Sunday, February 28, 2010

Please Don't Cooperate

Expiation

[ek’-spee-ay-shun]
(Latin ex- as an intensive prefix + Latin piare, “to atone”)
Meaning “to atone, or make reparations for.” In Christian theology the term refers to the penal substitution of Christ on behalf of his people. Specifically it emphasizes the removal of guilt through the payment for the penalty of sin. This notion is coupled with the concept of propitiation, which refers to the appeasement or averting of God’s wrath and justice. Both concepts are seen together as two sides of the same coin.

Anthony Bradley on the Bible and the Black Experience

Marvin Olasky has an hour-long interview with Anthony Bradley, a Reformed theologian and an economist. He is visiting professor of theology at The King’s College in New York City and a research fellow at the Acton Institute.
Dr. Bradley’s new book is being released today: Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America. It is based on his dissertation written at Westminster Theological Seminary.
You can read online the Contents as well as the Introduction and Chapter 1.
Here’s a description of the book:
When the beliefs of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, assumed the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign, the influence of black liberation theology became hotly debated not just within theological circles but across cultural lines. How many of today’s African-American congregations—and how many Americans in general—have been shaped by its view of blacks as perpetual victims of white oppression?
In this interdisciplinary, biblical critique of the black experience in America, Anthony Bradley introduces audiences to black liberation theology and its spiritual and social impact. He starts with James Cone’s proposition that the “victim” mind-set is inherent within black consciousness. Bradley then explores how such biblical misinterpretation has historically hindered black churches in addressing the diverse issues of their communities and prevented adherents from experiencing the freedoms of the gospel. Yet Liberating Black Theology does more than consider the ramifications of this belief system; it suggests an alternate approach to the black experience that can truly liberate all Christ-followers.
Bradley was also a contributor to the book, Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity .
Justin Taylor

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Little Wing Live @ El Mocambo

Going Downhill Fast

It will not be taken away from you

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42
“The true Christian’s portion is the grace of God.  This is the ‘good part’ which he has chosen, and it is the only portion which really deserves the name of ‘good.’  It is the only good thing which is substantial, satisfying, real and lasting.  It is good in sickness and good in health, good in youth and good in age, good in adversity and good in prosperity, good in life and good in death, good in time and good in eternity. . . .
The true Christian’s possession shall never be taken from him.  He alone, of all mankind, shall never be stripped of his inheritance.  Kings must one day leave their palaces.  Rich men must one day leave their money and lands.  They only hold them till they die.  But the poorest saint on earth has a treasure of which he will never be deprived.  The grace of God and the favor of Christ are riches which no man can take from him.  They will go with him to the grave when he dies.  They will rise with him in the resurrection morning, and be his to all eternity.”
J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, ad loc.
Ray Ortlund

The Gospel and Hearts for the Poor

Here’s an excerpt from A Gospel Primer for Christians on a much discussed topic among evangelicals today: the relationship of the gospel to the poor.  Check it.
Like nothing else could ever do, the gospel instills in me a heart for the downcast, the poverty-stricken, and those in need of physical mercies, especially when such persons are of the household of faith.
When I see persons who are materially poor, I instantly feel a kinship with them, for they are physically what I was spiritually when my heart was closed to Christ.  Perhaps some of them are in their condition because of sin, but so was I.  Perhaps they are unkind when I try to help them; but I, too, have been spiteful to God when He has sought to help me.  Perhaps they are thankless and even abuse the kindness I show them, but how many times have I been thankless and used what God has given me to serve selfish ends?
Perhaps a poverty-stricken person will be blessed and changed as a result of some kindness I show them.  If so, God be praised for His grace through me.  But if the person walks away unchanged by my kindness, then I still rejoice over the opportunity to love as God loves.  Perhaps the person will repent in time; but for now, my heart is chastened and made wiser by the tangible depiction of what I myself have done to God on numerous occasions.
The gospel reminds me daily of the spiritual poverty into which I was born and also of the staggering generosity of Christ towards me.  Such reminders instill in me both a felt connection to the poor and a desire to show them the same generosity that has been lavished on me.  When ministering to the poor with these motivations, I not only preach the gospel to them through word and deed, but I reenact the gospel to my own benefit as well.
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love (Bemidji, MN: Focus, 2008), 38-39.
Provocations & Pantings

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Juliets New CD

This is my oldest son Jeremy's band and this is their first Cd. You can get it for free follow the download
Jeremy Freer The Juliets are giving away our first l.p. for free until March 13th the day after our l.p.release/video premiere celebration. We hope you enjoy it.http://thejuliets.bandcamp.com/


thejuliets.bandcamp.com
1. Sweetheart 2. The Letter 3. This Just In 4. Sunday Song 5. Evolved Into 6. Rimbaud and Verlaine 7. Like A Parade 8. Streets of Gold 9. Landlord 10. Who Needs Astrology? 11. The Sequel 12. Drive You Home Released 26 February 2010.

Dust My Broom - Elmore James

Message Missed

I Thought I Was Past That Sin

I have heard often from friends and those I’ve discipled these words uttered in deep disappointment–”I thought I was past that sin.” After being told this time and time again, and even after me saying this to myself and to God, I’ve come to realize that no matter how mature I’ve grown in Christ I’m never too far from the most disgusting and most “basic” of sins. John Bunyan would agree, as he has been credited with saying “There is enough evil in my best prayer to damn the whole world.”
Regardless of how mature or sanctified I may become, the sins I committed as a child in the faith are still a threat to me. I cannot think of any place in Scripture where it says something to the effect of “you are beyond that particular sin.” With a sinful nature present in this flesh any sin is possible at any time. Yes, we are exhorted to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called (Eph. 4:1). Elsewhere Paul writes similarly saying we are “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10).
But these texts and others that call for Christian maturity are written, in one sense, because there’s always the potential not to walk in that manner. Furthermore, if there is anything to the idea of walking in the light of Christ, moving closer toward him as I mature, I just become even more aware of how deeply corrupted I truly am. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from those much older than me in the faith is this very truth. So one mark of Christian maturity is how sensitive we are to our sinful nature and potential to sin. Mature Christians recognize that dependence on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the strongest temptations are of utmost necessity. Mature Christians never say, “I am past that sin.” Mature Christians say, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for me.” Thus I can know clearly that
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -1 Cor. 10:13
As I read the passage, the verse before this confirms what is meant by never being “past a sin.”
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
The point is clear here as Paul writes of the Israelites drinking from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (v. 4). Yet even in the wilderness, after God had rescued them from Egypt, witnessing all the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, they desired evil (v. 6). They were idolaters and engaged in sexual immorality (vv. 7-8). Judgment came–23,000 fell in a single day (v. 8). God had done so much for them in their rescue, yet they were not beyond any kind of sin. In some way they drank of Christ, but still engaged in all types of horrific sin! They were beyond nothing. These words, written for our instruction (v. 11) remind me that I too am beyond nothing. The command is clear:
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. -1 Cor. 10:14
It is all idolatry–the gluttony, the sloth, the lust, the pride–all idolatry, maybe of other gods, but certainly of self. We idolize humanity. We have sought to redefine all aspects of life ever since the Fall when we were overcome by temptation and redefined God’s only command. Since then nothing is off limits–entertainment, money, eating, sex, love, hate, etc.–all to exalt us to the level of deity. All to say, “I am past that sin.”
We must ask ourselves how we are walking each day. Are we seeking to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called, the calling that knows the depth of depravity, yet also the grace of God? Or are we walking in a manner worthy of puffed pride saying “I am past that sin” only soon to be defeated by it, where in our defeat we are left devastated and perplexed, saying “I thought I was past that sin?”
By His Grace.
Andrew Lisi  Gospel Coalition 

Repentance, not despair

“Those who are truly religious experience what sort of punishments are shame, confusion, groaning, displeasure with self, and other emotions that arise out of a lively recognition of sin.
Yet we must remember to exercise restraint, lest sorrow engulf us. For nothing more readily happens to fearful consciences than falling into despair. And whomever Satan sees overwhelmed by the fear of God he more and more submerges in that deeper whirlpool of sorrow that they may never rise again.
In this way we flee from God, who calls us to himself through repentance.”
—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.3.15
Of First Importance

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Johnny Cash - A Satisfied Mind

The Promise of Full Healing Here and Now: Kindness or Cruelty?

Recently I was in conversation with a couple of close friends who were taking a family member to a “healing conference” seeking healing for a chronic illness. Out of desperation, and based on reports of results, they were completely open to whatever the person was teaching, with seemingly little examination of whether or not the teacher was “rightly handling the word of truth.
They looked at me, wanting my thoughts. But really they didn’t want my thoughts. They wanted my endorsement, which I could not offer. And it was awkward. It seems uncaring and close-minded in such situations to take issue with how the scripture is being misused to promise what it does not promise.
My hesitancy is not because I don’t believe that God heals. I know he does. In fact healing is not just something he does; it is who he is. He is Jehovah Rophi, the God Who Heals. But I also know that we simply cannot force into this age the pervasive healing God has reserved for the next.
I suppose the real problem for me is that I often find myself on the other side of these situations—seeking to minister to people who, based on the promises and proclamations of such healing ministries, sought and expected the healing of their loved one. But their loved one died. And so they are left confused and disillusioned. Because they’ve were sold a false gospel, they end up deeply resentful toward what they see as God withholding from them, and sometimes filled with guilt over what they see as their own failure of faith. And so I see those who proclaim a false gospel of full physical healing available here and now for all those with the faith to claim it as ultimately very cruel.
I know that many people who will read Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose and Provision in Suffering will be on this road of asking for healing, but seeking to trust God with physical illness and disability. That is why I included the insight of J. I. Packer who writes:
It is true that salvation embraces both body and soul. And there is indeed, as some put it, healing for the body in the atonement. But perfect physical health is not promised for this life. It is promised for heaven as part of the resurrection glory that awaits us in the day when Christ “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Full physical well-being is presented as a future blessing of salvation rather than a present one. What God has promised and when he will give it are separate questions.
The day is coming when our God Who Heals will consummate his kingdom where there will be no more sickness. Till then, we wait in faith, grateful that he is good to give us tastes and glimpses of the plenteous and pervasive healing to come on that day.
by Nancy Guthrie
Crossway.blog

Offended by Membership, Offended by God’s Love

“Missing local church membership is like missing the fact that Christians are called to pursue good works, or love their neighbors, or care for the poor, or pray to God, or follow in the way of Christ.  Submitting oneself to a local church is what a true believer does, just like a true believer pursues good works, loves his or her neighbor, and so forth.  Someone who refuses to join–or better, to submit to–a local church is like someone who refuses to pursue a life of righteousness.  It calls into question the authenticity of his or her faith.
“Insofar as the gospel presents the world with the most vivid picture of God’s love, and insofar as church membership and discipline are an implication of the gospel, local church membership and discipline in fact define God’s love for the world.  … The very things that offend us about church membership root in the things we find offensive about God’s love itself.”
–Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (Crossway), pp. 16-17
Gospel Coalition

Warning - Do Not Leave The Ski Resort - Who Knew?

Love is the motive, glory the goal

“The God of the Bible is the righteous God of holy love. The trouble is, however, that we have become paradoxically the glory and garbage of the universe. Our great need is peace with God, and not just with God but also with one another.
There is no shalom, however, without sacrifice. Peace is made through the blood of the cross. The atoning life, death and vindication of the faithful Son bring shalom by addressing the problem of sin, death the devil and wrath definitively. Eschatologically speaking, the realization of the triune God’s reconciling project will see God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule living God’s way enjoying shalom in God’s holy and loving presence to God’s glory.
The broad notion should humble us at the thought of a righteous God of holy loving purpose who, in love, has never abandoned his wayward creatures but in a plan of rescue has begun to reclaim the created order and will in the end restore creation to himself and to his glory. Love is the motive, glory the goal. The narrow one brings us to Christ and his cross. He is the linchpin of the plan. We are brought to a real Christ, to a real cross, to a real cost.”
—Graham A. Cole, God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 2009), 229-230
Of First Importance

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Johnny Cash - "Ain't No Grave" From American VI

This is Cash's newest and last CD, there are some great songs, If you like Cash get this CD.

Fatal Attraction

Luther's Happy warfare

“Be of good courage and cast these dreadful thoughts out of your mind.  Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. . . . When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.’”
Martin Luther, in Theodore G. Tappert, editor, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Philadelphia, 1955), pages 86-87.

Luther’s Tough Love

All of us need a Martin Luther in our lives now and then—a friend who is not afraid to stand on gospel promises and get in our face with gospel truth when we would rather wallow in self-pity.
Here is a portion of a letter from Luther to his friend Philip Melachnton (June 27, 1530):
Those great cares by which you say you are consumed I vehemently hate; they rule your heart not on account of the greatness of the cause but by reason of the greatness of your unbelief. . . .
If our cause is great, its author and champion is great also, for it is not ours. Why are you therefore always tormenting yourself?
If our cause is false, let us recant; if it is true, why should we make him a liar who commands us to be of untroubled heart?
Cast your burden on the Lord, he says. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him with a broken heart. Does he speak in vain or to beasts? . . .
What good can you do by your vain anxiety?
What can the devil do more than slay us? What after that?
I beg you, so pugnacious in all else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, who furnish Satan with arms against yourself. . . .
I pray for you earnestly and am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain.
Christ knows whether it is stupidity or bravery, but I am not much disturbed, rather of better courage than I had hoped.
God who is able to raise the dead is also able to uphold a falling cause, or to raise a fallen one and make it strong.
If we are not worthy instruments to accomplish his purpose, he will find others.
If we are not strengthened by his promises, to whom else in all the world can they pertain?
But saying more would be pouring water into the sea.
HT: David Sunday

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Johnny Cash, 'American VI: Ain't No Grave'

I had pre-ordered this CD and it just arrived today. I have just listened to it and am impressed by the sweetness of it. Cash recorded these songs just four months before his own demise in 2003, when he felt it imminent. (His wife, June, succumbed just four months before he did.) The serene perspective makes sense, then, especially since Cash was a man of unshakable faith.
The title track "Ain't No Grave" expresses Cash's firm belief that no earth bound casket can keep him from a heavenly ascent. I love this song. 1 Corinthians 15:55 is one of the last songs Cash wrote, "O death,where is thy sting / O grave where is your victory / O life you are a shining path / and hope springs eternal just over the rise / When I see my Redeemer beckoning me."





















                     If you like Johnny Cash you'll want to get this CD.


Oswald Chambers on Pain

“Before God can use a man greatly he must wound him deeply.” Oswald Chambers
That’s an uncomfortable thought, especially given the amount of time I (and perhaps you too) have prayed that God would use us in a mighty way. But come to think of it, those prayers that I have prayed have been mixed in with pride and self-congratulations. I want to be used by God not only for His great reputation, but also for my great pride. I want to leave my mark on the world not only for His glory but for mine.
Perhaps this is one reason why Chambers hits the nail on the head. Few are the human beings who can give themselves fully to the purposes of God. Even when we think we are, many times our pride is lurking right behind our best intentions. But when you get wounded? Deeply? The Lord brings you to a point of desperation and dependence. You realize your utter frailty and are refocused on what matters.
Pain is often the avenue to greatness in the eyes of God.
Forward Progress

No Magic Seed

Why Me? Why This? Why Now? Why?

Don’t rush through this. It is worth reading slowly and repeatedly, for in it there is deep and profound wisdom.
So often the initial reaction to painful suffering is Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? . . .
[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.
Why you?
Why you?
Why would you enter this world of evils?
Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?
Why would you do this for me, of all people?
But you did.
You did this for the joy set before you.
You did this for love.
You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.
As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.
The question generates a heartfelt response:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.
Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:
Why not me?
Why not this?
Why not now?
If in some way, my faith might serve as a three-watt night-light in a very dark world, why not me?
If my suffering shows forth the Savior of the world, why not me?
If I have the privilege of filling up the sufferings of Christ?
If he sanctifies to me my deepest distress?
If I fear no evil?
If he bears me in his arms?
If my weakness demonstrates the power of God to save us from all that is wrong?
If my honest struggle shows other strugglers how to land on their feet?
If my life becomes a source of hope for others?
Why not me?
Of course, you don’t want to suffer, but you’ve become willing: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Like him, your loud cries and tears will in fact be heard by the one who saves from death.
Like him, you will learn obedience through what you suffer.
Like him, you will sympathize with the weaknesses of others.
Like him, you will deal gently with the ignorant and wayward.
Like him, you will display faith to a faithless world, hope to a hopeless world, love to a loveless world, life to a dying world.
If all that God promises only comes true, then why not me?
—David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,”  in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173).
Justin Taylor

Monday, February 22, 2010

That’s NOT in the Bible

There a lot of little phrases that we tend to think are in the Bible but really aren’t. In fact, in most of these cases, these phrases contradict the nature of the gospel. Instead of repeating these mantras, we’ve got to turn them on their heads as a way of preaching the gospel to ourselves every day:
Wrong: God helps those who help themselves.
Right: God helps those who know they cannot help themselves.
Wrong: This too shall pass.
Right: This might not pass. But God is faithful to uphold the weak.
Wrong: Cleanliness is next to godliness.
Right: Don’t worry so much about outward cleanliness; we’ve got bigger problems, namely the dirt of the heart.
Wrong: Jesus Christ is my personal savior.
Right: Jesus Christ has saved me, but He does not belong to me. I belong to Him. And though I am individually rescued, I’m not the only individual that hs been rescued. I have been saved into a family – a community of believers.
Foward Progress

Bob Dylan - I Want You - From Blonde On Blonde

Accelerator Is Stuck

Me-ness or Meekness

“If you want something, you’ve got to fight for it.” That’s the way many people think, speak and act. They want more possessions, more power, more pleasure and they are prepared to do anything to get it. They will cheat, lie, steal, bully, and even kill just to get what they want. We see this in sport, in politics, in business, in the classroom, in the yard, and even in our families. Nobody else matters. It’s ME first (and second and third), and everyone else last. The strong win, the weak lose. If you want reward and recognition you have to be aggressive, assertive, competitive.
Then Jesus steps in and turns the world’s thinking upside down. He says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Mat.5:5). Inherit the earth? Get the whole world? What a promise! That’s a lot more than just a few extra dollars or a few more friends. I want that! But I have to be meek to get it. So what does meek mean? And how do I get it?
Meekness is not me-ness
Meekness is the opposite of me-ness. It’s putting others first, second and third, and yourself last. And it’s putting God above everyone. “But if I do that, everyone else will get everything and I’ll be left with nothing.” Well, yes, it might mean we lose out a bit in this sinful, temporary world. But Jesus’ promise means that we will inherit the perfect, eternal world. That’s where faith comes in. Everything and everyone tells us “If you want anything in this world, you’ve got to fight for it.” But Jesus says, “If you want the world, you have to give it up.” Indeed, if you do live for this world, you will ultimately lose everything.
Meekness is not weakness
So does that mean I have to be one of these weak people that everyone else just tramples on? No. Meekness is not weakness. Think of Moses. He was a strong and successful leader. However, he was described as the meekest man in the world (Num. 12:3). Think of Jesus. He did not just preach meekness, He practiced it (Matt. 11:29). Yet He was a courageous preacher, who purged the temple with a whip, and defeated all the forces of evil through His cross. Meekness is not weakness. It is strength – but not uncontrolled and abusive strength. It is strength – under control for the benefit of others. It is power – channeled to the good of others.
How do I get meekness?
You can’t buy meekness. You can’t work it up. You can’t just decide to be meek. The order of the beatitudes instructs us that the meek are, first, poor in spirit. They see themselves as poor sinners who have nothing, can do nothing, and are nothing. That sense of spiritual poverty produces mourning over sin, and that mourning produces meekness. To put the first three beatitudes another way: Blessed are they who give up their love of self, their love of sin, and their love of this world. It is to such that Jesus gives His unbreakable word, “You shall inherit the earth.” If you want the world, you have to give it up.

Dr. David P. Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Murray blogs regularly at Head, Heart, Hand: Leadership for Servants.
Gospel Coalition

“What More Can He Say Than to You He Hath Said?"

Remember the fourth line of the first stanza of the great hymn, How Firm a Foundation?
What more can He say than to you He hath said?
David Powlison, in his chapter in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 150-151), meditates upon this line of the hymn:
I don’t know how you read Scripture. But there is a way to read Scripture that leaves you wishing God had said a whole lot more. How did Satan become evil? Why does Chronicles add zeros to the numbers in Samuel and Kings? How did Jonah avoid asphyxia-tion? Who wrote the book of Hebrews? And those aren’t even the questions that most often divide and perplex the church. Wouldn’t it have been great if the Lord had slipped in one killer verse that pinned down the eschatological timetable; that resolved once and for all every question about baptism; that specifically told us how to organize church leadership and government; that told us exactly what sort of music to use in worship; that explained how God’s absolute sovereignty neatly dovetails with full human responsibility? Only one more verse! And think what he could have told us with an extra paragraph or chapter! If only the Lord had shortened the genealogies, omitted mention of a few villages in the land distribution, and condensed the spec sheet for the temple’s dimensions, dishware, d├ęcor, and duties. Our Bible would be exactly the same length—even shorter—but a hundred of our questions could have been anticipated and definitively answered. Somehow, God in his providence didn’t choose to do that.
It comes down to what you are looking for as you read and listen. When you get to what most matters, to life-and-death issues, what more can he say than to you he has said? Betrayal by someone you trusted? Aggressive, incurable cancer? Your most persistent sin? A disfiguring disability? The meaning and purpose of your life? Good and evil? Love and hate? Truth and lie? Hope in the face of death? Mercy in the face of sin? Justice in the face of unfairness? The character of God? The dynamics of the human heart?
What more can he say than to you he has said? Listen well. There is nothing more that he needed to say.
[You can read the whole book online for free.]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pledging My Time - Bob Dylan

No Smoking Pets!

Nothing New Under the Sun

“The really important thing about this elaborate reconstruction of the history of the church is not the historical improbability of it in detail, but the presupposition upon which it is based. We do not indeed demand that a historian should be without presuppositions. But the important question is whether the presuppositions are true or false. And in the case of Dr. McGiffert, we think that they are false. The entire book is really based upon the pragmatist assumption that religion can be separated from theology and that a man can obtain the values of the religious life apart from the particular intellectual conception which he forms of his God. This assumption leads in the first place to an artificial treatment of history, which altogether fails to do justice to the real complexity of human life; and it leads, in the second place, and in particular, to the reconstruction, contrary to all evidence, of a primitive Gentile Christianity which shall exhibit just the type of nontheological religion which the modern pragmatist desires.”
J.Gresham Machen, “Review of Arthur Cushman McGiffert’s The God of the Early Chrisitans” (1924) in Selected Shorter Writings, edited by D.G. Hart, 499-50.
Kevin DeYoung

What Does It Mean for God to Guide Us?

Here are the three main points of J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom’s book, Guard Us, Guide Us: Divine Leading in Life’s Decisions (pp. 235-236):
First, God’s guidance is a covenanted aspect of his larger ministry of
graciously guarding us against sin’s folly and Satan’s malice
in order to bring us safe and sound to glory.
Second, our quest for guidance should be thought of as essentially a quest for the wisdom we need to cope with all the demands for decision that come to us in our waking lives, rather than with just a few big ones.
Third, the gift of God-centered peace of heart
as we contemplate and embrace
the best,
wisest, and
most God-honoring option to us
is God’s ordinary way of confirming to us that we have attained the wisdom that we sought by
observing circumstances,
praying for a clear head and discerning heart,
searching the Scriptures,
consulting experienced friends, and
thinking hard before the Lord.
This peace, be it said, is not any sort of informative nudge;
it is, rather, a sense that
the quest is ended,
the solution has been found, and
no more puzzling over the matter is necessary.
Justin Taylor

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Leavell and Steve Jordan playing Mean Old World in 1986.

The Right and Wrong Questions to Ask When You Get Cancer

Kate Sunday—the wife of my pastor and fellow-elder David Sunday—was recently diagnosed with advanced thymoma. She is 40 years old, and they have three children in the home.
Walking alongside them through this has been both painful and encouraging. Painful to see our dear sister suffering and to see the effects of the Fall in her life—encouraging to see their unwavering confidence in God’s goodness and the truth and beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On her Caring Bridge site the other day (quoted with permission), she wrote something that’s crucial to remember in times like this:
David has been leading me in this journey. When we first entered the hospital on Jan. 29th and began learning that there was a strong suspicion that I have cancer, a great fear sought to grip our hearts. Right away David began speaking to me and reminding me of God’s goodness. He challenged me to stay away from the “why” questions.
Why me?
Why now?
Why when my children are still so young? . . .
He reminded me that those questions may not ever be answered on this side of eternity, and will lead me to confusion, despair, and bitterness against God. I am so grateful that David is a strong and compassionate leader.
Instead, he challenged me to focus in on the “who, what, and how” of the situation.
Who are you, Lord?
What do you want to teach us about Yourself?
And, how do you want to use us for Your glory?
Amen.
Please pray for the Sundays, that God would continue to keep them faithful and that God would heal Kate from this cancer.
Justin Taylor

The Cure for Cold Religion

So encouraging to know the neither the problem nor the solution has changed in the last 350 years:
The reason our affections are so chilled and cold in religion—is that we do not warm them with thoughts of God. Hold a magnifying glass to the sun, and the glass burns that which is near to it. So when our thoughts are lifted up to Christ, the Sun of righteousness, our affections are set on fire. No sooner had the spouse been thinking upon her Savior’s beauty—but she fell into love-sickness. (Song of Sol. 5:8). O saints, do but let your thoughts dwell upon the love of Christ, who passed by angels and thought of you; who was wounded that, out of his wounds, the balm of Gilead might come to heal you; who leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath, to save you from drowning in the lake of fire! Think of this unparalleled love, which sets the angels wondering—and see if it will not affect your hearts and cause tears to flow forth! — Thomas Watson (The Great Gain of Godliness), p. 87
Irish Calvinist

No Safety Net

No mere mechanical agent

“The Holy Spirit is no mere mechanical agent in the great work of a sinner’s deliverance. ‘I delight to do Your will’ is as true of the Spirit as the Son.
He loves the sinner; therefore He lays hold of him. He pities his misery; therefore He stretches out the hand of help. He has no pleasure in his death; therefore He puts forth His saving power. He is longsuffering and patient; therefore He strives with him day by day; and though ‘vexed,’ ‘resisted,’ ‘grieved,’ and ‘quenched,’ He refuses to retire from, or give up, any sinner on this side of eternity.
The extent to which we resist Him, and the amount of His forbearing love, we cannot know. This only we may say, that our stubbornness is something infinitely fearful and malignant, while His patient grace passes all understanding.”
—Horatius Bonar, “The Holy Spirit”    
Of First Importance

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grace is not a "Thing"

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.
Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. - Sinclair Ferguson
Reformation Theology

The Incomparable Price

“If thou couldst rightly consider the incomparable price, thou shouldst hold as accursed all those ceremonies, vows, works, and merits before grace and after, and throw them all down to hell. For it is a horrible blasphemy to imagine that there is any work whereby thou shouldst presume to pacify God, since thou seest that there is nothing which is able to pacify Him but his inestimable price, even the death and the blood of the Son of God, one drop whereof is more precious than the whole world.”
- Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1979), 95.
Of First Importance

Junior Wells - Snatch It Back and Hold It

Blame It On Global Warming

“I’ve Given Up Everything For This”

“I’ve given up everything for this. It means everything to me. It’s why I work hard. I got what I came here to do. I got a gold medal; I have what I want.”
Tears have a funny way of releasing things. Lindsey Vonn’s tears were no different. As she stood at the bottom of the mountain at Whistler, Olympic Gold as her prize, the Women’s Downhill Champion’s tears shone brightly in the sun.
She must have been thinking of all the years she spent training for this moment. She must have been thinking of all the expectations that were placed on her shoulders as the favorite for these Games. She must have been thinking of the pressure that mounted as she sustained a shin injury just two weeks before the Games began.
She had been single-minded in her goal of becoming the world’s best women’s downhill skier. She had disciplined her body and her emotions for years as she trained for these Games. And she had persevered through intense suffering and setback. And now she stood as Olympic Champion.
Simply put, Lindsey’s tears were tears of joy, and release, and satisfaction. She had every right to shed them, for this was her moment, one to be applauded and admired. Her tears were the sweet, crowning jewels of her Olympic glory.
Here’s a truth we all know, and one Lindsey either suspects or will soon discover: Olympic glory fades. So does the glory from being a successful preacher, or pastor, or writer, or musician, or businessman, or businesswoman, or student. We all strive for perishable wreaths at different times in our lives. And we strive for them in vain.
You know well the passage where Paul compares himself to an athlete. He writes:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Cor 9:24-25).
This echoes another passage, perhaps penned by Paul as well:
Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Heb 12:1-2).
So we gain an imperishable wreath when we are single-minded in our pursuit: to obtain the prize promised by the gospel. We gain an imperishable wreath when we lay aside the sin that clings to us, exercising self-control in all things. And we gain an imperishable crown when we persevere in our race, enduring suffering as it comes, following Jesus every step of the way.
We may imagine that the bottom of our mountains will bring tears as joy and relief as well. But the tears we shed are simply an expression of a deeper longing within us, a longing that will one day be satisfied. Our tears today are just like anything in this world:  shadows of a brighter reality, or echoes of a sweeter song.
Our prize is a place with a Person, and this Person will “wipe away every tear from their eyes … neither shall there be crying … for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). It is in that day that we will wear our imperishable crowns of righteousness, because of Him and for His sake. And in that day we will be satisfied by our greatest joy: Jesus.
Congratulations to you, Lindsey. May you find Jesus as your imperishable wreath when the glory of your triumph begins to fade. And may we all see your inspiring example as a reflection of the higher call we have on our lives. May we run the race with single-mindedness, exercising self-control, disciplining our bodies for the sake of the gospel, and persevering through suffering, all so that we might obtain the prize we seek:  eternity in the presence of the One whose glory never fades.
Gospel Coalition

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Surprised by Suffering

Surprised by Suffering deals with “The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life” (according to the subtitle). And it deals with it well. Sproul wants the reader to know that, though death is a foreign state to humanity, one that came about only by the fall into sin, it is nonetheless inevitable and something that God expects us to do well. “Death is unnatural. It may be natural to fallen man, but it was not natural to man as he was created. Man was not created to die. He was created with the possibility of death, but not with the necessity of death. Death was introduced as a consequence of sin. If there had been no sin, there would be no death. But when sin entered, the curse of the fall was added. All suffering and death flow out of the complex of sin.”
Here Sproul writes about a wide variety of topics relating to suffering and death, with the first half of the book looking at life leading up to death and the second half looking at life after death. A book that is pastoral in its tone, Sproul offers hope to the Christian as he faces the inevitability of suffering and dying.
There is a sense in which death is a calling, a vocation, that God demands each of us to face. “Death is a divine appointment. It is part of God’s purpose for our lives. God calls each person to die. He is sovereign over all of life, including the final experience of life.” And when God talks to us of death, he emphasizes not where or why or when we will die, but how. “When Scripture speaks of the how of death, the focus is on the spiritual state of the person at the time of his death. Here we see the ‘how’ of death reduced to only two options. We either die in faith or we die in our sins.” This leads us, of course, to the gospel which offers us the only hope we can have as our eyes close in death.
But what we see with Sproul is that his whole way of thinking has been shaped by Scripture. He can go through a chapter with little reference to the Bible because the whole way he thinks is formed by the Bible. Eventually he gets to chapter and verse in order to claim the authority of God through his Word. But first he undoes secular arguments without and yet in a way completely consistent with the Bible.
A book that is eminently quotable, full of pithy phrases to stir the heart and give hope to the suffering and dying, Surprised by Suffering has found new life in this new edition. I highly recommend it.
Tim Challies

Bobby "Blue" Bland - Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City

God’s grace comes from the outside

“The point I am making is quite offensive to us today. It is that God hides himself from us, that he cannot be had on our terms, and that he cannot be accessed from “below” through natural revelation. In the malls, and in much of life, we encounter nothing like this.  We expect access. We expect to be able to get what we want, when we want it, and on our terms.
Here this is not the case. Here we have to be admitted to God’s presence, on his terms, in his way … or not at all.  We cannot simply walk into his presence. Here nature does not itself yield grace.  God’s grace comes from the outside, not the inside, from above and not from within. It is not natural to fallen human life. We enter the presence of God as those who have been estranged, not as those who have been in continuity with the sacred simply because we are human. We are brought into a saving relationship through Christ; we do not put this together from within ourselves.”
—David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 190
Of First Importance

The Cause Of Every Problem

The Red Hot Global Warming Scam

You can fool some of the people some of the time, as Abraham Lincoln observed, and you even can fool all the people some of the time. But you can't fool all the people all the time. Al Gore and his friends got so excited about points one and especially point two that they forgot point three.
Not everybody is on to the global-warming scam, not yet, but all the people — or enough of them — are getting there. "Global warming," or even "climate change" as Al's marketing men now insist that it be called, is becoming the stuff of jests and jokes. Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, a Republican, built an igloo of that hot stuff that buried Washington last week on the Capitol lawn and dubbed it "Al Gore's new home." ...........

But political fraud and scientific swindle can be measured by collapsing "science." The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain was regarded as the leader in climate research and the fount of raw data on which the science was based until leaked e-mails between researchers revealed evidence of doctoring of data and manipulation of evidence. The director of the research unit, professor Phil Jones, was regarded as an archbishop in the Church of Global Warming. He was pressured to resign in the wake of the scandal. Now he has conceded to an interviewer from the BBC that based on the evidence in his findings, the globe might have been warmer in medieval times. If so, the notion that fluctuations in earthly temperatures are man-made is rendered just that, a man-made notion.
The learned professor told his interviewer that for the past 15 years there has been no "statistically significant" warming. He conceded that he has lost track of many of the relevant papers — that his office was overwhelmed by the clutter of paper. Some of the crucial data to back up scare stories might be lying under other stuff, but he's not sure. An environmental analyst for the BBC said the professor told him that his "strengths" include "integrity" and "doggedness" but not record-keeping and "office tidying." He's just not dogged about keeping things straight.
This was good enough in the early years of the scam, but not any longer. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and once a ranking member of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the temperature records have been compromised and cannot be relied on. The findings of weather stations that collected temperature data were distorted by location. Several were located near air-conditioning units and on waste-treatment plants; one was next to a waste incinerator. Still another was built at Rome's international airport and catches the hot exhaust of taxiing jetliners.............

The global-warming hysteria, on which the Obama administration wants to base enormous new tax burdens, is just about as reliable as the weather hysteria presented nightly on your favorite television channel. Man is driven by his ego and finds it impossible to think even the weather is not all about him.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other


New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other

Bright Lights, Big City - JIMMY REED

God Wants You to Give Up

Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (pp. 51-52)
[God's] grace purposes to expose and free you from your bondage to you. His grace is meant to bring you to the end of yourself so that you willing finally begin to place your identity, your meaning and purpose, and your inner sense of well-being in him.
So he places you in a comprehensive relationship with another flawed person, and he places that relationship right in the middle of a very broken world.
To add to this, he designs circumstances for you that you would have never designed for yourself.
All this is meant to bring you to the end of yourself, because that is where true righteousness begins.
He wants you to give up.
He wants you to abandon your dream.
He wants you to face the futility of trying to manipulate the other person into your service.
He knows there is no life to be found in these things.
What does this practically mean?
It means the trouble that you face in your marriage is not an evidence of the failure of grace.
No, these troubles are grace.
They are tools God uses to pry us out of the stultifying confines of the kingdom of self so that we can be free to luxuriate in the big-sky glories of the kingdom of God.
This means that you and I will never understand our marriages and never be satisfied with them until we understand that marriage is not an end to itself.
No, the reality is that marriage has been designed by God to be a means to an end.
When you make it the end, bad things happen.
But when you begin to understand that it is a means to an end, then you begin to enjoy and see the value in things that you would not have been able to enjoy before.
Tripp doesn’t quote C.S. Lewis here, but Lewis often made a similar point about the difference between ultimate things and good things—between first things and secondary things—and knowing the difference. For example, in 1940 Lewis wrote:
[Sensual love] ceases to be a devil when it ceases to be a god.
So many things—nay every real thing—is good if only it will be humble and ordinate.
Or one of my favorite Lewis quotes:
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.
Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all.
When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.
—C. S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis (8 November, 1952)
Justin Taylor

The new Where's Waldo? Where's Gore?

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

  • Data for vital 'hockey stick graph' has gone missing
  • There has been no global warming since 1995
  • Warming periods have happened before - but NOT due to man-made changes
The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.
Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.
Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.
The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.
Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.
And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.
The admissions will be seized on by sceptics as fresh evidence that there are serious flaws at the heart of the science of climate change and the orthodoxy that recent rises in temperature are largely man-made.
Professor Jones has been in the spotlight since he stepped down as director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit after the leaking of emails that sceptics claim show scientists were manipulating data.
The raw data, collected from hundreds of weather stations around the world and analysed by his unit, has been used for years to bolster efforts by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to press governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Mail Online

The lie unravels, but a leftist lying press and the Dems in congress press on to promote the lie. What a joke it is that Al Gore is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting lies. Public schools have brainwashed kids in an attempt to spread fear and the lie goes on. Leftist entertainers cant admit they were duped and press on in their politically correct thinking - stupid is as stupid does.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why does God love me?

At some point every Christian has frankly evaluated their own sin and has stood amazed by the grace of God. This leads us to ask the question: Why would God send his pure and eternal Son to be smudged and murdered at the hands of vile sinners—for me? Or said more directly: Why does God love me?
The answer to this question is simple and profound.
In a sermon on John 3:16, Puritan Thomas Manton (1620–1677) answers the question this way—
Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love … Why did he make so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and has now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him? We have an answer at hand: Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us, for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7–8: “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you…” That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.*
Similarly, in his devotional treasure, Light and Truth, Horatius Bonar’s (1808–1889) writes that God does not love us because of Christ’s work on the cross. Bonar writes—
This free love was not produced or purchased by Christ’s death. That love existed before in all its largeness and freeness. Christ’s death did not increase that love. It was wide as the heart of God, and could not be increased. Christ’s death did not make the sinner a more suitable object for that love. The sinner was loved before; and it was love to the sinner that made the Father send the Son: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” That love rested on the sinner before. His circumstances as a sinner, so far from quenching God’s love to him as a creature, increased it; for they added all the amount of misery, and gloom, and exposure to eternal ruin, which called up that profound and unutterable compassion which a father feels toward a prodigal child that has ruined himself. Nothing in us, nothing in the world, nothing in heaven or earth, nothing in man or angel produced the love of God. It was uncreated, unbought, undeserved, and unfathomable. God loved the sinner because He was God, and because the sinner was a sinner. That is the end of the matter.**
God loves you because he loves you.
This is the simple—and profound—answer.
————
* Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (Solid Ground, 2008), 2:340-341
** Horatius Bonar, Light and Truth (Dust and Ashes, 2002), 3:12
Miscellanies

Jeff Beck - The Stumble

In A Nutshell

“I feel like a human being”

“Have a reputation for gentleness.”  Philippians 4:5, Phillips
“One of the nicest compliments I have ever heard about L’Abri was from a young architect who made a profession of faith at L’Abri, a young architect from Zurich.  He was saying goodbye one day.  I do not know if you know the Swiss, they often shake hands twice or three times when they are saying goodbye.  Thus, when he came back the second time to shake my hand I thought he was only following the Swiss custom.  But he said, ‘I want to tell you, every time I have been here, I feel like a human being,’ and we shook hands.  I’ve never heard anything nicer than that in my whole life.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, Speaking The Historic Christian Position into the 20th Century (privately published, 1965), pages 125-126.
Ray Ortlund

FAQ on Romans 5:1-5

How do we get peace with God?
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What did God do to give us peace?
He justified us.
By what means were we justified?
By faith.
What did justification give us access to?
God’s grace.
What is our relationship now to justifying grace?
We continue to stand in it.
What do we rejoice in?
Hope.
What do we hope in?
The glory of God.
What else do we rejoice in?
Our sufferings.
Why would we rejoice in our sufferings?
Because suffering produces endurance.
What does endurance produce?
Character.
What does character produce?
Hope.
How do we know that hope doesn’t put us to shame?
Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.
How did God pour his love into our hearts?
Through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Justin Taylor

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The good shepherd

“He restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:3
“When we take the history of a child of God, compressed within the short period of a single day — mark what flaws, what imperfections, what fickleness, what dereliction in principle, what flaws in practice, what errors in judgment and what wanderings of heart make up that brief history — how we are led to thank God for the stability of the covenant, that covenant which provides for the full redemption of all believers, which from eternity secures the effectual calling, the perfect keeping and certain salvation of every chosen vessel of mercy!”
Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (London, 1962), page 169.
Ray Ortlund

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Intellectuals and Society

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to read more of Thomas Sowell. His Basic Economics has long been on my list of things to do, as has Economic Fallacies. As it stands, Intellectuals and Societies is only the second of his books I’ve read (after The Housing Boom and Bust). This book is really a broadside against the people who influence our society with their ideas. It is a book that takes aim at intellectuals, and especially those who deliberately avoid accountability for what they believe and what they teach. The “places to which intellectuals tend to gravitate tend to be places where sheer intellect counts for much and where wisdom is by no means necessary, since there are few consequences to face or prices to be paid for promoting ideas that turn out to be disastrous for society at large.” Of course a book dealing with intellectuals will need to provide a useful definition for this class of person. Here Sowell says simply that an intellectual is a person whose end product is ideas and whose validation process involves only peers. Accountable only to their peers (which is no real accountability at all), intellectuals are free to create outrageous ideas and to influence society with them. And yet they are almost never called to account for these ideas. It is obviously very dangerous to separate ideas from consequences, to allow people to propose and demand whatever they wish but without ever calling those people to account for their influence. And yet this is precisely what happens with intellectuals. Says Sowell, “the ultimate test of a deconstructionist’s ideas is whether other deconstructionists find those ideas interesting, original, persuasive, elegant, or ingenious. There is no external test.”
As the National Review writes, “Sowell takes aim at the class of people who influence our public debate, institutions, and policy. Few of Sowell’s targets are left standing at the end, and those who are stagger back to their corner, bloody and bruised.” In almost every case they deserve the beating they’ve received.
What strikes me as I read Sowell is the profound difference between intellect and wisdom. A man may be utterly brilliant, well-spoken and highly-regarded, the holder of endless academic credentials and acclaim from his peers. And yet he may be a complete fool. And doesn’t the Bible tell us just this? The book of Proverbs tells us with stark clarity that many who consider themselves wise are, in reality, foolish. The book of James ties wisdom to humility. There is little humility in today’s intellectuals and, sadly, very little wisdom. Sowell expends some effort in differentiating between intelligence and wisdom. “Intelligence minus judgment equals intellect. Wisdom is the rarest quality of all—the ability to combine intellect, knowledge, experience, and judgment in a way to produce a coherent understanding.” The harsh reality is that many intellectuals are bankrupt when it comes to wisdom. Too many intellectuals have never learned to be wise. They are foolish at heart and, inevitably, the ideas that define them are just as foolish. And in this book Sowell illustrates this time and time again. It is, I think, the enduring lesson of Intellectuals and Society.
10 Million Words

Look Out For Those Lobsters

Otis Redding- (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

Gospel Centered Churches

“. . . a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”  Luke 7:34
What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered?  That’s a popular concept these days.  Good.  What if we were scrambling to be law-centered?  But the difference is not so easy in real terms.
A gospel-centered church holds together two things.  One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace — so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe.  Not our performance but Christ’s performance for us.  Not our sacrifices but his sacrifice for us.  Not our superiority but only his worth and prestige.  The good news of substitution.  The good news that our okayness is not in us but exterior to us in Christ alone.  Climbing down from the high moral ground, because only Christ belongs up there.  That message, that awareness, that clarity.  Every Sunday.
Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology.  The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another.  In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical.  How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe.  It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment.  We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.
A gospel-centered church looks something like this album cover — my all-time favorite.  A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners.  They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture.  The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.
The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church: anyone for any reason turning it into a culture of legal demandingness and negative scrutiny.  Few would do that in the theology, of course.  But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms.
A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace.  The latter is harder to accomplish than the former.  It is more intuitive.  It requires more humility and self-awareness.
May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity in all our churches.
Ray Ortlund

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bob Dylan- Feel A Change Comin' On (Together Through Life)

Holy Hitter

Albert Pujols loves baseball - and Jesus | Scott Lamb, Tim Ellsworth
Associated Press (Inset: Liz Sullivan/Spash News/Newscom)
ST. LOUIS—Standing before 500 men and boys, St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols spoke about being satisfied in Jesus Christ as part of "Manly Night" Jan. 16 at Lafayette Senior High School.
"As a Christian, I am called to live a holy life," Pujols said. "My standard for living is set by God, not by the world. I am responsible for growing and sharing the gospel."
The annual program, sponsored by West County Community Church, is an evangelistic event that features testimonies from Christian athletes. A local martial arts instructor, former NFL star Aeneas Williams, and Pujols each spoke. "I can't think of a greater place to celebrate my 30th birthday than with you guys, sharing my heart and lifting up the kingdom of Jesus," Pujols said.
World Magazine

Unchurched

"There are about 200 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the four largest 'unchurched' nations in the world."

Author and pastor JOHN PIPER, in a Jan. 31 sermon titled "I will build My church."

Don't Ask Stupid Questions

God’s grace comes from the outside

“The point I am making is quite offensive to us today. It is that God hides himself from us, that he cannot be had on our terms, and that he cannot be accessed from “below” through natural revelation. In the malls, and in much of life, we encounter nothing like this.  We expect access. We expect to be able to get what we want, when we want it, and on our terms.
Here this is not the case. Here we have to be admitted to God’s presence, on his terms, in his way … or not at all.  We cannot simply walk into his presence. Here nature does not itself yield grace.  God’s grace comes from the outside, not the inside, from above and not from within. It is not natural to fallen human life. We enter the presence of God as those who have been estranged, not as those who have been in continuity with the sacred simply because we are human. We are brought into a saving relationship through Christ; we do not put this together from within ourselves.”
—David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 190
Of First Importance

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ROCK MY PLIMSOUL (1968) Jeff Beck Group - Truth LP

Bono on Grace

“The universe operates by Karma, we all know that.  For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.  There is some atonement built in: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  Then enters Grace and turns that upside down.  I love it.  I’m not talking about people being graceful in their actions but just covering over the cracks.  Christ’s ministry really was a lot to do with pointing out how everybody is a screw-up in some shape or form, there’s no way around it.  But then He was to say, well, I am going to deal with those sins for you.  I will take on Myself all the consequences of sin.  Even if you’re not religious I think you’d accept that there are consequences to all the mistakes we make.  And so Grace enters the picture to say, ‘I’ll take the blame, I’ll carry your cross.’  It is a powerful idea.  Grace interrupting Karma.”
Bono, in U2 by U2 (London, 2006), page 300.

Where's Al?

Stott on How and Why Christians Should Debate Each Other

From John Stott’s book, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1970).
On what Christians should do when they disagree with each other:
The proper activity of professing Christians who disagree with one another is neither to ignore, nor to conceal, nor even to minimize their differences, but to debate them. (p. 22)
On why we should speak the truth in love, not being truthless in love or loveless in truth:
We seem in our generation to have moved a long way from this vehement zeal for the truth which Christ and his apostles displayed. But if we loved the glory of God more, and if we cared more for the eternal good of the souls of men, we would not refuse to engage in necessary controversy, when the truth of the gospel is at stake. The apostolic command is clear. We are “to maintain the truth in love,” being neither truthless in our love, nor loveless in our truth, but holding the two in balance. (p. 19)
On the difference between a “tolerant mind” and a “tolerant spirit”:
We need to distinguish between the tolerant mind and the tolerant spirit. Tolerant in spirit a Christian should always be, loving, understanding, forgiving and forbearing others, making allowances for them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, for true love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” [1 Cor. 13:7]. But how can we be tolerant in mind of what God has plainly revealed to be either evil or erroneous? (p. 8)
I think Stott would have liked something G. K. Chesterton once said: ““The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (The Autobiography, vol. 16 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988], 212).
Justin Taylor