Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reading Through the Bible in a Year: Some Different Plans

Justin Taylor reviews a number of different Bible reading plans here in this very helpful post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How John Stott Prepares a Sermon

Check here for good practical help on the preparation of Biblical messages that will feed your own soul and will feed the souls the people you serve.

Update: I fixed the link.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Biblical Humility

Timothy Keller has a helpful article on this in Christianity Today.

Need Encouragement to Study Biblical Greek?

Maybe this video will provide some much needed inspiration.

HT: Jim Hamilton
Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism

My friend John Meinen recommended this article this past summer. It is a very helpful analysis of Facebook and other such things. I enjoyed reading it then and I highly recommend it to you to evaluate the impact of this type of technology on your life.

On a related note, Justin Buzzard has some helpful thoughts on thinking biblically about Facebook here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mark Driscoll interviews D.A. Carson

Below is a very interesting, personal, and insightful interview. I especially enjoyed D.A. Carson's discussion of the life of his father and what true success in ministry looks like.

HT: Darryl Dash

True Evangelism Advice from an Atheist

Penn of Penn and Teller is an atheist. His response to being evangelized after a show may surprise you.

"I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward'...How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that."

HT: Darryl Dash

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson

On October 30th, there was a debate between atheist Christopher Hitchens (author of God is not Great) and Christian Douglas Wilson (author of Letter from a Christian Citizen) on the existence of God.

You can watch the lively debate here.

You can also read Dr. Oliphant’s thoughts on the debate here.

HT: Tullian

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pragmatic Christianity

Are you a pragmatic Christian? If you are a leader in the Church, are you unknowingly helping or encouraging Christians to embrace the philosophy of pragmatism? Check out this interesting post by Phil Steiger here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

True Repentance: A Message by Paul Washer

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This is Abortion

Check out this powerful video specifically addressed to Canadians. What are you doing?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

Without the faithfulness of this one man, I might never have heard the pure biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, through Christ alone we are saved to live for the glory of God alone. Good news indeed! For more on Reformation day check out this site.
Quote of the Day: Francis Schaeffer

“Tell me what the world is saying today and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years.”

-Francis Schaeffer

In trying to become relevant, we become irrelevant. Truth is always relevant. Because God exists, God reigns, Jesus died and rose again and will come again to judge the living and the dead, expositing the Bible in the power of the Spirit is the most relevant thing we can do on earth.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Princeton Professor's Analysis of Obama's Abortion Extremism

Check out this well written, logically argued, eye opening article written by Robert P. George (Harvard Law School (JD), Harvard Divinity School (MTS), and New College, Oxford (DPhil), McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, here.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Abortion: The Hidden Holocaust

Check out this powerful video below. What are we Canadians doing to stop this violence against our most vulnerable and defenseless children?


Saturday, October 18, 2008

God Calls Us to an Unfashionable Life

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian (grandson of Billy Graham and one of my favorite bloggers) describes his new book Unfashionable in the short clip below:

Having a Hard Time Getting Through the Bible Each Year?

Here is some good advice that Justin Taylor posted on his blog (see especially the last part):

In listening to an old lecture recently by J. I. Packer, he made the comment that it was not until after the 17th century (as far as he could tell) that people started doing silent prayers and reading as opposed to praying and reading out loud.

For most evangelicals, silence represents the vast majority of our reading and praying. But I wonder if that's to our detriment. One of the great enemies to Bible reading and praying is a wandering mind--and one of the great ways to make your mind wander is to do everything in your mind without involving your voice and ears!

. . . Here's something else to consider: the entire Bible on audio is usually about 75 hours (or 4500 minutes). If you commute to work 5 days a week, that's about 260 days a year. And if it takes you, say, 17 minutes to commute each way to work--and if you listen to the Bible on audio during your drive each way--you'll get through the entire Bible twice in a year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Religion and the Gospel

This comparison chart shows the difference.

Which one characterizes you?

HT: Reformissionary
Tim Keller: Interview with the Washington Post

Take a few minutes to watch this short video below. It is very good.

HT: Tullian

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fitting In Vs. Being Despised

Check out this very thoughtful post here.

HT: Tullian

Friday, October 10, 2008

Five Trends in the Church Today by D.A. Carson

Check out the notes for this talk here.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

My Dream Chair

Check this out!


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Look Who's Irrational Now!

“”What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.” Check it out here.

HT: Challies
Dr. Ortlund on Preaching

Dr. Raymond Ortlund Jr., pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, TN, gave the 2008 Mullins Lectures at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ever Heard of Swooping?

Check this out:

Resources for Teaching and Preaching Ephesians

This year in the youth ministry of our church, Rexdale Alliance, we are studying the book of Ephesians.

Below are some helpful resources on Ephesians.

Ephesians Introduction from the soon to be released ESV Study Bible

Dr. Constable’s (Dallas Theological Seminary) Notes on Ephesians

Some Model Expositions on the book by R. Kent Hughes (formally pastor at College Church Wheaton, IL):

Go to the website here, and click on the book of Ephesians (on the right hand side). You will see all these messages:

Blessing Above: Ephesians 1:1-14
In Accordance with His Pleasure: Ephesians 1:3-6
Celebration of Redemption: Ephesians 1:7-10
Celebration of Salvation: Ephesians 1:11-14

A Prayer for Enlightenment: Ephesians 1:15-23
Mighty Power of God: Ephesians 1:15-23
From Death to Life: Ephesians 2:1-7

All of Grace: Ephesians 2:8-10

Brought Near by the Blood of Christ: Ephesians 2:11-18

The Third Race: Ephesians 2:19-22
The Mystery of Christ: Ephesians 3:1-13

The Measure of Love: Ephesians 3:14-21

Walking in Unity: Ephesians 4:1-6

Growing the Church: Ephesians 4:7-16

Living in Light: Ephesians 4:17-24
Living as the New Race: Ephesians 4:25-32

The Cookie Jar Syndrome: Ephesians 5:1-7

The Fullness of the Spirit: Ephesians 5:15-21
The Mystery of Marriage, Part I: Ephesians 5:21-24

The Mystery of Marriage, Part II: Ephesians 5:25-33

God and the Family: Ephesians 6:1-4

Servants and Masters: Ephesians 6:5-9
Ephesians 6:5-9

Armed for Battle, Part I: Ephesians 6:10-17

Armed for Battle, Part II: Ephesians 6:10-17

Armed for Battle, Part III: Ephesians 6:17

Armed for Battle, Part IV: Ephesians 6:18-20
Glad Benedictions: Ephesians 6:21-24

All Prayer: Ephesians 6:18-20

Helpful Commentaries (for those at RAC, talk to me):

Stott, John R.W. The Message of Ephesians: God’s New Society. Downers Grove: IVP, 1979.

R. Kent Hughes, Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ

O'Brien, Peter T. The Letter to the Ephesians PNTC. 1997.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Therapeutic Gospel

The Therapeutic Gospel: Part 1
In this new gospel, the great evils to be redressed do not call for any fundamental change of direction in the human heart. Instead, my deepest problems are merely limited to what has happened to me.

The Therapeutic Gospel: Part 2
God gives good gifts. But he also gives the best gift, the inexpressible Gift of gifts.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Don't We?

If it is true as Dick Lucas says that "one of the clearest lessons of Acts is that the Word of God on the lips of his servants is the supreme secret of missionary advance (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:49; 19:20)" then why isn't there a greater emphasis on teaching and preaching the Word of God as well as training people in how to teach and preach the Word of God in youth parachurch ministries? Is it because of a false understanding of the incarnation as applied to us and this is now our controlling paradigm? We often hear youth ministry people talk about incarnational ministry or "you are Jesus with skin on," but the fact is that we are not. Jesus is Jesus and we are not Jesus [for more on the roots of this idea in early 20th century liberal theology see this excellent book edited by David Peterson: The Word Became Flesh: Evangelicals And The Incarnation (2003)]. We are to take our cue from the apostles who preached about Jesus, who hearalded the good news wherever they went and whenever they could. The gospel is advanced, people are saved, and people are sanctified through the preaching of God's Word in the power of His Spirit. Let's look at the Acts passages above:

Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 12:24: But the word of God increased and multiplied.

Acts 13:49: And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

Acts 19:20: So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

This preaching occurred among Jews and Greeks in a very relativistic and "postmodern" society with a multiplicity of gods, goddesses, religions, and worldviews. Instead of abandoning the preaching and teaching of God's words to pagan youth today saying something like "that doesn't work anymore," why don't we see how we can do it better. Why don't we take the principles that Paul used and equip a new generation of youth workers to preach the gospel boldly with broken hearts:

Jesus "is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead....that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:42-43).

For more on the principles of Paul in preaching see this excellent article by Dick Lucas called "Preaching to Pagans."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Doug Moo on Colossians

Doug Moo has written a new commentary on Colossians and Philemon that is about to come out in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series (Eerdmans and edited by D.A. Carson).

He also has preached a four-part sermon series on Colossians:

Part One - Col 1:3-14
Douglas Moo gives a broad overview of the book of Colossians of how they were trying to fit Christ into the worldview they'd already adopted. He homes on some key thoughts in the book, such as bearing fruit and growing and God's rescue and redemption, like that in Exodus.
Part Two - Col 1:15-20
This section of Colossians celebrates the supremacy of Christ in creation and the new creation. All you could possibly know about God is found in Christ. He is not some "blurry, impressionistic view" of God but the exact image of the Father.
Part Three - Col 1:21-23; 2:6-15
The message of Colossians is that you don't need to go running after spiritual truth in other places in the "religious marketplace" outside of Christ. What is a life lived in Christ look like? It's rooted in Him, built up in Him, strengthened in Him, and full in Him.
Part Four - Col 2:6-23
Doug tackles the difficulties surrounding the text concerning baptism and seeks to understand it in its context in the chapter. Baptism is a "last act of conversion" where it is more or less a "sealing" upon our conversion. "Your Christian life needs to be directed by the transforming work of the Spirit within," he underscores, "creating the mind of Christ in you, leading you to live a life that pleases Him and honors Him.

HT: Justin Taylor

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Review of Brian McLaren's Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices

Well respected church historian Dr. Michael Haykin (Ph.D. University of Toronto) reviews Brian McLaren's new book Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Functional Saviors: Idolatry in Everyday Life

In his new book, On Who is God? (A book you'll actually read), Mark Driscoll writes the following:

The temptation of idolatry is that it proposes a functional savior. What I mean is this. All people have a concept in their mind of what their hell is. They also have a concept in their mind of what their heaven would be. To get out of their proverbial hell and into their desired heaven, they worship a functional savior. While this all sounds very religious and spiritual, in practice it rarely is.

For example, if a young woman sees being single as her hell and dating a cute boy as her heaven, then some guy becomes her functional savior. In dating him she will be taken from her singles' hell into her couples' heaven. The only problem is that she must make sacrifices to worship the boy as a god, such as sleeping with him or putting up with his abuse.

Furthermore, if a man sees chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage as his hell and naked women as his heaven, then perversion (e.g. porn, fornication, and adultery) becomes his functional savior. The only problem is that he must make sacrifices to worship his false god - blowing massive amounts of time and energy online or at strip clubs and buying cheap drinks for even cheaper women (pg 69).

Read the book to see the solution to this problem. For more info on these little books go here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop Toronto Audio

I really enjoyed this workshop last year by the Simeon Trust and I highly encourage you to take advantage of them. Here is their website and here is some audio from this past year (bios below the audio):

Instruction 1
Why Exposition? [mp3, 73mb]
William Taylor

Instruction 2
Traveling Instructions [mp3, 75mb]
Steve Bickley

Instruction 3
Bone and Marrow [mp3, 51mb]
Steve Bickley

Instruction 4
Melodic Line [mp3, 61mb]
Steve Bickley

Instruction 5
Text and Framework [mp3, 59mb]
William Taylor

Model Exposition 1
Philippians 1.27-2.4 [mp3, 64mb]
William Taylor

Model Exposition 2
Philippians 2.5-11 [mp3, 53mb]
William Taylor

William Taylor studied at Cambridge University and served in the British Army as an officer in the Royal Green Jackets. He then studied theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge and was ordained in 1991. He was then appointed curate at Christ Church, Bromley, in London. He joined St Helen’s, Bishopsgate under Dick Lucas in 1995 and succeeded Dick as Rector in 1998. He authored Partnership (Christian Focus Publishers), a book on teaching the themes of Philippians as well as John’s Gospel: Read, Mark, Learn.


Stephen Bickley is pastor of Help and Hope/Basics Pastor's Conference at Parkside Church near Cleveland. Prior to joining Parkside in 2001, he pastored in Minnesota and in England. He also organized pastor's workshops for the Proclamation Trust while in London. He attended Taylor University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. bickley

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Danger of Worshiping Spiritual Leaders

Carl Trueman writes a very insightful post on this subtle form of idolatry here. May we take heed.

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's the Matter with Canada?

Chuck Colson tells us what is wrong here. This is very sobering reading.
The Devotional Life of Dr. Charles Feinberg

Dr. Charles Feinberg's, the late professor of Old Testament at Talbot Theological Seminary and professor of John MacArthur, devotional life is described here by Pastor Brouwer (may we learn from his sincere and pure devotion to Christ):

“One day while visiting, I noticed the two Bibles on his nightstand. The first one I picked up was unlike any I had seen. It had a red cover and contained the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. The only English inside was the publisher’s information. We sometimes read together from the Hebrew portion. Yet it was the other Bible that made an indelible impression on me. In the back of that Bible Dr. Feinberg kept his own private reading record.
The top of the record was titled: “Read the Bible through.” Underneath this and for the next two pages followed the final third of an amazing log:
105th time: Mar. 31, 1978 (Mt. Zion, Jerusalem, Israel)
106th time: June 29, 1978 (Anchorage, Alaska)
107th time: Sept. 30, 1978 (Whittier, California)
The record continued until the last entry:
154th time: Aug. 15, 1990 (Walnut Creek, California)
“Here was a simple record of a man who spent a lifetime in devotion to God and His Word. It didn’t take a math expert to figure out that Dr. Feinberg’s lifetime practice was to read through the entire Bible four times a year. Apparently he had been doing so since 1952! I was awestruck, humbled, challenged and inspired—all at the same time. I began to bring younger missionaries with me just to meet Dr. Feinberg and to show them the back of that Bible. The reaction was always the same: amazement, admiration, inspiration and a sense of holy challenge.”

HT: Pastor Brouwer

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The ESV Study Bible: Endorsements

“The ESV Study Bible overcomes one of the greatest handicaps of other study Bibles, namely notes and comments that intrigue but are inchoate, due to lack of space. But this publication will set a new standard for comprehensive helps in interpreting more of Scripture in delightful detail—a handsomely illustrated commentary with copious notes on each page, as well as a profusion of maps, definitions, and explanations in addition to the ESV Bible itself—and all in one volume. Who could ask for more? The ESV Study Bible will be my first biblical resource henceforth.”

Paul L. Maier
Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History
Western Michigan University

“This ambitious project has a fine lineup of contributors, and I am also particularly impressed with the excellent visual features, including color maps and illustrations.”

Larry Hurtado

Head of the School of Divinity Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology

New College, University of Edinburgh

“This is surely the most comprehensive Study Bible yet! Serious students of the Bible will find this an invaluable aid to understanding the text, the background, and some key theological issues of the Bible. In addition to the reliable ESV text with notes, it has resources that no teacher or preacher should be without. Beautifully produced and accessible, it will also make a great gift for new Christians.”

–Graeme Goldsworthy, author, and formerly lecturer at Moore Theological College.

“The contributors to the ESV Study Bible represent the best of conservative biblical scholarship and solid and balanced theological positions. These scholars hold to a very high view of the authority of Scripture and are faithful interpreters. I cannot think of a better group of contributing scholars for such a project! The introductions, overviews, and study notes for each biblical book are immensely helpful to understanding the contents of these books. The charts, pictures, and maps help visualize what happened where and when. In addition, the special introductory essays are outstanding and will help readers to understand such difficult topics as the formation of the Old and New Testament canon, the reliability of the Old and New Testament manuscripts, how to interpret the Bible, how to apply biblical truth, and many more important topics related to Christian faith. The ESV Study Bible is an almost bottomless treasure from which readers will find many gems. I enthusiastically recommend it to students, pastors, and any Christians who want to understand their Bibles better!”

G. K. Beale

Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Professor of New Testament

Graduate Biblical and Theological Studies

Wheaton College

"The past quarter century has witnessed a plethora of study Bibles based on a corresponding array of new versions and translations. As excellent as many of them are, the ESV Study Bible is certain to take its place as the premiere work of its kind. Produced by a galaxy of evangelical scholars representing a broad geographical and ecclesiastical horizon, this tour de force of its genre is replete not only with clear and cogent notes on the biblical text but it provides in addition scores of articles on topics such as theology of the Old Testament, introduction to the Pentateuch, reading the Gospels and Acts, and reading the Epistles. The icing on the cake is the inclusion of dozens of beautifully colored maps, photos, and graphs and charts, all placed at strategically located places throughout. Crossway has raised high the bar by publishing a study Bible that is likely to become the standard for generations to come."

Eugene H. Merrill, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary

Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Interpretation
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Enough said; you should pick one up for yourself and a friend here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Purpose Driven Death Missions Conference

Here is the description of the conference (it looks amazing):

To Every Tribe Ministries is pleased to announce that
Dr. John Piper will be the featured speaker along with our own David Sitton, founder of TETM and another speaker soon to be determined.

The Purpose Driven Death Mission Conference aims:

1. To make much of Christ for the Romans 15:20 regions of the world
2. To challenge believers to pursue the privilege of radical mission to
unreached peoples
3. To pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out harvesters

Online registration is now open -

Plan to join us for this national conference and please pray for TETM as we
continue to take our strategic place in taking the gospel to the unreached.

May the Lord move quickly to save sheep and establish churches in the
hard to get to, least reached places!

Missionary suffering, even martyrdom itself, is part of the strategy that God
intentionally employs to advance the gospel. The Lord sometimes uses the death
of his disciples for the swifter extension of the Kingdom of God into hostile regions.

Risking our lives for the gospel is where we experience the joy of knowing Christ in
the fellowship of his sufferings. A death for the gospel is a Purpose-Driven Death.

David Sitton, President
To Every Tribe Ministries

Friday, August 08, 2008

Advice for Young Christian Leaders: An Interview with Wayne Grudem by Mark Driscoll

Here is a snipet from the interview:

I asked him which doctrines he would encourage young Christian leaders to devote themselves to studying as they prepare for what potentially lies ahead theologically. He said that for such a weighty question he would prefer to thoughtfully craft an answer, but did give two recommendations in the moment:

1. Scripture — He said that every issue ultimately hinges on one’s view of the inerrancy, authority, and truthfulness of Scripture in every way. He encourages all young Christian leaders to make sure that deep within them is a love for and trust in every word of Scripture as God’s perfect revelation to us.

2. Authority — He said that he sees authority as a pervasive problem in our culture. As we talked, it became clear that what he meant is that people profess to be Christians yet refuse to submit to God’s authority, including Scripture, and people God has ordained to be in loving authority, such as godly parents and pastors.

He summarized his points by saying that he aspires for Christians to believe whatever God says and obey whatever God commands.

For the complete interview go here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, August 04, 2008

Facebook in Reality

A real reality check!

Jesus, Be the Center by Michael Frye

May you alone be what we live for Jesus, not self; by your grace and for your glory, Amen.

Jesus be the center
Be my source be my light Jesus
Jesus be the center
Be my song Jesus

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in my sails
Be the reason that I live

Jesus Jesus
Jesus be my vision
Be my help
Be my guide Jesus
When It's All Been Said and Done by Robin Mark

God, may this be true of my life and everyone who reads this. In Jesus name, Amen.

When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I have done
For love's rewards
Will stand the test of time

Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
That you found purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints

I will always sing your praise
Here on earth and in heaven after
For you've joined me at my true home
When it's all been said and done
You're my life when life is gone.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Review of N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope by Professor Thomas Schreiner

See his very helpful 9 Marks review here.

HT: Kerux Noemata
12 Sins We Blame on Others

Desiring God has this insightful post here.

HT: Julian Freeman
Faithful Anglican Protests During Gene Robinson's Sermon

Openly gay US bishop Gene Robinson was forced to halt a sermon at a west London church after being called on to repent. You can watch the video here.

May God give more young people courage like this young man to stand up for truth and for the gospel. I am thankful for this young man: for his faithfulness, his boldness, his love for Christ, his love for the church, and his love for the truth.

HT: Challies

Thursday, July 03, 2008

God is Not Dead Yet

William Lane Craig writes an article in Christianity Today on how current philosophers argue for God's existence here.

HT: Justin Taylor
Recommended Reading by William Lane Craig on the Existence of God

Christianity Today posts his list here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tim Keller on the Importance of Hell

See the article here.

HT: Tullian Tchividjian
Quote of the Day: The Power of God's Word

Martin Luther said:
I simply taught, preached, wrote God's Word: otherwise I did nothing. And when, while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a Prince or Emperor inflicted such damage upon it. The Word did it all.
R. Kent Hughes, "Preaching: God's Word to the World Today" in The Coming Evangelical Crisis (Chicago: Moody, 1996), 96.

May we live, think, walk, pray, meditate, teach, preach, on this Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) the rest of our lives. Amen!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fighting Covetousness by Looking to Others?

In his latest Taste and See, John Piper has a helpful meditation on this topic here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recommended Summer Reading by Tim Keller

This excellent list is avaliable here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Which Jesus?

I am now at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary ready to study Greek for the next two months. I guy just called my new GCTS friend and asked about how to answer people who ask: "how we can trust the gospel accounts of Jesus when there are so many other "gospels" out there?" (e.g. the Gospel of Thomas). Here is an excellent, readable, and comprehensive short article by Dr. Craig Blomberg called "Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why it Matters." It is something that you can give to those who ask, and better yet read it for yourself.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What Preaching Is

David Wells in his new book The Courage to be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers and Emergents in the Postmodern World says the following concerning preaching:

"Preaching is not a conversation, a chat about some interesting ideas. It is not the moment in which postmoderns hear their own private messages in the biblical words, one unique to each one who hears, and then go their own way. No! This is God speaking! He speaks through the stammering lips of the preacher where that preacher's mind is on the text of Scripture and his heart is in the presence of God. God, as Luther put it, lives in the preacher's mouth.

This is the kind of preaching that issues a summons, which nourishes the soul, which draws the congregation into the very presence of God so that no matter what aspect of his character, his truth, his working in this world is in focus, we leave with awe, gratitude, encouragement, and sometimes a rebuke. We have been in the very presence of God! That is what great preaching always does" (page 230)

HT: Matt Harmon
Ministry Can Be Dangerous to Your Spiritual Health

Tim Keller has an eye opening article on this subject in the Reedeemer Report (March 2007). I especially like his point that one can "mistake the operations of your spiritual gifts for the operation of spiritual grace in your life" (page 1) the danger being that:

we can look to our ministry activity as evidence that God is with us, or as a way to earn God’s favor and prove ourselves. If our heart remembers the gospel, and is rejoicing in our justification and adoption, then our ministry is done as a sacrifice of thanksgiving —and the result will be that our ministry is done in love, humility, patience, and tenderness. But our heart may be continuing to do the same self-justification it has always done—seeking to control God and others by earning and proving our worth—through our ministry performance (page 4).
For more Tim Keller Resources and links to articles such as these go to this site.

Messages from the Dwell Church Planting Conference

Here's the audio from the 2008 Dwell Conference in New York:

Dwelling with Non-Christians (Darrin Patrick)

Dwelling in the Gospel (Tim Keller)

Dwelling thru the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Persuasion (Tim Keller)

Dwelling in the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Dwelling in the Cross (C.J. Mahaney)

Dwelling Incarnationally (Eric Mason)

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, June 02, 2008

How to Read 500 Books a Year

This is how D.A. Carson does it.

HT: Unashamed Workman
Wise Thoughts for Young Pastors by Iain Murray

Here are six points from veteran pastor Iain Murray directed especially at young pastors:

1. It has been the practice for many ministers to be away from the routine and to look closely at our lives in the light of eternity. This is a valuable practice—taking a day per month or a few days per year.
2. Watch your own temperament. If you love being out and about you probably need to be in your study more; if you love to be in your study you may need to be out and about more.
3. Read the best books and only the best and read them with a pencil in your hand or with some other system so you can recall even years later what you’ve learned.
4. Be sure you do not let emails and web sites control your priorities.
5. We need very carefully to avoid losing time on controversies. Sometimes it is necessary but most often it is not.
6. Do not “see” in your churches what you cannot change. In most churches there are things we’d like to see changed but that we can’t change. Sometimes it is good not to see such things—to just ignore them. It is better not to see a disputable matter that can disrupt the whole church.

HT: Unashamed Workman

Update: Tim Challies summarizes the whole message by Iain Murray in which the above is from here.

Should We Make the Gospel Larger?

You may be surprised by Mark Dever's response, but I think that he is right.
Just for Starters

I have just started going through a Matthias Media Bible study called Just for Starters with some young believers at the Drop-in that I run. It is excellent for discipling new believers and for brushing up on the basics. As we were studying Romans 5:8-9:

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (ESV).

I had never noticed before the difference between salvation and justification. Justification is being declared right with God in the present and salvation is being saved from the wrath of God on the last day.

I highly recommend you do it with a friend (but if you do, also purchase Preparing Just for Starters; they are all available at the Matthias Media store).
The Shack

There has been a lot of discussion and talk of the recent spiritual/theological novel called The Shack by Canadian William Young (no, I have not read it yet). I have heard many different perspectives on the book by people who love God.

Here is a comprehensiveness and thoughtful review by Canadian Tim Challies (you can print it out and give it to people).

Here is a recent news article in USA Today.

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Keeping Up Your Greek

If you have done a year of Biblical Greek at Bible College, University, or Seminary and have lost it or would like to keep it up, Lee Irons has advice on reading through the Greek New Testament year by year and has also prepared a one year calendar for doing it. He also has put together syntactical notes on the Greek New Testament, which you can get to by scrolling down this page until you see the heading “Greek New Testament.”

Commenting on reading through the Greek New Testament, Jim Hamilton says the following:

He is also putting together syntactical notes on the Greek New Testament, which you can get to by scrolling down this page until you see the heading “Greek New Testament.”

If you decide to read through the Greek New Testament, be careful. The things in that book got most of its authors killed, and when people have taken it seriously in the history of the church, crazy things like the Reformation have happened and some folks even got themselves burned at the stake.

The Greek New Testament is decidedly unsafe. If you embrace it, you will be hated (see John 15:18-20). To paraphrase Lester De Koster: there it is, throbbing on your desk, the living word of God.

HT: Jim Hamilton
How to Waste Your Theological Education

Here are 45 ways to do so. This was very convicting for me. I am gulity of many of these. God, please forgive me. In Jesus name, Amen.

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spiritual Health Survey

Tenth Presbyterian Church has a Spiritual Health Survey for its congregants, which looks very helpful. Maybe your church could adapt it and use it.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Relationship Between the Gospel and Social Action

Tony Payne has an interesting article here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crazy High on a Windsurfing Board!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mis-studying Scripture

“Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself”

(Seventeenth-century theologian Johann Albrecht Bengel).

It seems to me that today people often do only one of these and the result is a perversion of God's design for us as God's people. If one applies themselves wholly to the text but does not apply the text wholly to themselves then they can become prideful, stunted spiritually, and not impacting people as much as they could. However, if one applies the text wholly to themselves without applying themselves wholly to the text, they often go through life without biblical discernment, not knowing true teaching from false teaching, often misapplying Scripture to their lives and the lives of others, pulling it out of context (both historically, literally, and canonically), and often making the Scripture mean what they want it to mean (not what it actually means) all the while (sadly) not realizing that they are actually doing this. Both are needed. May God give us grace to practice both.

(Quote taken from Dr. Moo's website)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Don't Waste Your Pulpit Video: John Piper

Monday, April 28, 2008

Modesty: Humility Expressed in Dress

C.J. Mahaney has two very insightful posts on modesty taken from the forthcoming book: Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway Books, September 2008). This is must reading for every woman young and old: Part 1, Part 2.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sex and the Soul: Inside Higher Education

There is an interesting article about the findings of Donna Freitas in her book Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses (Oxford University Press):

The article begins like this: "On matters sexual and soulful, colleges can be divided into two categories, the “spiritual” and the “evangelical” — the former the domain of hookup culture, the latter of purity culture, according to Donna Freitas, an assistant professor of religion at Boston University..."

Read the whole article here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ways You Might be Deceived Into Thinking You Know God When You Don't

Tullian Tchividjian takes these out of his book Do I Know God?:

Expelled: The Movie

From the website:

In a controversial new satirical documentary, author, former presidential speechwriter, economist, lawyer and actor Ben Stein travels the world, looking to some of the best scientific minds of our generation for the answer to the biggest question facing all Americans today:

Are we still free to disagree about the meaning of life?

Or has the whole issue already been decided

while most of us weren’t looking?

It looks really interesting. R.C. Sproul interviews Ben Stein here.
New Book By Tim Keller: The Prodigal God

Tullian Tchividjian has the scoop here.
The Emergent Church: Reinventing Liberalism

Dr. Liam Goligher, pastor of Duke Street Church in London, England and author of The Jesus Gospel: Recovering the Lost Message, recently gave a very helpful, well researched, and thoughtful analysis of the Emergent Church at Toronto Baptist Seminary. This is a must for every Western Christian to listen to. Even if you do not consider yourself Emergent, you may be more influenced by it than you realize.
Why Rob Bell Makes This Pastor Mad

[Below is a very helpful review of Velvet Elvis by Pat Abendroth, the Senior Pastor of Omaha Bible Church that I got from Erik Raymond's website].

Time magazine recently called Rob Bell “The Hipper-Than-Thou-Pastor” (Thursday, Dec. 06, 2007). This, along with the fact that his influence seems to only be growing, led me to read his book Velvet Elvis. Since it has been done, there seems to be little need for a comprehensive book review. But as I read Velvet Elvis I became personally motivated to do my part and duty as a pastor and expose some of the dangerous content lurking behind Bell’s hip veneer.

Based upon what I read in Bell’s book, he is both funny and hip. I say this because he made me laugh and because he does cool things like play in a punk band and surf (even the infamous Trestles!).

Continuing on with the positives, Bell seems sincere and appropriately calls for Christians to love those in need (not just fellow Christians) as is called for in the second greatest commandment. This is a great point and something that needs to be said and re-said before being said once more.

Anger Management
So with a hip rock dude writing a book addressing the need for Christians to act more like Jesus, why the anger on my part? Here are some of the reasons:

Rob Bell makes me mad because he preaches an anti-gospel. He craftily does this by portraying the essence of Christianity as following Jesus and treating people the way Jesus did. While this is important, living the “Jesus life” is not the essence of Christianity and neither is obeying the commands of Jesus (as important as that is). The essence of Christianity centers upon the work of Christ on behalf of sinners (i.e. substitutionary atonement). This is the matter of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3) that was the prioritized message of Jesus’ apostles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:2). Missing this is no small oversight by Bell. It is missing that which is of first importance! Over and over again he talks about living the way of Jesus and being like Jesus, but without the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus’ work! This is scandalous.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he writes off the virgin birth of Jesus as non-essential (pp. 26-27). You heard right, he writes off the virgin birth of Jesus as not essential! To state the obvious, this is entirely out of step with the Bible. Sure, one can redress and then mimic once-trendy quasi arguments by unbelievers about the word used for virgin in Isaiah 7:14 possibly meaning young woman. But the New Testament leaves no wiggle-room on the intent and therefore meaning of the word. We know this because the Isaiah text is quoted and essentially interpreted in the New Testament. In Matthew 1:23-25 the word virgin is used twice and shown by the context to mean virgin in the classic sense of the term. To ignore this is to show gross negligence which seems to depend upon an assumed biblical illiteracy by his readers. Far from being not essential, the biblical reality of Christ’s virgin birth is vital to His unique status as the sinless God-Man. As troubling as this unorthodox teaching by Bell is, he commits a more dangerous foul. Bell continues with arguments against the virgin birth of Jesus followed by an attempt to defuse would-be critics by slipping in a token affirmation. Bell professes to be a Christian. But given his disregard for Christian doctrine, the name “poser” comes to mind (borrowing an old title from the punk rock scene).

Rob Bell makes me mad because he downplays the vital role of conversion. In a horrible overreaction against professing Christians wrongly not being compassionate, Bell says “the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people…” (p. 167). He then proceeds to establish a supporting argument that would surely set well with most anyone who is either ignorant of or ignoring what Jesus says in John 3—unless someone is converted, they will not see the light of day in the kingdom! Bell’s tactic is entirely unacceptable and irresponsible, but dare I say, fits with his mimicking the likes of the quintessential theological liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969). Certainly Christians must love those in need if they are going to truly follow Christ. But such love is to augment the need to proclaim a gospel of repentance which calls for conversion according to Jesus.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he does violence to the clear words of Jesus. On page 21 for example, when he talks about Jesus’ claims of exclusivity in John 14:6, he spins them to mean something other than what they clearly say and have been recognized as saying by Christians throughout the ages. At first I was surprised at how much Bell sounded like a radical theological liberal like Marcus Borg, but then I saw that the very first endnote in the book was an unqualified recommendation of a book by Borg! Bell’s recommended reading on his church’s web site promotes reading by John Dominic Crossan, the former co-director of the Jesus Seminar, so endorsing Borg is not a matter of isolation. Such men have a reputation for shamelessly doing violence to Jesus and His gospel.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he is the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. I am not suggesting that churches with “Bible Church” in the name are anything special per se, but historically they have not been places where things like the virgin birth is considered non-essential. In my estimation this is downright deceptive.

A New Dress
Simply put, Rob Bell is a theological liberal resembling the mainline denominations of the early 1900s. The difference is that Bell is sporting a fashionable new dress or in his case, a new pair of geek-chic glasses.

If J. Gresham Machen were alive today, I suspect he would do what he did with Bell’s theological predecessors. Machen would remind him that while he has the freedom to start a new religion, he really should call it something other than Christian given that his religion does not resemble what Christ actually established as recorded in the Christian book, the Bible.

In my opinion, the reason this book is resonating with so many is because we have seen the evangelical church abandon the Evangel Himself. Yes, much of evangelicalism is empty because the Evangel of our evangelicalism is gone or as David Wells so aptly put it: He has been dislodged from its center. Couple this with a general ignorance of the Bible and church history and you have a book like Velvet Elvis actually seen as publishable by a “Christian” publisher and selling as if it were something novel and good.

Because I love the Evangel of the Bible and therefore historic Christianity, I guess it is off to anger management class for me.

Patrick Abendroth

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Recommended Reading in Christology by Dan Wallace

In some blog comments, Dr. Dan Wallace recommends the following books as an introduction to the study of Christology:

Martin Hengel, Issues in Early Christology

Richard Bauckham, God Crucified

Larry Hurtado, One God, One Lord; Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity

C. F. D. Moule, Origin of Christology

Bowman and Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place