Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Free Album from Mars Hill Church

Mars Hill Church is now offering a new, free worship album. Download it here.

Great Review of How to Train a Dragon

A Challenging Quote About Cultural Engagement

The faith community should be a support system for engaging culture, but all too often it is hte excuse not to engage culture. Leaders can be so busy and satisfied by ministry and community with fellow Christians that the world is left to go to hell. -- Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl in Transformissional Coaching

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Be Afraid

In light of the health care bill passing last night, Russell Moore has some great words on how Christians should respond. Take time to read this slowly, and let it sink in:

“Now these three abide: anger, outrage, and fear—and the greatest of these is fear.”

That’s not in the Bible.

But sometimes I wonder if I think it is.

The United States House of Representatives just passed a health care reform bill that I and lots of other Christians opposed. Such legislation should concern us. There are some bad consequences for the weakest and most vulnerable among us, principally unborn children. But should it also concern us that so many of us are talking today about how afraid we are?

Is it a problem that some of us who are tranquil as still water about biblical doctrine and ecclesial mission are red-faced about Nancy Pelosi and the talking heads on MSNBC? Is it a problem that some who haven’t shared the gospel with their neighbors in months or years are motivated to vent to strangers on the street about how scary national health care will be?

It’s not that I think Christians should be disengaged from issues of justice (God forbid!). It’s just that I wonder if we wouldn’t represent Christ and his kingdom better if we did it with a certain tranquility of Spirit, a tranquility that signals we’re not afraid of the rise and fall of temporal kingdoms and their policies.

The words “do not fear” and “don’t be afraid” are among the most common phrases on the lips of our Lord—in both Old and New Testaments—and on the lips of his angelic messengers. I wonder why?

Isn’t it because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18)? Isn’t it because we “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom. 8:15)? Isn’t it because the Spirit prompts us not to “fear anything that is frightening” (1 Pet. 3:6)?

In fact, the Holy Spirit through King David, in a context far more frightening than that of our own, calls us to “fret not yourself because of evildoers” who will soon pass but “trust in the Lord and do good” (Ps. 37:1-3).

Here’s why this matters.

Most of us don’t preach “hellfire and brimstone” sermons anymore, on hell and God’s judgment. But hellfire is exactly what Jesus said we should fear. “And do not fear the ones who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” our Lord tells his disciples. “Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

Jesus not only teaches this; he lives it. Jesus doesn’t fear the crowds attempting to stone him. He doesn’t cower before Pilate. He isn’t afraid of the Sanhedrin. He’s confident and tranquil, even when he’s being arrested. But when he faces drinking from the cup of judgment of his Father, he sweats drops of blood.

If we were half as outraged by our own sin and self-deception as we are by the follies of our political opponents, what would be the result? If we rejoiced as much that our names are written in heaven as we do about such trivialities as basketball brackets, what would be the result?

So if what you’re afraid of is a politician or a policy or a culture or the future of Western civilization, don’t give up the conviction but give up the fear. Work for justice. Oppose evil. But do it so that your opponents will see not fear but trust, optimism, and affection.

“So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).

Fear God and, beyond that, don’t be afraid.

What Cameron's Titantic Got Wrong

D.A. Carson, in his latest book Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Perhaps part of our slowness to come to grips with this truth lies in the way the notion of moral imperative has dissipated in much recent Western thought. Did you see the film Titanic that was screened about a dozen years ago? The great ship is full of the richest people in the world, and , according to the film, as the ship sinks, the rich men start to scramble for the few an inadequate lifeboats, shoving aside the women and children in their desperate desire to live. British sailors draw handguns and fire into the air, crying “Stand back! Stand back! Women and children first!” In reality, of course, nothing like that happened. The universal testimony of the witnesses who survived the disaster is that the men hung back and urged the women and children into the lifeboats. John Jacob Astor was there, at the time the richest man on earth, the Bill Gates of 1912. He dragged his wife to a boat, shoved her on, and stepped back. Someone urged him to get in, too. He refused: the boats are too few, and must be for the women and children first. He stepped back, and drowned. The philanthropist Benjamin Guggenheim was present. He was traveling with his mistress, but when he perceived that it was unlikely he would survive, he told one of his servants, “Tell my wife that Benjamin Guggenheim knows his duty” –and he hung back, and drowned. There is not a single report of some rich man displacing women and children in the mad rush for survival.

When the film was reviewed in the New York Times, the reviewer asked why the producer and director of the film had distorted history so flagrantly in this regard. The scene as they depicted it was implausible from the beginning. British sailors drawing handguns? Most British police officers do not carry handguns; British sailors certainly do not. So why this willful distortion of history? And then the reviewer answered his own question: if the producer and director had told the truth, he said, no one would have believed them.

I have seldom read a more damning indictment of the development of Western culture, especially Anglo-Saxon culture, in the last century. One hundred years ago, there remained in our culture enough residue of the Christian virtue of self-sacrifice for the sake of others, of the moral imperative that seeks the other’s good at personal expense, that Christians and non-Christians alike thought it noble, if unremarkable, to choose death for the sake of others. A mere century later, such a course is judged so unbelievable that the history has to be distorted (30-31).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Should We Be Conservative?

I love this quote by Francis Schaeffer:

One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is ask them to be conservative. Christianity isn't conservative, but revolutionary. To be conservative today is to miss the whole point, for conservation means standing in the flow of status quo, and the status quo no longer belongs to us.....

If we want to be fair, we must teach the young to be revlutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Character vs. Reputation

John Wooden:

Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Giving NCAA Brackets a Free Pass

Prodigal John:

Gambling is horrible. It’s an addiction. It will wreck your life, make you throw all your money away and perhaps worst of all, it encourages you to spend time in fake river barges off of the coast of Mississippi. I like Mississippi but those boats are nonsense. And when you go to a casino and lose your money in the first five minutes you have to try to trick waitresses into giving you free drinks. When you see them coming, you hover closer to a blackjack table in the hope that they will assume you are playing, that you are perhaps an international gambler like say Roger Dalton, the best James Bond ever.

Gambling is horrible and I would elaborate on my thoughts in more detail but I have to go update my NCAA bracket. The first games were yesterday!

What’s that? You’re not familiar with March Madness? It’s a college basketball tournament and every year some guys at work run a pool. We all fill out brackets, pay $10 each and then try to win the pot. Lot of fun, lot of fun.

Did you know Robert Morris is a college? Until yesterday I thought Robert Morris was that kid from high school who had that wispy mustache and kind of smelled like cheese most days. I was wrong. Turns out Robert Morris is a great school with a really scrappy basketball team. Yesterday they almost beat the grossly overrated Villanova team. I follow the odds so I know which team to pick. (I don’t want to talk about UNC being in the NIT by the way.)

What? All of that sounds like gambling? Surely you jest. That’s not gambling. That’s fellowship. I am loving my neighbor by entering into a pool, where I can win money by successfully predicting the outcome of sporting events. It’s practically a ministry. Plus, NCAA brackets go back all the way to the Old Testament. Google it.

When the 12 Israelite spies went into the promised land to scout it, the other Israelites formed a bracket to see who would emerge with positive news. Turns out Joshua and Caleb fought it out in the championship.

If you’d like to apologize and perhaps join me in prayer for people who gamble on things like poker let me know. Just promise me you’ll do it after today’s games. I’ve got a lot riding on some of these picks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

There is much more to St. Patrick's than most of us realize; until this week I knew little if anything about the man the holiday celebrates. Patrick was a missionary and a very good one at that. If you want to learn more, click here to read a biography of Patrick or click here to see what we can learn from him.

Happy Birthday Little Brother

Today is my brother Jeremy's 32nd birthday. Jeremy pastors a growing church in Oxford, OH called Oxford Bible Fellowship. For those of you who know Jeremy, check out this recent blog post by a fellow pastor to give you an update on how he is doing in Oxford. For those of you who don't know him, check out the link to his church to catch some of his sermons -- it will be worth your while.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tea Party Prevarication

John Piper:

According to the New York Times “The Tea Party leaders . . . deliberately avoid discussion of issues like . . . abortion. . . . [They] argue that the country can ill afford the discussion about social issues when it is passing on enormous debts to future generations.”

Let me see if I understand this term “ill afford”.

Is this it? Enormous debt will hurt our children and grandchildren. Therefore don’t talk about the lawfulness of whether they can be killed.

Something like that?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Misguided Christian Outrage

Russell Moore:

I've been asked several times in the last couple of days about whether I'm upset about the new remix of "We Are the World."

The Christians contacting me about this are disturbed by what they see as a startling omission from the '80s-era song in its 21st century update, performed by artists in support of Haiti relief. Willie Nelson's line "As God has shown us by turning stone to bread..." is gone. These Christians are outraged, and they wonder if I am too.

Well, yes, I am outraged. Willie Nelson should have been invited to participate. He's still every bit as talented as he was in 1985, and if Nick Jonas can be invited, then certainly Willie should've been too.

Oh wait.

That's not what these folks are outraged about. They're afraid this is indicative of the secularization of American pop culture, and that there should be a Christian backlash.

But wait, again.

God didn't turn stones into bread. 

It was Satan, not God, who suggested our Lord Jesus turn rocks into bread (Matt. 4:3-4). God sends bread down from heaven (Exod. 16), a Manna he ultimately gives to us in the body of Jesus (Jn. 6), signified in the communion meal (1 Cor. 11).

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Don't Want My Children To Be Happy

Here is a great post that every parent should read. The gist: we should want our children to be content and holy, not happy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glenn Beck, Listen to Jesus

I don't know about you, but Glenn Beck irritates me. He gives makes conservatives and Christians look bad, and I am tired of his act. Here's a post by Scott McKnight with some great advice for Mr. Beck, and honestly for many Christians and churches as well.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Word to Preachers and Those Who Listen to Them Each Week

JR Vassar:

I don't know who has it harder, preachers or those who have to listen to them every week. But, I have been thinking about some things that I wanted to share with both.

Preaching is hard. Those of us who teach every week put tons of pressure on ourselves and are often our worst critics. Sometimes we feel only as good as our last sermon. So to those of you with this joyful burden, I have two quick things to say:

Trust that there is a cumulative effect to your preaching. Not every sermon needs to be a home run. Just be consistent and over time you will see a lot of fruit from your preaching. You don't have to "kill it" every Sunday; in fact you can't. Very few people have the ability to preach a lights out sermon week to week. Just preach the Gospel, relax and trust that God will bring about fruit.

Define the win. If you have not defined what makes a sermon good, then you have no objective criteria by which to judge your sermons. Here is how I define the win: Was it text sourced, Christ exalting, gospel centered, and audience focused? Text Sourced - did the sermon come from a text in the bible and was it taught in context? This requires a lot of study. Christ Exalting - was Jesus the hero of the sermon? Did I preach in such a way as to move people's minds and hearts toward him? Was he shown to be the One we need? Was he exalted as more than just an example or a model, but as a Savior? This is key. If we only present Jesus as a model for how we live, we condemn people. Jesus died the death he died because we cannot live the life he lived. So our preaching must put Jesus forth as Savior. That is what I mean when I say Gospel-Centered. Was the Gospel presented not merely as the starting point for the Christian life, but the very track on which the Christian life is ran? As Dr. Tim Keller puts it, the Gospel is not the ABC's of the Christian faith, but the A-Z of the Christian faith. We do not grow by getting beyond the Gospel, but by going deeper into it. Show in your sermon how the Gospel is the answer. If you are teaching on generosity, show your people how the Gospel liberates us from greed by revealing a trustworthy, generous God who sacrifices greatly to meet our needs. In fact, if your sermon is just as true had Christ not died and risen from the dead, you did not preach the Gospel, you gave advice. Lastly, was it Audience Focused. You are not preaching to podcast land; you are preaching to a group of people who live in a certain place at a certain time who have certain idols. Study your audience and preach to them. This is the hardest part of preaching for me and an area where I need greater focus and growth. So, define the win or you will measure your sermon by the wrong things. You will be asking, "did the people like it and respond," or "was it entertaining or engaging." A wrong definition of the win brings about some critical losses.
For those that have to listen to preachers every week, I have two quick things to say:
Trust that there is a cumulative effect to your pastor's preaching. Don't expect him to hit a home run every week. It is impossible. Receive the sermon trusting that God will add it to the work that He is currently doing in your life and bring forth fruit. Your pastor's sermons should be supplemental to the work God is doing in you through your own times in the word.

Define the win. Don't judge your pastor on whether he is funny or dynamic or captivating. If your pastor is preaching the bible, exalting Christ, keeping the Gospel central and applying it to your context, then you have a great pastor and you should thank God for him. Stop complaining about your pastor's delivery; pray for your receptivity. I hear people criticize their pastor's preaching but never scrutinize their own listening. Maybe the problem is not what you think it is.

There is more that could be said, but I will stop there. I love preaching to the people of Apostles Church. They are a huge joy to me. Praying that we would have a deeper hunger for the things of God and greater receptivity to his truth.

Verse of the Day

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Pslam 119:165 (ESV)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Biography

Here's a great video on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, widely considered to be one of the greatest preachers of the 20th Century.

Free Audio Books

This month at you can download free audio books The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Boenhoffer and 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper.



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.