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


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."


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.


"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


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

Continue to pray for the Hauns as they serve in Africa


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).


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 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 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).


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."