Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kevin DeYoung: Don't Judge, Don't Assume

Kevin DeYoung, after some qualifiers about how Matthew 7:1 is abused by people:
And yet, after all the necessary qualifications, we must not mute this important command. As sinners, we are apt to assume the worst about people. We are eager to find favorable comparisons that make ourselves look good at the expense of others. We are quick to size people up and think we have them figured them out. But I have learned over the years–both as the giver and receiver of judgmental assumptions–that it’s best not to assume.  
Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.  
Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.  
Don’t assume you understand a blogger’s heart after reading one post.  
Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity won’t read what you write and don’t assume they won’t care what you say.  
Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.  
Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.  
Don’t assume the guy from the Mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.  
Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.  
Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.

Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.  
Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.  
Don’t assume your parents are clueless.  
Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.   
Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.  
Don’t assume the poor are lazy.  
Don’t assume you know what they are all like after meeting one or two of their kind.  
Don’t assume you should read between the lines.  
Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.  
Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.

Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.

Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.  
 Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.  
 Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.  
 Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.  
 Don’t assume God can’t change you.  
 Don’t assume God can’t love you.  
 Don’t assume God can’t love them.

Russell Moore: Does Typology Require Complete Sovereignty?

Good thoughts from Russell Moore:
If Greg Boyd held to a classically orthodox view of God, he’d be my favorite contemporary systematic theologian. Boyd, a pastor in Minnesota, gets something that I think is crucially central in the Bible, what he calls a “warfare worldview” of the triumph of Christ over the demonic powers. Unfortunately, Boyd also holds (falsely, in my view) that God doesn’t know all the future decisions of his free human and angelic creatures. When it comes to war, he’s dead on. When it comes to precisely how that war is waged, I think he’s off. 
But my appreciation for Boyd is what led me to pay attention to his recent dialogue (via, of all things, the social medium of Twitter) with Graeme Goldsworthy’s works on gospel-centered hermeneutics. Boyd was interacting particularly with Goldsworthy’s treatment of typology. In the middle of all of this, my doctoral student (and now colleague) Phillip Bethancourt asked (again, via Twitter) how typology could fit in an open theist scheme. Boyd replied, “In Open Theism future is PARTLY open and PARTLY SETTLED and God controls the parameters and anticipates the outcomes.” 
That’s, of course, true. And, thus, even the title of this post is a little misleading due to its shorthand nature. Boyd, and other revisionist theists, believe in sovereignty; they don’t believe in a meticulous sovereignty over the details, whether that sovereignty is based primarily on God’s exhaustive wisdom or on God’s exhaustive power. 
But the partly settled nature of the future doesn’t get at the real matter when it comes to typology. Typology, of course, is God’s working in history, in which persons or nations or structures or institutions point forward to a historical fulfillment in the future. The Temple is a type of Christ because there God dwells with his people. David is a type of Christ because he is a shepherd, a warrior king, is anointed with the Holy Spirit, and so on... 
...It is not just Jesus himself who is typified in the Old Testament. It is instead specific narrative arcs in the life of Christ, which are dependent on free human decisions. The slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, for instance, is the result of one man’s sinful decision, that of King Herod of Judea (Matt. 2:16). And yet, the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt is a typological fulfillment. Israel, God’s son, went into Egypt, surviving there the certain death of famine back in Canaan, and then returned to the land of promise. Jesus is taken into Egypt for a season, and then returns. All this happened, Matthew tells us, “to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matt. 2:15).  
Moreover, the New Testament typology extends to, for example, Judas Iscariot, who is a type of Ahithopel, the “trusted friend” David lost to betrayal, the one who ate bread with the king and then turned his heel against him (2 Sam. 15:12; Ps. 41:9). The historical structure of all of this, including David’s lament over it all in the Psalms (Ps. 55:12-14), comes to fulfillment in the Judas betrayal, which is said to be a fulfillment of the Scriptures (Acts 1:16). And yet, the whole thing is dependent on the free decision of Judas. If Judas had counted the cost better, and decided the kingdom of God is worth more than thirty pieces of silver, the typological pattern is broken.
Read the whole post.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Doug Wilson: The Situation of Every Unbeliever

This is a great analogy. And the Freudian slip is pretty funny, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DeYoung: Old Books are Like Old Friends

Good stuff from Kevin DeYoung on why he can't get into eBooks and loves books. I've been using my Kindle Fire since Christmas and I love it, but if it weren't for the money and space savings, I'd always prefer a real book.
Old books are like old friends. They love to be revisited. They stick around to give advice. They remind you of days gone by. Books, like friends, hang around.  
And they prefer not to be invisible.  
I can’t tell you how many often I sit at my desk, push back my seat, and allow my eyes to drift around the room full of bookshelves. I’m not procrastinating, not exactly. I’m scanning the room to see my friends. Their covers jog my memories. They remind me of what I learned once. More than that, they remind me of my life–where I was when I first read Lloyd-Jones on the couch, how I knelt by the bed with tears when I read Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, how my life was so different 15 years ago when I read my dad’s copy of the Institutes as a college student. If all my books disappeared on to a microchip I might have less to lug around and I might be able to search my notes more easily, but I’d lose memory; I’d lose history; I’d lose a little bit of myself.  
The other problem with ebooks is their bland sameness. This is why I can’t make it much farther than two books on any electronic device. The books don’t feel like anything. The font is the same and the white space is the same. There is no variance in paper or size or weight. Each book, when read on an ereader, loses its personality. I can’t quite explain it, but I simply couldn’t read the new Jeeves and Wooster book I downloaded for my iPad. On my computer screen–looking and feeling like the last book I read–there was no joy in Wodehouse, no novelty, no new experience to be had. It was just another PDF or Word document sent my to inbox.  
Books have not been around forever. There are other ways to put words together on paper, papyrus, or cow’s hide. So it’s possible something else will come along to take the book down from the shelf. But it won’t be the iPad I’m using right now. It won’t be the laptop on which I’ve written books and blogs and sermons. In a virtual world, with all its ethereal convenience, there will be many–an increasing number I predict–who long for what is real. Something solid. Something you can hold. Something that hangs around even when you are finished with it. Something like a book.  
And kind of like an old friend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

J. Gresham Machen on Miracles

From the classic, Christianity and Liberalism:
The miracles used to be regarded as an aid to faith, it is often said, but now they are a hindrance to faith; faith used to come on account of the miracles, but now it comes in despite of them; men used to believe in Jesus because He wrought miracles, but now we accept the miracles because on other grounds we have come to believe in Him. 
A strange confusion underlies this common way of speaking. In one sense, certainly, miracles are a hindrance to faith--but who ever thought the contrary? It may certainly be admitted that if the New Testament narrative had no miracles in it, it would be far easier to believe. The more commonplace a story is, the easier it is to accept it as true. But commonplace narratives have little value. The New without the miracles would be far easier to believe. But the trouble is, it would not be worth believing. Without the miracles the New Testament would contain an account of a holy man--not a perfect man, it is true, for He was led to make lofty claims to which He had no right--but a man at least far holier than the rest of men. But of what benefit would such a man, and the death which marked His failure, be to us? The loftier be the example which Jesus set, the greater becomes our sorrow at our failure to attain to it; and the greater our hopelessness under the burden of sin. 
The sage of Nazareth may satisfy those who have never faced the problem of evil in their own lives; but to talk about an ideal to those who are under the thralldom of sin is a cruel mockery. Yet if Jesus was merely a man like the rest of men, then an ideal is all that we have in Him. Far more is needed by a sinful world. It is small comfort to be told that there was goodness in the world, when what we need is goodness triumphant over sin. But goodness triumphant over sin involves an entrance of the creative power of God, and that creative power of God is manifested by the miracles. Without the miracles, the New Testament might be easier to believe. But the thing that would be believed would be entirely different from that which presents itself to us now. Without the miracles we should have a teacher; with the miracles we have a Savior. 
~J. Gresham Machen. Christianity and Liberalism (Kindle Locations 1302-1317). Kindle Edition.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Don't Bifurcate Your Mind When Reading God's Word

You have to love the wisdom (and vocabulary) of D.A. Carson. As someone experiencing the very challenge of seminary described here, I found this counsel very helpful. As we critically study the Word of God (for assignments, sermons, teaching, etc.), how do we balance that with a warm devotional life? How do we keep the reading of God's Word from becoming dry?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Socrates and the Effect of the Internet on Book Reading

I just finished Tony Reinke's book, Lit!, and I found it quite helpful in many respects when it comes to reading. He's very practical and provides a lot of concrete things to take away and apply immediately. I found this section on the effect of the internet on our reading particularly interesting.
Socrates was concerned that scholars would rely on external details found in books rather than pursue deep thought and meditation. He was concerned with externalized knowledge replacing internalized wisdom. The oral tradition encouraged a healthy fostering of internal wisdom; libraries of books would become crutches of external reminders.  
I’m not sure if Socrates was aware of the tremendous benefits of books—including preserving his own words about books (ironic). But it was clear that Socrates saw the dawn of books as the dusk of the human memory.  
The dangers that Socrates foresaw have now arrived in the modern Internet. When we can access the sum total of human knowledge with one thumb on a smartphone in 0.2 seconds through a Google search as we drive 70 mph down the freeway, what happens to the human memory? Who needs to remember details? The memory shrinks like a grape my kids left in the backseat of the car.  
An honest Wired magazine writer confessed, “The line between where my memory leaves off and Google picks up is getting blurrier by the second.” That was a chief concern of Socrates. As online search engines become highly refined mechanisms for finding information, our internal memory becomes less necessary. We make decisions based upon access to external reminders rather than from an internal storehouse of cultivated wisdom.  
The implications are huge for book readers: how we read online affects how we read offline.  
Christian book readers who frequently use the Internet and social media will be faced with four temptations that will make it difficult to preserve and cultivate book reading skills.  
(Tony Reinke, Lit!, Page 140). 
 The 4 Temptations Reinke identifies:

1. Fragmented Browsing vs. Sustained Comprehension 
2. Reacting vs. Thinking 
3. Ready Access to Information vs. Slowly Digested Life Wisdom 
4. Skimming with the Head vs. Delighting with the Heart

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Middle-Aged White Guy's Guide to Christian Rap

This is funny. And probably helpful for some people.

Tim Challies put together an infographic explaining the basics of Christian rap music. Pretty good introduction if you're new to the scene.

(If you can't read it, click over to Challies' site where you can download a larger file.)

I love a lot of Christian rap. Lecrae, Trip Lee, Shai Linne, FLAME, Propaganda, Odd Thomas...These guys can all bring it, both musically and theologically. I find their music very edifying.

Challies' "Top Ten Tracks" at the end is a pretty good place to start. Mine would be slightly different in terms of tracks, but pretty consistent in terms of the actual artists, although I would add some of the guys from Humble Beast (Odd Thomas, Propaganda, Braille, etc.).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Documentary of the Life of Charles Spurgeon

My wife and I watched this hour-long documentary on the life of Charles Spurgeon on Friday night, and I really enjoyed it. It's done pretty well, and I was struck once again by the amazing ways that God worked through this man's life. Inspiring and encouraging. I highly recommend it.


Music Video of the Week: 12 Stones

12 Stones - "Infected (Lyric Video)"

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tim Keller: The Grace of the Law

Tim Keller:

At Redeemer we talk a lot about how we are saved by grace, not by our good works or obedience to the law. Indeed, Paul says we are not ‘under law’ but ‘under grace’ (Romans 6:15.) But what does that mean as far as having an obligation to submit to God’s will as written in his Word? Do we still have to obey the law? Absolutely. 
To be ‘under the law’ refers not to law obeying but law relying (Galatians 3:10-11). When we think we can win God’s approval through our moral performance and obedience becomes a crushing burden, then we are ‘under law.’ But when we learn that Christ has fulfilled the law for us and that now we who believe in him are secure in God’s love, then we naturally want to delight, resemble, and know the One who has done this. How can we do this? By turning to the law! Paul puts it this way. Though he is not under the law, ‘I am not free from God’s law, but I am under Christ’s law” (1 Corinthians 9:21.) Though he is not ‘under’ the law (as a way to earn salvation) he now is freed to see the beauties of God’s law as fulfilled in Christ, and submits to it as way of loving his Savior. How does this work?

Keller has 6 main points about how we should understand, embrace, and obey the law:

  1. We embrace the law of God in order to learn more about who our God really is.
  2. We embrace the law of God in order to discover our true selves.
  3. We understand the law of God as fulfilled in Christ.
  4. We realize that the law's painful, convicting work is ultimately a gracious thing.
  5. We turn to the law of God in order to get a true definition of what it means to love others in our relationships and in society as a whole.
  6. We turn to the law of God because sometimes we need to do things just because God says so.

I highly encourage reading the whole article. It's very helpful in thinking through the role of the law in a New Testament context.

Social Media Explained

Seen this a few places recently. It gave me a chuckle:

HT: Trevin Wax

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Every Life Has a Story

This is REALLY good.

Tim Brister:
A church unwilling to read and address the stories of people will be satisfied with skimming the surface with conversations that probe no deeper than a “Hey, how are you doing?” which almost always is met with a disingenuous response. No gifts of the Spirit are exercised because no one is listening.  
Now, imagine if we took just one of those stories, one of those individuals and placed them in a context where every member listened, understood the story, and felt personally responsible to play a redemptive part in contributing through the spiritual gift entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit? What role would an exhorter play? A giver? An agent of mercy? A leader? Someone with wisdom? Someone with great faith? And so on?  
Paul Tripp nailed it when he said that we are all called to be instruments in the Redeemer’s hands because we are helping others change while at the same time we ourselves are in need of change. Every person you meet is a mess needing someone willing to get messy. Every person is a sinner needing someone to help them walk in repentance and faith, growing in the gospel, extending mercy and forgiveness to other sinners. And the Holy Spirit animates the life of the church by His work in and through Christians sovereignly gifted to do good to one another and so edify the church.  
Next time you see people, consider why their lives (the subtext) might be really saying. Everything in us militates against listening and engaging–our comfort zones, our busy schedules, fear of man, selfishness, etc. Yet, we have in us the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead giving life to our mortal bodies. He intends to do in us what no strength of the flesh can accomplish. I pray the stories of people we encounter will be rewritten by the gospel of Jesus as it is applied to their hearts and transforms their lives.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chuck Colson on Civil Disobedience to New Healthcare Laws

Denny Burk:
Chuck Colson rightly calls on Evangelicals to stand with Roman Catholics in civil disobedience to this law for as long as it stands. That’s right. He’s calling on Christians to risk fines, prison, or other penalties in faithfulness to our convictions about protecting the unborn. In Colson’s own words:
We have come to the point—I say this very soberly—when if there isn’t a dramatic change is circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government. That would break my heart as a former Marine Captain loving my country, but I love my God more… I’ve made up my mind—sober as that decision would have to be—that I will stand for the Lord regardless of what my state tells me.

Al Mohler's SBTS Convocation Address: To Those Who Reside as Aliens

Al Mohler's Convocation Address at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary yesterday. I had the privilege of hearing this in person and found it fascinating. Worth the time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast

This is really good stuff. Eric Metaxas, author of biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, delivered a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday that was very powerful.

Here's what Denny Burk said about it:
Eric Metaxas had President Obama and distinguished guests in stitches as he shared his Christian testimony at the National Prayer Breakfast. He also shared some reflections about—you guessed it—Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He had some serious and prophetic words about the humanity of the unborn. He even spoke about having a biblical view of sexuality. All of this with the President sitting just a few feet away. This was a courageous talk delivered with winsomeness and joy.
Here's the speech (you'll probably need to click through if you're using an RSS reader). It's worth the time.

Watch Your Conjunctions in Parenting

Jeremy Pierre:
"I love you, but you need to obey." 
Every English-speaking parent has said that phrase at some point or another. It's our attempt as parents to express commitment to our children even as we require them to obey: "I love you despite anything you do, but you also need to obey what I tell you." I'd like to take issue, however, with using the conjunction but between these phrases. Using but may be communicating something we don't want to say---namely, that there is some kind of conceptual opposition between "I love you" and "You need to obey." 
You may be dismissing me as a sharp-nosed grammarian at this point, but let me explain why this is important. I grow concerned when I see well-meaning parents who, in an attempt to practice gospel-centered parenting, do not readily insist on obedience because they want to display that their love for the child does not depend on obedience. Unfortunately, parents take on an apologetic air when wills begin to collide. They hesitate to subdue disobedience out of fear of transgressing the unconditional part of love. Insisting on obedience from children feels legalistic or repressive. They fear that they'd slowly stiffen into the hawk-eyed disciplinarians of a bygone era with timorous children arranged silently around the dinner table. 
God is not an unreasonable parent. But he is not a permissive one, either. He demands obedience from his children not in order to love them but because he loves them. Consider the relationship between the Father and the Son. Jesus' sonship and God's insistence on obedience were not contrary facts. Jesus proved his obedience in suffering (Hebrews 5:1-8) so that "being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (5:9). Jesus' obedience secures God's love for us, and (notice I didn't say but) enables our obedience. Being called to obey is a sign of our adoption. "It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12:7) Discipline for the purpose of obedience is a privilege of being a son or daughter of God. Obedience and sonship are complementary, not oppositional. 
The but has to go. Try so instead. "I love you, so you need to obey." 
This conjunction more effectively communicates the logical relationship between the two concepts. It's not a relationship of opposition, but of grounding. The reason you are to obey me is because I already love you. This is how parents can be grace-based while insisting on obedience. We should never communicate even a hint of opposition between parental love and children's obedience.
Read the rest of the article at TCG.

Together For The Gospel Schedule Released

So excited for this, especially since I actually get to go this year.
Thabiti Anyabwile, “Will Your Gospel Transform a Terrorist?” (1 Tim. 1:12-17)  
David Platt, “Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions”  
Kevin DeYoung, “Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort” (1 Cor. 15:10)  
Mark Dever, “False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church”  
Ligon Duncan, “The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers’ Joy (1 Kings 19)  
Matt Chandler, “The Fulfillment of the Gospel” (Rev 21 & 22)  
John Piper, “Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy: Reflections on God’s Keeping Power through 32 Years of Ministry” (Jude 1:24-25)  
Al Mohler, “The Power of the Articulated Gospel” (Romans 10)  
C.J. Mahaney, “The Sustaining Power of the Gospel” (2 Corinthians 4)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mark Driscoll: 11 Practical Ways for Men to Lead Their Families Well

Mark Driscoll:

  1. As the family leader, model humility, honesty, repentance, service, study, and worship. Your life preaches at least as loudly as your words, so teach and model humble godliness by the grace of God. 
  2. Make sure everyone in your family has a good, age-appropriate Bible that they regularly read. Read the Bible yourself and with them so they are encouraged to read on their own.
  3. Make sure you have some basic Bible study tools available for your family in either print or digital form and that everyone learns to use them. If you do not know where to begin, ask your pastor or a godly student of Scripture in your church about things like a good Bible commentary, concordance, dictionary, and atlas.
  4. Buy good Christian books for everyone in your family to read. Include Christian biographies among those books.
  5. Choose good books that you and your wife can be reading together, including books of the Bible, and discuss what you are learning.
  6. If there are Bible-based classes offered in your church, attend with your family.
  7. Redeem your commute by listening to good sermons and classes, many of which you can download for free.
  8. Have dinner together with your family most nights, and use that time to pray together, keep a journal log of prayer requests for other people, and read a portion of the Bible and talk about it together.
  9. Pray for each member of your family every day and let them know you are praying for them.
  10. Place a hand on the head of each of your children every day and pray over them. Then kiss them on the head and make sure they often get a loving hug.
  11. While either snuggling or holding hands, pray with and for your wife every day and remember to include the reasons you are thankful to God for her that day. If these things have not been common in your home, it is very likely that your family has been aching for them and will be thankful for your loving leadership as the head of your home.
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