Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sexting on the rise among teens

Parents of teens and tweens take note: here is a disturbing report on the rise of 'sexting' among teens in the US.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

Here is a good review by Russell Moore of Disney's new animated feature The Princess and the Frog.

Christmas Sale at Desiring God

Desiring God has some great Christmas deals right now. In fact, you can get a collection of all of John Piper's major works for $200. They also have packages for dad, mom, and kids.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Might Be a Redneck if...............

Your wife is quoted in the newspaper saying this:


More About Santa

Following up from my last post regarding Santa Claus, here is a great article by Noel Piper (wife of John Piper) on how her family has addressed the Santa issue.

How to Benefit from the Bible

Here's a good post from James MacDonald on how to get the most benefit from reading your Bible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Top Ten Cultural Moments of the Decade

Newsweek has selected its list of the top ten cultural moments of the decade. As you view their list, ask yourself, "what does this tell us about the state of our culture?"

Blessed to be a Blessing

Psalm 67:1-2 (NIV)

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Truth About Santa

I normally try to stay away from the controversial here on my blog, but I thought this might be a fun discussion, so here we go.....

A few weeks ago my 6-year old son created quite a stir in his Sunday School class when he boldy announced that Santa isn't real. There was at least one little girl who was very upset about this pronouncement. I haven't heard from her parents yet, but perhaps they just haven't tracked me down yet.

Every year around this time it's not unsual to hear parents questioning whether or not they should tell their children that Santa isn't real. From my son's announcement, you can probably guess my point of view. Yes, tell your children that Santa isn't real. Or, at least don't tell them that he is real. Why would I say that you may ask? Here are a few reasons:

1) He isn't real. I know that some adults like to pretend as if he is real, but the plain fact is that he isn't. And please don't give me the "he exists if we believe he exists" garbage.

2) We need to tell our children the truth. If my six-year old asks me if Santa is real and I tell him "yes", I am lying to him. As parents one of our most important responsibilities is to model truth-telling to our children. We do this in big and small things. While you might consider Santa a small thing, when it comes to the truth there really are no small things.

3) The primary and most important reason is that when we don't tell our kids the truth we send mixed messages about what Christmas is really about. Christmas is not about Santa, trees, lights, ornaments, and gifts. Check that...it is about a gift. The gift. The gift that God the Father gave in sending His only Son on a rescue mission. Christmas is about God becoming flesh as a baby boy born to a teenage virgin. A little baby that would grow up, live a perfect life, and die on a Roman cross as the penalty for our sin. That's what Christmas is about. And when we get fixated with Santa, and allow our children to do the same, we run the danger of  failing to see Christmas amidst all  the trappings that our culture brings to this special day. If you don't see the danger, take some time this year to notice how most American's celebrate Christmas without any recognition of the one from whom it's name is derived.

I suggest this: the next time your child asks you if Santa is real, take the opportunity to tell them the truth, about Santa and Jesus. Maybe this Christmas will be one that you will remember for a long time. The Christmas your child came to know Jesus as their Savior.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fascinating Article on Abortion in New York Magazine

Al Mohler comments on an amazing article on abortion in New York magazine. This is great news for the pro-life movement in America!

Christmas Tips for Dad

Mark Driscoll has 16 tips for dads to make most for their families during Christmas this year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Top Books of 2009

One of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies, lists his top nine books of 2009. Review the list here.

Family Research Council's New Report on the Effects of Pornography

Family Research Council has just released a comprehensive study entitled The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marrige, Family, and Community. Here are the critical points of the study:

•About 25 percent of those who go on the Internet do so for sexual purposes.

•Up to 90 percent of youth aged 15 to 17 reported accidentally coming across pornography online. About one quarter of these youth said this happens "somewhat or very often."

•The more often adolescents are exposed to sexually explicit material on the Internet, the more sexually uncertain they are.

•Adults who steadily consume pornography are three times as likely to be unfaithful to their spouses.

•In one study, 56 percent of divorce cases involved an obsessive interest in pornographic websites, and 33 percent involved excessive time in chat rooms (a commonly sexualized forum).

•Repeated exposure to pornography prompted respondents to consider engaging in "recreational sex" as important, and to be very accepting of sexual permissiveness.

•The use of Internet pornography makes participants almost four times more likely to engage in paid sex.

•A recent study of college freshmen found that habituation to pornography led to tolerance of sexually explicit material, requiring more novel or bizarre material to achieve the same level of arousal or interest.

•Internet sexual offenders report that more than 11 hours of their week is spent viewing pornographic images of children on the Internet.

•Pornography consumption is closely related to sexual aggression.
 
You can read the full report here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Incarnation Poster

The Resurgence is offering a cool poster that succinctly explains the incarnation. Download it here.

December Free Audio Book

Christianaudio.com's free audio book for December is The Brother's Karamazov. You can download it here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hunting Tiger Woods

This week I have been mulling over writing a post about the Tiger Woods scandal, but CJ Mahaney beat me too it. You can read his excellent thoughts here.

Jake and the USC Football Team

I am not a fan of USC or Pete Carroll, but this is a powerful video.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two Messages that Parents of Young Children Should Memorize

From Chris Brauns:

All your life, I have been willing to die for you. I can honestly tell you that it came down to your life or my life, I would give up mine on your behalf. So, if I am willing to die for you, then having you upset with me because I am protecting you is a relatively small thing in my world. If protecting you, means you being mad at me, then so be it.

Read the full article here.

These Churches are Across the Street from One Another







  

Church Signs

In my message this weekend I mentioned my dislike (an understatement) of many church signs. This morning I was sent a few pictures of such signs by a friend. Here are a few examples:



A Review of Palin's Rogue

Here is a good review of Sarah Palin's recent book Going Rogue. If you are a Palin fan, you might not like this, but I believe it to be a fair and honest assessment of the book and the woman behind it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Girls Gone Mild

If you are a parent of a young girl, you need to watch this. Nightline ran a story last week entitled Girls Gone Wild about a ministry entitled Pure Fashion, that encourages young girls to dress modestly.

A Good Bible Study Tip

Here's a good Bible study tip from Justin Taylor.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Angola Prison

Here is a powerful post by John Piper on his experience at Angola Prison in Lousiana, the largest maximum security prison in America.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eight Great Date Nights

Hey guys....check out this article from Christianity Today on eight great date night ideas.They all look pretty good to me, with the exception of the reading short stories to one another. Don't think I am going to try this out anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. - Japanese Proverb

Is Gambling a Sin?

What is your answer to this question? I encourage to think through the answer first, and then read these posts by Phil Johnson and Kevin DeYoung.

Is Gambling OK? Don't Bet On It

Silent Killers and Silent Christians

Tweets by Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is the President of Lifeway Research and an extremely influential figure in evangelicalism. Here are some of his top Tweets:

If you can learn to order at Starbucks, then you can learn theological language at church. - 10/25/09

In church life, the people that are rocking the boat are hardly ever the ones rowing it. -7:13 AM Oct 20th

Even the unchurched know 2 things: Jesus loved the poor & the sick, so they're confused when they don't see us doing either. -10:18 AM Oct 3rd

We've jazzed up the music, spiced up the sermons, and spruced up the buildings but the wheat still isn't harvesting itself. -1:53 PM Sep 30th

Hoping to make it to worship tonight, but my wife drives the speed limit. Ugh. Like Sammy Hagar, I can't drive 55. ;-) -1:14 PM Aug 16th

Just walked on the set where Hee Haw was filmed. Now I can die; my life is complete. ;-) -7:22 PM Aug 4th

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'The Shack' Book Review

I have heard many Christians say that they loved William P. Young's The Shack. If this is you, or if you are considering reading it, I would recommend that you read this detailed review by Tim Challies.Suffice it to say, The Shack gives us lots to talk about.

Real Freedom

I hear alot of debate surrounding whether or not humans have true freedom of the will. Here is a great point on this topic by John Piper:

Full freedom is what you have when no lack of opportunity, no lack of ability, and no lack of desire prevents you from doing what will make you happiest in a thousand years. In order to be free in the fullest sense you have to have opportunity, ability, and desire to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. Another way to say it would be that there are four kinds of freedom, or better, four stages of freedom on the way to the full freedom all of us long for: the freedom of opportunity to do what we can, the freedom of ability to do what we desire, and the freedom of desire to do what will bring us unending joy.

Let's take sky-jumping, for example. Suppose you are on your way to the airport to go up for your first real jump, but your car hits a pothole on Hiawatha, you have a blowout, and run into a telephone pole. You are no longer free to jump whether you have the ability or not, because the opportunity passes while you wait for the tow truck. You lack the freedom of opportunity.

Or suppose you do make it to the airport, but you have no ability at all—you have never studied sky-jumping and never learned the first thing about how a parachute works. The opportunity is there, but you don't have the freedom of ability—you are in bondage to your own lack of know-how.

But suppose that you make it to the airport, you've been to school and been trained and have all the abilities needed, and you take off for your first jump. But as soon as you look down, all your desire vanishes and in its place comes a tremendous fear. The opportunity is there, the ability and know-how are there, but you don't have the freedom of desire. The interesting thing about the freedom of desire is that you might be able to go ahead and jump without it, but it won't be a free act. For example, you might feel so humiliated in front of your instructor (or girlfriend) that the desire not to be humiliated overcomes the desire not to jump. So you jump. But the emotional experience is not what we call freedom. You are acting under very uncomfortable external constraints. You are like Herod when his step-daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist. He didn't want to kill John, but he wanted even less to be shamed before his guests. So he acted, but not with the freedom of desire. You have the freedom of desire when you do what you love to do.

That's the way a lot of professing Christians try to keep the commandments of Christ. They don't really delight to do them, but they feel some uncomfortable constraints like social pressures or fear of hell or desire to impress someone. So they go through outward motions of obedience, but the desire of their hearts is fixed somewhere else. They do not enjoy the freedom of desire which Christ gives when he is being formed in the heart (Galatians 4:19).

But there is one last requirement for full freedom. Suppose you get to the airport with no obstacle; you have all the know-how necessary; you look out the door at the tiny clusters of silos and barns and farmhouses and just can't wait to jump. You have freedom of opportunity, freedom of ability, and freedom of desire. So you jump. And as you free fall, unbeknown to you, your parachute malfunctions and will not open. Are you free? In three senses, yes. But in that critical fourth sense, no. What you are doing so happily, so freely, is going to kill you. Whether you know it or not, you are in bondage to destruction. It would be a mockery to exult in the freedom of an exhilarating free fall if you knew it was leading to destruction. In order to be fully free, it is not enough to have opportunity, ability, and desire to act. The acts you desire and perform have to lead to life, indeed, eternal life not destruction.

This is why it is naïve for a Christian young person to envy the so-called freedom of those who pitch themselves out the window of sin and exult for a season in the exhilaration of free fall sex or free fall greed, or free fall drugs or free fall luxury. They will pass away like a vapor, but those who do the will of the Lord will abide for ever (1 John 2:17). True freedom is not just the opportunity and ability to do what you desire to do. It is the opportunity, ability, and desire to do what will make you happy in a thousand years.

Therefore, true Christians are the freest people in the world. And Paul is fighting with all his might in Galatians to expose the teaching of the Judaizers for what it really is: slavery. For Paul, the experience of freedom is not icing on the cake of Christianity. Freedom in Christ is Christianity. It is a matter of eternity. That's the first point of the allegory. So let's see if we can understand it and strengthen our stand in freedom.

Read the whole sermon here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

America's Best Leaders

US News & World Report has named it's best American leaders of 2009. Watch the slide show here.

Kill Your Stress

Dustin Neeley has a great post on killing stress at The Resurgence. Here are his four points:

1. Live your Bible.
2. Listen to your body.
3. Listen to your wife and kids.
4. Learn your limits.

Read the whole post here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Power of Written Encouragement

Here is a insightful report on a school teacher who writes yearly birthday notes to all of his students -- present and past. Note the power of written (not e-mail) encouragement. (For you Bethelites, Mr. Stroup is the father of Jelena Blocker, our Children's Ministry Assistant)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cohabitation Study

Lifeway Research recently completed a study on cohabition. Ed Stetzer blogs about it in todays post:

Remember that Bon Jovi song from the late 80s, "Living in Sin?"

Well, I'm guessing half of you do.

It's about "love" justifying living together as a married couple, without a marriage covenant.

The song shouts, "I call it love, they call it living in sin!"

Remember? Rock ballad, black and white video?

Anyway, people are still talking about it and more people are living together today than they were back in the 1980s. At LifeWay Research, we wanted to know more.

Read the full post here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sexual Detox

Tim Challies has taken a series of recent posts from his blog and turned them into a couple of free e-booklets. You can download them here:

Sexual Detox for the Single Guy
Sexual Detox for the Married Guy

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Free PDF Chapters of Mark Driscoll's Books

Get free chapters of Driscoll's latest books here.

John Piper - Why I abominate the prosperity gospel

Africa and the Prosperity Gospel

Watch this interesting video on the Prosperity in Africa, and then follow up with the theological problems in my next post.

Letting Go of The Fear of Failure

Some good words from Craig Groeschel at lifechurch.tv:

The fear of failure paralyzes too many people.

I’ve found one of the best gifts God can give a leader is the gift of failure.

Too many of us are not doing what we feel called to do because we’re afraid to fail.

As I observe the people around me, it seems the most effective have failed far more times than the least effective.

The people making the biggest impact seem to:

1) Try something outlandish.
2) Fail.
3) Learn.
4) Adjust.
5) Try something that works better.

Failure is never final. It is often the first step to success.

If you haven’t failed in awhile, why don’t you try something crazy and see what happens.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free E-Book on Discipleship

The Resurgence is offering a free book on discipleship by Winfield Bevins entitled Grow: Reproducing Through Organic Discipleship. Download it here.

Steven Curtis Chapman's New Album

It's been 18 months since Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter, 5 year old Maria Sue, in a tragic automobile accident. Chapman has just released his first album since her death entitled Beauty Will Rise.

Christianity Today's Mark Moring recently interview the CCM artist about the album, as well as his loss. Read the interview here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is Polygamy Biblical?

If you have ever asked the question, Mark Driscoll answers it here.

Keller's Counterfeit Gods

I just recently began reading Tim Keller’s latest book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope That Matters. I am only 1/3 of the way through the book, but I can tell it is going to be one that I will highly recommend. As everyone of us struggles with some type(s) of idol, the book holds something for everyone. Here is one excellent excerpt:

Commenting on God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac: “From this perspective we see that God’s extremely rough treatment of Abraham was actually merciful. Isaac was a wonderful gift to Abraham, but he was not safe to have and hold until Abraham was willing to put God first. As long as Abraham never had to choose between his son and obedience to God, he could not see that his love was becoming idolatrous. In a similar way, we may not realize how idolatrous our career has become to us, until we are faced with a situation in which telling the truth or acting with integrity would mean a serious blow to our professional advancement. If we are not willing to hurt our career in order to do God’s will, our job will become a counterfeit god.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leadership Workshop

On Wednesday, November 11th, thechristianleader.org is hosting a 2-hour regional leadership workshop at the Holiday Inn Express in Schererville. Bethel's Executive Director of Operations, Jim Killgore, and Ron Porter, TCL Executive Director will be sharing from their more than 50 years of combined leadership experience. Here are the topics:

Session 1: Capture a For-Profit Kingdom Vision
Session 2: Eat Problems for Breakfast

You can get more information and register here.

Desiring God free on Audio

Christianaudio.com is offering John Piper's Desiring God on audio for free this month.

Piper has penned many wonderful books, but this one tops the list, and is foundational for pretty much everything else he writes.

Download the book here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quote of the Day

I am not a fan of church signs with message boards, but the message I saw today made me pause and think:

We teach what we know but we produce what we are.

What are we producing?

Monday, October 26, 2009

African-American Genocide?

CNSNews.com:

Abortion kills more black Americans than the seven leading causes of death combined, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2005, the latest year for which the abortion numbers are available.

Abortion killed at least 203,991 blacks in the 36 states and two cities (New York City and the District of Columbia) that reported abortions by race in 2005, according to the CDC. During that same year, according to the CDC, a total of 198,385 blacks nationwide died from heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. These were the seven leading causes of death for black Americans that year.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Breaking Pornography Addiction

CCEF (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) has posted a great two-part article by David Powlison on breaking the bonds of pornography addiction.

These articles are a must-read for anyone that has even a minor struggle with lust or are trying to minister to someone who does.

The articles are detailed, so take time to read them slowly.

Part 1
Part 2

Should Christians Say That Their Aim Is To Convert Others To Faith in Christ?

John Piper answers this important question here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AW Tozer

For those of you who are AW Tozer fans, here is a site where you can download some of his sermon series on audio.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chinese Christianity

For those of you who are interested in learning more about China and the growing church there, check out ChinaSource, especially this article from Brent Whitefield (Professor at Valparaiso University and Pastor at Calvary Church).

A Separation of Church and Sports?

Here is a great post by Kevin DeYoung on a recent article in USA Today regarding evangelical athletes/

Friday, October 16, 2009

U2's 360 Tour


Andy Crouch has an interesting commentary on U2's recent show at Soldier Field. You can read it here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charlatan or Man of God?

Fox News asks the question about Benny Hinn. If you have ever watched him on TV, you know the answer.

Finding Time for God

True Woman has a good post for busy moms (I realize that is redundant) on finding time for God in the midst of the chaos of everyday lives.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

For those of you who have asked this question yourselves, here is one theologians take. If nothing else, it provides some good historical info on the origins of Halloween.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

30 Years for Piper at Bethlehem

Here is a great post by Justin Taylor on the 30th anniversary of John Piper's call to become the Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't Waste Your Retirement

Here are some great words from Alex Chediak for retirees or those close to it on how to maximize the kingdom impact of your retirement years.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Forgiveness Quiz

Chris Brauns is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the publishing of his book Unpacking Forgiveness (great book) with a new forgiveness quiz and potential prizes for those who participate. Take the quiz here.

Kevin DeYoung on Rob Bell's Boston Globe Interview

Kevin DeYoung has a sharp critique for Rob Bell in this recent post. As DeYoung points out, Bell's influence is significant, and I believe, dangerous.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mark Driscoll on Nightline

If you missed it, Mark Driscoll was interviewed on Nightline last night. Watch it here.

New Young Married Blog

Young Marrieds, check out this brand new blog by Focus on the Family: http://www.youngmarriedlife.com/. Looks like it could be a good resource.

A Real Clunker: Cash for Clunkers

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting review of the government's Cash for Clunkers program in which they claim that the program made the country $1.2 billion dollars poorer. Here's the heart of it:

The basic fallacy of cash for clunkers is that you can somehow create wealth by destroying existing assets that are still productive, in this case cars that still work. Under the program, auto dealers were required to destroy the car engines of trade-ins with a sodium silicate solution, then smash them and send them to the junk yard. As the journalist Henry Hazlitt wrote in his classic, "Economics in One Lesson," you can't raise living standards by breaking windows so some people can get jobs repairing them.

The first sentence holds an economic (read stewardship) lesson for all of us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Are "Christian" and "Rap" Mutually Exclusive?

IX Marks ask a thought-provoking in this interview between Mark Dever and Shai Linne.

Carson on the Kingdom

Here is a great clip of D.A. Carson answering a question about the Kingdom of God.

David Letterman, Extortion, and The Gospel

Russell Moore has an excellent post regarding the extortion plot against David Letterman. Here's the best part:

The Scripture says that Satan’s reign over this present order is by holding us captive through the slavery of the “fear of death” (Heb 2:15). And why are all humans afraid of death? Because, like Letterman’s letter in the back of the car, our conscience is pointing us to judgment, with a “black box” of evidence of our guilt (Rom 2:15-16).

That’s why the gospel is such good news for blackmailed creepy people like us.


Jesus says of Satan, in one of the most remarkable passages to me of all of Holy Scripture: “The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (John 14:30). Jesus’ calm is the same as if I were asked to take a DNA test to prove that I’m not the father of one of Michael Jackson’s children. I know there’s just nothing there.

Jesus knows that, as the one sinless human since Adam’s catastrophe, Satan has no evidence of guilt in Jesus. He’s been tested, and he’s still standing.

Jesus doesn’t fear Satan’s accusations because he has nothing to hide, from the demonic watchers, from his Father, from himself. He is truth, and the truth makes him free indeed. With his tranquil conscience, Jesus marches right to the pole of slaughter, paying the wages of sin for those in the satanic slavery.

That’s why our Lord Jesus shows us, through our brother John, that “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Rev 12:10). And how do those in Christ triumph over this accusation? It’s “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11).

Satan has nothing left to accuse because at the Place of the Skull “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). If you’ve already been exposed, you can’t be re-exposed. If you’ve already been damned, you can’t be re-damned.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Night Meditation

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8 (ESV)

Isn't it amazing that the God of the universe desires us -- sinful, frail, humans -- to enter into His presence. The big question: are our heart's like David, responding to our Father's offer and seeking what He seeks?

Six Study Essentials

Here is a helpful post by Mark Driscoll on six study essentials for every believer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marriage is Good for Your Brain

We’ve known for some time that married people live longer. Now a new study suggests matrimony may also help keep the mind sharp—warding off age-related issues like memory loss or dementia. Finnish Researchers reported in The British Medical Journal that individuals with the greatest risk of Alzheimer’s are those who are widowed or divorced at midlife and remained so. Being single at midlife is also a risk factor. The researchers suggest having a partner might provide additional mental and social challenges that somehow stimulate the brain and delay the onset of dementia. But getting a complex disease like Alzheimer’s is not dependent simply on lifestyle.
- Parade Magazine 08/09/09

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Membership Matters

Here is a great post by Kevin DeYoung giving six reasons why church membership is important.

With Calvin In The Theater of God

This past Friday and Saturday Desiring God held their annual national conference. This year the them was the work of John Calvin. You can view all of sessions here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Meeting with Tom

This morning at the archery range I crossed paths with young man (let's call him Tom) who was doing community service. As we struck up a conversation (he did 90% of the talking), it  quickly became apparent that he was deeply troubled and had lived a very difficult 19 years.

After we said goodbye and I drove away, a few realities came to mind:
  • The importance of fathers. Tom blamed of his problems -- relationally, legally, educationally -- on the fact that his father walked out on him when he five years old. I listened as he shared how he planned to find his dad and let him know (perhaps violently) of all the pained he had caused. It was easy to see the huge hole that Tom had in his life that a father was supposed to fill.
  • A failure to take responsibility for your failures prevents you from moving forward. Tom blamed all of his problems on someone else -- never recognizing what he needed to do to change. This will likely result in a continued struggle to break free from his difficulties.
  • The image of God in every human being. During our brief time together, Tom shared a couple of raps with me that he had written. Although I can't repeat more than a few words in the either of them, his creativity was undeniable.
  • The disconnect for many between 'faith' and belief. From the questions I asked, Tom quickly discerned my occupation. When he did, he was quick to express his deep faith and knowledge of the Bible. However, the life that he described did not resemble in any way the 'new creation' that Paul describes in 2 Cor. 5.
  • There are lots of  hurting people who need us to love them deeply and find a way to reach them with the gospel. I don't need to elaborate on this.
  • There is no simple formula for leading someone to faith in Christ. I looked for a number of different openings to share the gospel with Tom, but I came to realize I would need many more meetings, a genuine relationship, and lots of prayer to in order to effectively do so. This isn't to say that seeing someone come to faith can't be quick and easy, but it doesn't seem to me that it is normally that way.
In the end, I prayed with Tom, told him about Bethel, and told him perhaps I would see him later this week. In the meantime, I have a lot to think about and consider. Perhaps we all do.

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest of days on the Jewish calendar. Justin Holcomb has a post on the significance and relevance (quite a lot) of this celebration for Christians.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Son's First Hunting Trip


This weekend I took my oldest son deer hunting for the first time. I will summarize the experience with a play on the Mastercard commercials:
  • Youth hunting license: $7
  • Hunting equipment expense: not going there
  • Times he was told to be quiet: inumerable
  • Deer seen: 0
  • Introducing my son to my hobby: priceless
My dad first took me hunting when I was nine years old, and I still vividly remember that experience.To this day my times in the woods with my father are some of my favorite memories.

While Bryce's first experience was unsuccessful from a harvest perspective, I couldn't ask for more than to spend two great days with my son outdoors, enjoying God's creation together. Hoping for many more days to do so!

Adopted and Adopting?

Here is a short, thought-provoking post by Jeremy Carr regarding God's adoption of his children and the implication this might have for human adoption.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Reason Not to Play the Lottery

There are many reasons to avoid the lottery, but here is one that might suprise you: even when you win, you lose. Here is a quote from Callie Rodgers of Cumbria, England:

"Winning the lottery ruined my life."

Rodgers won $3 million six years ago and is down $32,000 after spending most of her fortune on designer clothes, cocaine, and breast implants.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Most Important Doctrine Many Never Think About

Kevin DeYoung makes a great (and I believe very important) point about the Trinity in this post:

If any doctrine makes Christianity Christian, then surely it is the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—are all structured around our three in one God, underlying the essential importance of Trinitarian theology. Augustine once commented about the Trinity that “in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” More recently, Sinclair Ferguson has reflected on “the rather obvious thought that when his disciples were about to have the world collapse in on them, our Lord spent so much time in the Upper Room speaking to them about the mystery of the Trinity. If anything could underline the necessity of Trinitarianism for practical Christianity, that must surely be it!”

Yet, when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity, most Christians are poor in their understanding, poorer in their articulation, and poorest of all in seeing any way in which the doctrine matters in real life. One theologian said, tongue in cheek, “The trinity is a matter of five notions or properties, four relations, three persons, two processions, one substance or nature, and no understanding.” All the talk of essence and persons and co-this and co-that seem like theological gobbledy-gook reserved for philosophers and scholars--maybe for thinky bookish types, but certainly not for moms and mechanics and middle-class college students.

So in a few hundred words let me try to explain what the doctrine of the Trinity means, where it is found in the Bible, and why it matters.

Read the full article here.

Free Hymns

For those of you who love hymns, here is a free download from Christians in Context you might want to check out.

An Overview of the Gospel

The Gospel Coalition has uploaded Mark Dever's brief overview of the gospel from the ESV Study Bible.

View it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recycling Bibles

If you have an extra Bible or two (or more....) that you would be willing to share, the Bible Foundation is kicking off their October Bible Drive next week.

According to their press release, "People around the world are begging for Bibles. Even damaged and parts of old Bibles have use and value."

For more info, visit their website.

Charles Simeon's 250th Birthday

Today marks 250 years since Charles Simeon's birth on September 24, 1759. You might very well be asking 'who is Charles Simeon?' If so, I am pleased to introduce you to him.

Simeon was a great English evangelical preacher at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge. Two things stand out about Simeon's life and ministry: his whole-hearted devotion to expository preaching and his perseverance (54 years as pastor at Holy Trinity) in the face of trials that would melt nearly anyone else.

I encourage you to get to know Simeon through one or more of these resources:

The Simeon Trust
Between Two Worlds blog post
John Piper's biographical message

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Final 10% Relationally

Here is a great post by Craig Groeschel on his lifechurch.tv blog:

I’ve noticed that when it comes to relationships, it is easy for me to rationalize giving 90%.



 In my marriage, I might believe that when I serve Amy with 90% of my heart, I’m still offering her more than most men do.


 In my friendships, if I’m giving 90% of my best, most would be satisfied with my commitment.


 In my ministry relationships, if I serve pastors with 90% efforts, that is probably way better than most.


Jesus taught us to go the “extra mile” or give our coat as well as a shirt. If I stop serving others when I’ve given 90%, I haven’t given my best.


I’m writing this post on a plane after being at an out of town funeral. Normally, I would have flown home on an earlier flight. Today I booked a later flight to spend a little extra time ministering to the family.


Even though I’m very tired as I type this and I miss my wife and kids dearly, I’m still thankful God gave me the chance to give my final 10% to a family in need.


How have you recently shown the final 10% relationally? How have you not?



Monday, September 21, 2009

New Gospel Coalition Website

The Gospel Coalition is a great organization and their new website is a great resource. For an intro to TGC, watch this video.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finally Alive

John Piper's book on regeneration, Finally Alive, is now available for free online.

Download the book here.

Watch the sermon series that inspired the book here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above declares his handiwork. Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

These beautiful images from the recently repaired Hubble Telescope reflect this truth in a stunning way.

Read Al Mohler's post regarding these pictures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Socialnomics Summary

Here is a fascinating video on the impact of social media and the fact that it is here to stay.

How might this effect our future ministry strategies?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Christian Couples Share 1 e-mail Account to Prevent Infidelity

Here is an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about Christian couples who are sharing one e-mail account to prevent online infidelity temptations.

Introducing a New Blogger: Charles Spurgeon

The Resurgence is introducing their newest blogger: Charles Spurgeon. You can read him here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

John Piper on President Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren

Here is a follow-up to my previous post on President Obama's speech. Once again, good words for us all to consider, politics aside.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

President Obama's Speech in Our Schools

John Piper has some good words regarding the outcry over President Obama's planned speech in our public schools. Read the article here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Helpful Review of The Shack

Trevin Wax has written a very helpful review of the popular book The Shack by William Paul Young.

Read the review here.

For more thoughts on The Shack, watch this video with Mark Driscoll.

Training Kids to be Thankful

Here is a good article on by Ann Dunagan on teaching our kids to be thankful:

Hey, that's not fair! You already got one-and-a-half more pieces than me!" Our 11-year-old gave her brother a mean-looking glare, as he proceeded to "stake his claim" by grabbing for the butter and syrup.


This morning, as I was working on yet another batch of French toast for breakfast, I realized our family was definitely needed more than food on their plates. My kids needed a fresh lesson in thankfulness and gratitude. Their petty bickering was really bothering me, especially in light of several stories I had read only a few hours earlier.

So, while the kids sat on their stools at our kitchen counter, waiting (not so patiently) for our next round of toast, I gave them a spontaneous lesson:

"You know, kids, you need to be thankful for what you have - and you've been given a lot! In the Bible, God tells us to ‘give thanks always for all things' (Ephesians 5:20)."

Just this morning, I had been reading a recent Voice of the Martyrs magazine, about how a minister, Richard Wurmbrand, had endured persecution while being imprisoned for his faith. He had spent over 14 years in Romanian prisons, including long periods in complete solitude - with no one to talk to, no Bible, no books, no scrap paper, and no pencils. Even during this horrible time, this man still found ways to be grateful. The article shared how Rev. Wurmbrand meditated on scripture he had memorized, and how he (along with other Christian prisoners) kept his mind active by praying fervently throughout the night for various needs from around the world. Yet the example that had most deeply touched my heart was reading about how this man of God learned to rejoice.

Read the full article here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Book on the New Testament by Mark Driscoll

Crossway is now offering a new book by Mark Driscoll on the New Testament. The book, which can be read in an hour or less, answers nine common questions about the NT:

Who wrote the NT?
Can books of the NT be written today?

Does the NT contain any errors or contradictions?
How were the NT books chosen as Scripture?
Why are there different Bible translations?
Why should I trust the transmitted manuscripts of the NT?
What is the central point of the NT?
What principles can help me interpret the NT?
How did Jesus interact with the Scriptures?
How should I come to the Scripture?

As the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture is a foundational truth of our faith, this book addresses some of the most important questions that can be asked.

Read the book online here.

Order the book here.

ESV Study Bible Sale

CBD has the ESV Study Bible on sale today for 50% off ($24.99). This is an incredible price for the best study Bible available, hands down.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Don't Spend What You Don't Have

This SNL clip is humorous and simplistic -- but imagine the result if everyone followed this advice!


video

Obedience or Expedience

Here is a great article on leadership by Jim Killgore, my colleague at Bethel Church, as made available by thechristianleader.org:

I was driving from Columbia, SC to Raleigh, NC with my father-in-law. Not relishing time in a closed confine with one's in-laws. But this three hour trip with Ben proved to be a great leadership lesson. I had just moved back from overseas to become the leader of a struggling non-profit. Ben was a leader of some repute in his field (having served in the Reagan administration). Feeling proud to be the "Pres" in my new position, and feeling for once on equal footing with my father-in-law, I asked a peer level question.

"Ben, what would you say is the key to effective leadership?"

I was not prepared for his godly wisdom. "Jim, leadership is not as great as people think. I couldn't wait to 'climb the ladder' and finally be in a place where I could create lasting change without interference. Instead I found that the higher I went the more responsible and accountable I became. Today, I have more 'bosses' than I did on the lower rungs."

Over the years, I've played that video in my mind many times. Ben was right, the higher we go in leadership, the more responsible to others we become.

David faced that principle in I Chr. 13. He had just become king. His heart for God was passionate as he worked out a plan to return the Ark of the Covenant after Saul had let it be captured by the Philistines (I Sam 5-7).

The new king followed a great leadership principle. He consulted with his leaders and the people to get their buy-in for bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. Everyone agreed this would be a great way to show their passion for God. They had a great spiritual encounter as they transported the Ark; (I Chr 13:6) they worshipped the Lord with all their might.

Then the unthinkable happened. One of the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, causing the Ark to shift. Uzzah was walking alongside of the cart. Out of instinct, he reached out to steady the tipping Ark. Then something reminiscent of Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - the Ark "blazed" and Uzzah died.

What was supposed to be a celebration turned tragic. David's joy in the Lord turned into anger directed at God (vs. 11). He must have thought, "God, I was doing this for You! What were You doing?"

David's heart was right, but his methods weren't. In his exuberance to bring back the Ark he failed to follow the details. As a result, a man under his care died. Those details had been clearly given by Moses in Ex. 25 and Num 4. God said that the Ark was to be moved by poles (not an ox cart). It was to be carried not by any Levitical tribe, but by the Kohathite clan. David should have known this.

Many times I've said, "It must be OK, I'm doing this for God." Earnestness is important, but so is method. It's not just "that" something is done - it's also "how". Motives and methods are both imperative to God. Yet, many leaders choose expedience over obedience. It's easier to "just do it." At some point in time, expedience becomes a higher value.

Leaders should be asking "Lord, show me what to do and show me how to do it." God is a God of details. They matter to Him - that is why we have a book full of worship details called "Leviticus" and a book given over to particulars called "Numbers". If it matters to God, it should matter to His leaders. David learned a hard lesson - leaders are more accountable; more responsible. People's lives depend upon us.

Later (I Chr 15), David decided to bring the Ark back again. This time he tells the Levites to follow the details, "because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it in the proper way. . . then the Levites carried the Ark of God on their shoulders with its carrying poles, just as the Lord had instructed Moses." (vss. 13-15 NLT).

Ben was right, the higher we go in leadership, the more responsible to others we become. Let's be careful to choose obedience not expedience.

Free Audio Bible

Christianaudio.com is offering a free audio Bible for download this month. Get it here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Facebook Exodus?

An interesting post by Owen Strachan following up on a recent New York Times article entitled "Facebook Exodus".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Family Worship Guide

For those of you who are looking for a "curriculum" for family devotions, here is a new site that provides everything you need -- http://www.familyworshipguide.net/.

The website provides a guide every day that includes a Scripture passage, discussion questions, a guided prayer section, a memory verse, and even a couple of catechism questions.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Waiting for Marriage

"Yes, I am." -- University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, acknowledging to radio reporters that he is saving himself for marriage.

CJ Mahaney Videos Online

CJ Mahaney is one of my favorite preachers and writers, if for nothing else than his simple humility and authenticity. Mahaney's ministry, Sovereign Grace, has just posted new videos of his preaching online.

View the videos here.

Two Articles of Interest for Parents of Pre-Teens

I am not a fan of  the word "pre-teen" (I told my 10 year-old she has always been a pre-teen) but I will use it here for the sake of clarity. If you are parent of a pre-teen, here are two recent articles you need to read:

Disney "creates" the next teen star

The Perfect Body

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Choosing Thomas

Here is one of the most powerful videos you will ever see.....posted on the Dallas Morning News website.

The video chronicles evangelical couple T.K. and Deidrea Laux as they give birth to their son, Thomas, who is diagnosed with Trisomy 13. The Laux's knew this early on in the pregnancy but chose to bring Thomas to full-term. He lived five days after his birth.

View the video here, and read Deidrea's diary here.

New Blog -- The Biblical Teacher

This week I launched a new blog to coincide with my Teaching to Change Lives class I have been teaching at Bethel. The purpose of the blog is to provide resources to those who are striving to communicate God's Word more effectively. Check out the blog here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Porn Pastor

An interesting article about Craig Gross, aka the "porn pastor" in the Christian Post. Read the article and tell me what you think.

Unpacking Forgiveness

Earlier this year, Pastor Chris Brauns (Chris is my sister-in-law's uncle) released a book that I highly recommend, Unpacking Forgiveness. In a Reformation21 article, Chris writes about some of the principles in his book (taken from Scripture) in relation to Kelsey Grammer and his response to tragedies he has faced:

I've been thinking recently about something television star Kelsey Grammer said. It's not because I saw a rerun of Cheers. Unfortunately, the context is tragic. Grammer has me thinking about well intentioned people who end up "packing unforgiveness." Where deep wounds are concerned, there are those who try and do what they believe faith requires. Yet, they end up hurting all the more.

Before I write anything more, I want to go on record saying that I have prayed for Kelsey Grammer. I have three lovely sisters and two beautiful daughters, and I simply cannot imagine what he has gone through.

To understand why Grammer is on my mind, you need to know something of the awful tragedies he has endured. When Grammer was only 13 years old, his father was murdered. A shark killed his twin brothers while they were scuba diving. But the most devastating loss for Grammer may have been the murder of his sister, Karen.
 
Read the full article here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Peak into Fetal Memory

I know I have had a number of abortion-related posts lately, but the issue is critical and new evidence of the personhood of the unborn seems is now being discovered on a regular basis. This is another fascinating article on fetal development, written by Mark Earley in the Christian Post:

Pregnant mothers the world over can often be found talking or singing to their babies in the womb. But as tender as those moments may be, is anyone besides Mom and Dad actually remembering them? New research says yes.

A team of medical researchers in the Netherlands combined sonogram technology with sound and vibration stimulation to discover that 30-week-old fetuses demonstrate short-term memory. By 34 weeks, these babies in utero are able to store and retrieve that information up to four weeks later, according to the study published in the medical journal Child Development.

This research follows on the heels of similar studies conducted to determine if a fetus can remember its mother’s voice. One such study had mothers read Dr. Seuss’ famous Cat in the Hat twice a day to their babies six weeks before birth.

Three days after birth, scientists were able to determine that not only did the babies prefer the sound of their own mother’s voice, they also preferred the sound of the story they had heard in utero to a new story.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Open Letter to Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is the outfielder for the Texas Rangers who grabbed alot of attention last year for his remarkable comeback from drug and alcohol additiction as well as his amazing performance in the 2008 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Break.

However, reports, along with pictures have appeared in recent weeks on the Internet showing a relapse by Hamilton early this year. When the news came out Hamilton addressed it with grace and humility. I have intended to write a post about this issue and his repentance, but tonight I found an article by Ted Kluck in Christianity Today that summarizes my thoughts. It's a quick read and quite worth the time.

Read  the article here.

A Gruesome Harvest

Chuck Colson illuminates another reason we need to fight for the sanctity of human life in this column in the Christian Post:

For years, scientists and celebrities supporting embryo-destructive stem cell research have used two arguments. First-blind to the destruction of the embryo itself-they argue embryonic stem cell research will save lives. Second, they maintain that embryos leftover from fertility treatments will otherwise be wasted.

Now, one stem-cell expert is using these same arguments to promote harvesting organs from aborted fetuses.

Speaking at a conference in March, Oxford University stem-cell expert Sir Richard Gardner commented that he was surprised the possibility had not been considered, and that experiments in mice have shown that fetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted to adult animals.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Discipleship Starts at Home

William Blevins has a great two-part post at theresurgence.com on discipling children at home.

Read Part 1.

Read Part 2.

The Fresh Work of God

From Craig Groeschel, Pastor of LifeChurch.tv:

Sometimes in ministry, I feel I’m leading on last year’s ideas. Instead of clearly sensing direction from God, I tend to do what last worked.

Those dry times are generally a direct result of my own spiritual negligence. Instead of seeking God passionately, I am occasionally lulled into a business-as-usual approach to prayer and study of God’s word.

Instead of expecting a fresh work of God in my life, I seem strangely content with doing ministry from memory rather than ministry from fresh revelation from God.

A few months ago, I determined that experiencing the presence and direction from God would be my top priority daily. I stepped up my time in prayer, time in God’s word, and started recording what I believed God was showing me.

How about you? Are you living on last year’s work or a fresh work of God in your life?

Monday, August 24, 2009

William Wilberforce

Today is the 250th birthday of William Wilberforce.

Here is a good 10-minute video overview of his life.

Here is a biographical message by John Piper.

Mark Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral

Mark Driscoll's message at the Crystal Cathedral aired on Hour of Power this weekend. Watch the video here and read the transcript here.

If you question Driscoll's decision to do so, make sure you read or listen to the message first.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Devotional -- Hebrews 12:1-2

I am currently teaching a five-week class on effective biblical communication at Bethel. During this morning's class I decided to model for my class how to do a five-minute devotional. For those interested, here is the text of the devotional:

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be with you this morning – and although I only have a few moments I am extremely excited to briefly share with you one of my favorite Scripture passages, Hebrews 12:1-2. If you have a Bible please turn there quickly with me.

As you do, I’d like you to multi-task and also look at this picture. Does anyone know who this guy is?

He is the fastest man on earth – Usain Bolt from Jamaica. Just this week he set a new record by running the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. I’m not sure I could run it in 9.58 minutes.

Now, let’s take a moment to analyze the picture, focusing specifically on Mr. Bolt’s attire. What do you note about it?

He is wearing very little. No socks, no underwear, the outfit as tiny as it can be. Why? Because he doesn’t want anything to weigh him down. He doesn’t want anything to keep him from running the race set before him.

You know, athletics, particularly races, are a great metaphor for the Christian life. In fact, NT authors use this metaphor over and over. One example is right here in Hebrews 12. Let’s read it together.

Now, there is a lot that we could and frankly should look at here, but I just want to try and bring out the two most significant points.

One, if we are going to run the race that God has placed us in, we have to get rid of everything that weighs us down. Can you think of some things that weigh us down and keep us from as living as we should? What are they? Notice that some of these things are sin and some of these things might actually be good things that simply keep us from the best thing.

So, how do we do this? How do we get rid of our baggage? How do we shed the things that keep us from running as we should?

We could get detailed here, but you know what, the real answer is pretty clear. We have to focus on Jesus. Notice what the first three words of v. 2 are…….looking unto Jesus. We have to look at his example. The verse goes on to tell us what that example was. Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

How did Jesus do it? He focused on the finish line. What was the finish line? The joy of being at the right hand of his Father, having accomplished all that the Father sent him to do.

To close, I would like to ask you to close your eyes with me for moment. As you do, imagine that it is 2016. The summer Olympics have come to Chicago. You are in the Olympic Stadium about to run in the 100 meter dash. 100,000 people looking on. In the crowd are some of the greatest sprinters of all time. Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson. Great examples of athletes who have made the sacrifices necessary to win. They are watching you intently as you get ready to run the race of your life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to run that race and win?

Friends, we are running in a much more important race. It is the race of life. How are you doing? Are you running well? Or are you weighed down with lots of baggage and sin? Are you in optimal spiritual shape? If not, what is keeping you from running as you should? Commit to get rid of that today and focus upon Jesus, following his example, and making little sacrifices today, that will lead to great joy tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Greenback Effect

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Warren Buffet shares some staggering facts:

Congress is now spending 185% of what it takes in; the deficit is a post WWII record of 13% of GDP; the debt is growing by 1% a month; the US is borrowing $1.8 trillion a year.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

John Piper On Why He Wants A Bible With All the Words

Here is a short clip (less than two minutes) from John Piper's most recent sermon on why he prefers literal Bible translations such as the ESV and NASB.

Government Healthcare Plan and Abortion

For those of you who do not believe the current healthcare debate is important, I urge you to read this post on Between Two Worlds regarding the the excellent work the National Right to Life Committee has done in revealing the true nature of the proposed legislation

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Verse Card Maker

Using the ESV API, Michael Scott (definitely not of the Michael Scott Paper Company) has developed a handy tool to help you with scripture memorization. His website takes a list of references and automatically grabs the texts, formatting them into business card sized cards for easy printing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Nefarious Hidden Costs of Debt

Debt is a huge issue for many people -- including believers. Josh Kaufman has posted an excellent and helpful article on how to avoid the pitfalls of bad debt.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Sister's Wedding Message

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing a short challenge at my sister's wedding. With a personal part or two ommitted, here is the text:

On behalf of the Carr and Mulder families, I would like to express our gratitude to all of you for your presence here today at the wedding of Andrew David Mulder and Allison Brooke Carr. For those of you not following along in the program, my name is Chris Carr and I am Alli’s oldest brother. Today I have the unique and special privilege of performing the wedding ceremony with my brother Jeremy who will take over in just a moment.

As we gather here to join Andy and Alli as husband and wife, I find myself filled with a number of emotions. A moment ago I felt a bit of nostalgia as I watched Alli coming down the aisle.
You probably can’t tell, but there is quite an age gap between Alli and myself. Can this really be the baby girl who I first met in the hospital just 23 short years ago? Or the little girl who was just entering kindergarten when I left for college? Or the eighteen year-old whose graduation I spoke at? Or the twenty-one year old who graduated from college in three years as the valedictorian of her class? Yes, she is all of these a much more as today she is a beautiful young woman who in just a few moments will be joined to the man she loves.

Of course, on the other side of the nostalgia is pride. Of all four of my siblings, Alli and I are probably the most alike and today I take pride in our shared intelligence, good looks, humor, and most importantly, humility.

All joking aside, I am truly proud of the woman that Alli has become, the choice that she has made for her husband, and I look forward to what God is going to do through their lives.

It is now my job to give a short challenge to Alli and Andy before they are officially joined as husband and wife. And I believe this is the most difficult job of the day, for two reasons. First, I haven’t been able to get Alli to listen to me for the first 23 years of her life, and I don’t know that today will be any different. The second reason is that there is a lot of confusion in our world today about marriage. In fact, for most people Andy and Ali’s age, marriage isn’t even on the radar. And for most people older than them, staying married isn’t on the radar. It seems that a majority of people, both married and unmarried are asking the question “Why Marriage?” And while there is a great deal of confusion about this question in our culture, there is absolutely no confusion in God’s Word. And so I would simply like to take a few moments and give three biblical answers to the most important question Why Marriage?

The first reason that we see for marriage in Scripture is for companionship. In the second chapter of Genesis we see that God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and so he created Eve to be Adam’s companion.

In this same vein, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV) has become a special passage for Andy and Ali. It says this:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

A key word here is friend. Andy, Alli should be your best friend. Alli, Andy should be your best friend. This shouldn’t just be something you just say or post on Facebook, but rather reality. You are called to be more than spouses, to be more than lovers, you are called to deep friendship. There should be no human relationship that even approaches the closeness that you have with another. God has given you to one another to celebrate the good times, to encourage one another through the hard times, and to share all of the experiences of life together.

A second purpose for marriage is what I call mission. In Genesis 2 we also see that God created Adam and gave him a job, a task, a that mission he was to perform. And then God created Eve to help him accomplish this mission. In fact, the text actually says:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

A helper to do what – to accomplish what God had called him to do. Andy and Alli, God has given you a mission in life. Although I don’t know what that mission is specifically, I do know what it is in general, and that is the mission that Christ calls all believers to – to use our gifts and abilities to glorify God by furthering Christ’s kingdom here on earth. Until today God has called you to do this individually but from this moment forward you are to pursue Christ and His reign on this earth together, as one flesh. That is God’s mission for your marriage.

Now the final and most important purpose for marriage is illustration. The key passage in the entire Bible regarding marriage can be found in Ephesians 5. Here Paul tells us that God has designed marriage to be an illustration of the relationship that Jesus Christ has with His church. In other words, God’s design for marriage is for it to be a picture, a reflection, a testimony of how Christ relates to His bride and how his bride is called to relate to Him.

That’s why Paul tells us in v. 25 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and in v. 24 that wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. When a husband lovingly and sacrificially leads his wife, he is giving a wonderful picture to the world of how Christ lovingly and sacrificially gave his life for us. And when a wife humbly and lovingly follows her husband’s lead she is giving a great testimony of what it means for a believer to follow and honor Christ as our leader.

Everyone, I need you to listen to me carefully now. Normally I am not so straight forward on this point at weddings because I don’t want to upset people, but since most of you are family or friends and you have to love me regardless, here I go. Today is a beautiful occasion; Alli is beautiful, the dress is beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, I won’t say Andy is beautiful but he does look as good as he ever will. Everything is great. Big party to come. But you can’t miss the fact that the wedding isn’t about the dress or the flowers, or the pictures or the reception; rather it’s about the most important truth in all of life. In about 8 hours this will be all over and simply a memory. A great memory, but a memory nonetheless. But the truth that it represents is eternal. This truth is the fact that God became a man, died on a cross, rose again, and now offers us the opportunity to enter into an eternal marriage relationship with Him. That’s the purpose for today; one big celebration to point to the greatness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the wonderful relationship that he offers to each one of us.

So Andy and Alli, family and friends, please see Jesus today; have a great time, enjoy the ceremony and the reception, but don’t miss Jesus. And let’s bring glory to him, both today, and in all the days to come.

Musical Diversity in the Church

A good post and a great reminder regarding the need for musical diversity in the church:

I am not a fan of the word diversity. It’s not that I am against experiencing different cultures, tastes, and personalities. It’s that I don’t know what people mean when they say “diversity.” Depending on whom you talk to, diversity includes everything from relativism to racial harmony to unrestrained personal expression. Diversity is a buzz word that embraces many good ideas, but has become synonymous with a lot of silly ideas too.

So I am not enamored with the (overused) word “diversity.” Nevertheless, I want to defend diversity in one important area: the songs that we sing in church. I believe it very good for our churches to sing songs from different eras, traditions, and styles.


Read the full article here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Obama Anti-Christ Video

If you have seen the video, you need to read this post by Dan Wallace where he deconstructs the terrible exegesis in the video.

Search

Pages

About Me

I am a husband to Eva, father of 4, pastor, and most of all passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of my life is to make the most of every opportunity God gives me to bring glory to Him. Outside of the time spent in my role as a pastor, I spend most of my time with my family -- a good deal of that coaching various sports teams that my children are involved with. Every fall and winter you will find me rushing to the woods of Indiana and West Virginia in search of a monster whitetail buck.