Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Here is the relief...as in, comic relief, and this one goes deep as in deep-in-the-belly laughing with tears (and such):
This clip is hilarious!
To truly appreciate it all you need is some knowledge of the mac vs windows "thing", and the "salvation hopes" offered by new technology.
(HT: Thanks Jeff)
Monday, January 22, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
This guy is great! Incredibly wise. He masterfully preaches the real truth of the gospel and explains how it is integrated into all of life. He often uses the original text and points out what is lost in modern English translations.
I just listened to a series on biblical change. This is not some wishy-washy religiosity(slash)self-help mixture of postmodern falsehoods. This is a series on real truth being applied to real life problems. Fantastic stuff!
Here are the audio links:
1. Changed Lives
2. Inside-Out Living
3. How to Change
Here is a comprehensive list of Tim Keller resources.
Fantastic stuff! (I already said this didn't I?)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
This newsletter contains incredibly relevant wisdom pertaining to the recent list published by the Church Report, The 50 Most Influential Christians in America. I posted yesterday a video clip of #1 on the list and before that my friend Ron appeared as a guest and posted this article.
This following material from Dr. Storms is a home run. Great wisdom for much needed discernment when processing what a list like "The 50 Most..." really means. I encourage you to read it all.
Here it is:
The Perks and Pleasures of Spiritual Triumph (Rev. 3.1)
Jan 15, 2007
If the surrounding culture declares that we are alive but Jesus says we are dead (Rev. 3:1), something's seriously wrong with our standard of success. Our discernment is seriously flawed. Worse still is when we ourselves think we're alive but in fact are dead. All too often, the criteria by which we judge success and the criteria employed by God are vastly at odds. What constitutes good, effective, Christ-exalting ministry is one thing to the world, even the church, and another thing altogether to God.
As we saw in the previous meditation, this was the case in the church at Sardis, where Jesus declared that they had the "reputation of being alive" but in fact were "dead." By "dead" Jesus didn't mean altogether lifeless or utterly hopeless. Later, in v. 4, he indicates that the church in that city still has "a few . . . who have not soiled their garments." And his appeal to the church that it "wake up, and strengthen what remains . . . and repent" indicates that all is not lost. There is one final chance for renewal and life and hope for the future. But the church is in a sorry state: filled with religiosity, hypocrisy, in many respects only nominally Christian.
That a church could be widely known for its activity and influence, all the while "dead" in the estimation of Christ, is a frightening, sobering reality. Obviously, what impresses men does not necessarily impress God!
Jon Bloom, director of Desiring God ministries, reminded me in an e-mail that "since our hope is in the God who chooses the smallest seed in the garden to produce the largest tree, chooses a shepherd for his greatest king, chooses fishermen for apostles, and chooses to become a carpenter from Nazareth in his incarnation, we should be encouraged by every advance of the gospel, but very careful about what we judge as impressive or fruitful for long-term."
This ought to make one cautious on reading The Church Report's most recent list of "The 50 Most Influential Christians in America." Some of the individuals are certainly deserving of that label and I pray their influence would spread. But in the case of others, perhaps even the majority, one has to ask: influential for doing and saying and accomplishing what?
Nowhere is the disparity between human and divine standards of judgment more vividly seen than in Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17."But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ."
"There it is!" shouts the preacher of prosperity, health, and wealth. "Triumphal procession! God wants us to win, to have it all, to celebrate in a victory parade our triumph over low self-esteem, low wages, shattered dreams, and all forms of suffering!" Well, that's what many on the list are preaching on a regular basis. Evidently they've convinced enough people to subsidize million dollar salaries, vacation homes, private jets, and whatever else is "essential" to the fulfillment of their "ministry".
Perhaps we should look at Paul's words a bit more closely. In all likelihood they refer to the Roman custom in which a victorious general leads his conquered captives in triumphal procession, typically to their execution. There is an obvious paradox in Paul's use of this familiar metaphor. On the one hand, it is God who leads Paul (and by extension, others who likewise preach the gospel as he does) in triumph. Yet, on the other hand, to be led in triumph by someone else implies captivity and suffering and humiliation. Paul Barnett provides this helpful explanation:prisoners of war in a victory parade that God spreads the knowledge of Christ everywhere through them. Whereas in such victory processions the prisoners would be dejected and embittered, from this captive's lips comes only thanksgiving to God [v. 14a], his captor. Here is restated the power-in-weakness theme (cf. 1:3-11) that pervades the letter. . . . [Thus], to be sure, his ministry is marked by suffering, but so far from that disqualifying him as a minister, God's leading him in Christ as a suffering servant thereby legitimates his ministry. Christ's humiliation in crucifixion is reproduced in the life of his servant" (150).
Or, in the words of Ben Witherington, Paul "is not saying that he is being led around in triumph, but rather that, like the captives in a triumphal process, he is being treated rudely while in the service of God" (366). Thus Paul asserts that it is precisely in his weakness and suffering as a captive slave of Christ Jesus that God receives all the glory as the One who is triumphantly victorious. Compare this passage with 1 Corinthians 4:9,"For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men ."
How many so-called "apostolic" ministries do you hear citing that verse today (see also 1 Cor. 4:10-13)?
But there's more. It was also customary for those being led in this procession to disperse incense along the way, perhaps an allusion to the OT sacrifice and the odor of smoke that ascended to heaven, in which God took unique pleasure. Thus Paul portrays his proclamation of the gospel as an unseen yet powerful fragrance permeating the lives of his hearers. "As God drags Paul around as his slave, the knowledge of Christ emanates from [him] wherever he goes" (Witherington, 366).
Observe Paul's imagery: knowing Jesus is like a sweet aroma! There is a spiritual and emotional pleasure in knowing Jesus that can best be compared to the physical delight we experience when our nostrils are filled with the fragrance of the choicest of perfumes or the soothing aroma of our favorite food. Simply put, knowing Jesus smells good!
Those who hear this message are divided into two, and only two, groups: "those who are being saved" and "those who are perishing" (see 1 Cor. 1:18). The message of Christ is itself responsible for dividing the hearers in this way. Neutrality is not an option. To the one, Paul's message is a fragrant aroma, a life-sustaining spiritual oxygen; to the other, a repulsive stench, a poisonous gas that suffocates and kills.
Note well: the preacher (whether Paul or you) is a pleasing fragrance to God simply for being faithful to proclaim Christ Jesus. We are a fragrance to God even when our message is rejected. Whether our efforts lead to "life" or "death", we remain "an aroma of Christ to God" (v. 15a). We have succeeded when we preach Jesus truly and biblically. It is not within our power to convert our hearers. Our success, ultimately, is not measured by the number of our converts, or the proportion of saved to lost, but by the integrity and faithfulness with which we preach the gospel of Christ crucified.
Paul contrasts his philosophy of ministry with those who, according to v. 17, are "peddlers of God's word." The word translated "peddling" (kapeleuo) is found only here in the NT. The related noun form ( kapelos) was virtually synonymous with the idea of a "merchant" who regularly cheated his customers by misrepresenting his product in order to increase his profit. Thus the idea is of someone who tampers with the gospel, perhaps eliminating (or at least minimizing) its offensive elements, or altering certain theological points, so that the finished "product" will be more appealing to the audience. Their aim is to gain as great a reputation, as large a following, and as lucrative an offering as possible.
I fear that the triumphalism so prevalent in our pulpits today is a far cry from what Paul had in mind in 2 Corinthians 2. But don't many of these 50 "most influential Christians" have impressive credentials that authenticate the validity of their ministries? Perhaps, but I'm more impressed by the "credentials" Paul cites in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 to vindicate his apostolic authority when he was challenged by the false teachers in Corinth. What does the apostle list on his resume? Well, let's see:"far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
Ah, the perks and pleasures of spiritual triumph!
Once again, thank you Dr. Storms.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
By Good Friend Ron
Well, Pat asked me to critique the following list from the Church Report website: The 50 Most Influential Christians in America. How do you begin to do such a thing with any seriousness when you see who’s selected as #1? I’m thankful there are a several good people who made it, but really. Instead of a general assessment of such a bizarre list, I decided to focus on the person with the most intriguing photo, and here she is:
Meet Paula White of Paula White Ministries.
Her byline on the church report says: Through the power of media, Paula White, supervising producer and host of “Paula White Today,” has ministered, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers around the world. White’s life was forever changed when at the age of 18 she first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Heralded as the “midwife to dreams,” White inspires people to step boldly into the divine destiny that God has planned for them.
“Supervising Producer” Wow, she’s like Lou Grant! Heralded as the “midwife to dreams” I’ve never heard that before. I assume it’s good. Finally she “inspires people to step boldly into the divine destiny that God has planned for them”. Well, now I know how she made the list. So I find her website Paula White Ministries, and to my great surprise what is the first item I see as the website opens?
With this just below to the right:
Donate NOW! Give Your First Fruits NOW! Not later, but NOW. Click on the First Fruits icon and you get to this: "When you give your first fruits offering, it prepares you for the harvest, and it releases God to do the blessing.” Releases God. I didn’t know He was detained.
Folks, according to this report she’s #19 in influence. Now, I tend to get bothered by some of the excess sarcasm that drips from many of the wonderful Christian blogs I read, but what are you supposed to say about this? How are we to pray for her and all the other Prosperity preachers that mislead and poison the gospel message with this hideous teaching? And we should be seriously praying. I want to wave her and the others off with disgust, but they are affecting a lot of people and dishonoring our faith.
Maybe I wouldn’t be upset if she wasn’t so far ahead of number 48 on the list. Now there’s someone who you can trust.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
One of the homework assignments was to write out the gospel in my own words. Here is what I handed in:
Gods plan of ultimate love, before the beginning of time, to bring glory to himself and joy to all people by redeeming a cursed and rebellious Creation through, the life, death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.This was actually a challenging assignment. Try it for your self. Frankly, until this assignment I have not stopped to really think about how to accurately articulate the Gospel by choosing good words, keeping things concise but yet comprehensive. In the end I was dumbfounded by a thought I didn't expect. In this day and age, how important it is to be highly skilled at articulating the gospel as efficient and effectively as possible. People don't have time. There are simply too many messages being thrown at them every day. This is a reality and yet the Mission has never changed.
To add more power to the punch consider this quote in a post over at the Irish Calvinist called The 60 Second Gospel :
"...if you cannot explain the gospel in this period of time then you probably don’t understand it, and so then the likelihood that a saving transformation has actually taken place is drastically diminished."Here is his version of the Gospel in 60 seconds:
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
How to live a miserable Christian life
- Try to repay Jesus for the Cross
- Neglect the Bible
- Neglect Prayer
- Be selfish
- Go to a church that does not preach expositionally
- Resist biblical correction
- Neglect service in the body of Christ
- Neglect Evangelism
- Deny the Sovereignty of God
- Think that every Christian must look and act like you.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Here is my favorite list so far.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
United Methodist churches of Correll, Ortonville and Clinton, Minn., message from the pastor: "There are times that I can hardly believe that a whole month passes from one communion to another. Seems as though I barely get the taste of the blood of Christ out of my mouth and it is time to taste it again. ... the taste of Christ is one that is so tasty that I never lose its marvelous flavor. Ever notice how your mood can affect the flavor of Christ on your tongue? Depending on your mood, He can be sweet, salty, spicy, bitter or galling."
Saturday, January 06, 2007
"There's an old evangelical saying, "If he's not Lord of all, he's not Lord at all." That was always applied personally and pietistically. I want to say exactly the same thing but apply it to the world. We're talking about Jesus as the Lord of the world—not the Lord of people's private spiritual interiority only, but of what they do with their money, with their homes, with the wealth of nations, and with the planet." [emphasis mine]Great article! Click hear to read all of it.
"And that's the apologist's dilemma, that if you simply address the God-shaped blank that people think they've got, the God you end up with is the God shaped by the blank. The real God specializes in taking the blanks in people's lives and pulling and tugging and turning them into a new shape." [emphasis mine]
"It is possible to say more or less all the orthodox Christian affirmations, but to join them up in the wrong story. It's possible to tick the boxes that say Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection, Spirit, Second Coming, and yet it's like a child's follow-the-dots. The great story—and after all the Bible is fundamentally a story—we've got to pay attention to that, rather than abstracting dogmatic points from it. The dogmas matter, they are true, but you have to join them up the right way."[emphasis mine]
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Source: Recover The Gospel
2 Corinthians 13:5
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Ever heard of Landroller? I am not sold on the value to a marathon skater but I am intrigued by the design and features that seem to solve a few problems with traditional inline skates.
I think you will see inline skating make a big comeback in the next two years with more and more recreational skaters sliding into Landrollers. The skate won best product of the year award in 2005 but suffered in 2006 from a large voluntary product recall. This year could be big for Landrollers with Olympian Apolo Ohno endorsing the product line.
I am happy because my wife said she'd try skating in Landrollers.