Monday, December 18, 2006

Free China 2008

Please check out this website and show your support for a Free China.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Christian Life 101

Here are some basic and foundational titles from an evangelical perspective that deal with how to live the Christian life. Enjoy (all avaliable from or

The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross...Every Day by Jerry Bridges

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by R. Kent Hughes

Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle with the first edition of "Holiness" edited and authored by J.I. Packer

Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney

Growing Your Faith: How to Mature in Christ by Jerry Bridges

The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction by Sinclair Ferguson

One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God by Sam Storms

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper

The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter

Sin and Temptation by John Owen

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shocking Youth Message Stuns Hearers - So Shocking and Biblical the Preacher Was Never Invited Back

Listen or watch this message. May God raise up more faithful people like himself, especially in Canada. Tell me what you think!

Thanks to Peter Dearlove for pointing this out.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thomas Watson: Evangelicalism's Best Kept Secret

The last while I have been slowly reading The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson. The richness of clear practical biblical wisdom, penetrating insight, eye opening illustrations, and the passionate and convicting message has been blowing my mind. I left my times reading this book with greater joy and a greater sense of God's grace. I think that there is more richness on two pages of this book than in most modern Christian books. Here are some quotations, but I recommend that you make it an important goal this year to read it. You can access a shorter version online or order from Banner of Truth Trust.

"to intimate that sorrow for sin must exceed sorrow at the grave; and with good reason, for in the burial of the dead it is only a friend who departs, but in sin God departs" (24).

"We are to find as much bitterness in weeping for sin as ever we found sweetness in committing it. Surely David found more bitterness in repentance than ever he found comfort in Bathsheba" (24).

"Our hearts must go along in our confessions. The hypocrite confesses sin but loves it, like a thief who confesses to stolen goods, yet loves stealing" (29).

"The more we are ashamed of sin now, the less we shall be ashamed at Christ's coming" (44).

"Christ is never loved till sin be loathed. Heaven is never longed for till sin be loathed" (45).

"Sound repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin" (45).

"'madness is in their heart while they live' (Eccles. 9:3). So for men to love sin, to hug that which will be their death, to sport with damnation, 'madness is in their heart'" (48).

"...a true convert seeks the destruction of every lust. He knows how dangerous it is to entertain any one sin. He that hides one rebel in his house is a traitor to the Crown" (54).

"As God has two places he dwells in, heaven and a humble heart, so the devil has two places he dwells in, hell and a hard heart. It is not falling into water that drowns, but lying in it. It is not falling into sin that damns, but lying in it without repentance: 'having their conscience seared with a hot iron' (1 Tim. 4:2). Hardness of heart results at last in the conscience being seared. Men have silenced their consciences, and God has seared them. And now he lets them sin and does not punish - 'Why should ye be stricken any more?' (Isa. 1:5) - as a father gives over correcting a child whom he intends to disinherit" (62).

"Repentance is necessary: 'except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish' (Luke 13:5). There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Repentance is required as a qualification. It is not so much to endear us to Christ as to endear Christ to us. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet" (63).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Doctrine Makes the Difference: Piper, Barna, and Living Differently

Here is a sample of an interesting article from a few years ago by John Piper:

"God gives good press to doctrine. But surveys of evangelicals usually do not—until recently. In God’s book, knowing his Son and believing true things about him is liberty. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). God’s self-revelation in the Bible is not a wax nose. Paul calls it “the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:17). It’s a standard, a yardstick, a pattern. You measure truth by it. Elsewhere he calls it “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and the “pattern of the soundwords” and “the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). It does not change. Our everlasting salvation is determined by whether we believe it: “Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9). Depart from the doctrine, and you depart from Christ. Or, better, keep watch over your doctrine and “you will save . . . yourself” (1 Timothy 4:16).

That’s high praise for good doctrine. You would think evangelicals would agree. But we are more likely to hear things like, “Christ unites; doctrine divides,” or, “Ask, ‘Whom do you trust?’, not ‘What do you believe?’” The minimization of biblical doctrine is common. But if we are not willing to get a high estimation of doctrine from God, perhaps we can get it from George Barna.

He has been surveying American evangelicals to see if we practice what we preach. He is finding that we don’t preach doctrine from the Bible, and therefore don’t practice differently from the world."

To read the rest of the article go here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why High School Graduates are Leaving the Church

Here is an interesting post on why Kirk Wellum thinks that high school graduates are leaving the church; let me know what you think:

Yesterday when Zondervan's newsletter "To The Point" arrived in my inbox I was reminded again that Christianity is struggling, at least in this part of the world. One of the most noticeable headlines read: College-age Exiting Church The Church Is At Crisis Levels. The accompanying news blurb went on to talk about how youth leaders are preaching the alarming exit of college students from the church and yet churches don't seem to be grasping the significance of the loss of even one youth. Later they mention that according to some youth ministry groups 70% to 80% of youth involved in Christian ministry in high school walk away from their faith within one year of graduation. In response to these very sad statistics, there are a number of high profile youth organizations who are coming together to help youth "transition from high school to college so that they more readily retain their Christian faith".

As I have thought about this report there are a number of things that come to mind. First, the statistics are tragic because behind each one is a real person who has been exposed to Christianity and has walked away thinking that it is not all that it was presented to be. This in spite of specialized youth ministries, campaigns to save them from dating, an endless array of Christian educational options, the rearrangement of church services to cater to the younger generation, special music and camps and programs and on and on. And the fact that they have walked away like this means they will be even more difficult to reach again because now they will have a "been there, done that attitude toward Christianity."

Second, this is not just a structural, organizational problem. The use of language borrowed from the business world like "helping youth transition from high school to college so they more readily retain their Christian faith" is theological nonsense and perhaps begins to reveal the real heart of the problem. Genuine Christian faith cannot be lost. If teens or anyone else has not come to participate in the New Covenant there is nothing that anyone can do to help them more readily retain their faith. Our problem today is with inadequate views of the gospel and the Christian life. What we are facing is a situation where far too few have experienced the life changing power of the Spirit of God in which he writes the law of God upon the hearts of those in whom he comes to dwell. It is time to face the fact that too many who participate in church programs are not Christians.

Third, I am fully aware that there are ups and downs in the Christian life. I know all too well that believers can backslide and sometimes fall into grievous sins. But these experiences must not be allowed to warp our understanding for the gospel and the change Jesus makes in our lives. Otherwise, we are left with a very inadequate message indeed. A telling example of the point I am making can been seen in some of the things that have been said about the recent revelations of Ted Haggard. There is no denying that his difficulties are tragic and the damage done is profoundly disturbing. But equally disturbing in my mind are commentaries in which the writer/speaker laments the fact that we are all totally depraved and then reminds us that except for the grace of God we are all in the same boat. While it is true that by nature we are totally depraved, if we are Christians we have known the liberating, life-changing power of the grace of God! We are not what we once were! Sin is a contradiction to the work of grace within us. As Christians we know the "exception" of grace and this makes all the difference in the world! This is precisely why situations like Haggard's are so remarkably sad.

Personally, I think the time has come to look seriously at New Covenant Christianity. The demands of the New Covenant are far-reaching. We are told that without holiness we will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and that is not speaking about our positional holiness or the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us. The holiness in view is that righteousness of life that is produced in us; that's right, in our lives and hearts as a result of our experience of God's grace and our subsequent and inevitable battle against sin. We are not perfect, nor will we be until glory. But we must not give the impression that we are all wallowing in sin and uncleanness as if we have not known God's amazing grace. As Christians we are supposed to know joy and victory over sin now, in this life. In glory God's work in us will be complete and every last vestige of sin will be removed, but that should not take away from the fact that something significant has happened to us now!

Returning to where I started, all of this is significant for youth ministry because it means that what needs to be recovered is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in all of its New Covenant splendor! This is what needs to be taught to young people. The need for repentance and faith. They must be told that while it is a privilege to have Christian parents, that in itself does not make them little Christians. They are not the "King's Kids" unless they have personally known that regenerating work of God. And if they have known that work they will live for the glory of God through all the ups and downs of life including the time when they "transition between high school and college". Jesus is a powerful Savior! And if we have not known his power and are not continuing to know it, it is because we do not know his salvation! We must stop distorting the biblical presentation of salvation to fit our weak, backslidden and disobedient lifestyles. We must not give false comfort to the people of God by speaking as though the only difference between us and famous fallen preachers is the fact that we have not been caught. Unfortunately, that is probably true more often then it should be but if that is the case it merely shows how far we have wandered from the truth and experience of the gospel. It should not be this way. No wonder the world is unimpressed. If this is the way it is with us then we have seriously misrepresented Jesus when we speak about him as the Savior who saves his people from their sins!

"Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are lead by the Spirit of God are the children of God."

Romans 6:13-14 and Romans 8:12-14

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Book Against Abortion

Here is an amazing book that is coming out soon:

Title: Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice
Author: Francis J. Beckwith
List Price: $65.00 (hardcover) / $23.99 (paperback)
Page count: 272
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Pub Date: September 30, 2007
ISBN: 0521691354

Book Description: Defending Life is the most comprehensive defense of the prolife position on abortion ever published. It is sophisticated, but still accessible to the ordinary citizen. Without high-pitched rhetoric or appeals to religion, the author offers a careful and respectful case for why the prolife view of human life is correct. He responds to the strongest prochoice arguments found in law, science, philosophy, politics, and the media. He explains and critiques Roe v. Wade, and he explains why virtually all the popular prochoice arguments fail. There is simply nothing like this book.

Thanks to Justin Taylor.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Gospel According to Bart Campolo

Bart Campolo (son of Tony Campolo) just wrote an article entitled: The Limits of God's Grace, it was published in The Journal of Student Ministries.

This is what Justin Taylor had to say about the article before posting it on his own blog: "I don't often link to "bad theology" articles in order to bash them, but I'm making an exception here. It is rare for a writer to be this honest about the functional sovereignty of his own mind in determining the object of his worship. In other words, Bart Campolo is an idolater of the first-order. (Something tells me, though, that there won't be any "protests" planned against his views.)"

Here is an excerpt from Bart Campolo's article:
Some might say I would be wise to swallow my misgivings about such stuff [like God's sovereignty, wrath, hell, etc.], remain orthodox, and thereby secure my place with God in eternity. But that is precisely my point: If those things are true, then God might as well send me to Hell. For better or worse, I simply am not interested in any God but a completely good, entirely loving, and perfectly forgiving One who is powerful enough to utterly triumph over evil. Such a God may not exist, but I will die seeking such a God, and I will pledge my allegiance to no other possibility because, quite frankly, anything less is not worthy of my worship.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I am well aware that I don’t get to decide who God is. What I do get to decide, however, is to whom I pledge my allegience. I am a free agent, after all, and I have standards for my God, the first of which is this: I will not worship any God who is not at least as compassionate as I am.
Here was Justin Taylor's response: "May God grant Campolo repentance for disdaining the only true God, exalting himself, and hating his neighbor (by refusing to tell them the gospel of Jesus but only the deceitful and untrue Gospel According to Bart). And may God likewise grant YS repentance for publishing such nonsense."

Here was my response on his blog: "Nick Hill said...

As one who is a youth worker, I have been concerned about Youth Specialties for a while. It is a place where more and more liberal theology is seen as on the "cutting edge." It is especially scary, because they influence the youth worker, who influences the youth in our churches, who become the so called "Christians" of the next generation. I think if we want to be on the cutting edge today we should teach the Scriptures, verse by verse to youth, and even preach! Yes, today in youth ministry circles, that would be considered radical and against the grain. Why? Because it is not "relational" enough, and we aren't at the center: God is.

Here is what Jack said in response to me.
Jack said...

Well said, Nick. I've been in youth ministry for almost three decades, and the dumbing down is astonishing. I speak in a variety of churches and camps (though I'm older than dirt), and all too often at a youth group meeting, class, "rally," I am the only one with a Bible. To see the biblical illiteracy of youth (and often parents)is indicative that many/most wouldn't have the slightest qualm with what started this whole string...Campolo's article. It is sad, scary, and, though trite, "a sign of the times."
In the meanwhile, I'll just keep relying on the Spirit of God to use His infallible Word to impact lives, starting with mine. My best "recommendation" in all these years is a big camp in the middle of the country that won't bring me back anymore because I use "too much Bible."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why I Support the TNIV

I have heard a lot of bad press about the TNIV, Today's New International Version, and that is why I did not switch over from my NIV. However, after reading Perspectives on the TNIV from Leading Scholars and Pastors and specifically Dr. Darrell L. Bock's essay, "Do Gender Sensitive Translations Distort Scripture? Not Necessarily," I have realized that the changes the TNIV makes from the NIV are positive changes and lead to a more clear understanding of the biblical text. I have always thought that it was strange that many English translations of the Bible use male pronouns when the original Greek or Hebrew was referring to both men and women. Therefore, the TNIV makes these appropriate changes and is a more accurate and improved translation on the NIV. The TNIV is not a feminist translation by any stretch. Most of the translators hold to a traditional understanding of male elders/pastors, etc. In fact, many of the supporters of the TNIV are sound conservative and faithful Biblical scholars. I think that John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and the people connected to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womenhood, in being rightly concerned about feminism in Christian circles are oversensitive and have picked the wrong battle. Its almost as if these people have established an "orthodoxy within orthodoxy" that will only lead to legalism and will divide the body of Christ. I think that I will make the switch to the TNIV (however, I will also consult other versions such as the ESV when I am studying a passage in English).

See those that oppose the TNIV:

Gender Netural Bibles (
The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words by Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2000).
"Is the TNIV Faithful in Its Treatment of Gender? No." by Vern Poythress, Christianity Today.

See these essays and books that lend support to the TNIV:

The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism by D.A. Carson (Baker, 1998).
Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender-Accuracy
by Mark Strauss (InterVarsity Press, 1998).
"Do Gender Sensitive Translations Distort Scripture? Not Necessarily," by Darrell L. Bock.
"Today's New International Version: The Untold Story of a Good Translation" by Craig L. Blomberg
"Is the TNIV Faithful in Its Treatment of Gender? Yes." by Mark Strauss, Christianity Today.
TNIV Website (

People that Support the TNIV

"The TNIV is more accurate than its remarkable predecessor, the much-loved NIV, while retaining all the readability of the latter. It is a version I can use with confidence, whether I am speaking at a university mission, or in a Bible conference anywhere in the English-speaking world. I am deeply impressed by the godliness, linguistic competence, cultural awareness, and sheer fidelity to Scripture displayed by the translators. Thirty or forty years from now, I suspect, most evangelicals will have accepted the TNIV as a 'standard' translation, and will wonder what all the fuss was about in their parents' generation — in the same way that those of us with long memories marvel at all the fuss over the abandonment of 'thees' and 'thous' several decades ago.
- D.A. Carson, Ph.D, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“The TNIV is a fine translation whose goal of being sensitive to the English of its audience opens up the Word, especially to those who may not be familiar with Scripture. The use of alternatives in the marginal notes helps the reader see where the translation is disputed. It is clear, concise, and contemporary. In my book, that is three for three.”
- Darrell Bock, Ph.D. Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"It has never been easy to distinguish between a 'translation' and a 'paraphrase'. Translations tend to go for contemporary scholarship at the expense of contemporary language, whereas paraphrases tend to sacrifice accuracy for relevance. Today's New International Version is highly successful in combining both scholarly accuracy and linguistic relevance."
- John R. W. Stott, Rector
Emeritus, All Souls Church; President, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity;
Author, Basic Christianity

"The Reformers of the 16th century translated the Bible into the vernacular languages of their day so that 'the farm boy at his plow and the milk maid at her pail' could read and understand the Scriptures in their everyday speech. The TNIV stands in this same tradition. I predict the TNIV will have a shaping influence on the English of the future, even as it reflects today's contemporary idiom."
- Timothy George, Th.D., Executive Editor of Christianity Today, Dean of Beeson Divinity School

"The TNIV is an exciting translation for the present time. It is written in contemporary English and is completely accurate to the original languages."
- Tremper Longman III, Ph.D., Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

"The TNIV should become the standard translation of its kind. It incorporates many helpful and accurate updates in the most widely used translation of our time. I welcome it, will use it personally, and plan to encourage both new and advanced Bible readers to do the same."
- Dr. John Armstrong, President, Reformation & Revival Ministries

"The TNIV avoids the overly free translation of certain texts that previous gender-inclusive translations have included, while rendering gender-inclusive uses of "man," "he," "brothers," and the like with appropriate, contemporary English exactly corresponding to the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew. Not to do this leaves a Bible that increasingly misleads the modern reader; as the father of two daughters I know first hand how this works! And I remain a complementarian with respect to gender roles; the two issues are quite separate."
- Craig Blomberg, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"As one of the more than one hundred scholars who labored to produce the original NIV, and one who strongly advocated the inerrancy of the autographic text of scripture, I would like to indicate my strong approval of the purpose of the TNIV and of its implementation of that purpose. . . . With the changes in the English language and with many women's tendency to read as exclusive passages which are in fact inclusive, the job accomplished here needed to be done."
- Roger Nicole, Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary

"The NIV took the late twentieth century church by storm. It has been the most readable version of the Bible in English. Today's NIV is even better. I recommend it warmly."
- Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Green
Senior Research Fellow,Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University

“I am thrilled with Today’s New International Version. The TNIV offers significant improvements in scholarship and in its use of English idiom. Without question, the TNIV is the finest English translation available at the beginning of this new millennium.”
- John R. Kohlenberger III, Bible scholar; reference book editor; author, The Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek New Testament

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Audio Highlights from the Desiring God Conference

Here are some audio highlights, short clips from the different speakers, on various topics at the Desiring God Conference.

David Wells
Voddie Baucham

Tim Keller

Mark Driscoll

D.A. Carson

John Piper

Thanks to Justin Taylor.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Desiring God National Conference Messages

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
David Wells
September 29, 2006

A Conversation with the Pastors
September 29, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World
Voddie Baucham
September 30, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World
Tim Keller
September 30, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World
Mark Driscoll
September 30, 2006

Speaker Panel
September 30, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World
D. A. Carson
September 30, 2006

The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World
John Piper
John 17:13
October 1, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

"Many a preacher is now in hell, who hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it."

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001; orginally published in 1656), 53.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Quote of the Day

This quote summarizes my concern for the direction of much of contemporary evangelicalism:

"No one will doubt that Christians of today must state their beliefs in terms of modern thought. Every age has a language of its own and can speak no other. Mischief only comes when, instead of stating Christian beliefs in terms of modern thought, and effort is made, rather, to state modern thought in terms of Christian belief."B. B. Warfield, Review of Foundations: A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought, by Seven Oxford Men, in Critical Reviews, The Works of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1932; reprint, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1991), 10:322.

(Cited by David Wells in his Nov. 10, 2005 lecture on Emergent Spirituality, drawing a parallel between this observation by Warfield and what emergents are doing today.)

Thanks to Justin Taylor

Sunday, October 01, 2006

D. A. Carson on False Alternatives

So which shall we choose? Experience or truth? The left wing of an airplane, or the right? Love or integrity? Study or service? Evangelism or discipleship? The front wheels of a car, or the rear? Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge? Faith or obedience?
Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all—of the truth and of our experience. The Bible insists that we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. (Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, p. 234).

Thanks to John Piper.
Tim Keller on the Gospel

The gospel is: you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe yet you can be more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope at the same time because Jesus Christ lived and died in your place. . . .
“True faith saith not: ‘What have I done? . . . What do I deserve?’ But it saith: ‘what hath Christ done? What doth he deserve?’ . . . Therefore he that apprehendeth Christ by faith . . . may be bold to glory that he is righteous. How? Even by that precious jewel, Christ Jesus, which he possesseth by faith.” (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians)
Irreligious people seek to be their own saviors and lords through irreligion, “worldly” pride. (“No one tells me how to live or what to do, so I determine what is right and wrong for me!”) But moral and religious people seek to be their own saviors and lords through religion, “religious” pride. . . . Both irreligion and religion are forms of self salvation.
To “get the gospel” is to turn from self-justification and rely on Jesus’ record for a relationship with God. The irreligious don’t repent at all, and the religious only repent of sins. But Christians also repent of their righteousness. That is the distinction between the three groups—Christians, moralists (religious), and pragmatists (irreligious).
“Lay your deadly doing down, down at Jesus’ feet.Stand in Him, in Him alone—gloriously complete.” (Unknown)(Partnership, June 1996: “Redeemer: The Centrality of the Gospel”)

Thanks to John Piper

Friday, September 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The first generation has the gospel, the second generation assumes the gospel, and the third generation loses the Gospel" (D.A. Carson).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Great Divide? Faithfulness versus Relevance

Here's what Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, R. Albert Mohler, and C. J. Mahaney have to say in a series of mini-articles. There is great wisdom here!
The Greatest Danger Facing the Church

What is the greatest danger facing the church? Jim Hamilton explains in this article.
A Review of Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now

See this interesting review of Joel Osteen's book Your Best Life Now by Greg Gilbert. Greg starts his review by saying "Someone might legitimately raise the question why we are reviewing this book. After all, the pattern here at 9Marks has been that we review Christian books. I suppose we must be branching out now, because Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now is decidedly not one of those. Open the book to any random page, and you will likely find some mention of God or even a reference to Scripture. Yet that is just window-dressing. When you wring the book out, what you end up with is nothing more than the soggy old self-help pop-psychology that people have been lapping up for a generation—with the word "God" thrown in every once in a while for good measure." Interesting reading! See the full review article here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Youth Conference

As some of you may know, I have been organizing a practical conference called At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Youth. For more information see here. I would ask for your prayers: that God most of all would be glorified, that many people would come out to be equipped and inspired to pour their lives into being spiritual mentors, fathers or mothers in Christ, to hurting youth in the greater Toronto area and beyond, that this would have a grass roots impact in bringing deep transformation to the hurting neighbourhoods of Toronto, and that violence would cease and true community would result. May God do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Memorize Scripture by Listening to Music

Mark Altrogge has come up with a website called Scripture memory songs. The songs are the exact words from specific Scripture verses, and he is an excellent musician. These CDs are part of Sovereign Grace Music's Hide the Word series, which now has over 120 Bible passages set to song.

Thanks to JT.
The Problem of Preaching to Felt Needs

by Al Mohler

The idea that preaching should be addressed to the self-perceived "needs" of the congregation is now well ingrained in the larger evangelical culture. The argument behind this is almost always missiological -- just preach to the needs people already feel and then you can point them to a deep need and God's provision of the Gospel.

There are several basic flaws with this approach. In the first place, our "needs" are hopelessly confused -- even hidden from us. As a matter of fact, the knowledge of our deepest needs is a secret even to ourselves until we receive that knowledge by the work of the Holy Spirit and the gift of Scripture. This is God's mercy -- that we should come to discover our most basic need.

Second, our perceived or felt needs almost always turn out to be something other than needs -- at least in any serious sense. We have wants and desires and concerns, but most of these are not genuine needs that lead to desperation -- the kind of needs that remind us constantly that we lack all self-sufficiency. To the contrary, most of us feel quite self-sufficient. Thus, the needs we feel are the "needs" characteristic of apathetic affluence, romantic aspirations, and spiritual emptiness.

Third, preachers who believe they can move the attention of individuals from their "felt" needs to their need for the Gospel will find, inevitably, that the distance between the individual and the Gospel has not been reduced by attention to lesser needs. The sinner's need for Christ is a need unlike all other needs -- and the satisfaction of having other needs stroked and affirmed is often a hindrance to the sinner's understanding of the Gospel.

William H. Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, spoke to the futility of felt needs preaching in a recent interview in Leadership [interview not available online]. His words are worth notice:

Jesus doesn't meet our needs; he rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs, and he gives me needs I would've never had if I hadn't met Jesus. He reorders them.

I used to ask seminarians, "Why are you in seminary?" They'd say, "I like meeting people's needs." And I'd say, "Whoa. Really? If you try that with the people I know, they'll eat you alive."

Now, if you're a pastor in Honduras, it might be okay to define your ministry as meeting needs, because more people in Honduras have interesting biblical needs – food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get those needs met without prayer. So they've moved on to "needs" like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life, and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in.

Those are strong words -- and words we all need to hear.

Thanks to JT.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where did the "Pew" Come From?

Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church, has an interesting post on the history of the "pew."
Books Every Seminary Graduate Should Have Read

Jim Hamilton states here what essential books should have been read before entering full time ministry.

Thanks to JT.
The False Teaching of Joyce Meyer and the Cult of Christian Celebrities

Joyce Meyer believes that she is no longer a sinner:

"I'm going to tell you something folks, I didn't stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn't a sinner anymore. And the religious world thinks that's heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I'm righteous and I can't be righteous and be a sinner at the same time. All I was ever taught to say was, 'I'm a poor, miserable sinner.' I am not poor, I am not miserable and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I was and if I still am then Jesus died in vain. Amen?" (Joyce Meyer, What Happened From the Cross to the Throne?, emphasis mine).

Writing to Christians the apostle John says: " If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:9). Paul, writing to Timothy, says this about himself: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

According to Mark Moore Joyce Meyer also believes "that Jesus was pronounced guilty on the cross, but did not pay for sin until he went to hell." Mark Moore responds by saying this: "Maybe someone should have told the thief on the cross that he was not really going to be in paradise with Jesus on that day because Jesus was, once again, confused; Jesus had to go to hell for a few days to pay for the thief’s sin, he’ll have to catch up with him later."

Mark Moore concludes his article by saying:

"Why sarcasm? Why sadness? Because it is not John, Paul, or Jesus who needs to be corrected—it is the church. Specifically it is pastors. Pastors who are weak and afraid. Pastors who are people pleasers and ear ticklers. Pastors who don’t declare the absolute authority of Scripture. Pastors who don’t lead their churches because they are being led by their churches. Pastors who don’t want to offend the women in their churches by telling them to stop wasting their time in long lines at bookstores to secure the autographs of Christian celebrities who are more busy flying around on their private jets than studying to show themselves approved being workman who need not be ashamed because they have rightly handled the Scriptures.

The sad state of the church is that we are a cult of personalities rather than followers of the second person of the Trinity. Maybe its because one of those personalities doesn’t even believe in the Trinity. Maybe its because those of us that do don’t call those of them that don’t what the Church has always called them—heretics."

Yes, it is sad indeed. May the evangelical church become more like the Bereans, testing everything by the Scriptures: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11). May the evangelical church also believe that the Scriptures are sufficient, and that God can meet us where we are without "celebrity priests." Amen.

Thanks to Mark Moore for the article and JT for the heads up.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Give Me Doctrine or Give Me Death

Greg Gilbert discusses the importance of doctrine in light of the current trend to see doctrine as "a hold-over from the Middle Ages, or from the sixteenth century at best," that "Christianity is more beautiful, more compelling, if we don’t try to clarify it and define it," and "To insist on this doctrine or that set of propositions is stultifying and restrictive." "Give Me Doctrine or Give Me Death" is interesting reading.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Being Clear in Evangelism

Mark Dever talks about what it means to be clear as we share Christ with the non-Christians around us. Check out "A Good Offence."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mark Driscoll on Biblical Principles and Cultural Methods

How do you remain biblically faithful and culturally relevant? Driscoll talks about how.

Other Driscoll videos:
Top Ten Books on Personal Piety

Here are some excellent recommendations by Joe Thorn (most are avaliable on

Thanks to Justin Taylor for the heads up.
Being Innovative Means Getting Young Men Into the Church: Driscoll

Here is a quote from Mark Driscoll (for more check here):

"The problem in the church today is just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickafied church boys. 60% of Christians are chicks and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of...chicks. It's just sad.

We're looking around going, How come we're not innovative? Cause all the innovative dudes are home watching football or they're out making money or climbing a mountain or shooting a gun or working on their truck. They look at the church like that's a nice thing for women and children. So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That's it. That's the whole thing. They're going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They're going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything. You get the families, the women, the children, the money, the business, you get everything. If you don't get the young men you get nothing."

Thanks to Steve McCoy

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jonathan Edwards' Study Bible: Yes, it is True

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
is considered the greatest American preacher and theologian and has had a wide spread influence through important works such as Religious Affections, his most famous modern disciple being John Piper.

Yale University Press has just published Jonathan Edwards' The Blank Bible. Here's a description:

"In 1730, Jonathan Edwards acquired a book-like, leather-bound manuscript containing an interleaved printed edition of the King James Version of the Bible. Over the next three decades, Edwards proceeded to write in the manuscript more than five thousand notes and entries relating to biblical texts (though paradoxically he called the manuscript his 'Blank Bible'). Only a fraction of the entries has ever been published. This volume presents a complete edition of the 'Blank Bible' accompanied by an informative introduction, multiple appendices, and an extensive index."

Yes, it is a lot of money ($147.77 CDN from; see here), but as Justin Taylor says: "While I admit I'm not yet ready to fork over that amount of cash for this volume, the question should be asked: How much money would you pay if someone offered you an unlimited pass which allowed you to peer over Jonathan Edwards's shoulder as he made notes in his Bible?"

Now to convince my wife...

(Thanks to Justin Taylor for the information)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

David Wells on the Emergent Church

Watch Dr. David Wells', an expert on contemporary culture, critique of the Emergent Church.
John Piper on the Emergent Church

Listen here to hear what John Piper thinks of the Emergent Church.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hermeneutics Applied to a STOP Sign

If you are into theology like me, you will find this to be one of the funniest things of all time. If not, you will appreciate the fact smart people can be in fact quite foolish. STOP

1. A post modernist deconstructs the sign by knocking it over with his car, and thus ends the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. The Marxist refuses to stop because she sees the stop sign as an instrument of class conflict, since the bourgeois use the north-south route and obstruct the proletariat moving east-west.

3. A serious and educated Catholic rolls through the intersection because he believes he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. Average Catholics and mainline denominationalists don’t bother to read the sign but will stop if the car in front does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell her to go.

6. A seminary educated evangelical preacher will research the meaning of “STOP” and discover that the word indicates something which prevents motion (i.e. plug for drain) or a location to leave passengers. The lesson is that STOP signs indicate clogged traffic, so it’s a good place to drop riders.

7. An orthodox Jew takes routes devoid of stops to eliminate the risk of disobeying the Law.

8. A scholar from the Jesus Seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” was never uttered by Jesus, since he would not stifle peoples’ progress. So, STOP is a textual insertion from stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

9. A New Testament scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a street no one has ever seen called “Q” street. Extensive research has been done on the differences between stop signs on Matthew and Luke streets, but nothing to explain the meaning of the text.

10. An Old Testament scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the STOP. The “ST” contains no enclosed areas and five line endings, whereas “OP” contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author on the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Other scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the “O” and the “P.”

11. Another OT scholar notes that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back, having been moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the sign were not there.

12. Yet another OT scholar amends the text, changing the “T” to “H”. The resulting SHOP is much easier to understand in context than “STOP” because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption is easily explained as a form geschichte alteration. Thus, the sign announces the existence of a shopping area. If this is true, it could indicate that both meanings are valid, thus making the message “STOP & SHOP.”

13. A “prophetic” preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in Greek), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by 4 (the four corners) equals 666, the dreaded “mark of the beast.” All STOPS are therefore satanic.

Taken from Ochuk's blog.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ten Books Every Youthworker (and perhaps Christian) Isn’t Reading. . . .

by Walt Mueller

Here it is. My long-promised list of good and necessary reading that most youthworkers aren’t reading, but should be. Before getting to the list. . . . . Over the last two days I’ve had two very deep conversations with two very good friends about a growing problem that seems to be rearing it’s ugly head more and more often. Sadly, it’s a problem among Christians. To put it succinctly, we just aren’t very discerning. I’m seeing it more and more in my travels. For example, we adopt worship styles, preaching styles, theological bents, ministry approaches, etc. because they generate numbers – which of course equals “success” – without regard to whether or not they bring honor and glory to God. I’ll expand on this further at another time. At this point, I’ll leave it at this. . . . we don’t take the time to ask “Why am I doing this in this particular way?” I mention this in a blog on reading because I don’t think we’re doing the type of reading that builds a good strong foundation.

So, on to my list. There are quite a few more good books than these. No doubt. I know I’m leaving quite a few off the list and I’m sure you’ve got plenty of suggestions. However, this is my list today. Are you willing to take the challenge and get reading? Each of these books has the capacity to revolutionize how you think about and do ministry. In fact, the answer to the question “Why do you do what you do how you do it at CPYU?” includes all these books. No special order here. . .

Creation Regained by Albert Wolters. This is a foundational book on worldview that will change the way you look at God’s world and understand the concept of “worldview.” If I had my way, every Christian college student would take a class on this book. . . . and within a few years, we’d begin to see the results in our culture.

The Universe Next Door by James Sire. A classic on worldviews that’s now in its fourth edition! This book explains not only what a worldview is, but it explains and evaluates the worldviews present on our current cultural landscape.

The Christian Mind by Harry Blamires. Tutored by C.S. Lewis at Oxford, Blamires explains how to love God with all our mind. . . . . something we don’t fully understand or do in today’s church.

The Contemporary Christian by John Stott. A great theologian who writes practical, accessible stuff. This has helped me understand what it means to fulfill the will of the Father by being in, but not of, the world.

Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down by Marva Dawn. Wow, can this woman think! Subtitled “A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture,” read this before ever embarking on planning worship or taking sides in the worship wars.

Above All Earthly Powers: Christ In A Postmodern World by David Wells. A brilliant theologian who takes a multi-disciplinary approach drawing from the social sciences, history, etc. This book requires some slow and deliberate stepping to maneuver and digest its content. . . . but it’s a walk you must take. This is a great assessment of postmodern thinking and its influence on the church and ministry.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A classic that issues a calling to contemporary Christians by one who put his life where his mouth is.

The Fabric of Faithfulness by Steven Garber. Again, a multidisciplinary approach to spiritual formation during the college years. Hey, if you’re about seeing kids come to and grow in faith, this will help you understand what that means and how to foster that type of growth.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I try to get a copy of this into the hands of every parent and kid I meet. This book lays out our human purpose and what it means to live that purpose over the course of our lives.

The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer by Francis Schaeffer. Absent from the body for over twenty years, this guy understood today’s world before it even happened, better than we understand it today. Schaeffer offers cultural analysis and a model of cultural analysis that just might shatter your paradigms and change your life.

Okay. . . . . so I cheated on that last one. . . . . it’s actually more than one book. Sorry. Now get reading!

Taken from Walt Mueller's blog at The Center for Parent/ Youth Understanding (CPYU).