The Cross and Community

I was privileged to spend Memorial Day weekend with Agape Fellowship Church in Williamsport, PA.  The event took place at the beautiful Camp Susque, where the green grass surrounded by the lush Pennsylvania hills was almost too much pleasure for us Los Angeles parking lot dwellers to handle.  The theme for the weekend was "The Cross and Community."  (The beautiful pair there is my daughter (on the left) and niece.)

In each of the four sessions we endeavored to look at some of the glories of what Christ did on the cross and then apply what that means for the local church - the focal point of Christian Community.

Friday night it was "The Cross and Identity" from Ephesians 2.11-22.

Part 1 of Saturday morning was "The Cross and Humility" from Luke 18.9-14.

After a small group setting that studied the benefits of humility, Part 2 of Saturday morning was "The Cross and Submission" from Philippians 2.1-11.

On Sunday morning we concluded with "The Cross and Service" from Matthew 20.17-28.

I was continually amazed at the cross and how Christian community is created, sustained, and guided by the work and example of Christ's cross.  I was also reminded that when the cross of Christ is forgotten or minimized, the life of the church is in deep trouble.  (Thanks Captain Obvious).  But an important truth for my soul!


Fountain of Live at Living Well

See if you can find me and my boy at the Living Well site.  We were there to lead worship for the walk.


Discerning Caspian Critique

Thanks to Tim Challies for leading me to Amy Hall's critique of "Caspian".  She writes,
Here's my main criticism: The filmmakers still don't get Aslan.  They've made him a character rather than the character. 


When Your Church Is A Business

From Joe Carter quoting Jared Wilson:
Warning: If you treat your church like a business, you will treat other churches like your competition.

Here's to Honor, Chivalry, and Fun Movies

The New York Post on "Prince Caspian":
A real warrior is brave but self-restrained, Lewis believed. The noble and heroic knight frees us from a world "divided between wolves who do not understand, and sheep who cannot defend, the things which make life desirable."

One Way of Salvation? Really?

From/Read Justin Taylor's "One More Way To God Than I Deserve."

Can You Trust Your Perception of Suffering?

Read Jon Bloom's, "Doubt Your Perception of Suffering" and get reoriented.
Can you hear the disciples catch their breath? Have you caught yours? Jesus said that God was to blame. The man was blind because God had a purpose in it that hadn’t entered anyone’s mind.


Experimenting With The Family

A 2002 study from CIVITAS shows the devastation of fatherless families.

Sobering.  Pray for our fathers and sons.  And submit to God's Word therein!  This culture is bankrupt.

Stupid Commercial Claims, #4

This is my favorite in the sense that it is the worst:

Thousands of people around the world have used this Biblical point of contact prayer cloth to receive abundant blessings of financial prosperity.  To receive your Prosperity Handkerchief, and instructions on how to use it, order yours today...
For needed perspective, see my earlier post on the prosperity gospel.

Not The Way I Want To Go

Check out Mark Driscoll's "Death By Ministry" at the Resurgence.

  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
And a piece of advice:
Work from conviction, not guilt - Conviction comes from God and guilt comes from people. The key to being both fruitful and healthy is to do what God wants and not always say yes to or let yourself be pushed around by people who are demanding and have perfected the art of making you feel guilty if you do not do what they demand.


Envy Is The Reverse Side of the Coin Called...

John Stott's The Cross of Christ is one of those classic, special books.  It's main theme is obviously the cross, and it is perhaps the best book I know of on the subject.  But here's a thought on envy:
Envy is the reverse side of a coin called vanity.  Nobody is ever envious of others who is not first proud of himself.


Stupid Commercial Claims, #3

It must be a special device that can do this:
Reveal the goddess in you...
Wow.  Thoughts?

Unintended Evolutionary Effects of Global Warming

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Romans 11.36 makes it clear.  

God is.

As Steven Lawson said, in his "Target Audience" message at the 2006 Ligonier Ministries' Pastor's Conference:
If I please God it doesn't matter who I displease; and if I displease God it doesn't matter who I please.
Relevance - for Him.  Love - for Him.  Praise - for Him.  Evangelism - for Him.  Hospitality - for Him.  What do you think?


Celebrating My Ladies!

We've been celebrating the ladies the last two days and I'm gonna share my joy: Emma is one and my wife is fantastic.


Stupid Commercial Claims, #2

The promise:
Who said it?  

We must then ask:

What's the good life?  What's a great price?  How's the guarantee?

Your thoughts?


One Great Blog Post

Hit the 22 Words' post,
and take part in the conversation.  Then praise God for His grace.

Who Are You?

Name: Matt Ford

Favorite Book: Pleasures of God, John Piper

Favorite Ice Cream: Moosetracks at Richardson's in MA or Coconut Chip at Graeters' in KY

Favorite Hobby: Chillin' with my fab family

Favorite Band: U2 

Favorite Food: Mexican Everyday

Born: Lemoore, CA - 1976

Live: Westminster, CA

Your turn!

How Do You See Conflict?

Ken Sande's The Peacemaker is an excellent book.  You should read it.  He describes common reactions to conflict:
To some, conflict is a hazard that threatens to seep them off their feet and leave them bruised and hurting.  To others, it is an obstacle that they should conquer quickly and firmly, regardless of the consequences.  But some people have learned that conflict is an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that honors God and offers benefits to those involved. (page 22)
Sande recognizes three basic responses to conflict:

1. Escape
When you're more interested in avoiding conflict than resolving it...

2. Attack
When you're more interested in winning the conflict than preserving the relationship...

3. Peacemaking
When you're more interested in honoring the gospel, growing in sanctification, and loving your neighbor.

What's your tendency?

Furnishing Your Library Is Easy

More from Bridges, The Christian Ministry:
It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

Patient application is literally everything. - quoting Miller

"Not to read or study at all is to [test] God: to do nothing but study, is to forget the Ministry; to study, only to glory in one's knowledge, is a shameful vanity; to study, in search of the means to flatter sinners, a deplorable prevarication; but to store one's mind with the knowledge proper to the saints by study and by prayer, and to diffuse that knowledge in solid instructions and practical exhortations - this is to be prudent, zealous, and laborious Minister. - quoting Quesnel
What think ye?


The Gospel In A Sentence

Here's Piper's effort (from "The Gospel in 6 Minutes):
The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.

Here's To Governor Palin

She is worthy of praise.  Al Mohler tells why.

The Greatest Cause In the World

From Benjamin Jensen at the Desiring God blog:

The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is.


Stupid Commercial Claims, #1

From the sages at Coors Light:
Refreshment isn't everything; its the only thing.


Planting TULIP(s)

The Desiring God blog reports Piper's updated seminar on the doctrines of grace.  This is a great resource.  Study hard.

"...to the praise of His grace..." Ephesians 1.3-6



The Most Popular Game For 12-14 Year Old Boys

Various reviews of the huge money-maker:

Time Magazine
It's ironic that Grand Theft Auto is the poster thug for mindless violent gaming, since no other franchise commits so fully to games as an artistic storytelling medium.  It's back, grimmer in tone, slicker in graphics, with the tale of an immigrant in a gritty pseudo New York City. A-
Chris Baker writes at Slate.com:
The violence is no longer cartoonish. Shoot an innocent bystander, and you see his face contort in agony. He'll clutch at the wound and begin to stagger away, desperately seeking safety. After just scratching the surface of the game--I played for part of a day; it could take 60 hours to complete the whole thing--I felt unnerved. What makes "Grand Theft Auto IV" so compelling is that, unlike so many video games, it made me reflect on all of the disturbing things I had done.
Lazlo Jones, the game's creator
If you let your child play this game, you're a bad parent.

What do you think?

Limiting Self-Evaluation

C. J. Mahaney, in his sermon at T4G, said this:
Don't limit the evaluation of yourself to yourself.  When I limit the evaluation of myself to myself, I flatter myself.

When Sanguine Expectations Are Dispelled

If you're a pastor, you've got to read The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges.  If you have a pastor, get it for him.  Bridges knows my soul.  In his section on the difficulties of ministry he writes, 
But after all, the greatest difficulties derive their origin and power from ourselves.  The spiritual character of our employment - no more than secular occupations - exempts us from the conflict with our corruptions.  It is not easy to overcome our natural love of ease, our indisposition to self-denying devotedness, and our false tenderness in flinching from the declaration of unpalatable truths...

 Hence the danger, lest the powerful energy of the word should be weakened in its application to ourselves; lest we should gradually lose our relish for our work, excuse ourselves from its self-denying exercises, and sink into heartless despondency.  A course of opposition also to our message may stir up a selfish, unhumbled spirit.  Popularity is yet more dangerous...Symptoms of success, unless tempered with personal abasement and habitual watchfulness, excite to self-confidence.  The want of these tokens, on the other hand, is too often accompanied with impatience or despondency...

None of us will find "the pleasure of the Lord to prosper in our hands", except every effort is grounded upon the practical conviction, that no strength but the arm of Omnipotence is sufficient for the work.

Many of us, perhaps, had tasted in the prospect some of the delights and encouragements of the work; and in all the spring and freshness of youth had calculated upon a steady and uninterrupted devotedness rising above all opposing obstacles.  But scarcely had we passed the threshold, before the dream of confidence passed away.  The chilling influence of the world, and the disheartening effect of unsuccessful pains, soon made us conversant with disappointment, and dispelled our sanguine expectation of a harvest proportioned to our industry.