Monday, February 28, 2011

Some Signs You Are Growing in Grace

Scotty Smith is someone I highly recommend following on Twitter. His updates are extremely edifying. He recently did a series of posts dealing with signs that you are growing in grace. These were compiled into the follow list. Take some time to think through these and apply them to your growth in Christ over the last year or so.
A sign you’re growing in grace is less bombast about not being a legalist & more humility because you “get” the gospel.

A sign you’re growing in grace is less theological arrogance & greater appreciation for diversity in the Body of Christ.

A sign you’re growing in grace is you work much harder at remembering names and forgetting slights.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that everybody notices it but you.

A sign you’re growing in grace is movement from destructive cynicism towards redemptive engagement. Anybody can spew.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that you’re less like a drive-by-shooting with criticisms & more of a healing presence.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when you receive feedback non-defensively and give it clearly & lovingly.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when people don’t feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you as much.

A sign you’re growing in grace is when you say, “I’ll be prayin’ for ya”, and you follow through on at least 50%.

A sign you’re growing in grace is committing fewer homicides in your heart of slow drivers.

A sign you’re growing in grace is praying for our government rather than simply being cynical about our government.

A sign you are growing in grace is that you are more disgusted with your critical spirit than offended by others’ sins.
HT: Timmy Brister

Music Video of the Week: TobyMac

TobyMac - "Lose My Soul"

Friday, February 25, 2011

Discontentment

Jared Wilson wrote the following for the February issue of Tabletalk. The letter, in the vein of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, deals with the issue of discontentment. Jared's a great writer and this short article very insightful.
Dearest Murktooth, my poppet, my pigsnie,

I am happy to charge you with the present task for your assigned patient. I am happy, because it is a rather easy task, evidence of your still remedial aptitude for temptations, which is itself evidence of your patient’s lack of growth. Your stagnation is your success, then, as it is so often in the infernal arts.

The task before you is this: stimulate discontent in your patient. This task is easy for not a few reasons, perhaps the chief of which is that you will have so much help from the sweet cacophony of messages from the surrounding culture, urgings and invitations to your patient to “Try this” and “Experience that,” to buy one and get more along with it, to flit about from promise to empty promise, to become a dilettante of the world’s conveyor belt of delights.

One of the wonders of this onslaught of advertisement is that it doesn’t just pitch products to fulfill needs, but also pitches the needs themselves. Your work, Murktooth, is not cut out for you. It is laid out like buy-in-bulk candy for an untended baby.

Tend to your braying baby, Murktooth. Tell him that he deserves things that are designed to be indulgences. Tell him to desire things he would not have thought to desire himself, and then to see these desires as non-negotiables for his own happiness.

The clearest path to cultivating discontentment in your patient is to speak to him purely in terms of his “rights.” Of course, the Enemy’s missive speaks of right most often as an adjective—right belief, right conduct, righteousness, and the like—not a noun, but you will find your patient’s inward bent susceptible and hospitable to this concept. It should not take much pressing to plant favorably in his heart the idea that he has a right to comfort, to convenience, to material goods, to whatever his appetites and inclinations place their crosshairs on.

The Enemy promises a peace that passes comprehension. Promise your patient instead a peace that passes through consumption. And more consumption. This will seem more likely to his fallen reasoning, more empowering to his fallen confidence. In this way not only will your patient be discontent in “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities,” but in human power, flattery, comfort, accumulation, and success as well.

Your master,

Legion

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tim Keller on Fox News

Tim Keller's new book, King's Cross, is out this week and is getting a lot of attention. Earlier this week, Keller went on Fox News to talk about his book and answer some questions. I love that he's getting in front of people so much since he's able to so articulately explain who Jesus is and what the gospel means. You can't reason someone into belief, but I believe his answers will be used by God to soften the hearts of many.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FREE: Andrew Peterson's "The Far Country"

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite song-writers and musicians. Right now, you can get his fantastic 2006 release, The Far Country, on NoiseTrade for FREE. This is a ridiculous deal for such great music. If you've never listened to Andrew, go download this album now and trust me, you'll want more. You can use this widget below to enter your email and zip code and they'll send you the download link. You can also listen to the whole album through this.

My favorites are: "Far Country," "Lay Me Down," "Little Boy Heart Alive," and "All Shall Be Well."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sojourn Split-EP: The War and The Mercy Seat

This new split-EP is available as of today from Sojourn. I'm streaming it right now and it's fantastic so far. You can stream the whole thing and buy it as well.
Here's a very well-done video preview of the project from Jamie Barnes and Brooks Ritter.

Preview For The Mercy Seat-The War Split EP from Sojourn Community Church on Vimeo.

HT: JT

Book Review: Tim Keller - King's Cross [Re-Post]

Genre: Christian Living/Theology
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 22, 2011


Timothy Keller is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors to read. His last book, Generous Justice, was fantastic and skillfully addressed the important issues of social justice and the gospel, generosity, and God’s heart for the marginalized in a profound way. Now, just a few months later, he’s following up with King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus.

Built off a sermon series done by Keller at his church in Manhattan, King’s Cross is basically a guided tour of Jesus’ life in the book of Mark, as Keller traces key themes throughout the gospel. Divided up into 2 sections (The King and The Cross), Keller shows how Mark builds on different ideas and how different narrative sections further the gospel storyline. The result is an encounter with Jesus that is truly intense and forces readers to make decisions about what they will believe about the man.

I was struck throughout the book by how well Keller is able to make familiar stories jump off the page. There’s an immediacy he’s able to create in the narrative where the principles illustrated feel directly applicable to my life. He mines the scripture for the timeless doctrines being taught, and expertly puts his finger on the pulses of modern listeners to confront them with the truths.

My favorite chapters were “The Dance,” which deals with the eternal relationship of the Trinity in perfect harmony with one another, “The End,” which discusses Christ’s death on the cross, and “The Beginning,” where Keller explores the implications and hope of Christ’s resurrection. Keller is able to paint pictures in his writing that the Holy Spirit uses to enlighten my mind to new facets of these familiar stories I’d never seen. It’s a challenging yet joyful experience to read a Tim Keller book.

King’s Cross is not going to be another Reason for God. It’s aimed squarely at believers for the most part, but there are also times where Keller anticipates objections that non-believers and believers alike may have to what Jesus says. His stellar apologetic nature comes out in these times and is very helpful. It’s a similar experience for me to reading C.S. Lewis at times. Reason for God is still probably one of the best books to give to non-believing friends or family, but this might be a great follow-up book to facilitate an encounter with the Jesus of the Bible. I would highly recommend this book for all believers.



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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pray for Said Musa

Denny Burk:
If you haven’t done so already, please pray for Said Musa who awaits execution in a prison in Kabul, Afghanistan. His crime? Converting to Christianity from Islam. Said Musa is married and the father of six young children. He has been a Christian for eight years. Compass Direct News reports:

“In the two-page letter, a copy of which Compass received in late October, Musa addressed Obama as ‘brother’ and pleaded with the international community: ‘For [the] sake [of the] Lord Jesus Christ please pray for me and rescue me from this jail otherwise they will kill me because I know they [have] very very very cruel and hard hearts.’

“Musa wrote of being sexually abused, beaten, mocked, spat on and deprived of sleep because of his faith in Jesus. He wrote that he would be willing to suffer for his faith in order to encourage and strengthen other Christians in their faith.”

Earlier today, John Piper posted a note to President Obama via Twitter. I have followed his lead and hope many more will do the same. So after you pray if you have a Twitter account, please post one of the following messages to President Obama:

Mr. President, speak wisely and boldly, in private if necessary, for Said Musa, imprisoned in Kabul. http://dsr.gd/ezR3jW @BarackObama

Mr. President, please persuade the Afghan govt. not to execute our brother Said Musa. http://bit.ly/gvx72U @BarackObama Prov. 24:10-12

Read more here:

America Quiet on the Execution of Afghan Christian Said Musa” (National Review Online)

Afghan Convert to Christianity to be Executed within Days” (The Christian Post)

One-legged Afghan Red Cross worker set to be hanged after converting to Christianity” (The Daily Mail)

Music Video of the Week: Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons - "The Cave"

Friday, February 18, 2011

D.A. Carson - The Intolerance of Tolerance

This audio clip might make your brain hurt a little bit, but it's dead on. Carson is Yoda-smart and nails this explanation of why the modern definition of "tolerance" is completely logically inconsistent.



HT: Zach Nielsen

What's "Radical" and "Crazy"?

Shaun Groves:
David Platt is not radical. And Francis Chan, in fact, is not the least bit crazy. Despite the titles of their best-selling books, they’re absolutely normal.

In Radical David urges readers to trade in the materialism and faux security of the American dream for a life of generosity, prayer, bible study, community, service and involvement in God’s provision for the spiritually and physically impoverished around the world.

In Crazy Love Francis asks readers to consider God’s lavish sacrificial love for them and the world and then respond by loving others likewise – living more simply, generously, passionately, obediently – together.

This isn’t radical. It sure isn’t crazy. It’s downright normal.

I’ve had the honor of meeting both men. David I only shook hands with and small talked for a minute but Francis and I have had longer conversations backstage, serving alongside each other at a few events. From our brief times together I walked away certain that neither man would label themselves “radical” or “crazy.”

Was it a publisher then, a marketer maybe, who foisted those labels on their words…and their life?

Unfortunate. Such labels lend credence to the lie we all tell ourselves: I’m not like them.

But we are like them, you and I. Forgetting this leads to an abnormal Christian life – Radically crazily sadly misinformed.
Read the rest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How do we respond to ridicule of Christianity?

Interesting post from Russell Moore:
To get to my favorite coffee shop here in Louisville, I pass a lot of bumper stickers intended to make people like me angry. One of them says “Born Okay the First Time.” Another says “If You Don’t Like Abortion, Don’t Have One.” And, of course, there are several of the Darwin fish, those metallic signs with the early Christian symbol sprouting legs.

These bumper stickers have spawned an entire industry in American evangelicalism, countering these arguments, with “right back at you” ridicule. I understand the temptation, because some of those bumper stickers used to rile me up too. I would roll my eyes and think how stupid the argument was in front of me. Why does the Wicca devotee really need to tell us, “My Other Car Is a Broom”? Why does the anti-procreation guy have to announce, “My Labradoodle Is Smarter Than Your Honors Student”?

But, it seems to me that Jesus never seemed all that outraged by ridicule. Yes, Jesus would engage, and banter back and forth with his critics. Yes, Jesus would sometimes use some pretty stout sarcasm. But Jesus never seemed to be personally offended. Even when his critics suggested he was demon-possessed (Mk. 3:22-27), Jesus simply turned the conversation around, saying, in effect, “Come on, do you really believe that? Satan vs Satan?”

Why does Jesus seem so relatively free of outrage? I think it’s for the same reason Jesus didn’t verbally spar point-by-point with the Sanhedrin or Pontius Pilate. Confident in his Father’s future vindication, Jesus didn’t need to be seen, in the now, to be right. How different that is from our typical contemporary Christian polemics...

...We ought to be willing to be ridiculed and scoffed at because our audience isn’t this present band of spectators. We can listen to our “opponents,” love them, and bear their objections with patience precisely because we are convinced the gospel is true.

I am not outraged when my children wake at night afraid of a goblin in the closet, because I know there’s no goblin. Our “opponents” aren’t children, but we aren’t threatened by Darwinism or hedonism or nihilism or any other proposed alternative to Christianity for the same reasons.

Yes, I’ll talk to my non-Christian neighbor about how not even he really believes the universe is random and meaningless and amoral. I don’t rage against my son as “stupid” for crying about the goblin. And I don’t rage against my unbelieving neighbor’s unbelief. He’s held captive, as I was, to a mind-blinding snake (2 Cor. 4).

So let’s stop being irritated with unbelievers. Let’s pray to see those Darwin fish and witchcraft bumper stickers in our church parking lots as our neighbors seek to ferret out just why we don’t seem to believe in the survival of the fittest or the sovereignty of the ego. There are some things more important than whether we’re proven right, things like truth and hope and grace and, above all else, love.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God is Still God, and God is Still Good

About a year ago, I posted this video about Zac Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer.


Not long after that, Zac went to be with the Lord. About a year later, their church made this video of his wife talking about what she has learned through all this. So powerful.

HT: Challies

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: Josh Moody - No Other Gospel

Genre: Theology/Bible Studies
Publisher: Crossway
Publication Date: January 5, 2011


The gospel seems very simple. We are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ’s death on the cross for our sins. What does it mean to be saved “by faith,” though, and why is it so easy to distort practically in our lives into legalistic, pride-building law-keeping? We’re saved by faith, so why do we go back to the law, inadvertently communicating to the world that to be a Christian means to follow all the Bible’s rules so God will approve of us?

Those are essentially the questions that the book of Galatians in the Bible answers, and these and other questions are answered well through Josh Moody’s new book, No Other Gospel: 31 Reasons from Galatians Why Justification by Faith Alone is the Only Gospel. The book is based Moody’s expositional sermons through the book in his Wheaton, IL church.

This book actually took me a while to warm up to. I’m not sure what exactly it is about Moody’s writing style, but the first 100 pages or so felt a little disjointed at times to me. The points were helpful, but the arguments in each chapter didn’t seem to always flow perfectly and sometimes a point just jumped out of nowhere to me. I’m not sure if that reflects more on my attention through those pages or not because by the latter half of the book, I was really enjoying and being edified by this book. It’s extremely relevant to our everyday lives.

Although I’ve read it numerous times, I’ve never done a thorough, in-depth study of Galatians, and reading this book is basically that. It’s not a commentary, but its close. Moody walks through the book, with each chapter tackling a few verses of Paul’s indictment of law-keeping as a way to be justified before God. I found Moody’s exegesis of the scriptures very helpful, and his applications were always spot on. His pastor’s heart comes out in many places as well.

Legalism is still alive and thriving today, even within the Protestant Church that would heatedly argue that we are saved by faith alone through grace alone. The legalism we fall into is subtle, as was the kind that had crept into the Galatian Church to which Paul was writing. Our fallen human minds, driven by pride and wanting to control our own salvation, are prone to fall into legalism and moralism, regardless of our attempts to do otherwise, which is why I loved digging into Galatians so much. This book was very helpful in my own Christian walk as I try to fight against those tendencies, and I think most believers would be very helped by it as well.



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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Word Clouds of Every Book in the Bible

Fascinating. This really shows what the Bible is really about -- The LORD, our GOD, revealed in JESUS CHRIST.

You can buy these in various formats at 66Clouds.com.



HT: Challies

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Provoking Your Children to Anger

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Great post from Mark Altrogge on ways that we provoke our children to anger:
  • By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
  • By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
  • By anger and harshness
  • By a lack of affection
  • By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
  • By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
  • By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
  • By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
  • By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
  • By always lecturing them and never listening to them
  • By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
  • By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
  • By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
  • By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
  • By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?)
  • By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).
May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Honey, Get Up."

Tim Keller's new book King's Cross comes out on February 22nd, and it is REALLY good. You can read my review of it from last week, but Justin Taylor has been posting excerpts on his blog. This one was one of my favorite parts of the book:
Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 67-69, commenting on Mark 5:38-42:
Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.
Do you think it is odd that when Jesus arrives at Jairus’s house he says that the girl is just sleeping? The parallel account of this story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels make it clear that Jesus understands she’s dead. She’s not mostly dead; she’s all dead. Then why does he make that reference to sleep?

The answer is in what Jesus does next.

Remember, Jesus sits down beside the girl, takes her by the hand, and says two things to her.

The first is talitha. Literally, it means “little girl,” but that does not get across the sense of what he’s saying. This is a pet name, a diminutive term of endearment. Since this is a diminutive that a mother would use with a little girl, probably the best translation is “honey.”

The second thing Jesus says to her is koum, which means “arise.” Not “be resurrected”: it just means “get up.” Jesus id doing exactly what this child’s parents might do on a sunny morning. He sits down, takes her hand, and says, “Honey, it’s time to get up.” And she does.

Jesus is facing facing the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. “Honey, get up.”

Jesus is saying by his actions, “If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.” . . .

. . . There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark, but that is nothing compared with Jesus’s own loss.

He lots his Father’s hand on the cross.

He went into the tomb so we can be raised out of it.

He lost hold of his Father’s hand so we could know that once he has us by the hand, he will never, ever forsake us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tell People Where Forgiveness Can Be Found

I've seen this before, but Trevin Wax posted it again and I thought it was worth sharing. People need to hear real answers and where forgiveness can be found.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Music Video of the Week: The Civil Wars

One of the most haunting songs I've heard in a long time.

The Civil Wars - "Poison and Wine"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fantastic Church Ad

Probably the best one I've ever seen.



HT: Trevin Wax

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Kevin DeYoung (Ed.) - Don't Call It a Comeback

Genre: Theology/Christian Living
Publisher: Crossway
Publication Date: January 6, 2011


Collin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed came out back in March of 2008, and captured within it the story of many young evangelicals my age. He told stories of the resurgence of faith and zeal among young believers discovering the doctrines of grace, and how they were looking to older generations (John Piper, John MacArthur, etc.) for guidance in their beliefs and practices.

Another movement among young Christians around that time was the Emergent Church, a more liberal, socially-conscientious group of people trying to find new ways to explore faith and “do church” for today’s younger generation. They were full of zeal, but very lacking in biblical truth in many areas. In response to that movement, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck came out with Why We’re Not Emergent, which articulated traditional Christian doctrine within the context of young modern culture in contrast to the methods of young people in the Emergent Church.

Those 3 authors mentioned are all contributors to Don’t Call It A Comeback, a new collection of essays from some of the most influential, young evangelical pastors and leaders. The book, according to the foreword by D.A. Carson, aims to “unpack what Christians ought to believe and how they ought to act and…articulate the essentially theological nature of evangelicalism.” The result is a spectacular assortment of short essays dealing with everything from the history of evangelicalism (including a discussion of the ways the meaning of the term has changed), the basic doctrines universally believed by evangelicals throughout history, as well as how those beliefs should manifest themselves in areas like vocation, families, worship, social justice, gender, and abortion, among others.

The list of contributors is a virtual who’s who if you’re up to date on the movers and shakers in the young evangelical landscape. Kevin DeYoung, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, edited the book and contributed the introduction and the fantastic first chapter on reaching this generation with the gospel. Other standouts for me (although all chapters were strong) included Hansen’s historical review of evangelicalism, Jonathan Leeman’s chapter on the holiness of God, Greg Gilbert on the gospel itself, Russell Moore on the Kingdom, Justin Taylor on abortion, and Tullian Tchividjian on worship. Like I said, though, there really isn’t a weak contribution to found here.

The format of the book is great, with each chapter being about 10-12 pages, making it a sufficiently-deep yet quick read. The book does a great job of articulating what it looks like to be a twenty- or thirty-something evangelical, Bible-believing Christian today. I am so grateful for men like D.A. Carson, John Piper, John MacArthur, and others who have faithfully taught and demonstrated the gospel over the years, but I’m also extremely grateful for men like the ones who wrote this book who are stepping up to fill those shoes, ready to teach a new generation how to be faithful men and women of God. I highly recommend this book for anyone under the age of 40, but also for all believers who love reading gospel-saturated truth.



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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: Timothy Keller - King's Cross

Genre: Christian Living/Theology
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 22, 2011


Timothy Keller is very quickly becoming one of my favorite authors to read. His last book, Generous Justice, was fantastic and skillfully addressed the important issues of social justice and the gospel, generosity, and God’s heart for the marginalized in a profound way. Now, just a few months later, he’s following up with King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus.

Built off a sermon series done by Keller at his church in Manhattan, King’s Cross is basically a guided tour of Jesus’ life in the book of Mark, as Keller traces key themes throughout the gospel. Divided up into 2 sections (The King and The Cross), Keller shows how Mark builds on different ideas and how different narrative sections further the gospel storyline. The result is an encounter with Jesus that is truly intense and forces readers to make decisions about what they will believe about the man.

I was struck throughout the book by how well Keller is able to make familiar stories jump off the page. There’s an immediacy he’s able to create in the narrative where the principles illustrated feel directly applicable to my life. He mines the scripture for the timeless doctrines being taught, and expertly puts his finger on the pulses of modern listeners to confront them with the truths.

My favorite chapters were “The Dance,” which deals with the eternal relationship of the Trinity in perfect harmony with one another, “The End,” which discusses Christ’s death on the cross, and “The Beginning,” where Keller explores the implications and hope of Christ’s resurrection. Keller is able to paint pictures in his writing that the Holy Spirit uses to enlighten my mind to new facets of these familiar stories I’d never seen. It’s a challenging yet joyful experience to read a Tim Keller book.

King’s Cross is not going to be another Reason for God. It’s aimed squarely at believers for the most part, but there are also times where Keller anticipates objections that non-believers and believers alike may have to what Jesus says. His stellar apologetic nature comes out in these times and is very helpful. It’s a similar experience for me to reading C.S. Lewis at times. Reason for God is still probably one of the best books to give to non-believing friends or family, but this might be a great follow-up book to facilitate an encounter with the Jesus of the Bible. I would highly recommend this book for all believers.



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