Monday, February 28, 2011

Huge Manhattan billboard spotlighting black abortions sparks huge controversy

In the wake of the release by the New York City Health Dept. of abortion statistics showing 60% of black pregnancies in Gotham end in abortion, the group Life Always has just erected a huge billboard spotlighting the truth that “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”
The billboard comes conveniently at a time when the NYC Council is considering a  bill that targets pregnancy care centers and also during Black History Month.
But the target of the billboard is Planned Parenthood, according to the group’s press release

The billboard is about half a mile from one of three New York City Planned Parenthood abortion facilities which jointly reported nearly 17,000 abortions in 2010….
The campaign launch is designed to raise public awareness of PP’s targeting of minority neighborhoods….
PP’s annual report states that they perform 300,000+ abortions annually.
… which makes the billboard also timely regarding attempts on the federal level to stop taxpayer funding to PP. Read the rest here.

Jeff Beck - Amazing Grace Instrumental

I love this version, I want it played at my funeral.

Eric Clapton & Friends - White Room

Oil Prices Kill Recovery

It Is a Power

What is the gospel? Well, you remember the answer of the Apostle Paul, 'It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth' (Rom. 1.16).

How easy it is to forget that. How easy to preach it as a system, to preach it as a collection of ideas, or just to preach it as a truth. Ah, but you can do that without power. There are people, say the Apostle Paul, who 'have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof' (2 Tim. 3.5).

Christianity is primarily a life. It is a power. It is a manifestation of energy.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway, 1987), 123
Dane Ortlund

Our Greatest Problem is Inside Us

Paul Tripp
One of the most tempting fallacies for us—and for every human being in this fallen world—is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside us rather than inside us.  Despite this, the Bible calls us to humbly confess that the greatest, deepest, most abiding problem each of us faces is inside of us, not outside. The Bible names that problem "sin." Because sin is self-focused and self-serving, it is antisocial and destructive to our relationships.
Read the rest.  
Vitamin Z

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Hell With Hell

At least now we know what Rob Bell thinks about hell.
LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

I am eager to read the book, not to pick a fight (though sometimes we need to fight, and this is one of those times), but because a book like this from a prominent pastor like this needs a response, many responses. We should be thankful for the clarity, but saddened by the content.
In the meantime, we must remember why God’s wrath is necessary to make sense of the Bible, the cross, and our growth in godliness.
We need the doctrine of eternal punishment. Time and time again in the New Testament we find that understanding divine justice is essential to our sanctification. Believing in God’s judgment actually helps us look more like Jesus. In short, we need the doctrine of the wrath of God.
First, we need God’s wrath to keep us honest about evangelism. Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment (Acts 24:25). We need to do the same. Without the doctrine of hell, we are prone to get involved in all sorts of important God-honoring things, but neglect the one thing that matters for all eternity, urging sinners to be reconciled to God.
Second, we need God’s wrath in order to forgive our enemies. The reason we can forgo repaying evil for evil is because we trust the Lord’s promise to repay the wicked. Paul’s logic is sound. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). The only way to look past our deepest hurts and betrayals is to rest assured that every sin against us has been paid for on the cross and or will be punished in hell. We don’t have to seek vigilante justice, because God will be our just judge.
Third, we need God’s wrath in order to risk our lives for Jesus’ sake. The radical devotion necessary to suffer for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus comes, in part, from the assurance we have that God will vindicate us in the end. That’s why the martyrs under the throne cry out “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev. 6:10) They paid the ultimate price for their faith, but their blood stained cries will be answered one day. Their innocence will be established when God finally judges their persecutors.
Fourth, we need God’s wrath in order to live holy lives. Paul warns us that God cannot be mocked. We will reap what we sow. We are spurred on to live a life of purity and good deeds by the promised reward for obedience and the promised curse for disobedience. If we live to please the flesh, we will reap destruction from God. But if we live to please the Spirit, we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:6-7). Sometimes ministers balk at the thought of motivating people with the threat of eternal punishment. But wasn’t this Jesus’ approach when he said “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28)? Sometimes we need to literally scare the hell out of people.
Fifth, we need God’s wrath in order to understand what mercy means. Divine mercy without divine wrath is meaningless. Only when we know that we were objects of wrath (Eph. 2:3), stood condemned already (John 3:18), and would have faced hell as God’s enemies were it not for undeserved mercy (Rom. 5:10), can we sing from the heart “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
Sixth, we need God’s wrath in order to grasp how wonderful heaven will be. Jonathan Edwards is famous (or infamous) for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It’s still read in American Literature classes, usually as a caricature of the puritanical spirit of colonial New England. But few people realize that Edwards also preached sermons like “Heaven is a World of Love.” Unlike most of us, Edwards saw in vivid colors the terror of hell and the beauty of heaven. We can’t get a striking picture of one without the other. That’s why the depiction of the heavenly New Jerusalem also contains a warning to the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, immoral, idolaters, and liars whose place is in “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Rev. 21:8). It’s unlikely we will long for our final salvation if we don’t know what we are saved from.
Seventh, we need the wrath of God in order to be motivated to care for our impoverished brothers and sisters. We all know the saying that Christians are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. The idea is that if all we think about are heaven and hell we’ll ignore ministries of compassion and social justice. But what better impetus for social justice than Jesus’ sober warning that if we fail to care for the least of our brothers we will go away to eternal punishment (Matt. 25:31-46)? The wrath of God is a motivator for us to show compassion to others, because without love, John says, we have no eternal life, and if we don’t share our material possessions with those in need we have no love (1 John 2:17).
Eighth, we need God’s wrath in order to be ready for the Lord’s return. We must keep the lamps full, the wicks trimmed, the houses clean, the vineyard tended, the workers busy, and the talents invested lest we find ourselves unprepared for the day of reckoning. Only when we fully believe in the coming wrath of God and tremble at the thought of eternal punishment will we stay awake, keep alert, and be prepared for Jesus to come again and judge the living and the dead.
Excerpted from Why We’re Not Emergent. Kevin DeYoung

Howlin' Wolf - "Who's Been Talkin"

Howlin' Wolf - Wang Dang Doodle


Rob Bell: Universalist?

John Piper once wisely wrote, “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.”
It is unspeakably sad when those called to be ministers of the Word distort the gospel and deceive the people of God with false doctrine.
But it is better for those teaching false doctrine to put their cards on the table (a la Brian McLaren) rather than remaining studiously ambiguous in terminology.
So on that level, I’m glad that Rob Bell has the integrity to be lay his cards on the table about  universalism. It seems that this is not  just optimism about the fate of those who haven’t heard the Good News, but (as it seems from below) full-blown hell-is-empty-everyone-gets-saved universalism.
Here is HarperCollins’s description of his next book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.
Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.
Update: Thanks for all of you who have weighed in. I cannot respond to each comment, so I thought this might be the best way to make a few points.
1) One of the things I get criticized for is having comments in the first place, but this is a place where you can tell me if you think I’ve done things wrong or in the wrong way. I want to be open to correction, and this is one forum by which to do it.
2) I updated a couple of things on the original post. First, I deleted “seems to” with regard to Bell’s moving farther away from biblical Christianity. Second, I changed “unambiguous about his universalism” to “lay his cards on the table about universalism.” Third, I deleted the 2 Cor. 11:14-15 reference at the end. I do think it’s important to recognize the biblical theme that false teachers look like cuddly sheep and like angels of light. But let’s wait for the book so we can see all his cards laid out on the table.
3) I have not read all of Bell’s book, though I have read some chapters that were sent to me. When the book is published there were be detailed reviews, and I will link to them. I think that the publisher’s description combined with Bell’s video is sufficient evidence to suggest that he thinks hell is empty and that God’s love (which desires all to be saved) is always successful. I should have been more careful in my original post not to imply that Bell is definitely a universalist. He may believe that some people go out of existence and are not thereby saved. The materials I have seen sound more like universalism though (note it sounds like no one goes to hell, and that the title promises to talk about the fate of everyone who has ever lived, which sure sounds like it’s the same for everyone).
4) I highly doubt that this is a mere marketing stunt or that Bell is merely asking questions or playing Devil’s Advocate. If it turns out that the full book is diametrically opposed to his publisher’s description and to the conclusions he wants you to reach in the video, I will make that clear on this blog.
5) If Bell is teaching that hell is empty and that you can reject Jesus and still be saved, he is opposing the gospel and the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ. You may think that’s judgmental to say that; I think it’s being faithful. I would encourage a careful study of 1 Timothy to see what Paul says about false teaching and teachers.
6) For those who are not regular readers of this blog and think that the perspective advocated here is totally out to lunch, you may want to check out Kevin DeYoung’s post, “To Hell with Hell,” which gives a nice brief summary on the importance of understanding the wrath of God. As H. Richard Niebuhr wrote 75 years ago, too often we want “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross,” Kingdom of God in America (1937), p. 193. Also see Denny Burk’s post where he seeks to answer Bell’s questions from a biblical perspective.
7) Let’s remember to pray. Rob Bell needs to know and teach the liberating gospel of grace—including that Christ absorbed the Father’s wrath on behalf of those who trust in him and repent of their sins. And there are tens of thousands of folks who look to Rob Bell as a biblical teacher and leader. May God give much mercy.
Justin Taylor

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Howlin' Wolf - I Ain't Superstitious

The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions (Recorded May 2, 1970)
Howlin' Wolf - vocal, Hubert Sumlin, Eric Clapton - guitar
Steve Winwood - piano, Klaus Voormann - bass, Ringo Starr - drums
Jordan Sandke - trumpet, Dennis Lansing - tenor saxophone
Joe Miller - baritone saxophone, Bill Wyman - cowbell

Sonny Boy Williamson - Keep it to Yourself

I Believe This

Here's a bit of the Westminster Confession, from the chapter on the decrees of God.

This. Is. Magnificent. (As are the Three Forms of Unity.)
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace. . . .

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.
Dane Ortlund

Christchurch Earthquake Photos

With hundreds still missing, and 75 already confirmed dead, rescuers struggled to find survivors on the second night after a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city Tuesday. Buildings crumbled into the streets after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which geologists consider an aftershock to a 7.1 earthquake that caused no casualties in September. Tuesday’s temblor was more devastating and deadly because it was centered only six miles from the city's center and hit during the middle of a workday. The Government has declared a national state of emergency. Officials estimated there could be 100 people trapped in the CTV building alone. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

Two men feeling the joy of being alive.
Click here for 36 pictures

Friday, February 25, 2011

Benny Hinn Sued by Strang Co.

The lawsuit cites Hinn's 'inappropriate relationship' with Paula White.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Televangelist Benny Hinn is being sued by Strang Communications, a publishing company that alleges that Hinn violated a morality clause in their contract when he began an "inappropriate relationship" with Without Walls pastor Paula White.
In August, The National Enquirer published photos of Hinn and White holding hands in Rome. Hinn was married to Suzanne Hinn at the time. His wife had filed for divorce in February 2010.
"I will not deny that the friendship has strengthened, and, while it has remained morally pure at all times, I have enjoyed the company of someone who has also gone through the trauma of a painful and public divorce," Hinn said in a statement at the time.
Hinn acknowledged to his publisher "his inappropriate relationship" with White in August, the suit, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, says. Strang Co. (now known as Charisma Media) says that it should receive $250,000 of unrecouped royalties but Hinn has refused to pay the amount.
Hinn had signed a three-book deal and was paid a $300,000 advance for Blood in the Sand (2009). The suit includes a letter where Strang said Hinn violated the contract by failing to work hard enough to market the book, according to the Sentinel.
He failed to make television appearances to promote it, including several on 700 Club, the television show that Pat Robertson founded.
Paula White and her husband divorced in 2007, and she left Without Walls, returning in 2009 after her husband announced his departure due to poor health. White also described the National Enquirer piece as false.
"We were never alone and were in the constant company of staff and other associates, " she said in a statement at the time. "I value my friendship with Pastor Benny and remain supportive with a deep respect of him, his family and his ministry. My relationship with Pastor Benny is genuine and pure and should not be taken out of context."
Hinn and White were cited in Sen. Chuck Grassley's investigation of televangelists, which recently concluded.
Christianity Today


One of my all time favorite songs, I never get tired of this song. I just turn it up and sing along.

Johnnie Johnson / Tanqueray & Johnnie's Boogie.

Still Watching, Still Waiting - For The Federal Government To get Serious and Stop Spending

Wise Or Foolish?

Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance. Proverbs 14:9

Fascinating and instructive.

Translation: The fool--in Proverbs, the one who obeys his own instincts and resists any word outside his own little internal world of self-generated impulses--rejects and ridicules the notion of substitution. The upright--literally 'the straight,' those whose self-perception is not skewed through stubborn autonomy--enjoy the release of atoned guilt, which breathes new life into them.

Wisdom: opening yourself up to an offering made on your behalf.

Interesting, too, that the guilt offering was the offering that dealt with unintentional guilt (see Lev 5-7). It was the offering sought out by those who knew that their waywardness went well beyond their own immediate moral awareness. It was the offering appreciated by the wise.

. . . how much more will the blood of Christ . . .' --Hebrews 9:14
Dane Ortlund

Are You Easily Offended?

Are you easily offended? God can work on that. But at least we should be quick to forgive.
Ken Sande (The Peacemaker, p. 83), suggests that overlooking an offense is appropriate under two conditions.
First, the offense should not have created a wall between you and the other person or caused you to feel differently toward him or her for more than a short period of time.
Second the offense should not be causing serious harm to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender. . . .
He explains that overlooking is active, not passive:
Overlooking is not a passive process in which you simply remain silent for the moment but file away the offense for later use against someone. That is actually a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger.
Instead, overlooking is an active process that is inspired by God’s mercy through the gospel. To truly overlook an offense means to deliberately decide not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness.
If you cannot let go of an offense in this way, if it is too serious to overlook, or if it continues as part of a pattern in the other person’s life, then you will need to go and talk to the other person about it in a loving and constructive manner.
Proverbs 19:11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 17:14: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”
1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Colossians 3:13: “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Justin Taylor

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eric Clapton & Paul McCartney- While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow - Little Wing

Gorespell - See It At A Theater near You

Profitable Wickedness

'But I say to you, Love your enemies.' --Matthew 5:44

St. Augustine:
Well, you have enemies. Indeed, who could live on this earth without them?

See to it that you love them.

In no way can a raging enemy injure you as much as you injure yourself when you do not love your enemy. He can damage your farm or your flock; he can injure your household--your manservant or maidservant, your son or your wife, or, at most, he can injure your body if he has been given the power. But--unlike you--can he injure the soul?

Dearly beloved, strive toward this perfection, I exhort you.

Is it I that gave you this? It has been given to you by Him to whom you say: 'Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.' And do not think it impossible, for I know that there are Christians who love their enemies. I know this, for I have discovered it and proved it. You will not even try to love your enemy if you think it impossible for you to love him. Therefore, begin by believing it possible, and then pray the will of God be done in you. If your enemy had no wickedness, he would not be an enemy. But, how profitable his wickedness can be for you!

. . . You are still saying: 'Who can do it, and who has ever done it?' May God do it in your hearts. Very few do it, I know. Those who do it are noble and spiritual.
--St. Augustine, Commentary on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount: With Seventeen Related Sermons (Catholic University of America Press, 2001), 252-53
Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eric Clapton & B.B. King- I Wanna Be

The Public Sector Love Triangle

"I Don't Want Free Will" by Martin Luther

“I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground …; but because even were there no dangers … I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success … But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God” - Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.
Reformation Theology

Horton On The Law And The Gospel

This is probably the best shortest explanation of the all important distinction between God’s law and God’s gospel that I’ve read. It’s from Mike Horton’s new book The Christian Faith:
In the Reformed tradition, the law-gospel distinction was interpreted within the historical context of distinct covenants in history. The covenant of creation (also called the covenant of works or law) was based on the personal performance of all righteousness by the covenant servant. The covenant of grace is based on the fulfillment of all righteousness by our representative head and is dispensed to the covenant people through faith in him. There is still law in the covenant of grace. However, it is no longer able to condemn believers but directs them in lives of gratitude for God’s mercy in Christ.
As I’ve said here before, the commands in the Bible are like a set of railroad tracks. The tracks provide no power for the train but the train must stay on the tracks in order to function. The law, in other words, never gives any power to do what it commands. It shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it has no sanctifying power. Only the gospel has power, as it were, to move the train. This is why the Bible never tells us what to do before first soaking our hearts and minds in what God in Christ has already done.
Tullian Tchividjian

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chuck Berry - Mean Old World (1986) With Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Leavell and Steve Jordan

The Insanity Of Iran's "I Need A Dinner Jacket"

How the Gospel Establishes the Law

This reminds me of what Theodorus long ago replied to Philocles, who was often hinting that he preached doctrines which tended to licentiousness because he enlarged diligently and frequently upon faith in Jesus Christ: “I preach salvation by Jesus Christ,” said Theodorus; “and give me leave to ask, whether you know what salvation by Christ means?” Philocles began to blush, and would have declined an answer.

“No,” said Theodorus, “you must permit me to insist upon a reply. Because if it is a right one, it will justify me and my conduct; if it is a wrong one, it will prove that you blame you know not what, and that you have more reason to inform yourself than to censure others.”

This disconcerted him still more, upon which Theodorus proceeded. “Salvation by Jesus Christ means not only a deliverance from the guilt, but also from the power of sin. `He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and redeem us from our vain conversation,’ as well as deliver us from the wrath to come. Go now, Philocles, and tell the world that, by teaching these doctrines, I promote the cause of licentiousness. And you will be just as rational, just as candid, just as true, as if you should affirm that the firemen, by running the engine and pouring in water, burnt your house to the ground, and laid your furniture in ashes.”

Indeed, both the doctrine and the grace of faith, are evidently, yea, and designedly injurious to heathen morality as well as pharisaic righteousness. But with regard to true morality, which forms a necessary part of godliness or evangelical holiness, instead of being, in the smallest degree, injurious to this, they directly tend to it; yea, and they are the necessary, the fundamental principles of it. Sooner might fire be without heat, and a solid body be without weight, than a true faith of the gospel be without evangelical holiness.

-- John Colquhoun, "The Establishment of the Law by the Gospel"
Jared Wilson

A Little Heaven Upon Earth

The love of Christ has a tendency to fill the soul with an inexpressible sweetness. It sweetens every thought and makes every meditation pleasant. It brings a divine color upon the mind, and spreads a heavenly fragrancy like a precious box of ointment. It bathes the soul with the dew of heaven, begets a bright sunshine and diffuses the beginning of glory and happiness in embryo. All the world smiles upon such a soul as loves Christ. The sun, moon and stars, fields and trees do seem to solace him. Such a mind is like a little heaven upon earth.
--Jonathan Edwards, The Glory and Honor of God: Volume 2 of the Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, p. 254
Dane Ortlund

Monday, February 21, 2011

Same Old Blues - Freddie King

Roots of Blues -- T-Bone Walker - "Mean Old World"

Recorded: Hollywood, July 20, 1942
T-Bone Walker, vocals, guitar - Frediie Slack, piano - Jud De Naut,bass - Dave Coleman, drums

Do You Remember The Flintstones Cigarette Commercials? Culture Schock

Cowards In Wisconsin

Why We Earnestly Emphasize That We Are Telling the Truth

"Let what you say be simply 'yes' or 'no.'" --Matthew 5:37

German pastor and writer Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986) comments:
Whenever I utter the formula “I swear by God,” I am really saying, “Now I’m going to mark off an area of absolute truth and put walls around it to cut it off from the muddy floods of untruthfulness and irresponsibility that ordinarily overruns my speech.” In fact, I am saying even more than this. I am saying that people are expecting me to lie from the start. And just because they are counting on my lying I have to bring up these big guns of oaths and words of honor in order to drive a breach into these abysmally pessimistic prejudices of my fellow men, this closed phalanx of distrust (and quite justified distrust too!).
--Helmut Thielicke, Life Can Begin Again: Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount (trans. J. Doberstein; Fortress, 1966), 55
Dane Ortlund

Luther Liked His Music!

“Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds hearts, and spirits….a person who…does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God…does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hey Lawdy Mama - Cream

Blind Faith - Well Alright

Eric Clapton @ Crossroads 07 - Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad

The Difference Between Men And Women a Simple Picture


What is doctrine after all but the throne whereon Christ sitteth, and when the throne is vacant what is the throne to us? Doctrines are the shovel and tongs of the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking thereon. Doctrines are Christ's garments; verily they smell of myrrh, and cassia, and aloes out of the ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad, but it is not the garments we care for as much as the person.
--quoted in Iain Murray, Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism (Banner of Truth, 1995), 122
Dane Ortlund

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Little Wing" - Allman Brothers Band featuring Eric Clapton - 03-19-09

Lean On Me - Kirk Franklin

One of my all time favorite songs, every time I listen it moves me. Turn it up

Born This Way (so Raise Your Glass, All You Fireworks)

Three hit songs in the last few months have pushed the same message: You are awesome. You’re awesome just the way you are, even –no, especially– if you don’t fit in.
The three songs are “Firework” by Katy Perry, “Raise Your Glass” by Pink, and “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga. I don’t know who is sending out the talking points for pop singers, but these three divas are on message. A certain style of relentless affirmation is apparently the order of the day. Why? What is the radio saying to us? I’m not sure these songs are worth thinking about, but here are some observations about them.
1. It’s youth ministry. Okay, obviously these songs are not talking to us, if by “us” you mean readers of blogs like this. These artists appeal to a very young audience, giving them a soundtrack for their lives, lives filled with songs their fans can be embarrassed about when they grow up. And the message for the kids is: “Love yourself and you’re set, there’s a spark in you, just ignite the light and let it shine, you’re original, can’t be replaced,” etc. Louder, more positive, LOUDER!
2. But for what religion? It’s clearly not Christianity, or any of the other fusty old faiths. It’s some kind of primal celebration of life itself, some sort of vitalism that requires ecstatic self-affirmation. Pink (excuse me, that’s P!nk) is by far the least articulate of the three, but even she wants to know “what part of party don’t you understand?” Katy Perry might be paraphrasing the book of Esther when she muses, “Maybe the reason why all the doors are closed is so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road… when it’s time you’ll know.” But in the paraphrase is the jump to a different faith, a faith of self-celebrating. “I sing myself and celebrate myself,” said Walt Whitman (who was probably an early prophet of this faith). These singers celebrate themselves by bringing their fans into the circle of self-celebration. “It’s all about you, by which I mean me.”
It makes perfect sense that the priests of this new religion are the celebrities. Their celebrity status is the very thing that shows them to be the elect, the apostles whose message must be heard. In an article entitled “God at the Grammys,” Neil Strauss lines up quote after quote to show that “Before they were famous, many of the biggest pop stars in the world believed that God wanted them to be famous, that this was his plan for them, just as it was his plan for the rest of us not to be famous.”
3. The affirmers are young women. I don’t really know what to make of this, but I can’t think of any male voices who are delivering this message to the young people quite so clearly. Bruno Mars tells his girlfriend “You’re amazing, just the way you are.” –and she apparently needs a lot of affirmation, since according to another Mars song, people are always throwing grenades and blades at her. But he’s talking directly to one person he is romantically in love with, whereas the divas are shouting love-words at a crowd, preacher-style. Of the three young women with the “Yay You” songs, only P!nk is older than 30. They beam affection at their fans from the stage, from P!nk calling her fans “my underdogs” to Gaga’s bizarre mass therapy sessions masquerading as concerts. What exactly is this diva-affirmation? It’s not generalized romance, as if the love crooner were to look up from his girl and say to a surrounding crowd, “You’re ALL amazing, just the way you are.” And though all three divas build their careers on sexiness, it’s a sexiness exactly like porn, which is to say perfectly impersonal. Can you imagine a manly man delivering this message? I suppose we’ll get that sooner or later, but at this stage of cultural development, a male voice would be way too fatherly to carry the message. Only Gaga has dared to gesture in that direction, with her chummy reference to “Capital H-I-M.”
4. It’s a message targeted at misfits. Katy Perry’s song is for those who “feel like a plastic bag,” or “paper thin” or “like a house of cards.” Pink’s song is to people who are underdogs, “wrong in all the right ways,” “nitty gritty dirty little freaks,” “too school for cool, and treated like a fool.” And Lady Gaga sings to “subway kids,” encouraging them to “have no regrets.” But above all, Lady Gaga sings to male homosexuals. The gay element was a sub-text for Perry and P!nk, made explicit only in their videos (which both feature men kissing at crucial moments). But Lady Gaga makes it central, and her whole song is deliberately pitched to be a gay rights anthem (“don’t be a drag, just be a queen”). But “Born this Way” isn’t really about being gay at all. Gaga’s using the cultural cachet of homosexuality to push the religion of self-affirmation. Similar layers of contradiction abound: All three are conspicuously skinny women trying to position themselves as being on the side of obese girls (again, both videos so far feature young women who feel shunned because of their weight; Gaga, on the other hand, dons fleshy-bony shoulder spikes that simulate anorexia); all three are white women celebrating racial diversity at the level of a United Colors of Benneton fashion statement.
5. It’s no good talking about it. Because the ready defense is “OMG, it’s like just a song or whatever, why are you analyzing it?” And also because the whole point for all three singers is to get people to notice them, and the various tricks of all their songs serve only that end. But the message is “You, that is, I, am awesome. Look at me and listen to me.” And when we do, even to shake our heads, we obey. It’s a perfect match between their medium and their message, because they can promote their religion in the very act of promoting themselves. You couldn’t make up a better religion.
The Scriptorium

IBM Computer Watson Wins Again

Conscience Clause for Health Care Workers Rescinded

Albert Mohler:
In other words, the Obama administration is now ready to use the coercive power of the state to force medical personnel to perform acts they consider to be morally wrong and unhealthy for their patients. One obvious implication of this is that the state now finds it necessary to force medical professionals to do what they by conscience do not think is right. Allowed to act by conscience, these medical professionals clearly would not do what the state now requires them to do.
Just imagine how our nation’s founders would consider such a tyrannical trampling of individual conscience by the power of the state. From a Christian perspective, this should serve as a clear alarm for those who suggest that it is paranoid to believe that the state will use similar force to require other acts against conscience. The logic is right here for all to see, and only the willfully blind can deny what this new policy means.
You can read the whole thing here.
Justin Taylor

Friday, February 18, 2011

Government Imposed Weight Loss

George Muller's Day Off

A Take off of Ferris Bueller's day off with Ben Stein as the teacher

A Miracle of Grace

Kent Hughes describes an event in the life of a distinguished judge of the High Court in England.
The church he attended had three mission churches under its care. On the first Sunday of the new year all the members of the missions came to the big city church for a combined Communion service. In those mission churches, which were located in the slums of the city, were some outstanding cases of conversions — thieves, burglars, and so on — but all knelt side by side at the Communion rail.

On one such occasion the pastor saw a former thief kneeling beside the judge. . . . After his release the thief had been converted and became a Christian worker. Yet, as the judge and the former thief knelt together, neither seemed to be aware of the other.

After the service, the judge happened to walk out with the pastor and said, “Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the Communion rail this morning?”

The pastor replied, “Yes, but I didn’t think that you did.”

The two walked along in silence for a few more moments, when the judge declared, “What a miracle of grace.”

The pastor nodded in agreement. “Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace.”

Then the judge asked, “But to whom do you refer?”

The pastor responded, “Why, to the conversion of that convict.”

“But I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself,” explained the judge.

Surprised, the pastor replied, “You were thinking of yourself? I don’t understand.”

“Yes,” the judge went on. “It was natural for the burglar to respond to God’s grace when he came out of jail. His life was nothing but a desperate history of crime, and when he saw the Savior he knew there was salvation and hope and joy for him. He understood how much he needed that help.

“But I . . . I was taught from earliest infancy to be a gentleman — that my word was my bond, that I was to say my prayers, go to church, receive Communion. I went up to Oxford, took my degrees, was called to the bar, and eventually ascended to judge. My friend, it was God’s grace that drew me; it was God’s grace that opened my heart to receive Christ. I’m a greater miracle of his grace.”
--Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount (Crossway, 2001), 23-24
Dane Ortlund

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty - "Knockin On Heavean s Door"

Law Can Only Point to What it Cannot Provide

“We see that the law simply cannot bring into being what it commands…The law says, ‘Thou shalt love!’ It is right; it is ‘holy, true, good’. Yet it can’t bring about what it demands. It might impel toward the works of the law, the motions of love, but in the end they will become irksome and will all too often lead to hate. If we go up to someone on the street, grab them by the lapels and say, ‘Look here, you’re supposed to love me!’ the person may drudgingly admit that we are right, but it won’t work. The results will likely be just the opposite from what our ‘law’ demands. Law is indeed right, but it simply cannot realize what it points to. So it works wrath. It can curse, but it can’t bless. In commanding love law can only point helplessly to that which it cannot produce.”
-Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, p. 107 (discussing Thesis 26 of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation)
In Light Of The Gospel

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Band - The Weight - From "The Last Waltz"

Questions of Conviction on Eternal Security

Because "eternal life" is integral to the gospel's promise, I believe eternal security is an integral blessing of the gospel, and to deny it is to embrace a truncated gospel. Eternal security is near and dear to my heart, and I have been grateful and sobered by the many opportunities I have had to teach it to others in counseling situations over the last several years. Eternal insecurity, the doubting of grace for me, has been the number one counseling issue I have encountered in both Bible Belt Nashville and the traditionalist wasteland of rural Vermont.

When I reflect on God's promise of eternal security for those in Christ, I go to these common Scriptures and posit these questions of conviction.

John 6:39
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

1. How perfect is the Father's will?
2. How good is Jesus at his job?
3. Does the word "nothing" mean nothing, or does it mean "some"?

John 6:40
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

4. What does "eternal" mean?
5. What does Jesus' promise about the last day mean for "everyone who believes"?

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

6. How does "predestined" jibe with insecurity?
7. If God commits to glorify those he justifies, why do we think he won't?
8. Is justification really justification? Does it mean what it says?

1 Corinthians 1:8-9
He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

9. How long does God commit to keep us blameless?
10. Is security dependent on our faithfulness or God's? And how faithful is God?

Hebrews 7:25
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

11. Does "completely" mean "partly" or "temporarily"?

Hebrews 13:5
[H[e has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

John 10:28
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

12. Does "never" mean "never"?
13. Does "no one" mean "no one"?

Hebrews 10:10
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

14. How long does Christ's sacrifice last?
15. How much does Christ's sacrifice cover?

Titus 1:2
. . . in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

16. What kind of life did God promise?
17. When did he promise it?
18. Are God's promises reliable?
19. Wouldn't denying his promise of eternal life be tantamount to calling him a liar?

20. Is your sin more powerful than Christ's blood? Is your weakness more powerful than God's might? Are you the nut he can't crack?
If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God's giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.

-- Charles Spurgeon
Jared Wilson

Drowning In Red Ink

The Band - Ophelia - From "The Last Waltz"

This Truth Needs To Be Reaffirmed Daily.

My whole theology of gospel preaching rests on the foundation of truth that the quote below illuminates. God’s grace is a beautiful, and scandalously freeing, thing!
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace.  If we’ve performed well—whatever ‘well’ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly.  In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace.  We are saved by grace, but we are living by the ‘sweat’ of our own performance.  Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘try harder’.  We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience.  But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.
Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - "Little Red Rooster"

The Only Thing That Satisfies

C. S. Lewis:
He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our won, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There's no bargaining with Him.

That is, I take it, the meaning of all those sayings that alarm me most. . . . [William] Law, in his cool, terrible voice, said . . . 'If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.' Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies.

Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?
--'A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Touchstone, 1975), 141-42
Dane Ortlund

Challenging A Secular Worldview

Click on to view

How The British Really Feel

When Is an Issue Important Enough to Correct Someone?

In the appendix to Sam Crabtree’s Practicing Affirmation he reproduces a helpful grid:

(Beevers’ Grid copyright 1986 by Ernest Beevers. Used by permission.)
Crabtree explains (pp. 161-162) how this can be used to help determine when to correct someone and when to let it go.

The vertical axis indicates the importance of the issue being considered. The bottom reflects issues of low importance such as trying to resolve whether President George Washington ever wore socks that didn’t match. It is an issue of virtually no consequence. Moving up the axis, toward the top we reach issues that are important, issues that have life-and-death significance, perhaps for a great many people. Between the top and the bottom is an array of issues and their relative importance or unimportance. The horizontal axis indicates my certainty that I am right. Toward the left are issues about which I don’t have the foggiest clue (what is the name of the dog owned by the bit player in that 1938 movie that no one saw?). Toward the right are issues about which I am sure that I’m sure before God, the angels, and all the witnesses that could be summoned that I am right. Most people find that there are surprisingly few of these issues.
Any issue of controversy can be plotted on this matrix.
The lower-left quadrant contains issues that meet two simultaneous criteria: (1) they are of low importance, and (2) I do not know much about them. For example: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Who knows? And who cares? Here’s the point: it wouldn’t be worth consuming relational energy to argue about this issue or to correct someone else’s viewpoint.
The upper-left quadrant contains issues that meet two simultaneous criteria: (1) they are of high importance, but (2) I still don’t know with certainty what the truth is. For example: When is Jesus returning? That is of crucial and everlasting importance to every person who lives or ever has lived! And yet I don’t know when he’s coming back. One of the things about which I’m certain is that I am not certain about exactly when he’s returning. The point is: arguing about it or correcting others is not worth the relational energy it would consume.
The lower-right quadrant contains issues about which (1) I’m certain I’m right, but (2) they are of low importance. For example: how many knots are in the log I am now looking at? I know the answer, but why make an issue of it?
And now we arrive at the main observation to be derived from Beever’s Grid. The upper-right quadrant simultaneously contains the issues (1) that are important, and (2) for which there is virtually no possibility that I will be shown to be mistaken.
And here’s the point: reserve your conflict, your arguments, and your persistent corrections to that quadrant.
Here’s its corollary: keep that region small. The fruitfulness of correction tends to come from a smaller region than we assume. We default to making that region larger than is fruitful. We wear people out by putting more issues in the upper-right quadrant than belong there.
Justin Taylor

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles - Living for the City

Discerning a Legal Spirit Within You

The default mode of every fallen heart is to turn one’s obedience (works/performance) into the ground for one’s acceptance (justification) before God. It is as natural for a man to trust in his obedience (self-idolatry) as it is for a fish to breathe in water. And, it is about as unnatural for a man to seek peace with God by trusting in the gospel as it is for a man to breathe in water.
Yet, we must seek to always recall the simple yet elusive truth of the gospel, which is: You and I are accepted by God, not on the basis of our personal performance, but rather on the basis of the righteousness of Christ alone.
Gospel Centric

Auto-Tune the News: OBAMA SINGS KICK ASS SONG?!?!

Baby I Love You - B.B. King featuring Bonnie Raitt

A Letter To Math - Move On Dude

Should Christians Support Lying to Expose Planned Parenthood?

Not if we love truth, says Professor Robert P. George.
An excerpt:
We must not forfeit our standing in the debate as the tellers of truth.
Does this place us at a disadvantage in the struggle?  Someone will say:  the entire edifice of abortion is built on a foundation of lies—lies about the the biological status of the human being developing in the womb (“a mere clump of undifferentiated tissue, no different than a mole or a fingernail”); lies about the number of maternal deaths from illegal abortions prior to Roe v. Wade; lies about the so-called “medical necessity” of partial-birth abortions; and on and on.  Why should we deny ourselves the use of weapons that many on the other side wield freely?  Do we not deeply disadvantage our cause and, in that way, sin against its unborn victims by refusing to lie?  Are we “keeping our hands clean” at the price of putting off the day when outfits like Planned Parenthood will be dumped onto the ash heap of history?
I understand the impatience; indeed, I share it.  The edifice of abortion is indeed built on a foundation of lies.  And in working to protect the victims of abortion, it is frustrating to hold ourselves to standards that so many on the other side freely disregard.  But there are no moral shortcuts to victory in this struggle.  A culture of life can only be built on a foundation of truth.  Lying may produce short term victories, but it will, in the end, frustrate our long term objective.  Respect for life—like respect for every other great human good and every other high moral principle—depends on love of truth.  Our efforts in the cause of life and every other worthy goal will, in the end, prove to be self-defeating if they undermine love of truth.
You can read the whole thing here, as well as a debate on the issue between pro-life philosophers Christopher Tollefsen and Christopher Kaczor here, here, and here.
Justin Taylor

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oscar Peterson - You Look Good To Me

This song brings such joy to my heart. An unusual trio, Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown & Niels Pedersen both on double bass, perform "You Look Good To Me" at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1977.
This beautiful piece is from the "Norman Granz Jazz In Montreux Presents Oscar Peterson Trio '77" DVD.

White Rabbit - George Benson

This Guy Should Have a Clue but He doesn't

God Yearns After You with Jealous Envy

James 4:5 in the ESV says “[God] yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” B. B. Warfield preferred the marginal reading of the Revised Version: “That Spirit which He made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy.” Both translations have God yearning jealously over his people. Warfield preached a sermon on this passage entitled “The Love of the Holy Ghost” (HT: Fred Zaspel).
Here is a moving section from that sermon:

See us steeped in the sin of the world; loving evil for evil’s sake, hating God and all that God stands for, ever seeking to drain deeper and deeper the cup of our sinful indulgence.
The Spirit follows us unwaveringly through all.
He is not driven away because we are sinners. He comes to us because, being sinners, we need Him.
He is not cast off because we reject His loving offices. He abides with us because our rejection of Him would leave us helpless.
He does not condition His further help upon our recognizing and returning His love. His continuance with us is conditioned only on His own love for us. And that love for us is so strong, so mighty, and so constant that it can never fail.
When He sees us immersed in sin and rushing headlong to destruction, He does not turn from us, He yearns for us with jealous envy.
It is in the hands of such love that we have fallen.
And it is because we have fallen into the hands of such love that we have before us a future of eternal hope.
When we lose hope in ourselves, when the present becomes dark and the future black before us, when effort after effort has issued only in disheartening failure, and our sin looms big before our despairing eyes; when our hearts hate and despise themselves, and we remember that God is greater than our hearts and cannot abide the least iniquity; the Spirit whom He has sent to bring us to Him still labors with us, not in indifference or hatred, but in pitying love.
Yea, His love burns all the stronger because we so deeply need His help: He is yearning after us with jealous envy.

How Much Information Did God Put In Your DNA? Oh Yea This Happened By Chance- I Don't Think So

Science Daily:
Looking at both digital memory and analog devices, the researchers calculate that humankind is able to store at least 295 exabytes of information. (Yes, that’s a number with 20 zeroes in it.)
Put another way, if a single star is a bit of information, that’s a galaxy of information for every person in the world. That’s 315 times the number of grains of sand in the world. But it’s still less than one percent of the information that is stored in all the DNA molecules of a human being.
HT: Joe Carter

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Association - Wantin' Ain't Gettin'

The 10th track on the 1967 album "Insight Out" by The Association. "Wantin' Ain't Gettin'" is written by my friend Mike Deasy Sr. Mike is also playing the sitar on this track.

Eve of Destruction- Barry McGuire

I still remember listening to this song driving around in the car as a 15 year old, and the impact it had on my generation.

Times They Are a Changin' - The Byrds

Are You Fighting Childhood Obesity Or Going To McDonald's?

We Need A Power That Can Break Them And Smash Them And Humble Them

Lloyd-Jones, preaching on Mark 9:29 ('And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer"').
We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need.

We must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves, and in all our methods and organizations, and in all our slickness.

We have got to realize that we must be filled with God's Spirit. And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with his Spirit.

We have got to realize that however great 'this kind' is, the power of God is infinitely greater, that what we need is not more knowledge, more understanding, more apologetic . . . no, we need a power that can enter into the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew.

And that is the power of the living God. And we must be confident that God has this power as much today as he had one hundred years ago, and two hundred years ago, and so we must begin to seek the power and to pray for it. We must begin to plead and yearn for it. 'This kind' needs prayer.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway, 1987), 19

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Cold shot (Live in Texas)

Darth Vader Propaganda: He Can't Take Over The Universe By Himself

22 Words

If You Knew

“If you knew that there was one greater than yourself, who knows you better than you can know yourself and loves you better than you can love yourself, who can make you all you ought to be, steadier than your squally nature, able to save you from squandering your glorious life, who searches you beyond the standards of earth . . . one who gathered into himself all great and good things and causes, blending in his beauty all the enduring color of life, who could turn your dreams into visions and make real the things you hoped were true, and if that one had ever done one unmistakable thing to prove, even at the price of blood — his own blood — that you could come to him, and having failed, come again, would you not fall at his feet with the treasure of your years, your powers, service and love?  And is there not one such, and does he not call you?”
A. E. Whitham, quoted in Raymond C. Ortlund, Let the Church be the Church(Waco, 1983), page 39.

me/Church - Where its all about you

"Put Down Your Gun and We'll Talk"

And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
-- Acts 9:4
Sherwood Wirt: "In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into the faith kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction looking for an escape. You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?"

C.S. Lewis: “I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’ But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’”

-- from The Final Interview of C.S. Lewis, conducted by Sherwood Wirt
You did not choose me, but I chose you...
-- John 15:16a

. . . Christ Jesus took hold of me
-- Philippians 3:12
Jared Wilson

Friday, February 11, 2011

Howlin Wolf -Three Houndred Pounds Of Joy

Luther -I Cannot Get it Into My Head - Neither Can We

The irascible German:
[E]ven though we are now in faith . . . the heart is always ready to boast of itself before God and say: 'After all, I have preached so long and lived so well and done so much, surely he will take this into account.' We even want to haggle with God to make him regard our life. . . .

But it cannot be done. With men you may boast: I have done the best I could toward everyone, and if anything is lacking I will still try to make recompense. But when you come before God, leave all that boasting at home and remember to appeal from justice to grace. Let anybody try this and he will see and experience how exceedingly hard and bitter a thing it is for a man, who all his life has been mired in his work righteousness, to pull himself out of it and with all his heart rise up through faith in the one Mediator.

I myself have now been preaching and cultivating it through reading and writing for almost twenty years and still I feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that I may contribute something, so that he will have to give me his grace in exchange for my holiness. Still I cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace; yet this is what I should and must do.
--Luther's Works 51:284 (HT: Jean Larroux)

Howlin Wolf - Built For Comfort - The London Sessions

Buy it from Amazon $8.68 The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

“Things That Seem Insane That Used To Be ‘Normal.’”

Worst Legislation Ever Forced on American People By Idiots Who Never read It

The Most Redeeming Films of 2010

Our film critics are not on Pixar's payroll. Nor are they getting any under-the-table perks from the animation studio. There's a much less sinister reason that a Pixar movie—in this case, Toy Story 3—tops our Most Redeeming Films list for the third consecutive year: We think their movies rock.
It's not just the astonishingly good animation. It's the phenomenal storytelling, the depth of character development, the keen insight into the human condition—even from the perspective of plastic playthings. One of our critics confesses that he cried at the end of TS3 all three times he watched it—and will likely do so the next three times. That's what Pixar films do to us.
As for what makes Woody and Buzz's final adventure so redeeming, there's plenty: The usual themes of love and loyalty run loud and clear. Toys though they may be, the friends are willing to risk their lives for one another. And their owner, Andy, now college-bound, isn't about to relegate his old playtime buddies to a box in the attic, never to be played with again—or at least for decades. Instead, he takes a selfless step in the end, giving Woody and Buzz and the rest a new lease on life—a rebirth, so to speak. It's no surprise that many of the creative types at Pixar are Christians, as they churn out soul-stirring stories year after year. (For the record, Up topped our Most Redeeming list in 2009, as did Wall-E in 2008.)
Our Most Redeeming Films of 2010 list below is precisely that—the year's best movies that include stories of redemption. Several of the films feature characters who are redeemers themselves; all have characters who experience redemption to some degree. Some are feel-good flicks; others, a little less so. Several of the films are rated R and PG-13 and are not intended for young viewers, so please use discretion. But in all of these films, redemption is certainly one of the main characters.
The Most Redeeming Films of 2010

Directed by Lee Unkrich
(Disney / Pixar) | Rated G

Directed by Tom Hooper
(Weinstein) | Rated R

Directed by Aaron Schneider
(Sony Pictures Classics) | Rated PG-13

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
(Paramount) | Rated PG-13

Directed by Debra Granik
(Roadside Attractions) | Rated R

Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
(Universal) | Rated PG

Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
(Disney) | Rated PG

Directed by David O. Russell
(Paramount) | Rated R

Directed by Klaus Härö
(Olive Films) | Not Rated

Directed by Jon Gunn
(Blue Collar Releasing) | Rated PG-13

Honorable mention: