also listen to C.J.'s talk on this subject here.

Don't Waste Your Sports from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Chinese "Hurdler"

Saw this on SportsCenter's Not Top 10 Play of the Year, and just about died laughing. Then, Kevin DeYoung shared this version complete with musical soundtrack and I just had to share. Hysterical.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Free Audio Book from ChristianAudio.com - The Pursuit of Holiness


This is fantastic. Jerry Bridges modern classic work, The Pursuit of Holiness, is the free audio book this month at christianaudio.com. You'll definitely want to check this out.

Music Video of the Week: Alter Bridge

Alter Bridge - "Isolation"

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