One Incredible Sermon on Sovereignty

This is humbling and inspiring. Would that we were all so confident and astute. What was I complaining about again?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for the heads-up.


More Vigorous

It is said than an enemy of the great British abalishonist William Wilberforce once quipped,

"It is necessary to watch him as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that enthusiastic spirit which, so far from yielding grows more vigorous from blows."

And to add the words of Ajith Fernando,

“...the happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems, but those who aren’t afraid of their problems.”

May we be so steadfast...



Three-Dollar Gospel

Ray Van Neste has this satirical quote from D. A. Carson's Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians:

Enjoy...and be convicted...

“I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much – just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races – especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please.”


"Pastors, Pragmatism, Pleasure, and Pride"

Timely instruction from Pastor John.

He writes in part:

"Pray for us concerning these three P’s: The idolatry of pragmatism that ruins the church; the pleasure in unrighteousness that refuses to love the truth; and the pride of being strong that leads to destruction."


Kinds of Suffering

Between Two Worlds has this:

"In this article Walter Kaiser identifies eight kinds of suffering
  • retributive suffering, caused by sin and disobedience to God
  • educational or disciplinary suffering as in Proverbs 3:11 or Hebrews 12:5-6;
  • vicarious suffering, as in the case of our Lord's death on the cross;
  • empathetic suffering, where one person's grief affects many others, as Isaiah 63:9 illustrates;
  • evidential or testimonial suffering, as in the first two chapters of Job;
  • doxological suffering for the glory of God, as in the man born blind in John 9;
  • revelational suffering, as in the case of the prophet Hosea's wife abandoning him; and
  • apocalyptic or eschatological suffering that will come at the end of this age.
One of his points is that the error of Job's friends was in reducing all suffering to "retributive suffering" instead of recognizing that there are other forms."


Enabling Adoption

One of the greatest pictures of the gospel is adoption (Ephesians 1.3-10).

Justin Taylor has some great resources for how to finance one.


Brief Thoughts on Christians Loving Homosexuals...

Or anyone, for that matter.

I felt the need to say it plainly (in order accompany previous posts), and hope to be simple (it's a blog) without being too simplistic.

1. Christians are to love homosexuals.
Lets get this straight: any follower of Jesus is to love everyone, including their neighbor and their enemy who persecutes them. This comes from the top down - commanded by our righteous King. And it isn't to be toleration - it is to be love. Supernatural, gospel-driven love.

2. Christians are to be humble.
I have no righteousness of my own, and neither do you. When talking about sin, I am the first in line. I have sinned grievously against a holy God, and I deserve His endless wrath. Salvation is given freely by grace to the ungodly. Let us never forget that. And may the way we communicate reflect that.

3. Christians are to judge themselves.
I mean this specifically in regards to the church. Consider 1 Corinthians 5.9-13. We are often better at judging the morals of those outside the fellowship while taking it easy on ourselves. It ought to be the other way around.

4. Real love is God-centered and Bible-honoring.
God is what we need. God is what we are made for. God's Word is our authority. Any love that falls short of that truth, motivation, and expression is, in the end, less than love. To humbly warn someone that their sinful desires and behavior will kill them is loving. To tell someone the beautiful, life-changing truth of the gospel is loving. To befriend them and endure with them is loving.

Summary: Faithful Christians will be hated for the truth they live and proclaim. That's good - and Jesus told us that. Christians are often hated for a lack of love and humility. That's bad, and though it might feel like righteousness points, is wicked sin.

Love the Word. Love the Gospel. Love people with Word-Truth and Gospel-Action. I know, I know, easier said than done. Easier blogged than obeyed. But I think it our calling as Christians.

No Creed? Then Chaos

See Al Mohler's thoughts on the events surrounding the first openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church.

"Implications for Christian Sexuality"

Consider Dr. Samuel Hensley's thoughts on theology, science, and homosexuality.


Dog-Fighting and Choice

I like to listen to talk radio while I'm driving, and of late the sports conversation is all about Michael Vick and his alleged dog-fighting. I'm no fan of dog-fighting. I find it vicious and immature. Proverbs 12.10 says it best: "Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel." Dog-fighting doesn't seem to me to be righteous.

However, I can't remember a time of hearing more moralist monologues from talk-show hosts whose specialty is sports. Dog-fighting is as the unforgivable sin to them, and the idea of innocent canines being torn to pieces or brutally done away with when they no longer have value is anathema.

I have to wonder, what would it be like if a caller asked, "But don't those dogs belong to Michael Vick? Didn't he buy them? Aren't they on his property? Doesn't he have the right to do with them as he pleases? Shouldn't he be able to get rid of them in the way he sees fit when they no longer have any value to him?"

I would guess that the host's response would be an impassioned proclamation of the rights and value of the dogs, and the responsibility of an owner to be humane and compassionate...and yet it would not be presumptuous to believe that some of these same radio hosts are pro-choice (they often allude to their political and moral views).

There's a new pro-choice billboard advertising a storage company in NYC (complete with ominous hangar). It reads, "Her right to choose is shrinking as fast as your closet space." Therein is the pro-abortion argument. Babies have their value and usefulness determined by the desires of their mother, and that value is often determined to be less than closet space.

You can't help but be confused by a culture that mourns the injustice of dog-fighting while systematically killing babies in no less a brutal manner - and with factory-like efficiency. Strong sectors of our culture believe dog-fighting to be wrong because it infringes upon the rights and value of a dog (I'm sympathetic) while at the same time insisting upon legal (even state-funded!) abortion because evidently human children have no rights (an outrage). They apparently believe that a person cannot by her choice determine the value and end of a dog, but can by her choice determine the value and end of a human child, a person.

Presumably they would argue that a dog owner should take responsibility to care for the dog in a humane way or not have dogs at all. And yet they would argue in essence for sex without responsibility, having little concern for treating human babies in a humane way, like giving them up for adoption instead of murdering them.

I'd like to say I don't get it, but I think I do. This is the essence of our wicked, sinful hearts. Just as with slavery, gossip, and myriads of other sins, we evil humans like to subvert the authority of God and claim it for ourselves; we like to determine the value of other people according to our preferences and convenience. Even if it comes to advocating for the murder of babies while fighting for the rights of dogs.


Doctrine of Singleness

We'll probably have to admit that a meaningful, biblical doctrine of singleness is not the most common proclamation in the church. I'll confess that I haven't yet specifically addressed it from my pulpit. And as we're all single for part of our lives, and some of us are single for most or all of our lives, the truth on the matter desperately needs to be known. I'm looking forward to the time when I am honored to proclaim it at my church. For now, here are two helpful sermons on the matter from John Piper:

Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters

Marriage, Singleness, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality


What's The Goal of Debate?

As someone isn't often lacking for passion in debate, I have had to learn (and am still learning) to continually be asking myself this question: "What is my goal in this debate?"

The goal of my life and hopefully of my church, as I often state it, is to glorify Jesus Christ. I want to love Him above all else and make Him look good to the world. It is true that at some point, loving and living for Jesus Christ - especially as a pastor - will mean that I engage in some form of debate on His behalf. Whether it is the reality of the resurrection or an inner-church struggle on a doctrinal issue, the New Testament is plain in stating that we will have to "contend for the faith."

But what is the goal in that debating? Here is reality as I see it: as wicked sinners it is almost inevitable that EGO will slime its way into our motivation and method in debate; revealing itself in poor logic, name-calling, and a general sense of malice.

Is the goal of a debate to win? I suppose that depends on how we define "winning." Is it a "win" to make the other person look stupid and to make ourselves look smart? Is it to feel dominant and powerful? Is it to shame the other?

If my goal is truly to glorify the Lord Jesus in my debate, my greatest goal will be to have, in as much at it is up to me, my "opponent" and "audience" seeing the truth and beauty of the gospel as expressed in Scripture and moving towards glorifying Jesus Christ in their own hearts and lives.

I am thankful that the Apostle Paul spoke to this kind of thing in 2 Timothy 4. He wrote,

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

A few observations:

1. We must argue for the pure gospel in whatever forum is required. We are to correct our opponents. It is not loving to allow for false doctrine for the sake of a semblance of "peace." If they are advocating some sort of false gospel they are advocating the devil.

2. We must argue with kindness, patience, and gentleness. Jesus did command us to love our enemies. Presumably, they ought to be able to tell that we love them. If I had my druthers, I would want an "opponent" who left disagreeing with me to think, "I hate what he thinks, but I now see why he thinks it, appreciate his passion for it...and he sure was a nice guy."

3. We must argue humbly. There is no room for self-righteousness in the Christian. And there is no benefit in overestimating our skills. The hope Paul gave to Timothy was, "perhaps God will grant repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth." This means that if we know the truth, it is only because God was gracious to us. If others come to know the truth through our correction, it will only be because God was gracious to us and them. That kind of humility needs to come through in our debating. "Were not for grace so would I be."

I do think we ought to debate for pure gospel on a public forum whenever necessary. But I also tremble at the danger that unbelievers will observe our arguments, see malice and pride, and be further repulsed at the gospel of our Lord. When that happens, we have not achieved our goal of glorifying Christ. Rather, we have shot ourselves in the foot with our love for self.

Let's correct our opponents. But let's do so with obvious love and humility so that, whether we win or lose the argument, we will have glorified the Lord Jesus. That's the real victory anyway.


Baby Bust

See Mohler's fascinating post:

Here's an excerpt:

"...European nations will soon face the reality of fast-falling population levels -- levels that will threaten social stability, economic security, and a host of other social goods. Economic security depends upon a stable or growing population. But economic security is not the only issue at stake -- not by a long shot. Many observers believe that growing Muslim birth rates and immigration rates, coupled with a decline in the Christian population, will mean an Islamic future for Europe.

A number of very capable scholars have documented this reality. What Noah Pollak of Azure adds to the picture is serious attention to the question of why people decide not to have children."

Hit the link for more.


All-Star Reading for Family Life

These four books will serve you very well towards glorifying God in marriage and family. Read them!

1. When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage, by Dave Harvey.

2. The Complete Husband, by Lou Priolo.

3. Feminine Appeal, by Carolyn Mahaney.

4. Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp.

Holy Sermons!

I'm doing some work on the holiness of God, and have found R.C. Sproul's 3 sermons on the topic from Desiring God's 2007 Pastor's Conference to be outstanding, moving, and humbling.

Enjoy, "The Holiness of God", "The Holiness of Christ", and "Holiness and Justice" here.


What Is Good Preaching?

Pastor Erik has some thoughts on the matter. He begins with,

"I get the pastor trade journal, Leadership. I don't know why I read it. It usually only causes me angst over state of the evangelical church and the evangelical pastorate. I always mutter to myself that I need to read it to 'keep up' and 'keep current' or some such nonsense. And it is nonsense. Hey Pastors- you want to keep current? Read 2 Timothy 4: 1-5. Now, memorize it. Then, do it. Please. We need more 'hip' and 'current' pastors like we need more infomercials."

Hit the link for the rest of the story.

God Is Great

From Hugh Hewitt:

"Christopher Hitchens' god Is Not Great continues to sell and sell and sell, and Mr. Hitchens continues to take on all comers in conversation.

The Great God debate, Part 1, featured Hitchens opposite theologian, author and blogger Dr. Mark D. Roberts. (Transcript here. The audio of hour 1 is here, hour 2 here, and hour 3 here.) That debate focused primarily on the reliability of the New Testament. Dr. Roberts, author most recently of Can We Trust The Gospels?, has since posted extensively on the Hitchens book.

Part two of this series of conversations arrives today in the first two hours of the program, as Professor David Allen White of the U.S. Naval Academy squares off with Hitchens on the subjects of civilization's debt to Christianity and whether science undermines faith or the gaps in science undergird belief. Professor White's most recent book, The Horn Of The Unicorn, is about Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre."


Football Season is Coming...

And that is why it is so important that we remember the eternal importance of our "affections."

Sam Storms, in Signs of the Spirit; An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards' 'Religious Affections' proclaims,

"...how common it is among men 'that their affections are much more exercised and engaged in other matters, that in [Christ]! In things which concern men's worldly interest, their outward delights, their honor and reputation, and their natural relations, they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm and affectionate, their zeal ardent; in these things their hearts are tender and sensible, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned, very sensibly affected, and greatly engaged; much depressed with grief at worldly losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and prosperity.

But how insensible and unmoved are most men, about the great things of another world! How dull are their affections! How heavy and hard their hearts in these matters! Here their love is cold, their desires languid, their zeal low, and their gratitude small."

May the Spirit move, may we repent, may God forgive, and may we 'hunger and first for righteousness that we might be filled'! And may we have infinitely more zeal for Jesus than we do for football...

Death Culture Logic

See Al Mohler's thoughts regarding the disabled and our "culture of death."

He summarizes, "When death is claimed as a right, it will soon become a duty."

And that is scary.


You Can Learn A Lot From An Atheist

Here's a post from the atheist blog, The Friendly Atheist:

The Top 5 Televange-List

What would you want them to say about you?

The Scriptures For Our Kids

Between Two Worlds had this post:

Ray Van Neste posts some notes from a recent seminar he led on Bible materials for children, which includes a helpful list of recommended resources.

This is My Uncle

Thanks to the Duke of Data:

Federal Times: Scott Redd - Imagination, collaboration keys to counterterrorism

M. Scott Mahaskey/ Staff



When you love someone you want the best for them. When you love someone, you also fear the worst happening and fight to protect them. So what's the worst? It isn't car wrecks or cancer.

The worst that could happen is that the sinful desires which, as Peter wrote, “wage war against our souls” (1 Peter 2.11) would win that war against our souls. The worst thing ever would be that grace would no longer sound amazing to us, that we would no longer “tremble at God’s word” (Isaiah 66.2), and that Jesus Christ would no longer look beautiful and glorious. The worst that could happen would be that we would lose our faith in Jesus Christ and be satisfied instead with the things of this world.

We have an enemy. It wants to claim our lives and destroy us. And by the way, our ultimate enemy is NOT Satan. The worst thing Satan can do to us is influence us to sin. Our worst enemy resides within us: it is our sinful desires. It is our tendency towards pride, insecurity, distrust of God, selfishness, greed, covetousness, lust, gossip, and the allurements of the world.

Our great battle, our great calling, our great goal, and our great purpose is to fight sin. As Paul insists in Romans 8.13, “…if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Therefore we are mercifully commanded in Colossians 3.5 to, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” This is the truth about Christians: “…those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5.24)

The author of the book of Hebrews lovingly reminds us, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3.12)

He’s warning us! He’s warning us about being content and thinking that we have our sin under control! He’s warning us that we could fall away from God unless we take care; take action, work, fight our sin! As the great theologian John Owen wrote, “We must be about the business of killing sin, or sin will be killing us.”

It is here that you might answer, “But I thought that Christians can’t lose their salvation!”
And you’re right – they can’t. Romans 8.30 insists, “And those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Salvation is sure for God’s people from start to finish.

We then ask, “Then why these texts warning us about losing our salvation?” That is a great question – why did God include passages of warning for His people if their salvation is sure? Here is the answer – God’s salvation is not a mathematical equation or a computer program. God’s salvation involves the changed hearts, desires, and lifestyles of real people. God’s salvation involves hearts that are changed to love Him and obey Him and fight against the sin that motivate them to do otherwise. Therein, passages of warning are mercifully included in Scripture because those whose hearts God has changed will respond to them. God’s people, the chosen and the saved, will be moved by such passages of warning to repent of their, to fight sin, and turn to the cross. Passages of warning are a gift from above. They keep us from being lazy and comfortable when we are called to fight.

So how do we fight our sin? Scripture speaks of many ways. But the author of Hebrews has something specific in mind. In verse 13 of chapter 3, immediately following his gracious warning, he writes, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

This is big. Instead of falling away from our God, we are to exhort one another on a regular basis. To exhort is to “strongly encourage or urge someone to do something.” God is telling us here that an antidote to sin is regular encouragement and urging from other Christians. We see again just how deeply we need one another. In a way, our salvation depends upon our deep involvement in one another’s lives.

Why do we need one another in the fight against sin? We saw it the answer in verse 13. The answer is that sin is deceitful. Our sin lies – it looks good, but isn’t. It looks contained, but rumbles beneath the surface. It is like quicksand; the ground looks fine but sucks you down to your death. We need others because sin is like the ketchup smeared all over your chin. You think you look good out there on the town, but the rest of us know better. We need one another because sin is deceitful. We can’t see it on our own because our sin deceives us. We need others to exhort us, and we need to rightly exhort others. As the Psalmist wrote in 141.5, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.”

Let's love one another and protect one another. That means fighting sin. That means exhorting others, and it means being exhorted.

Bad News for Churches and Parents

In his WORLD Magazine article, Gene Veith reports, "Christian parents and churches need to face up to a problem long hidden in the dark: Evangelical teenagers are just as sexually active as their non-Christian friends."

This reminds us again of the dangerous sin of assumption - assuming that because our kids are going to church that they understand, love, and live the faith. We've got to know and pastor their hearts!


The Cravings in Our Conflict

The following is an enlightening excerpt from C.J. Mahaney's article, "Cravings and Conflict":

"The truth that “cravings underlie conflicts” was vividly displayed in my own life, when I arrived home one evening from work. My family was gathering for dinner, and hugs and kisses and “I love yous” were given all around. Carolyn walked by me on her way to the table with some food and kindly mentioned in passing that I had failed to tell her about a calendar commitment I made for both of us.

There was nothing sinful, either in her words or tone, but my response was immediate: “I did tell you about it.” Walking past me back into the kitchen, she said, with a smile, “I don’t think so.” Still civil, but a bit more firmly, I insisted that I had indeed informed her of this commitment.

After dinner, when Carolyn and I were alone, she humbly appealed: “Lately, I feel as if you have not been keeping me informed of various plans like you usually do.”

I wish I could tell you that I responded with humility. I wish I had heard her out and then humbly evaluated her critique, appropriately suspicious of my own heart and eager to learn from her observations. But I did not. Instead I began to question her, and rather quickly my approach came to resemble that of a prosecuting attorney. I was being misrepresented and this injustice must be righted.

Carolyn was merely trying to preserve intimacy and communication in our marriage, but in my pride I quickly became angry. Before long I had moved beyond disagreement and (since no one else was honoring me) begun to honor myself. I actually said something like, “Dear, it’s tough not to admire how effective a communicator I have been in our marriage.” I followed this up with A Brief History of Our Marriage According to C.J., featuring a number of illustrations portraying me as possibly the most communicative husband of all time. And although she expressed appreciation for what I had done in the past, Carolyn was not persuaded.

My arrogance was pronounced and my anger was escalating; but Carolyn chose to serve and not sin. In my prideful state, that was simply unacceptable. So to my shame, I made several remarks intended to provoke her to join my sinful party. I wanted her to have something to confess as well. But Carolyn wasn’t playing my game, and we ended the conversation in disagreement.

Did I then go to another room, fall to my knees, open my Bible to James 4, and repent? No, I went to our bedroom, sat down, opened my new Sports Illustrated, and dove in. But I wasn’t reading the articles. I was imagining my wife coming into the room and saying, “Love, you really are most incredible husband in all of world history. How could I have possibly criticized you in any way? Will you please forgive me?”

That’s when God, in his kindness, began to convict me. I began to see that I had brought cravings right in the front door with me that evening—cravings for my home to be primarily (if not exclusively) a place of refuge and relaxation, rather than a context in which to serve. I wanted a hassle-free evening. I wanted to be lavished with attention, affection and approval. And I’d received correction instead.

My passions were warring within me, and when they weren’t satisfied, what did I do? Because I coveted and could not obtain, I fought and quarreled. Because I desired and did not have, I sought to drag my patient, loving wife into the mire with me. In the final analysis, I was railing against God and his purposes in my life for that evening.

When the Holy Spirit clarified my sinful cravings, I saw not only that the situation was more serious than I had thought—I saw where the source and cause of this conflict truly resided. It wasn’t complicated. The problem was within me!"

I'm thankful to C.J. for his confession and teaching therein, and wishing that I could do a better job at following suit!


From Desiring God:

Dear Friends,

Many of you have seen the news of the Freeway Bridge collapse a mile from the Desiring God office. Our video team went down to the scene within hours. We have combined the footage with a sermon excerpt by John Piper. You can see the video at our blog.

If you think others might find it helpful please send them a link to the video.

You can also read John Piper's response "Putting My Daughter to Bed Two Hours After the Bridge Collapsed."

Humility in the Wrong Place

Consider the relevance of G.K. Chesterton's thoughts as found in his book, Orthodoxy:

"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt . . .

The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."


Gorgeous Guitar

Soundtrack for your reading...
Thanks to Barak for the head's up.

Andy Mckee - Guitar - Drifting - www.candyrat.com

"I Am Thine"

Deitrich Bonhoeffer while in prison:

"Who am I? They often tell me
I would step from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I would talk to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I would bear the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I know of myself,
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
Compressing my throat,
Hungry for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsty for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
Trembling with anger at despotisms and
Petty humiliation,
Caught up in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly grieving for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to lay farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today, and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions
Of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine."