Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

At the Cross this Christmas

“The more we dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard the more noble our lives become. Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.”

-Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Never Let Go

"Believer, thou shalt never be deserted, forsaken, given up to ruin. God, even thy God, is thy guardian and friend, and bliss is thine.”

-Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

I read this and then listened to Crowder's "You Never Let Go," and pictured Charles Spurgeon singing it.

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

"Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne."

Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken have a great version of this song on an Indelible Grace Christmas CD

Friday, December 21, 2007

Favorite Christmas songs?

Mine are:
1. O Come O Come Emmanuel
2. O Holy Night
3. What Child is This?
4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

honorable mention:
Chris Rice has a great Christmas song...I don't remember the name of it though
and I Celebrate the Day by Relient K

Christmas & Missions

I love the connection between Christmas & Missions. The whole idea of God coming to earth to redeem man is missional. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!" (John 1:14).

This was posted on Desiring God's website recently:

"For its own soul the church [and me too] needs to be involved in missions. We will not know God in his full majesty until we know him moving triumphantly among the nations. We will not admire and praise him as we ought until we see him gathering a company of worshipers for himself from every people group on earth—including all the Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist peoples. Nothing enlarges our vision of God's triumphant grace like the scope of his saving work in history." (Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, pg. 172-3)

What people eat

Looks like we eat too much

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stott on the Incarnation

“The paradox is amazing. The Creator assumed the human frailty of his creatures. The Eternal One entered time. The all-powerful made himself vulnerable. The all-holy exposed himself to temptation. And in the end the immortal died.”

- John Stott, The Incomparable Christ, pg. 37.

Season Greetings from the Pistons

I wish Rasheed Wallace played for the Bobcats.

Best Christmas CD

I'm a big fan of Christmas music, and the past couple of years, my favorite Christmas music is from Sufjan Stevens. I first heard his Christmas album a couple of years ago thanks to William & Heidi Haun. The Christmas album comes with 5 CD's with a total of over 40 songs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Photo from the Hauns

Great picture from the Hauns in Africa

Why?

I just came across this Bible. It's called the Itty Bitty Bible. Apparently, all the words are there, but they're too small to read. Fantastic. What's the point? God reveals Himself to man through the written word, so maybe a good idea would be to make the words too small for anyone to read?

Is the periphery in danger of displacing the center?

The paragraph below is one of the best things I've read this December. The last sentence really struck me as a powerful reminder that the Gospel must be central in all things ministry related. It wears me down looking through modern youth literature for this very reason. The Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen must be central to all that we do.

D.A. Carson:

"Somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning...I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry." -from "The Cross and Christian Ministry"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The nature of atonement and justification as it relates to universalism

In my Romans class, we spent much of the month of November discussing the nature of the atonement, and the nature of justification.

Yesterday, I read a letter from someone involved in ministry that called into question the orthodox view of justification as well as the penal substitution view of the atonement. He questioned the value and truth of statements that indicate that man is separated from God. At one point in the letter, he quotes four different texts in Romans to provide argumentation for his point, and then indicates that the orthodox view of understanding the nature of the cross is in fact an "egregious expository error." If he's correct, then as a teacher I have committed this expositional error.

The "egregious expository error" was that people have used a universal scope in their understanding of mankind as sinful, but didn't use the same universal scope in applying it to the salvation of all people. In other words, his view of what took place on the cross was that Jesus saved every individual, and this is not dependent upon what kind of response each individual has to the cross.

So is it an "egregious expository error" to state that all are sinners, but only some are saved? No. A bigger error would be to miss the entire point of the book of Romans, namely, that "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). To miss the two key words of this text is to miss the theme and heart of Paul's writings.

1. "Just" or "Righteous" is a legal term. It carries with it the idea that those who have right standing before God, or who are "just" before Him. In other words, there is something that makes us "right before God." Those who are uncomfortable with the legal language as it relates to God are uncomfortable with Scripture. This is not just the language of Paul, but also of Jesus Himself (see Luke 18:14).

2. The second part of the phrase is, "shall live by faith," which is the answer to how a person gains right standing before God. Did God accomplish the work of atonement on the cross? Absolutely! The way this is appropriated to individuals is through the God-ordained means of faith...which is also a gift of God (see Acts 11:18; 16:14; Ephesians 2:8-9). Its not humanistic to repeat God's Word, "because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9).

There are many who are moving away from the biblical view of the nature of the atonement & the nature of justification. As an exhortation from Paul:
"By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you" (2 Timothy 1:14).

Amazing Grace

If you're still looking for ideas for gifts for people, the movie "Amazing Grace" is out on DVD

Prince Caspian Trailer

Christian experience

Carson on Doctrine & Experience:

“Because some wings of the church have appealed to experience over against revelation, or have talked glibly about ill-defined ‘spirituality’ that is fundamentally divorced from the gospel, some of us have overreacted and begin to view all mention of experience as suspicious at best, perverse at worst. This overreaction must cease. The Scriptures themselves demand that we allow more place for experience than that. . .”

D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul and His Prayers, Grand Rapids (Baker, 1992), p. 191.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Some of my favorite music of 2007

No real order to these, but here's some of my favorite music released in 2007:

The Shins, Wincing the Night Away
Waterdeep, Heart Attack Time Machine
Morning Recordings, The Welcome Kinetic
Shelly Moore Band, Hope & Decay
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
David Crowder Band, Remedy
The Weakerthans, Reunion Tour
Feist, The Reminder
Josh & Tasha Via, The End To Which I Strive
Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope
Iron & Wine, The Shepherd's Dog

I'm sure there were more, but these came to mind

The purpose of signs

I teach through John every year, and I love the way the word "sign" is used in his writings. Signs are the for the purpose of pointing to something.

This is a good reminder at Christmas to use the signs around us to share the Gospel.

An excerpt from John Piper's advent poem on Nicodemus, Part 1:

"Forbid that we would see the sign
And miss the thing that you design."

Strange...

An "I love Jesus" shot glass?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Golden Compass

I've heard a lot recently about how bad "Golden Compass" is. Apparently, the intent of the author is to attack Christianity through a film that appeals to children.

I'm not interested in seeing the film, and based on what little I've read about the writer of it, I wouldn't recommend others seeing it...

However, in my experience, it seems that Satan's strategies to blind us to the light of the Gospel are more sneaky than a film that is outspoken against Christianity.

An example of this is the consumerism at Christmas time that pushes us towards materialistic idolatry...most of which will slide right by without Christians saying anything about the dangers of it. In other words, I'm more concerned that most children in our society will be blinded to the light of the glory of the Gospel by materialism than they will because of Golden Compass

Jesus: The Glory of God

Jennifer finished reading John Piper's "Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ" earlier this week. Here's a quote from it:

“Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Jesus Christ, the Person, never had a beginning. He is absolute Reality. He has the unparalleled honor and unique glory of being there first and always. He never came into being. He was eternally begotten. The Father has eternally enjoyed ‘the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature’ (Hebrews 1:3) in the Person of his Son.

Seeing and savoring this glory is the goal of our salvation. ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me’ (John 17:24). To feast on this forever is the aim of our being created and our being redeemed.”

-John Piper, Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 31.

I like that paragraph as an Advent meditation. It ties in well with John 1:18 which has been a great verse for meditation for me this Christmas: "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, He has made Him known!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The transforming power of the Cross

Last week, I had the opportunity of seeing one of my students receive Christ as Lord & Savior. I'm looking forward to watching him grow in the months ahead!

"Oh, the power, the melting, conquering, transforming power of the dear Cross of Christ. My brothers, we have but to constantly tell ourselves the matchless story, and we may expect to see the most remarkable results. We need not despair of our hearts now that Christ has died for this sinner." -Spurgeon

Persecution of Iraqi Christians

I came across this 60 Minutes report about persecution against Christians in Iraq.

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." -Hebrews 13:3

Christ is our identity

At small group the other night, I asked the question, "What has been the most meaningful thing that has happened to you since last Christmas?" One of my students looked at me and said, "that's easy...I came to know Christ this year!" He then went on to talk about how Christ is his identity now. He's grown so much this year that it seems like he's been a believer for much longer. I read this quote from Luther's commentary on Galatians and thought of him:

“Thou art so entirely joined unto Christ, that He and thou art made as it were one person: so that thou mayest boldly say, I am now one with Christ, that is to say, Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine. And again, Christ may say, I am that sinner, that is, his sins and his death are Mine, because he is united and joined unto Me, and I unto him.”

-Martin Luther, pg. 80

"Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!" -Ps. 98:1

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sign of the Times

David Wayne at Jolly Blogger posted this church sign as a sign of the times:

The sight of all His perfections...

"The dread, so naturally inspired by His greatness, is dispelled by the contemplation of His gentleness and humility; while the familiarity, which might otherwise arise from this view of the loveliness of His character merely, is ever prevented by the consciousness of His infinite majesty and glory; and the sight of all His perfections united fills us with sweet surprise and humble confidence, with reverential love and delightful adoration.”

-Jonathan Edwards, (Works, Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth), p. cxxxix)

To those who doubt:

I've counseled several people through the years that struggled with doubting their salvation because of their sinfulness. I came across this from J.C. Ryle recently:

"Ah! I might sometimes imagine I was too bad to be forgiven. My own heart sometimes whispers that I am too wicked to be saved. But I know in my better moments this is all my foolish unbelief. I read an answer to my doubts in the blood shed on Calvary. I feel sure that there is a way to heaven for the very vilest of men, when I look at the cross.”

- J.C. Ryle, Old Paths

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

More funny vandalism

Vintage Jesus

I'm pre-ordering this book today by Mark Driscoll:

Praying for the hungry today

According to a new study by the International Food Policy Research Institute entitled "The World's Most Deprived: Characteristics and Causes of Extreme Poverty and Hunger," 162 million people live on less than 50 cents a day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Marketplace mentality with people

From Eugene H. Peterson's "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology" (p. 38):

"We live in a culture that has replaced soul with self. This reduction turns people into either problems or consumers. Insofar as we acquiesce in that replacement, we gradually but surely regress in our identity, for we end up thinking of ourselves and dealing with others in marketplace terms: everyone we meet is either a potential recruit to join our enterprise or a potential consumer for what we are selling; or we ourselves are the potential recruits and consumers. Neither we nor our friends have any dignity just as we are, only in terms of how we or they can be used."

Drop-off mentality of parenting

I couldn't agree more with the assessment in the paragraph below. Its the modern drop-off mentality of parenting: Drop your kids off for soccer practice, drop them off for piano lessons, drop them off for school, drop them off for spiritual matters...

Teaching in a Christian school for the past four years has shown that there are many parents (not all) hoping to provide spiritual nourishment for their children because they are not investing God's word into them at home.

Spurgeon:

"Let me exhort you, parents as much as lieth in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ. I believe that what Irving once said is a great truth. He said, "In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and British-schools, and all kinds of schools for teaching youth. I tell you," he said, "that philanthropic and great as these are they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach their children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for if we all taught our children there would be no need of strangers to say to our children 'Know the Lord.'" -Charles Spurgeon

God is the fountain of love

“God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that ‘God is love’; and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustibe fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love."
-Jonathan Edwards, Charity and its Fruits

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mosquito

William Haun recently sent us this picture he took last week:

Continue to pray for the Hauns as they serve in Africa

Funny

Gay & Lesbian Study Bible

This shouldn't surprise me, but there's a new Gay & Lesbian Study Bible. On their website they state that "sexual orientation is irrelevant to spiritual communion..."

Spurgeon on sin

"Any practice that detracts from faith is an evil practice..."

-Charles Spurgeon, The Full Harvest (p 104)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Backstreet Boy Fans

My favorite part of this video (I mean besides the obvious train wreck of a performance by these two Rockets fans) is that the other roommate acts completely oblivious to what's going on...he doesn't even get out of the way.

The all-encompassing change of loyalty



“Christians can never be first of all Asians or Americans…and then Christians. At the very core of Christian identity lies and all-encompassing change of loyalty, from a given culture with its gods to the God of all cultures.” (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace).

Sunsets

Watch a live sunset anytime you want

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The removal of sins

“Never more glorious and desirable than when he came broken, dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness.”

-John Owen, Communion with God, pg. 78.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Rocky movies in 5 seconds

Alive to God

In January, one of my classes will be studying through Romans 6. In preparation for that, I came across this from J. Gresham Machen:

"Jesus rose from the dead into a new life of glory and power, and into that life He brings those for whom He died. The Christian, on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work, not only has died unto sin, but also lives unto God.”

- J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism

Driscoll on Humility

Mark Driscoll's introduction to a sermon on humility:

"I believe that humility is the great omission and failure in my eleven years of preaching. I believe that this is my greatest oversight both in my example and in my instruction. I therefore do not claim to be humble. I do not claim to have been humble. I am convicted of my pride, and I am a man who is by God's grace pursuing humility. So in many ways this is a sermon that I'm preaching at myself, this is a sermon you are welcomed to listen in on as I preach to myself. But I truly believe that were there one thing I could do over in the history of Mars Hill it would be in my attitude and in my actions and in my words to not only emphasize sound doctrine, encourage in strength and commitment and conviction but, to add in addition to that, humility as a virtue. And so I'll start by asking your forgiveness and sincerely acknowledging that this has been a great failure."

Here's more humble than I am...in his place, I probably wouldn't be humble enough to confess my sins.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Update on best basketball player ever

Allen Iverson dropped 35 pts, 12 assists, and 6 steals all over the Mavericks' faces last night...

Puritan counsel for the day

“Those spots which a Christian finds in his own heart can only be washed out in the blood of the Lamb.

‘Oh,’ says such a poor soul, ‘I pray—and yet I sin; I resolve against sin—and yet I sin; I combat against sin—and yet I am carried captive by sin; I have left no outward means unattempted—and yet after all, my sins are too hard for me; after all my sweating, striving, and weeping—I am carried down the stream.’

It is not our strong resolutions or purposes which will be able to overmaster these enemies.

There is nothing now but the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ, which will take off this burden from the soul of man. You must make use of your graces to draw virtue from Christ; now faith must touch the hem of Christ’s garment—or you will never be healed.”

-Thomas Brooks, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Crazy talented painter

Friday's new music

"You, Me, Dancing," by Los Campesinos

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Update on best basketball player ever:

Allen Iverson had 51 pts & 8 assists last night.

Numa Numa

Some of my students showed me this recently:

Grape Lady

I'm sure everyone has seen this by now, but I've never gotten around to posting it...

On using the "scare tactic"

I'm teaching on purity at the school right now, and one of the major complaints from the guys is that teaching about a life of sexual purity lived unto God is usually packaged in some sort of scare tactic. In other words, "if you sleep with someone, you could get an STD," etc...

While fear certainly provides motives for obedience to some, I am praying for a deeper and more sustaining motivation:

“Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. No gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this.”

- Horatius Bonar, God’s Way of Holiness

much grace to all of the guys that I teach.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Claw

Tom Cruise kills Oprah

The present grace of Christ

This is from one of my favorite books:

“To those to whom Christ is the hope of future glory, he is also the life of present grace.”

John Owen, The Glory of Christ

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tips on reading

A lot of people struggle with reading because they feel like they're not getting anything out of what they are reading. One helpful tip for better reading (not necessarily faster reading...but better) is to dialogue with the author. When you read a book, always have a pen in hand ready to mark it up.

"Why is marking up a book indispensable to reading? First, it keeps you awake. (And I don't mean merely conscious; I mean awake.) In the second place; reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The marked book is usually the thought-through book. Finally, writing helps you remember the thoughts you had, or the thoughts the author expressed." -Mortimer Adler

Diet coke & mentos

I'm still fascinated by this:

Accordion Hero

Guitar Hero is old. Accordion Hero is amazing:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pilgrim's Progress

I was thinking about reading through Pilgrim's Progress again, and in the foreward, this is what I read:

"It may be the most popular book ever written in English. It was a favorite of Charles Spurgeon's, who read it at least once-a-year, and said before he died that he had probably read it more than a hundred times.

Spurgeon wasn't the only important admirer of Bunyan. John Owen, probably the most prominent and respected academic leader of Bunyan's own era, once went to hear Bunyan preach. Charles II, hearing of it, asked the learned doctor of divinity why someone as thoroughly educated as he would want to hear a mere tinker preach. Owen replied, "May it please your Majesty, if I could possess the tinker's abilities to grip men's hearts, I would gladly give in exchange all my learning."

-From the foreward of Pilgrim's Progress

Kinda makes me want to reread it...

When was Jesus born?

Every Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ as December 25th. This date isn't very accurate according to most scholars, and the most sensible date that I've read dates His birth in late November of 5 B.C. King Herod died in 4 B.C., so it was sometime before then.
The date doesn't really matter, but sometimes I'm asked about it...so there's the extremely short answer.

For more on this, see Paul L. Maier, “The Date of the Nativity and the Chronology of Jesus’ Life,” in Chronos, karios, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan [ed. J. Vardaman and E. M. Yamauchi; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989], 113–30).

Monster...

I remember jumping like crazy one time last year when a rather large spider was on my dumpster. I'm just glad I don't live close to one of these (I think it's called a coconut crab):

Sunday, December 2, 2007

On the Bible

Why do you read your Bible?:

"Why we read scripture is perhaps even more important than that we read scripture. Scripture is meant to be applied by the Holy Spirit to our lives in order that our deepest places hidden away from all others and possibly our selves may be unlocked and laid bare. The bible is not the sort of book you should read if you’re content with living a pleasant or nominal lifestyle where your own joy is found in your happiness alone. Its a compelling book that forms life inside you, in the deep places where death and disbelief have dwelt for far too long." -Tony Stiff

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christ and culture

I've been thinking about this issue a lot since I'm teaching through Acts both at church and at the school. I like what Frame says concerning this:

"I find myself supporting the view that Christians should be seeking to transform culture according to the standards of God’s Word. This simply means that if you are a Christian artist, car repairman, government official, or whatever, you should be seeking to do this work as a Christian, to apply God’s standards to your work. As Paul says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Christians have always sought to do this, and in seeking to do this, they have had a huge impact on culture."

-John Frame

Also, on this particular topic, I've enjoyed reading through Dick Staub's book, "The Culturally Savvy Christian."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Perspective

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”
Frederick Langbridge

More Charles Wesley...

I'll be speaking on the Kingship of Jesus on Thursday during chapel. In preparation for it, another great hymn by Charles Wesley has come to mind:

"Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!"

Words: Charles Wes­ley, Mor­al and Sac­red Po­ems, 1744

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best Hymn Ever

And Can it Be by Charles Wesley

"1. And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2. ‘Tis mystery all: th’ Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.

3. He left his Father’s throne above
(so free, so infinite his grace!),
emptied himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!

4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

5. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own."

More on listening...

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Time...

Is it Christmas?


Maybe not, but Jennifer and I put up the tree yesterday and its only Christmas music from here on out.

D.C. Pictures

An important political commercial

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holy Pancakes

Some lady in Florida got these pancakes for breakfast recently. She was convinced that they were holy pancakes (picturing Jesus & Mary), and sold them on ebay for over $300.

Friday, November 23, 2007

James Brown

This is an unbelievable interview:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

“Jesus Christ has completely done the work of our redemption. He does not redeem us from some of our sins, and leave us to grapple with the rest. Oh, no! Christ makes a most complete work of it."

-Thomas Brooks, Paradise Opened

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New invention

I wonder how many wedgies these kids endured before they invented these:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christless attempts at change

David Powlison reminds us of how pointless and short-sighted are the attempts of truly successful living apart from the work of Christ. All the self-help books in the world fall short of really helping in this area.

"Successful living without grace describes mere self-reformation: get your act together, save your marriage, get off your duff and get a job. Failure in living describes failed self-efforts: when you can’t get a grip, you despair. Christless, grace-less attempts at change conclude either with the praise of your own glory or with your shame.”

-David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes, pg. 48

or as Crowder says:

"Here we are
Bandaged and bruised
Awaiting a cure...
Here You are
Our beautiful King
Bringing relief...
You're the remedy..."

-David Crowder, Remedy

A new classroom rule


My newest classroom rule:

“Be silent, or say something better than silence.”
Pythagoras

The Revelation of a Mighty Living Being

Why I love Scripture so much:

"Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard it as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend. This is the kind of Gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons was the loving heart of an actual living Christ. This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and fitness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that heaven where Christ’s personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face, as to realize communion with Christ, as an actual living Person here on earth. There is all the difference in the world between an idea and a person.”

-JC Ryle, Holiness (Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2004), 191.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Bridge

This is a moving video done by a church in our area:

"So you had a bad day"

"The Lord afflicts us at times; but it is always a thousand times less than we deserve, and much less than many of our fellow-creatures are suffering around us. Let us therefore pray for grace to be humble, thankful, and patient."
-John Newton (1725-1807)

The ministry of listening

I've been reminded of this recently. When I compare listening to speaking and think about the qualities of each, I'm much more impressed with the humble and loving nature of listening.

"The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love of God begins in listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Friday, November 16, 2007

Repentance

It’s bad when you fail morally. It’s worse when you don’t repent.
-Luis Palau (b.1934)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What does your music glorify?

According to research given at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, 33% of popular music contain lyrics concerning substance abuse.

Here's a more specific breakdown of their findings:

Rap: 77%
Country: 37%
R&B/Hip-Hop: 20%
Rock: 14%
Pop: 9%

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Works don't work

We've been studying the doctrine of justification in my Romans class recently. In chapter 4, we've been looking closely at how works are not the way a person is justified before God.

"There is no Christian in his wits who will dare to adventure the everlasting safety of his soul upon the leaking vessels of his own holiness or services." -Thomas Brooks, A Cabinet of Choice Jewels

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stott on the Church

"Christ’s call to obedience is a call to be different, not conformist. Such a Church—joyful, obedient, loving, and free—will do more than please God: it will attract the world. It is when the Church evidently is the Church, and is living a supernatural life of love by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the world will believe."
-John R. W. Stott (b.1921), “Obeying Christ in a Changing World”

Friday, November 9, 2007

What I'll be taking to camp today...

I'm going on a middle school retreat today, and I can't motivate myself to pack. The only thing I know I want to take is shown in this video below:

Nouwen on Leadership

"The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? but: Are you in love with Jesus?"
-Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996), In the name of Jesus, p. 24

Blog is Back...

The blog has been down for a couple of weeks due to an injury to my computer. This is the first day I've had my computer back, so the blog should be up and running again!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Spread of Religion in 90 seconds

Church: a place to hurt people?

Some churches are known for this, but I've never seen one advertise on the sign

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hauns in Africa

Continue to pray for the Hauns in Ghana

We need rain!

Came across this old hymn today:

"Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead."

We're praying for rain!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thou lovely Source of true delight

I was listening to this song in the car the other day (on the first Indelible Grace CD). The second line was the one that grabbed my attention. On Wednesday night, I'm speaking on the subject of what happens to those who don't hear the Gospel. Verse 2 of this song reminded me of the importance of the special revelation of God in Scripture.

"Thou lovely Source of true delight,
Whom I unseen adore;
Unveil Thy beauties to my sight,
That I may love Thee more.

Thy glory o’er creation shines;
But in Thy sacred Word,
I read in fairer, brighter lines,
My bleeding, dying Lord.

’Tis here, whene’er my comforts droop,
And sins and sorrows rise,
Thy love with cheerful beams of hope,
My fainting heart supplies.

Jesus, my Lord, my Life, my Light,
O come with blissful ray;
Break radiant through the shades of night,
And chase my fears away.

Then shall my soul with rapture trace
The wonders of Thy love;
But the full glories of Thy face
Are only known above."

- Anne Steele, Poems on Subjects Cheifly Devotional, 1760

Mute Math in Reverse

I can't really figure out how they did this...but its a pretty impressive live performance:

Monday, October 22, 2007

House for sale

Kevin Garnett's house is for sale if anyone's interested. A mere 53 million.

Light Rail

I think Charlotte is getting something like this pretty soon. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Nothing New"

"In the things of God the old is ever new, and if any man brings forward that which seems to be new doctrine and new truth, it is soon perceived that the new dogma is only worn-out heresy dexterously repaired, and the discovery in theology is the digging up of a carcase of error which had better have been left to rot in oblivion.

In the great matter of truth and godliness, we may safely say, "There is nothing new under the sun" (Spurgeon, New Year's Sermon in 1885).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Influential Church Repents

An influential church Willow Creek repents of its program & seeker-driven principles

Evangelical support of Mitt Romney

Influential Evangelical leaders like Wayne Grudem and Bob Jones III have now endorsed mormon, Mitt Romney for president.

4 Awkward Turtles

I love the band Sigur Ros, but this is one of the worst interviews (for worst see Evan O'Dorney or Miss Teen South Carolina), I've ever seen.

If you're unfamiliar with them, here's a short video of a live performance:

Christians & Movies

Two incorrect (and yet extremely common) views regarding Christians viewing "secular" films:

a. It doesn't matter what you see (i.e. your relationship with Christ doesn't influence your decision to view or not to view it)

or

b. A movie's moral quality is determined by the rating (i.e. PG, PG-13, R, etc...).

While I think the ratings are helpful in guidance, sometimes it seems that Christians promote clean rated films with an overall message that glorifies sin. Which would you rather watch: a film that is rated R (due to violence & cussing, etc...) but has an overall message of redemption and value, or a film that is rated PG, but has an overall message of presenting sin in positive light?

Screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi recently stated:

"[A] film should also be judged according to its message. What does the movie want you to believe? Is what it's telling you the truth or a lie? If the latter, then it's a bad film, no matter how good the technique may be."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Remedy

“The office of the law is to show us the disease, in such a way as to show us, at the same time, no hope of cure: the office of the gospel is, to bring a remedy to those that were past hope. For as the law leaves a man to himself, it condemns him, of necessity, to death; while the gospel, bringing him to Christ, opens the gate of life.”

-John Calvin, Commentaries, on 2 Corinthians 3:7

Or, as Crowder sings it:

"He is the one
Who has saved us
He is the one
Who embraced us
He is the one who has come
And is coming again
He’s the remedy!"

-David Crowder, Remedy

Dancing Bird

This was forwarded to me...its crazy. This bird loves to dance to Backstreet Boys music:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dobson: Hillary over Rudy

James Dobson recently said he'd rather see Hillary Clinton in the White House than Rudy Guiliani

Can't say I agree with him on this...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2 famous people in one day!

I heard the apologist Josh McDowell speak this morning and Jennifer and I just got back from a Young Life banquet where J.D. Gibbs (owner of Joe Gibbs racing & son of Washington Redskins coach, Joe Gibbs) spoke.

Not bad for one day.

I'm still trying to figure out how to meet and befriend fellow Charlotte resident Adam Morrison. Just give me a little more time...

This is the dawning of heaven

"Make up your mind that to behold the glory of God by beholding the glory of Christ is the greatest privilege which is given to believers in this life. This is the dawning of heaven" -John Owen, The Glory of Christ

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Power of Grace

I'm blown away by the grace of God!

"Thy wond’ring saints rejoice to see
A wretch, like me, restored
And point, and say, “How changed is he,
Who once defied the LORD!”

Grace bid me live, and taught my tongue
To aim at notes divine;
And grace accepts my feeble song,
The glory, LORD, be thine!"

-John Newton (from a hymn called, "The Power of Grace")

Saturday, October 13, 2007

99 Balloons

He gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord:

Driscoll on Idolatry

Mark Driscoll on idolatry

Friday, October 12, 2007

Worship

Here's a helpful perspective on worship:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Useful after all


I knew it had a purpose

Richard Baxter on reading

I love to read, but I don't like to waste my time reading books that aren't quality. Here's some helpful counsel from the Puritan Richard Baxter:

"Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy scriptures ever have the pre-eminence" -Richard Baxter

Thanga Nohro

A friend of ours named Thanga Nohro came and spoke to our youth last night (he's speaking in chapel this morning at school as well). He is from eastern India, and is now serving with YWAM in western India.
India has 1.3 billion people, 80% of whom are Hindus. Thanga is a musician who started a school for other musicians. After about 6 months in the school, the students go on tour throughout India sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the gifts that God has given them. As you read this, please pray for Thanga's ministry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

President Bush on Pluralism

President Bush believes all religions pray to the same God

From a post I wrote earlier this year about the same subject:

"I'm amazed at how many people focus on the terminology of "God" rather than on the nature of God. It's extremely popular today to believe that people are just using different terms for the same God. What's odd to me is that people don't look any deeper than the argument of terminology. The terms are labels for things, or beings, that ultimately point to the nature of a thing or being. In other words, the nature of Islam's Allah is vastly different than the nature of the Christian God. To reduce these differences in nature down to a mix-up on terminology is a remarkably shallow approach to understanding who God is. The next time someone says, "You worship the same God, you're just using different terms for Him," remind them that your God is much more than a term, and you're worshiping Him in the fullness of His very nature, and His nature is incomparable. Truly, as Isaiah repeatedly says, there is none like Him."

Night Fever


This website tells what the number one song was each day for the year, dating back to the 1890's. On the day I was born, the Bee Gee's "Night Fever" was the #1

The "World"

The "World" is the name for a group of about 300 man made islands off of the coast of Dubai that looks like a map of the world from the sky. It will apparently be inhabited by people who have manifold buildings of things like gold bars

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The world's perception of Christians

I taught on this verse this morning in my Romans class:
Romans 2:24- "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you..."

Brad Pitt's view of God

“I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it!’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.”

-Brad Pitt

Jonathan Edwards wrote a great book addressing this issue called: "The End for Which God Created the World"

Gymkata

I just came across this movie trailer. Its called Gymkata and was released in 1985. I've never seen it, but it has to be one of the worst films of all time. Even the premise is a trainwreck: a gymnast mixes his skill with karate to form a new art of fighting called gymkata in which he uses as a service for his nation.

Derek Webb & Capitol Hill

I was talking with a student yesterday about politics. We were talking about how neither one of us were very impressed with any of the candidates. It reminded me of a new Derek Webb song called, "A Savior on Capitol Hill":

"I’m so tired of these mortal men
with their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
and always running for re-election
so come to DC if it be thy will
because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill
you can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you’d best beware
‘cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Acts 4:13

I'm teaching on Acts 4 this morning, and its on one of my favorite evangelism verses:

“They…began to recognize them as having been with Jesus Christ" (Acts 4:13)

At first glance it doesn't seem to be a verse about evangelism, but the idea of people recognizing our relationship with Christ by the way we live is a beautiful display of a Christ-centered life. The more you spend time with Jesus, the more you become like Jesus. And the more you become like Jesus, the more people around you recognize that you've spent time with Him. The quote below is one of my favorites outside of Scripture (perhaps a top five quote), and it speaks to this idea of becoming more like the things we love:

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love: he who loves mean and sordid things does thereby become base and vile; but a noble and well-placed affection does advance and improve the spirit unto a conformity with the perfections which it loves.” -Henry Scougal

Gorilla on Drums

I'm thinking about inviting this guy to come play in chapel some time.

Tim Keller on Leadership

This is an uncommon and yet refreshing description of leadership from Tim Keller:

"Most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus' costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don't need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn't based on their performance."

Saturday, October 6, 2007

7 Wonders of the World

Visit the 7 Wonders of the World here with these panoramic pictures

Friday, October 5, 2007

Oops

This is a local news report about Kevin Everett who is miraculously recovering from a spinal injury. This local news station ran the wrong video though...what are the chances!

Morph Thing


Here's a picture of Donald Trump morphed with Brittany Spears. Its pretty scary. You can go to this website and morph celebrities together

The Nature of Sin

I find the following quote to be true in counseling with most people. We tend to look at the fruit of sin and try to address it, rather than the heart which is the spring from which outward sins come:

"The fatal mistake is to think of sin always in terms of acts and of actions rather than in terms of nature, and of disposition. The mistake is to think of it in terms of particular things instead of thinking of it, as we should, in terms of our relationship to God."

-Lloyd-Jones, D. M. God's Way of Reconciliation - An Exposition of Ephesians 2

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Only One Thing is Needed

I'll be speaking on this passage this morning in HS & MS chapels:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Most Powerful Woman in the World


According to this Forbes list, Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world. The list seemed reasonable to me, but I couldn't help notice that they failed to put "Gold" from American Gladiators on it.

Remedy



I've been listening to the new David Crowder CD recently. My favorite song is #5, called "Never Let Go," but a close second is "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing." Its hard to beat these words:

"He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me!"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dikembe's back

I just read where Dikembe Mutombo resigned with the Rockets at the age of 41. I've always loved watching him block shots and then wag his finger at the person:


(note: listen to how crazy Bill Walton sounds on this)

Carnival Games

With "Fall Festivals" coming up in October, as well as some local fairs, I thought it might be helpful to post some advice on how to outwit those tricky "carnies" and their difficult games. The two in particular that I find most frustrating are the balloon dart throw and the milk bottle throw (both of which seem remarkably easy, and yet I don't think I've ever won anything of any value). I found some helpful advice concerning these two games on the interweb:

Balloon Dart Throw

"The balloons are under-inflated, and the dart tips are dull. Forget accuracy and throw the dart as hard as you can. Most people aim for the middle, so the game operators will often hide the "good prize" tags behind balloons on the outside edges."

Milk Bottle Throw:

"The bottles used in this carnival game are often made with leaded glasses making them very heavy.

The secret to winning the milk bottle throw is to aim at the base of the bottom two containers rather then at the intersection of all three bottles."

Tips for the 5 AM Club

I'm still a big fan of the 5 AM Club, and still looking to recruit others to join. For those who would want to join but find it extremely difficult to awaken that early, here are some tips

Monday, October 1, 2007

Body Square World Rankings

Here is the current list of top players throughout the world (this is out of 6.5 billion people):

1. Andrew Spencer
2. Chandler Patterson (best serve)
3. Austin Tsumas
4. Emily Robinson
5. Julie Holman (best control)
6. Jeremy Brackett
7. Wes McMurray
8. Chad Zerfoss (mostly flash, little skill)
9. Mary Christopher
10. Matt Hines

Body Square

Most are familiar with the classic game called Foursquare, where players hit a ball with their hands into their opponents square with the hope of them not returning it to another square. At camp this week, one of my students (Jacob Cook) created a new version of the game called "Body Square" in which players are not allowed to use their hands or arms, but can hit the ball more than once with parts of their body. The game is far superior to the original, and also to all other games. Quickly spread this phenom throughout the nations.

Home again

I'm back from both of the Fall Retreats. Wednesday-Friday, we had our school's retreat to Windy Gap. It was a great trip. Josh & Tasha Via & Austin Rammell did a great job leading us in worship & study of Scripture.
From Windy Gap, I took a group to another camp called Bonclarken for our church's Fall Retreat. I never did catch the guy's name that spoke there. It was either Brian or Steve. The music was led by Josh Bales. Again, both were great.

I've heard so much at both retreats, its a little difficult to take it all in. Perhaps more than any particular message that stood out to me was a couple of observations while I was gone:

1. I watched students on these trips set an example for older believers (1 Tim. 4:12). Whether it was sitting in on a student-led Bible study, or listening to students worship, or seeing someone sitting alone with her Bible reading, or being with someone broken who understood their desperation for Christ, or seeing a couple of students praying for one of their friends, it was a great experience for me to just observe these examples for me.

2. The other observation was the reality that while being at a retreat for students, its sometimes easy to hear God's word in a way that you're listening for other people. It makes sense to do this, because we've been praying over the students. But what struck me, was the realization that I need to hear a word from God as well, and not listen with the ears of others but rather to hear what God is speaking to my heart.

Praise God for the wonderful retreats that He allowed us to be a part of.
"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mahaney on Pride

We're at Windy Gap right now with the students from school. This place is incredible. They have a new building that seriously is like the Grove Park Inn. Its insane.
Austin is speaking this morning on humility and our approach to God. Its amazing how pride is our ever-present companion, so sometimes we don't recognize how disgusting it is. Mahaney has a great quote relating to pride and self-worship:

“Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence on him.” -C. J. Mahaney

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Windy Gap & The Glory of Christ

Today our school leaves for its annual Windy Gap retreat. We take over 200 high students to the mountains for a mid-week retreat...its incredible. This year, our speaker is Austin Rammell, and our music is led by the Vias. This year, I'm specifically praying that we would see Christ clearly. As you read through this, pray for our students on this trip.

“By his cross, divine holiness and justice were exalted, and through his triumph, grace and mercy are poured out to the full. In glorious thoughts of this let my soul live, and in believing it let my soul die. And let the present wonder of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in it’s beauty and fullness…

One view of Christ’s glory by faith will scatter all the fears, answer all the objections and disperse all the depressions of the poor, tempted, doubting souls. To all believers it is an anchor which they may cast within the veil, to hold them firm and steadfast in all trials, storms and temptations, both in life and in death.”

- John Owen, The Glory of Christ (p 80-81)

The Wrath of God was Satisfied!

We've been studying Romans 1 in my Romans class, and have come to the part about God's wrath being poured out against ungodliness. Against this backdrop the cross stands as a satisfaction of the wrath of God.

"On the cross the penalty of our sins was paid; it is as though we ourselves had died in fulfillment of the just curse of the law; the handwriting of ordinances that was against us was wiped out; and henceforth we have an entirely new life in the full favor of God.”

- J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Luther on Righteousness

Today, we're continuing our study of Romans 1 and the righteousness of God.

‘O law, Christ is my righteousness, my treasure, and my work; I confess, O law, that I am neither godly nor righteous, but yet this I am sure of, that he is godly and righteous for me.’ -Martin Luther

Sunday, September 23, 2007

At Church

Happy Sunday!

"We assemble not in the church to pass away the time, but to gain some great benefit for our souls. If therefore we depart without profit, our zeal in frequenting the church will prove our condemnation. That so great a judgment comes not upon you, when ye go hence ponder the things ye have heard, and exercise yourselves in confirming our instruction—friend with friend, fathers with their children...rejoice and be glad in the conviction that ye have put into practice the greater part of our exhortation."
-John Chrysostom (345?-407)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Counsel from Spurgeon

While preparing for upcoming messages I came across this:

'What a dreadful thing it will be for me if I should be ignorant of the power of the truth which I am preparing to proclaim!' -Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

Friday, September 21, 2007

More John Owen on Temptation:

"Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before."
-John Owen (1616-1683)

In other words, temptations and the way we deal with them reveal whats in the heart

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Joy in the Christian Life

We were talking about the joy of the early church today in my Acts class. Here's a great quote from Helmut Thielecke about joy within the Christian life:

“Should we not see that the lines of laughter about the eyes are just as much marks of faith as are the lines of care and seriousness? Is laughter pagan? We have already allowed too much that is good to be lost to the church and cast many pearls before the swine. A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the nightclubs and the toastmasters” (Helmut Thielecke).

Transformation as a Process

While speaking on transformation this past weekend, I tried to remind my listeners that growth in the Christian life is a process, not a moment. Here's the way Whitefield described it:

"The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down."
(George Whitefield (1714-1770), letter)

Monkey & Pigeon

A monkey & pigeon are apparently best friends. Odd couple.

Evangelism Linebacker

For my Acts class:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Spurgeon on Pluralism

More Spurgeon on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ:
"Now hear the Word of God! "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not" —What? "shall get to heaven some other way?"—"shall be damned;" that is the gospel. You perceive how boldly it launches out its censure. It does not pretend, "you may reject me and go by another road, and at last get safely to your journey's end!" No, no, no; you "shall be damned" it says." (Spurgeon, The Gospel's Power in a Christian's Life")

He recieves sinners!

Here's Spurgeon commenting on the return of the prodigal:

"This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces—this Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel’s tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful— they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvellous." (Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Inordinate Loves

Tomorrow in my Romans class, we'll be studying about the horrible & deadly exchange that takes place in Romans 1:22-23: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

Indeed:
“It would be a great tragedy if a man loved his wedding band more than he loved his bride” (Piper, The Pleasures of God).

iTunes U

For those who subscribe to iTunes podcasts, you may be familiar with iTunes U. There are tons of free courses available through this service. Recently, RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) has posted several of their courses on iTunes U, including Systematic Theology courses, Ethics, Apologetics & Church History, and even lectures on the Puritans by J. I. Packer.

What is the Gospel?

John Piper answers the question of "What is the Gospel?":

"What’s the gospel? I’ll put it in a sentence.

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.

That’s the gospel."

Monday, September 17, 2007

The motive of studying Theology

We're studying a lot of theology right now in my classes. In Acts, we've been studying the doctrine of the Spirit. In John, we've been studying Christology, and in Romans we've been studying Apologetics specifically related to the Existence of God. Here's a great reminder to my students about our studies:

“The study of religious truth ought to be undertaken and prosecuted...with a view to the improvement of the heart. When learned it ought not to be laid on the shelf, as an object of speculation; but it should be deposited deep in the heart, where its sanctifying power ought to be felt." (J. L. Dagg, Manual of Theology)

In heart, mind, soul & strength may we love Him more!

"The dungeon flamed with light"

Here's a line from one of my top two favorite hymns (the other is It is Well), that ties in well with the prayer of God opening up our eyes:

"Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee."
(Charles Wesley, And Can it Be)

Justified by death?

In my Romans class, we've been (and will continue to be) studying how a person comes to be in right standing with God. Scripture is clear that "the righteous shall live by faith!" Here's an interesting observation from R.C. Sproul about the most common view of justification today:

"The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It's not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It's assumed that all one has to do to be received into everlasting arms of God is to die" (R.C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross, p. 10).

Deceit

"Hiding of ends and designs is the principal property of deceit"
-John Owen

One reason sin is tempting is because we don't see the end result of it. If we could clearly see that the "wages of sin is death," we wouldn't be so deceived by it. So, when John Owen says that the "Hiding of ends...is the principal property of deceit," he's reminding us of how short-sighted we often are when it comes to sin.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

HS Fall Retreat

I just got back from Parkwood's HS Fall Retreat. We had a great time and I appreciate all the prayers! The theme was "More Than Meets the Eye" and this is my continued prayer over the weekend:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might…” (Eph. 1:17-19).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Discussion Day Friday

Today's topic is Violent Video Games

Grace

Without trying to quote him verbatim, I came across a Charles Wesley hymn recently that said something along the lines of "Jesus is more full of grace than I of sin."

Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Super Stick Man

One of my students, Brent Edwards, has been producing some short films recently. This is a trailer for one of the films called Super Stick Man:


Also highly recommended is his short film on dueling banjos in which he does all the parts...genius.

Modern Slavery

There are more slaves today than there have been in any other time in history. According to the "Not For Sale Campaign," there are over 27 million slaves today. There's a documentary called Trade coming out at the end of the month that I'm sure would be extremely difficult to watch, but would raise awareness to this hidden sin.

This is a biblical heart-of-God issue, as William Wilberforce said:
"The fatal habit of considering Christian morals as distinct from Christian doctrines insensibly gained strength. Thus the peculiar doctrines of Christianity went more and more out of sight, and as might naturally have been expected, the moral system itself also began to wither and decay, being robbed of that which should have supplied it with life and nutriment."

The moral system should be supplied by the motive of doing all things for the glory of God

More Huckabee on being pro-life:

Jabez

My friends Mike & Holly are moving from North Carolina to Texas, and they've decided to not move their dog Jabez with them. I'm sure it was a difficult decision, but no doubt in my mind that this pup's territory will be enlarged and his impact will increase

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How could you not be a Boston fan?

Midway through this video of an autistic person singing the national anthem, the whole crowd joins in with him

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pentecost

I taught on Acts 2 today dealing with the subject of the Holy Spirit's filling on the day of Pentecost. In preparation for it, I read this from Charles Spurgeon in a message called "Pentecost," delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Sunday morning, 24 May 1863:

"When you get the Spirit of God to come upon you like fire and like a rushing mighty wind...it will only be just for this, to make you preach Christ, and preach him more simply than ever you did before."

Thomas a' Kempis on Humility

"Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble." -Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Church Sign...sigh

Monday, September 10, 2007

Prosperity Gospel

The Glory of Christ

This coming weekend, I'm speaking for a retreat in which the theme is "More Than Meets the Eye." The objective is to show forth that the more clearly we see Christ, the more we're transformed into His image. About 5-6 weeks ago when I was first approached about the retreat, I decided I should reread John Owen's book called the "Glory of Christ," which speaks to this subject better than anything else I've ever read. Here's a great quote I came across while preparing:

“All that may be known of God for our salvation, especially his wisdom, love, goodness, grace and mercy on which the life of our souls depends, are represented to us in all their splendor in and through Christ. No wonder then that Christ is glorious in the eyes of believers!”

- John Owen, The Glory of Christ

Read!

“Read often, learn all you can. Let sleep overcome you, the roll still in your hands; when your head falls, let it be on the sacred page.”
- St. Jerome c.340-420 AD

Baptism

This kid is gonna be a wild man:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

"Do this? in remembrance of Me"

We took communion together this morning at church and it was a wonderful experience. I saw this earlier this week, and it seems more like a Handi-Snack than Communion:

Is nothing sacred?

The heavens declare the glory of God...

A new telescope helps provide clearer pictures of space. Read Psalm 19 and then the article.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Word Became Flesh...

We're getting ready to study John 1:14 in one of my classes. Here's a fitting excerpt from J.C. Ryle related to His becoming flesh:

"He did not sit in heaven pitying us from a distance: He did not stand upon the shore and see the wreck, and behold poor drowning sinners struggling in vain to get to shore. He plunged into the waters Himself: He came off to the wreck and took part with us in our weakness and infirmity becoming a man to save our souls.

As man, He bore our sins and carried our transgressions; as man, He endured all that men can endure, and went through everything in man’s experience, sin only excepted; as man He lived; as man He went to the cross; as man He died. As man He shed His blood, in order that He might save us, poor shipwrecked sinners, and establish a communication between earth and heaven! As man He became a curse for us, in order that He might bridge the gulf, and make a way by which you and I might draw near to God with boldness, and have access to God without fear."

- J.C. Ryle, Old Paths

The "School of Temptation"

“We can never know God as we ought without temptations. … In this school of affliction it is that the soul is taught to suck sweetness out of the Word of God.” -Hercules Collins

Pride

Good counsel concerning pride:

"Stay close to the cross and never cease to be amazed and thankful that you are saved. People who are perpetually and thankfully amazed that God has saved them are not likely to be destroyed by pride." -John Piper

For you dog lovers

I recently came across this Martin Luther quote. I'm gonna look the next dog I see right into the eyes and quote this.

"Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail." -Martin Luther

No!

I've known about this for a while, but it still shocks me that Joel Osteen has a board game. One of my classes last year wanted to order it and play in class just to see how bad it really is. I can't confirm for sure, but I think at one point there's a little mirror on the board, and you have to name positive things about yourself...

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Neither do I condemn you" -Jesus

I read this article today and then read John 7:53-8:11. The contrast between the two stories is a remarkable display of the unconventional beauty of Christ

Discussion Day: Perseverance of the Saints

I recently taught on this subject for Sunday School, and its also our discussion day topic. While preparing for this discussion I came across this from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

"Let me put it like this: God, who is sufficiently concerned about me to send his Son to die on the cross of Calvary for me, is not going to let me down when any difficulty or temptation faces me. My dear friends, there is nothing for you to fear! You belong to One of whom we are told that all power has been given to him over all flesh. You are in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ if you but knew and realized it, and he controls everything. He controls every human being, all the affairs of nature, he is even controlling the devil himself. All power is given unto him, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers are subject unto him, so you need never fear! You and I have but to realize that we are in those mighty hands, that that strong arm is engaged on our behalf, that all flesh under his power, and that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him." (Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn: The Assurance of Our Salvation : Exploring the Depth of Jesus' Prayer for His Own : Studies in John 17).

In the midst of plenty...

Next week, a pastor friend of mine named Tim Smith will be coming to speak in chapel on the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are beautiful, powerful and timeless. Below is a quote from one of Calvin's sermons on the Beatitudes that relates to our culture quite well:

"In the midst of plenty we must guard against greedy excess, lest we choke ourselves and bring this curse upon us: Woe to you who are filled. If we are to be filled, it is in a different way--by contemplating God's face, as we read in Psalm 16. We should regard material possessions simply as props to help us, until we see the Father face to face. He is our bliss and happiness."
-John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes (Banner of Truth), p. 80.

May our possessions serve as props to see Him better rather than as distractions that occupy our attention

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pavarotti 1935-2007

In honor of Pavarotti, here's a video of him with Eno & Bono

The new Ipod


The new ipod was released yesterday. Its beautiful.

Mike Huckabee & Pro-Life

Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee on being pro-life:

"My point is, for us to show true credibility, we must show as much compassion for the child sleeping under the bridge or in the back seat of the car as we do for the one in the womb. That's what pro-life really means...It is really about understanding the value of each individual life as having intrinsic worth. So whether that life is in the womb or is an 89-year-old invalid in long-term care, what we value is the individual and respect the dignity and value of that person."

Isaac Watts on Righteousness

We're getting ready to study Romans 1:16-17 and discuss the righteousness of God!
Here's a hymn that speaks to this:

"Thy Works Not Mine O Christ" (Isaac Watts)

"Thy righteousness, O Christ,
Alone can cover me:
No righteousness avails
Save that which is of thee."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Simeon on Brokenness

"I am sure that whatever God may despise . . . He will not despise the broken and contrite heart." (Charles Simeon, Moule, 133f)

Running Forever

"She loves to run. Many people don't understand us"
-Zhang Jianmin
I'm one of those people who don't understand.

Augustine's Conversion

This past Wednesday, I spoke on Saul's conversion on the Damascus road. Here's Augustine's description of his conversion (perhaps the most influential Christian thinker outside of Scripture). This is another big moment in history that has the left the world forever changed:

"I flung myself down beneath a fig tree and gave way to the tears which now streamed from my eyes . . . In my misery I kept crying, "How long shall I go on saying 'tomorrow, tomorrow'? Why not now? Why not make an end of my ugly sins at this moment?" . . . All at once I heard the singsong voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it was the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain 'Take it and read, take it and read.' At this I looked up, thinking hard whether there was any kind of game in which children used to chant words like these, but I could not remember ever hearing them before. I stemmed my flood of tears and stood up, telling myself that this could only be a divine command to open my book of Scripture and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall.

So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting . . . seized [the book of Paul's epistles] and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: "Not in reveling in drunkenness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ; spend no more thought on nature and nature's appetites" (Romans 13:13-14). I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled." -St. Augustine

I had a conversation last week with someone that used the "Tomorrow, tomorrow..." approach. But as Augustine says, "why not now? why not make an end of your ugly sins now?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hauns Go to Africa

Our friends William & Heidi & their little boy Trey are getting ready to move to Ghana. They've put up a website that will be updated regularly concerning their trip (haunsinafrica.com). Here are a couple of practical things you can do to be a part of this trip: 1. Bookmark the website and pray for them (see Aug. 25th entry on their blog), 2. and support them financially (moving to Ghana ain't cheap)

I thought of William & Heidi a few days ago when I was reading a book called, "The Culturally Savvy Christian" by Dick Staub. At the beginning of the book, Staub discusses the Christian's relationship with culture through the means of art. He then gives a brief definition of what he terms the "culturally savvy Christian": "The culturally savvy Christian is serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture, and skilled in relating the two." Here's a promo video: