Friday, March 30, 2012

Bavinck on the Doctrine of God's Omnipresence

"When you wish to do something evil, you retire from the public into your house where no enemy may see you; from those places of your house which are open and visible to the eyes of men you remove yourself into your room; even in your room you fear some witness from another quarter; you retire into your heart, there you meditate: he is more inward than your heart. Wherever, therefore, you shall have fled, there he is. From yourself, whither will you flee? Will you not follow yourself wherever you shall flee? But since there is One more inward even than yourself, there is no place where you may flee from God angry but to God reconciled. There is no place at all whither you may flee. Will you flee from him? Flee unto him."

~Herman Bacinck, The Doctrine of God, p. 164. Quoted from Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 177.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tim Piper and John Keller

This is actually somewhat frightening...and funny. Totally seeing James MacDonald...


HT: Tons of people in my Twitter feed today

March Madness, Sports, and Christians

Interesting post over at Desiring God about the nature of competition and athletic achievement for Christians. Matt Reagan lists several observations, but I found the last 3 to be particularly good:

5) Our enjoyment of God in the midst of athletic achievement is a critical component of his glorification. 
So if we run fast and enjoy it, which we should, we should enjoy it the way the first frog did. According to Chesterton, the riddle goes like this: "What did the first frog say?" "Lord, how you made me jump!" Jumping and running are enjoyable because they give us the capacity to participate in the beauty and power of God, and they are always gifts from him. As Eric Liddell memorably said in Chariots of Fire, "God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." Perhaps this would be the only legitimate reason for it to be more enjoyable for me to make a jump shot, or run fast, than to watch my friend or teammate do it — just as the Apostle Paul gloried more, it seems, in his experiential participation in the lives of new believers in the early churches than in just hearing about it. 
6) God is not fully glorified through any activity where he is not a person's final Treasure. Therefore, sports must be put into their proper realm of value, which is vastly less valuable than God. 
Clearly, because of their arbitrary and fabricated nature, the sports themselves are somewhere on the value scale beneath real war (where life and death are the line) and relationships (perhaps especially marriage), which deal with eternal souls. When playing a sport is a person's livelihood, that may change things some, but one of the greatest testimonies that an athlete can give to the glory of Christ is proper perspective. 
Making a shot at the buzzer, even if it is for the entertainment of thousands, is still just entertainment, and it's still just a game, made up by some guy (James Naismith, in this case) who had enough time on his hands to not only assume that it would be fun to try to put a ball in a peach basket, but also to write an entire manual of rules. “It’s just a game” is always one of the more helpful and God-glorifying responses a Christian player or coach can make in an interview. 
7) It may be possible to enjoy achievement as an individual, but as image-bearers of a Trinitarian God, achievement is not completed unless it is given away to, or shared with, another.  
Comedians are not primarily made to glory in their own humor, but to enjoy the laughter of others and their personal participation in it. In the realm of sports, especially team sports, this means that the victory and enjoyment of teammates is more valuable than the demonstrated ability of the individual.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jim Hamilton on the Purpose of Seminary


Jim Hamilton:
In my humble opinion, seminary students should seek from the seminary what the seminary exists to give them, and the seminary exists to give them the Bible. Let me be quick to add that the seminary’s main purposes include systematic theology and church history, but God has revealed himself in the Bible. Let me say that again, because it’s that important: God has revealed himself in the Bible.  
Seminaries exist to teach people the Bible, which means seminaries exist to teach people Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, introduce them to the Bible’s big story, and teach them how to read that story parts and whole. 
This means that there are many jobs the seminary does not exist to do: the seminary is not a church. The seminary is not an evangelistic crusade. The seminary is not your small group, your missions and evangelism coordinator, or even your pastoral internship.  
I have often heard preachers comment on some pastoral difficulty then say, “They don’t teach you that in seminary!” I usually think to myself, “nor did they intend to; nor were they supposed to.”  
Cars don’t sprout wings and fly, and they don’t teach you to pilot a plane in Driver’s Ed. Evaluate a car, or a Driver’s Ed. class, according to what it is intended to do. The seminary is built to prepare people for ministry, yes, but it’s a school. That bears repeating: a seminary is a school. This means, by definition, that a seminary is not a church. So the seminary is preparing people for ministry, but it can’t do everything necessary to prepare people for ministry. It’s not built to do everything necessary to prepare people for ministry. It’s built to be a school.
Read the rest of the post.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Russell Moore: Should Christians Boycott Starbucks?

A respected pro-family organization announced this week a boycott of Starbucks coffee. The group, which supports legal protection for traditional marriage, launched the “Dump Starbucks” campaign after a national board meeting in which the Seattle-based coffee company mentioned support for same-sex marriage as a core value of the company. Some Christians are wondering whether we ought to join in the boycott. I say no.  
It’s not that I’m saying a boycott in and of itself is always evil or wrong. It’s just that, in this case (and in many like it) a boycott exposes us to all of our worst tendencies. Christians are tempted, again and again, to fight like the devil to please the Lord.  
A boycott is a display of power, particularly of economic power. The boycott shows a corporation (or government or service provider) that the aggrieved party can hurt the company, by depriving it of revenue. The boycott, if it’s successful, eventually causes the powers-that-be to yield, conceding that they need the money of the boycott participants more than they need whatever cause they were supporting. It is a contest of who has more buying power, and thus is of more value to the company.

We lose that argument.  
The argument behind a boycott assumes that the “rightness” of a marriage definition is constituted by a majority with power. Isn’t that precisely what we’re arguing against? Our beliefs about marriage aren’t the way they are because we are in a majority. As a matter of fact, we must concede that we are in a tiny minority in contemporary American society, if we define marriage the way the Bible does, as a sexually-exclusive, permanent one-flesh union.  
Moreover, is this kind of economic power context really how we’re going to engage our neighbors with a discussion about the meaning and mystery of marriage? Do such measures actually persuade at the level such decisions are actually made: the moral imagination? I doubt it.  
I’m all for protecting marriage in law and in culture, and I’m for that partly because I believe it is necessary for human flourishing for all people, believers and non-believers alike. But there’s a way to do so that recognizes the resilience of marriage as a creation institution and that rests in the sovereignty of God over his universe.  
Those who are scared of losing something are those who seem frantic or shrill or outraged. Those who are fearful resort to Gentile tactics of lording over others with political majorities or economic power. The winners, on the other hand, are able to take a longer view. We’re able to grieve when our neighbors seek to copy marriage without the most basic thing that makes marriage work: the mystery of male and female as one-flesh.

But we don’t persuade our neighbors by mimicking their angry power-protests. We persuade them by holding fast to the gospel, by explaining our increasingly odd view of marriage, and by serving the world and our neighbors around us, as our Lord does, with a towel and a foot-bucket.

Music Video of the Week: Alter Bridge

Alter Bridge: "Blackbird"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kill Anger Before It Kills You or Your Marriage

In marriage, anger rivals lust as a killer. My guess is that anger is a worse enemy than lust. It also destroys other kinds of camaraderie. Some people have more anger than they think, because it has disguises. When willpower hinders rage, anger smolders beneath the surface, and the teeth of the soul grind with frustration. It can come out in tears that look more like hurt. But the heart has learned that this may be the only way to hurt back. It may come out as silence because we have resolved not to fight. It may show up in picky criticism and relentless correction. It may strike out at persons that have nothing to do with its origin. It will often feel warranted by the wrongness of the cause. After all, Jesus got angry (Mark 3:5), and Paul says, "Be angry and do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). 
However, good anger among fallen people is rare. That's why James says, "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). And Paul says, "Men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling" (1 Timothy 2:8). "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you" (Ephesians 4:31).  
Therefore, one of the greatest battles of life is the battle to "put away anger," not just control its expressions. To help you fight this battle, here are nine biblical weapons.
1. Ponder the rights of Christ to be angry, but how he endured the cross, as an example of long-suffering. 
2. Ponder how much you have been forgiven, and how much mercy you have been shown. 
3. Ponder your own sinfulness and take the beam out of your own eye.  
4. Think about how you do not want to give place to the devil, because harbored anger is the one thing the Bible explicitly says opens a door and invites him in.  
5. Ponder the folly of your own self-immolation, that is, numerous detrimental effects of anger to the one who is angry - some spiritual, some mental, some physical, and some relational.  
6. Confess your sin of anger to some trusted friend as well and as possible with the offender. This is a great healing act.  
7. Let your anger be the key to unlock the dungeons of pride and self-pity in your heart and replace them with love.  
8. Remember that God is going to work it all for your good as you trust in his future grace. Your offender is even doing you good, if you will respond with love.  
9. Remember that God will vindicate your just cause and settle all accounts better than you could. Either your offender will pay in hell, or Christ has paid for him. Your payback would be double jeopardy or an offence to the cross.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jesus is >

Justin Buzzard:

Jesus > 
Jesus is greater. 
JESUS > Sin + Fear + Guilt + Regret + Discouragement + Need + Pain + Shame + Failure 
Jesus is greater than sin, he took on, paid for, and beat your sin. 
Jesus is greater than fear, he is bigger than whatever makes you afraid. 
Jesus is greater than guilt, he has made a complete atonement for our guilt. 
Jesus is greater than regret, he redeems our broken past. 
Jesus is greater than discouragement, he is never discouraged even though he knows the worst about you, your circumstances, and life in this broken world. 
Jesus is greater than need, he knows all of your needs and your needs are not difficult for him. 
Jesus is greater than pain, he knows your pain and is stronger than what is hurting you. 
Jesus is greater than shame, he cleanses dirty people, making us whiter than snow. 
Jesus is greater than failure, he loves to work with failure–it’s his specialty. 
JESUS > Sin + Fear + Guilt + Regret + Discouragement + Need + Pain + Shame + Failure

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

David Mathis: Keep Both Eyes Peeled for Jesus

Great word from David Mathis on seminary and a great reminder for me.
An essential mark of a solid seminary experience is continually being stunned by how everything relates to Jesus. When we look long enough, press hard enough, and feel deeply enough, we discover again and again that it all comes back around to him.  
The whole universe is about Jesus. The whole Bible is about Jesus. Our whole lives are designed to be about Jesus. And, for the love of God, any seminary experience worth a dime should be all about Jesus as well. Any institution, course of study, class, professor, or text that teaches aspiring pastors any differently — explicitly or implicitly — is throwing them under the ministerial bus.  
My Worst Experience in Seminary  
I remember it all too well — by far my worst moment in a seminary classroom. Normally, the minimizing of Jesus happens only implicitly in evangelical seminaries, but this once it was shockingly out in the open.  
It was the summer of 2006. An old hippie with a sweet beard and an Ivy League Ph.D. sat nonchalantly on the table at the front of the class, spouting provocative comments in succession, all under the banner of hermeneutics. Gotta till the rough soil before you can plant the high-yielding crops, he'd say. Many of his shock-jock statements were helpful, but one seemed almost demonic.  
As he steamrolled through the biblical covenants, fitting them all nicely in his neat boxes (and PowerPoint slides), subtly muting the uniqueness and centrality of the new covenant, he finally whispered to our captive class what some of us were sensing to be latent in his system: Jesus isn't a big deal.  
It's all about kingdom and covenant, he said. Jesus has an important role to play, no doubt, but in the grand scheme, it's a pretty small one. So don't go overboard making much of Jesus. He was a tenured prof teaching at a wonderful confessional seminary, but for a moment he seemed to embody the spirit of the serpent in the garden.  
That it was so explicit made it all the more alarming to us students. But perhaps his whispered admission did us a favor. It would have been more dangerous if the Jesus-minimizing effect of his system stayed implicit, left unnamed to ever so subtly influence the students to be centered on kingdom while diminishing the King, or be captivated by covenant while muting the Mediator.  
Resisting the Inertia  
Sadly, the inertia can be away from Jesus in far too many seminary classrooms. Unless the professor gives extra energy to relentlessly centering on him, that's the inevitable drift. There are so many other good things to learn, so many new angles to explore — and after all, the prof's under pressure to establish his niche and get published and all.  
But even though there can be this subtle danger away from Jesus-centrality, the seminary experience is not worth abandoning, but going in conscious (and staying aware) of the need to unswervingly and shamelessly keep Jesus at the core — to keep both eyes peeled for him everywhere. Ferociously resist the inertia away from Jesus.
Read the whole post.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carl Trueman: Eating the Apple

Carl Trueman on Apple's ability to constantly "con" its customers and get them to thank the company for it:
The fascinating thing about Apple is, of course, the company's ability to pull off the same con-trick time after time. We all know that capitalism requires the constant creation and recreation of markets. Apple have this down to fine art: they release an under-equipped product; indeed, by the time the product is released there are usually rumours circulating about the upgrade to come; and then a year or so later (if that long) they release the new version (at about the same time as the rumours of an even newer version start to spread). There is not even any real competition here beyond mere chronology. Apple competes, in effect, against itself, and everyone's a winner. That sounds very close to a commercial equivalent of the secret of perpetual motion.  
What is perhaps so surprising is that everyone - me included - falls for this. You would imagine that, sooner or later, the buying public or the media would realize that we are all being systematically ripped off; but here is the single coolest thing about Apple - they have so taken hold of the imagination that we believe their ripping us off is actually doing us a favour; thus, the media hype continues unabated and the queues outside shops seem never to become any shorter.
Read the whole post.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Humor: "Fake Doughnuts"

Thought this was hysterical. From a 12-year-old:


HT: Abraham Piper

Thursday, March 15, 2012

11 Questions to Discern a Judgmental Heart

From Mike Lee, Trevin Wax's pastor, on the "Judge not" Matthew 7 text:
1. Am I more likely to see the sin in others than my sin?  
2. When I pray, am I more likely to pray for God’s judgment on others rather than marvel at God’s amazing grace toward me?  
3. Am I overly critical toward others while I give myself a pass or an excuse and justify my own sin?  
4. Does my own sin ever lead me to deep remorse and repentance?  
5. Do I have people whom I allow to hold me accountable for my sin and unforgiving heart?  
6. Do I have a tendency to be unforgiving while expecting others to forgive me quickly?  
7. Do I find joy in exposing sin in others?  
8. Do I find more joy in the “gotcha” moments of exposing sin or in sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  
9. When others see how I deal with people, will they think God is mighty to save or that God would never forgive them and there is no hope for forgiveness?  
10. Do I receive correction humbly?  
11. Before I correct others, do I spend time in God’s Word and prayer asking the Holy Spirit to expose my sin so that I might repent?

Al Mohler: The Challenges for the Next Generation

Al Mohler:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” [2 Timothy 4:7] Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul was able to look back on his ministry and declare satisfaction that he had finished his course. Paul would be the first to insist that his entire ministry was evidence of the grace and mercy of God, but he was assured that, by grace, he had finished his race. 
Paul’s statement of completion must be the goal of every Gospel minister. Our calling is not complete until we, like Paul, can know that we have finished our course. For most of us, the race still lies before us, and that makes our goal even more urgent. 
When asked about my hope for the future of the church, I point immediately to the corps of young ministers now entering and preparing for ministry. One of the great counter-intuitive developments of our times is the rise of a generation of young ministers who are committed to the faith “once for all delivered to the saints,” and who are eager to run the race to Christ’s glory. 
What challenges lie ahead? The race this new generation is called to run will include several unavoidable challenges that will demand the highest level of biblical fidelity and theological courage, matched to keen cultural sensitivity and a deep love for human beings caught in the maelstrom of late modernity.
Mohler's challenges:

1. The Question of Truth
2. The Gospel and the Church's Mission
3. The Necessity of Getting the Story Right, Right from the Start
4. The Binding Authority of Biblical Sexuality
5. The Exclusivity of the Gospel

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fantastic Peyton Manning Column by Rick Reilly

You were a 10,000-watt bulb in a small city, and yet you never seemed to tire of it. If you did, you rarely showed it. There's a fan website -- peytonmanning18.com/encounters.html -- where everyday people tell how you were with them. It's hard to find a rotten one.  
"Peyton was so nice and down to earth," one wrote. "He was just as polite and nice as I've always heard," wrote another. "He was getting ready to leave and wanted to take a picture with me and thank me for driving his golf cart," said a third. It's a lousy site if you're a cynic.  
I have no idea how much time and money you have to give to a hospital to have it renamed in your honor, but they did that for you in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent. Says a lot.

How many times can one man change an entire city? Well, without you there's probably no Lucas Oil Stadium. Without Lucas Oil Stadium, there's no Super Bowl this year in Indy. Without the Super Bowl, there's no brand-new, drop-dead gorgeous JW Marriott downtown. Forbes figures you improved the Colts' value by $233 million. Compared to that, $28 million to keep you doesn't seem like much, does it?

Thank you for showing up at podiums in your shoulder pads some nights because you knew some of us had early deadlines. Thank you for making us laugh in all those ads. If there's ever been a funnier jock on "Saturday Night Live," I'll keep a ham in my pants.  
Thank you for showing up to work every day, every week, season after season. You started 208 straight games -- through purple thumbs and black eyes and stomach flus that left you green. You get paid either way, so thanks.  
Hell, you even tipped great. The other night, in North Carolina, you left an extra $200 on a $740 check that already had an 18 percent tip in it. According to my abacus, that's 100 percent class.  
Lastly, thank you for the way you left. Always thought you'd go out as a Colt, and go out the way you wanted, but if it had to end this way, "I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback" is as good an exit line as I've heard. You made it sound like it was an elected position, an honor, a job where you knew people were depending on you. You were right.  
You came to the line and changed the play 1,000 times, but you never changed your team, your city, your fans. Jim Irsay did all that for you Wednesday.  
That would've gone down most guys' throats like a porcupine, but you took it and you smiled and you stood there with your arm around Irsay like he wasn't the one dumping you, like there wasn't a thing he could do about it.  
That's grace. You had it in the huddle and you had it in the pocket and you had it at the end.  
So thank you, Peyton Manning. And bravo. You wore the horseshoe, but it was us who got lucky.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Good Response to the Kirk Cameron Interview and Aftermath

You may have seen this interview with Kirk Cameron where he expresses the same view about homosexuality that orthodox Christianity has held since its inception.


A good response from Denny Burk:
What has been instructive to watch has not been Cameron’s remarks, but the response. Cameron is a Christian, and he merely summarized the 2,000-year old teaching of the church that homosexuality is a sin (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:9-10). Nothing new here. Nothing has changed on that front.  
What has changed dramatically over the last 10 years has been society’s attitudes about homosexuality. By and large, people are more and more open to homosexuality as a wholesome, morally unproblematic way of life. But this, too, should not be news to anyone.  
What is instructive about this interview has been how openly vitriolic people have become to the idea of a Christian sexual ethic. It’s not just that people disagree with Cameron. No, they accuse him of engaging in “hate” speech and of being “homophobic.” I saw one public figure accuse him of being complicit in murder. The denunciations of Cameron have been relentless (see here, here). They accuse Cameron and his ilk of being intolerant. All the while, they seem to be blissfully unaware of their own malignant intolerance of Christian morality.  
Are we really at a place where a Christian who is pressed for his views on a matter can no longer state those views without being tarred and feathered? I think we are. Christianity hasn’t changed, but the moral consensus of our culture has.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Music Video of the Week: Coldplay

Coldplay - "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

5 Dangers of Fallible Prophecy

Responding to a debate between Wayne Grudem and Ian Hamilton on the Continuation of Prophecy in the church today, Nathan Busenitz lays out 5 dangers he sees inherent in Grudem's definition of modern prophecy. He's gracious to Grudem, having benefitted greatly from him (as have I), but these are important issues and I tend to think Grudem has it wrong here.

Here are Busenitz's 5 dangers:
1. By creating a category of modern “prophecy” that can include erroneous messages, this view makes it unnecessarily difficult for the church today to identify and refute false prophets (cf. Matt. 7:15). It further neuters (i.e. ignores) the strict requirements on true prophecy found in Deuteronomy 13 and 18.   
2. By defining prophecy in terms of impressions and subjective guidance, this view provides no objective or authoritative means by which a person can know for sure if a feeling is from God or some other source. It also provides no objective or authoritative means by which church leaders can evaluate for sure whether a “prophet’s” message is legitimate.  
3. By teaching that God still gives revelation today, this view encourages believers to look for messages from God outside of the Bible. While continuationists insist on a closed canon (and rightly so), this view of prophecy — in practice — calls into question the sufficiency of Scripture at the most practical levels of daily living.  
4. By using terms like “prophecy,” “revelation,” and “a word from the Lord,” this view has the potential to manipulate people by binding their consciences to a fallible message or compelling them to make unwise decisions. Though proponents insists that congregational prophecy is not authoritative (at least, not at the corporate level), their understanding of prophecy is highly vulnerable to being abused within the local congregation.  
5. By allowing for error in prophecy, this view permits people to say, “Thus says the Lord” when in fact their messages are fallible and erroneous. In effect, it allows people to attribute to the God of Truth messages that are errant, which is a very dangerous thing to do. Furthermore, by redefining fallible messages as “prophecy,” it demeans and cheapens the true gift of infallible prophecy as it operated in the Old and New Testaments.
Read the whole post for the context and some good discussion of Grudem's specific claims.
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