Monday, July 4, 2011

Moving the Blog

You may have noted that I haven't posted in quite some time. One of the reasons for this is the fact that I have been moving the blog to a new address (with a lot of assistance from Mike Wittig) . The transfer isn't complete, but you can check out the new site here. Feel free to give me your critique, and I will let you know when the blog is fully functional.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What Do You Think of This Quote?

One of our staff members at Bethel shared the quote below today. I'd like to hear your response.

We need to have kids that can be sent off to the most hostile universities, toil in the greediest work environments, and raise their families in the most hedonistic communities and yet not be in the least bit intimidated by their surroundings. Furthermore, they need to be engaged in the lives of people in their culture, gracefully representing Christ's love inside those desperate surroundings. - Dr. Tim Kimmel

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Case for Life

In my opinion there are few current issues more important than the fight for the unborn. The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture is a new book on the issue that is getting rave reviews. Watch the video promo for the book below. You can purchase it here.

Scott Klusendorf - "The Case for Life" Trailer from Crossway on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Wait for Leaders to Come Along


John Kotter:

Successful organizations don’t wait for leaders to come along. They actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential.

(HT: Matt Perman)

Worship God by Serving the Poor

Steve Sjogren writes in this article that we can worship God by serving the poor, and provides 12 practical steps for doing so.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Should You Make Your Kids Go to Church?

In recent months I have heard from a few parents that were upset or disappointed in the fact that we had moved our Sunday morning Student Ministry to Sunday night (we did this primarily because many of our students weren't attending the corporate worship services and we do not believe this to be good for their long-term spiritual health). One of the reasons some of the parents were upset is because they couldn't get their children to come to church if there wasn't something specifically for their age group. Now, there are lot's of things I could say about this myself, but today I came across a post from Michael Kelley that answers the question well and saves me the trouble.

In short, the answer is an emphatic 'yes'. Be the parent, and make them go. Here are the reasons why.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm Tired....

This is somewhat of a rant. OK, there's no somewhat to it. It's a full-on rant. But I don't do it often (actually almost never). And I think it needs to be said.

Late this evening I made a trip to a local pharmacy to pick up a couple of prescriptions. I had to travel a little ways because as I found that there are few pharmacies open past 6 pm on Sunday evenings.

Anyways, as I walked through the store waiting for the prescriptions to get filled, I naturally came across the magazine rack. And while I knew what was there, for some reason this time I became very agitated in my spirit. If you don't understand why, let me explain: I'm tired; really, really tired of the exploitation of women in our culture. I'm tired of the media that promotes it, I'm tired of those who consume it (myself included), and I'm even tired of the women who willingly allow themselves to be exploited. 

And I think its time for Christians to do something about it. It's time for Christian men to refuse to consume it. Whether its the SI Swimsuit Issue, the beer commercials, the TV shows with the subtle sexuality, or simply viewing the magazine covers in the checkout line, it's time for us make a Jeremiah-like covenant (Jer. 31:1) and refuse to look at anything that might cause lust to sprout in our hearts. It's time for us to stop contributing the the exploitation.

And Christian ladies, it's time for you to stop consuming it as well. It's time to stop evaluating yourself based upon what some magazine, model, TV, or commercial says that you should look like. It's time to quit measuring your worth based upon your weight, your bust size, the complexion of your skin, or by what you are wearing or not wearing. It's time to find your worth based upon the fact that you were created in God's image and that he made you beautiful, just the way you are. It's also time to start helping your brothers out by being counter-cultural in how you dress so that men have a safe place in the church where they aren't bombarded by the same temptations they are everywhere else.

Let me say two more things before I am finished. First, let me explain why I'm tired. I'm tired because of the devastation that this issue is causing to men, women, and families. As a pastor at a large church there is hardly a day that goes by that I don't see the profound implications of our culture's obsession with sex and so-called 'beauty'. It's destroying marriages, families, and ultimately our culture as a whole.

Finally, let me end on a positive note. Thankfully, there is hope in the Gospel, which tells us that in Christ we can do all things (Phil. 4:13). This includes fighting sensuality and the temptation to find our joy in anything other than our relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Sensuality feels good for a moment, but it only leads to guilt and pain. But through the power of Christ in us, we can say learn to say"no" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly lives today (Titus 2:11). And when we do, we will receive the blessings that come from purity, and be a counter-cultural witness to what Christ has done in and for us.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Transforming Communities by Transforming Public Schools

This morning I received a voice mail from the assistant superintendent of my children's school district asking me to consider participating in a committee that would be addressing the discipline process for our local high school. I don't know the details yet, but it could be an interesting and important opportunity.

Then I woke up this morning and found this article about the movement of some churches and Christians to engage their communities through the public school system.

Here's the point: we all bemoan the status of our public school systems, but are we willing to do something about it? And more to the point, our public schools are the very heart of our communities; if we want to be salt and light, they are a great place to start.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Parenting 001

Here is a really, really good post by Kevin DeYoung on parenting. I don't really have anything to add because he completely nails in on the head. Take 5 minutes to read this, you will be encouraged and challenged all at the same time.

Some Good News in the Fight for Life in Indiana

A US District Judge has ruled against a temporary injunction in the Indiana Planned Parenthood case. Read about it here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doing Justice


If a person has grasped the meaning of God’s grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn’t live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God’s grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn’t care for the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn’t understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just. – Tim Keller

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

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

Check out how this is true here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I won't be paying any attention to the Royal Wedding. Someone on my Twitter feed aptly put it this way: Since when is the wedding of an unemployed college grad living on government aid and living at grandmas "breaking news?"

Nevertheless, I know that many of are interested, so here are some good thoughts from Mike Cosper on the big event.

China says population rises to 1.339 Billion

The population in China grew by almost 80 million in the last decade, and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing. What does this mean for the church, when hundreds  of millions of unreached people (and growing) are without the Gospel?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

40 Positive Reasons to Avoid Porn

Daniel Henderson shares 40 Positive Reasons to Avoid Porn:

1. I fully enjoy the pleasure of my love relationship with Christ.

2. I fulfill my true identity as a child of God.

3. I experience God's provision of empowering grace.

4. I enjoy my freedom in Christ to its fullest.

5. I avoid a life-pattern of deception.

6. I cultivate a soft and sensitive conscience.

7. I turn away from the solicitation of harlots in my heart.

8. I refuse the temptation of idolatry.

9. I prove to be a faithful steward of my money.

10. I prove to be a faithful steward of my time.

11. I abstain from any promotion and support of the pornography industry.

12. I preserve God’s gift of loving sexual expression for its intended purpose.

13. I protect the purity and power of my God-given imagination.

14. I develop disciplined character.

15. I guard the integrity of my Christian testimony.

16. I promote health and harmony in the body of Christ.

17. I cultivate a stronger resistance to future interpersonal sexual sin.

18. I nurture the proper biblical view of the sanctity of womanhood.

19. I relate to women as equals and persons of ultimate worth.

20. I learn to live in reality rather than fantasy.

21. I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.

22. I cultivate a lifestyle of contentment and satisfaction.

23. I experience the blessing of living as a servant

24. I learn the relational skills of authentic intimacy.

25. I avoid future mental, emotional and spiritual scars on my life.

26. I experience the joy of the Christian life.

27. I lay up eternal rewards.

28. I learn to deal with the causes of my problems rather than treating symptoms.

29. I prevent potential temptations for others in my sphere of influence.

30. I honor the trust and prayer support of those who have invested in my spiritual life.

If I am married:

31. I avoid adultery in my heart.

32. I encourage my wife's trust.

33. I honor my vow of marital purity and faithfulness.

34. I keep my marriage union pure from fantasies of other women.

35. I communicate acceptance and honor toward my wife.

36. I avoid the pathway that could easily result in infidelity.

If I have children:

37. I minimize the risk of my children being exposed to pornography.

38. I model strong and genuine moral values for my children.

39. I avoid embarrassing and embittering my children.

40. I encourage all of the above positive qualities in their lives.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great Quote from Doug Collins

Here is a great quote from Doug Collins, coach of the Philadelphia 76er's, after his team staved off elimination at the hands of the Miami Heat on Easter Sunday:


When you have faith you have hope. When you have hope you have life.


I don't think that Collins is a believer, but it would be hard to find a more appropriate quote describing what the Resurrection does for us.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thankful for Bethel Church

This weekend we had a wonderful Easter celebration at Bethel. While the focus of our celebration was Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, I found an additional source of joy: the faithfulness of our people. 

This weekend would not have been possible if not for the hundreds of volunteers who served in various ministries, many coming both on Saturday and Sunday so they could worship and serve in the choir, on the hospitality team, in the children's ministry, or on our production team.

In addition, our people were on time, parked far away, sat up front (for the most part!) and most significantly, came at a service time that was perhaps not the most convenient so they could make room for visitors. In fact, one of the most encouraging moments of the weekend for me came during the early moments of the 9:30 am service when I took this picture from the north parking lot:


Now, it might be possible that this makes little sense to you. Normally empty parking spaces up close on Easter aren't good news. But let me explain. Empty parking spaces up close during the service that is normally the most attended means two things: 1) many of our people didn't come to the one service we asked them to consider not attending and 2) those that did parked far away. The point: our people did what their leaders encouraged them to do, making themselves a little uncomfortable so that guests could be comfortable. In it's own way, this is a simple picture of Gospel: the Son making himself uncomfortable so we might be comforted (see Philippians 2).

At the end of the day, this is a sign of real growth in our congregation. Would we like to have the parking lot full for every service? Of course; we want to preach the gospel to as many people as possible.  But we also want to see the Lord working in the people who are already a part of the Bethel family. And thats what we have here.

So, if your are part of the Bethel family, I leave you with these words from our 1 Corinthians 15 series:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming



(HT: Jeremy Carr)

Stories Like This Tell the Real Character of a Man

In 1966 I joined Operation Mobilization for a year of ministry in France, but spent two years in India instead. While in London that summer, at the one-month OM orientation, I volunteered to work on a clean-up crew late one night.

Around 12:30am I was sweeping the front steps of the Conference Centre when an older gentleman approached and asked if this was the OM conference. I told him it was, but almost everyone was in bed.

He had a small bag with him and was dressed very simply. He said he was attending the conference, so I said, ‘Let me see if I can find you a place to sleep’. Since there were many different age groups at OM, I thought he was an older OMer.

I took him to the room where I had been sleeping on the floor with about fifty others and, seeing that he had nothing to sleep on, laid some padding and a blanket on the floor and used a towel for a pillow. He said it would be fine and he appreciated it very much.

As he was preparing for bed, I asked him if he had eaten. He had not as he had been travelling all day. I took him to the dining room but it was locked. So after picking the lock I found cornflakes, milk, bread, butter and jam — all of which he appreciated very much.

As he ate and we began to fellowship, I asked where he was from. He said he and his wife had been working in Switzerland for several years in a ministry mainly to hippies and travellers. It was wonderful to talk with him and hear about his work and those who had come to Christ. When he finished eating, we turned in for the night.

However, the next day I was in trouble! The leaders of OM really ‘got on my case’. ‘Don’t you know who that man is on the floor next to you?’ they asked. ‘It is Dr Francis Schaeffer, the speaker for the conference!’

I did not know they were going to have a speaker, nor did I know who Francis Schaeffer was, nor did I know they had a special room prepared for him!

After Francis Schaeffer became well known because of his books, and I had read more about him, I thought about this occasion many times — this gracious, kind, humble man of God sleeping on the floor with OM recruits! This was the kind of man I wanted to be.

Of course, I will never attain the intellect, knowledge or wisdom of Francis Schaeffer. But I can reach out to younger people and minister to them in Christ’s name by living a life of humility. What about you?


The author is International Director of Action International Ministries (ACTION) Nichols.doug@gmail.com www.action intl.org

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Great Question from David Platt

How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world? - Introduction to Radical Together

7 Ways to Lead People Older Than You

One of the challenges that I faced (and still do to some degree) in the early years of ministry leadership was having the wisdom to lead those who were older than me. It was (and is) often  a mixture of learning how to honor my elders while not allowing them to despise my youth (1 Timothy 4:2). In light of this, I found this article from Ron Edmondson helpful on some tips for leading people who are older than you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Need to Read Psalm 103 Today

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
[2] Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
[3] who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
[4] who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
[5] who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
[6] The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
[7] He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
[8] The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
[9] He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
[10] He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
[11] For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
[12] as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
[13] As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
[14] For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
[15] As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
[16] for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
[17] But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
[18] to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
[19] The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
[20] Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
[21] Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
[22] Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul! (ESV)

Monday, April 18, 2011

5 Rules for Remembering Names

If you are like me, you have a hard time remembering names. Here's a video from Fast Company that might help.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gospeltality

Sometimes my kids amaze me. This seems to particularly occur with my youngest, seven year-old Ty. Most of his time is spent messing around and trying (often successfully) to make us laugh. However, every once in a while he also shows an uncanny intelligence and even spiritual insight. This afternoon we had one of those moments.

As his mother related how Ty was friendly with a new child in his class at church this morning, and that this was a great example of hospitality, he simply replied that it was 'gospeltality.'

Now, I have to admit that I don't think he really knows what he is talking about, but even if he does just a little bit, I am amazed at his insight. Whether he realizes it or not, he's right: when we show hospitality to others, we are simply reflecting how God has been hospitable to us.

Hospitality is being friendly and generous to strangers. Through the cross, God has generously offered us his friendship (John 15:14; James 2:23). Even when we hated and reviled Him, he showed his love  by sending his Son to die for us (Romans 5:8).

Therefore, as those who have received the ultimate act of hospitality, we are called to show hospitality to others (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9). When we do, we practice 'gospeltality' - giving a little picture of God's hospitality towards us.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

God: Announcing in Love, Punishing the Guilty

In response the to current controversy surrounding Rob Bell's Love Wins, the Gospel Coalition held a special session this morning to address the issues surrounding universalism and hell. Desiring God has a great summary of the discussion here.

TGC11 Wrap Up

TGC11 wrapped up a few hours ago although I'm still at McCormick Place attending a post-conference on Christ and the City with Tim Keller.

TGC11 was great, and you can catch all of the messages here. I would especially recommend the messages by Tim Keller and Matt Chandler and a panel discussion Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

TGC11 Day 2


Day 2 of TGC11 held the following for me:
  • Plenary session from Psalm 25 by James MacDonald
  • Panel discussion on training leaders with Don Carson, Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and David Helm
  • Panel discussion on what a local church should look like with Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, and Mark Dever.
  • Workshop on the Mission of the local church with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
  • Plenary session from Jeremiah 23:1-10 by Conrad Mbewe
  • Plenary session from Ecclesiastes 11-12 by Matt Chandler

Here are some of the best quotes from the day:

Seminaries should not be the place that we train pastors. They should be a place where we help churches train pastors. – Al Mohler

You can’t franchise out theological education. It belongs to the church and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Al Mohler

Christ loved the church and his followers must not do less. – D.A. Carson

Information in community with application leads to transformation. --  Mark Driscoll

If in our churches we care nothing for hurting people than we do not have the heart of our Lord Jesus. – Kevin DeYoung

"I''m amazed that Jesus never said I'm busy, but had an amazing sense of the goal of his mission." Kevin DeYoung

To not be clear about the most important things of our faith is not cool, it is cowardice. Take that as you will. – Kevin DeYoung

When our churches support mercy ministry there should always be the overarching aim to impart faith.  – Kevin DeYoung

Remembering rightly redeems our rejoicing. – Matt Chandler

Everybody loves Pauline theology but no one wants Pauline pain. – Matt Chandler


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

God's Heart for the Needy


Jesus' Heart for the Needy from Oxford Bible Fellowship on Vimeo.

TGC11


This week I have the joy of joining more than 5,000 like-minded brothers and sisters at the Gospel Coalition’s Bi-Annual Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago. The theme of the conference is Preaching Christ and the Gospel from the Old Testament.

The conference started yesterday with plenary messages from Albert Mohler (John 5:31-47), Tim Keller (Exodus 14), Alistair Begg (Ruth), as well as a panel consisting of Bryan Chappell, John Piper, D.A. Carson, Crawford Loritts, and Tim Keller.

Around the plenary sessions I also attended a panel on God-Given Growth and a round table Band of Bloggers dinner discussion.

Here are some of the best quotes from Day 1 of the conference. Note that in some instances the ‘quote’ might be my best attempt at a summary of what was said. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@gchriscarr) for a live feed of quotes and updates.

The most serious students of Scripture can miss the point – Christ.  – Al Mohler

There is no more basic word in the Bible than redemption. – Tim Keller

Every time you sin you are destroying your ability to resist that sin. – Tim Keller

Pharaoh to the Israelites – ‘serve me or you will die’. This is the same thing our idols say to us. – Tim Keller

What makes you a Christian is a change in status. – Tim Keller

Jesus Christ was decreated so that we could be recreated. – Tim Keller

The OT Scriptures should mean more to us than to the original recipients. – Alistair Begg

There is no true gospel-centeredness unless it leads to mission. - Trevin Wax

Monday, April 11, 2011

How to Fail

Another good post from Seth Godin:

There are some significant misunderstandings about failure. A common one, similar to one we seem to have about death, is that if you don't plan for it, it won't happen.

All of us fail. Successful people fail often, and, worth noting, learn more from that failure than everyone else.

Two habits that don't help:

  • Getting good at avoiding blame and casting doubt
  • Not signing up for visible and important projects

While it may seem like these two choices increase your chances for survival or even promotion, in fact they merely insulate you from worthwhile failures.

I think it's worth noting that my definition of failure does not include being unlucky enough to be involved in a project where random external events kept you from succeeding. That's the cost of showing up, not the definition of failure.

Identifying these random events, of course, is part of the art of doing ever better. Many of the things we'd like to blame as being out of our control are in fact avoidable or can be planned around.

Here are six random ideas that will help you fail better, more often and with an inevitably positive upside:

  1. Whenever possible, take on specific projects.
  2. Make detailed promises about what success looks like and when it will occur.
  3. Engage others in your projects. If you fail, they should be involved and know that they will fail with you.
  4. Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the vivid, unlikely and ultimately non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
  5. Concentrate your energy and will on the elements of the project that you have influence on, ignore external events that you can't avoid or change.
  6. When you fail (and you will) be clear about it, call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won't make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they've never done it.

If that list frightened you, you might be getting to the nub of the matter. If that list feels like the sort of thing you'd like your freelancers, employees or even bosses to adopt, then perhaps it's resonating as a plan going forward for you.

A Review of Love Wins

I am admittedly a little late in the game with this, but a vacation and numerous speaking engagements over the past couple of weeks have prevented me from completing my review of Rob Bell's Love Wins

During this time the furor has died down somewhat and most (perhaps all) of what needs to be said has been said. In addition, there are much better reviews that you can read than this one.

Nevertheless, since I promised a review and a majority of my readers are those to whom I am a pastor, I am going to share some thoughts that I believe are important regarding the book and the issues that come from it.

Introduction

First, for those who are unaware, let me tell you a little bit about Rob Bell. I don't know him personally, but we do have a few things in common. We are almost the same age. We both grew up in conservative evangelical homes. We both professed faith in Christ at the age of six. We both attended conservative Christian colleges. And we both have been in ministry for 15+ years. Of course, we don't have everything in common. He has become famous, and I, well not so much.

Bell pastors Mars Hill Church in Grandville, MI, a church which he started in 1998 with a current attendance of over 10,000. He is the author of several books, has produced an excellent video series called NOOMA, and has spoken to sold-out crowds both nationally and internationally for years.

All of this to say that his influence is significant, especially among Millenials and disaffected and disillusioned evangelicals, of which there are many. Love Wins is currently #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List under the Advice Category.

To conclude my introduction, let me be clear: I have some hard things to say about Bell and Love Wins. Some have questioned whether it is 'Christian' to be harsh with a brother, especially with the world watching. But I believe that both Jesus (Mark 9:42) and Paul (1 Timothy 1:3-7, 20) were clear about how we are to view false teachers and their doctrine -- and make no mistake, this is false doctrine.

I know there are those who will object to the statement I just made, but as I hope to show below, a truly honest evaluation of the book has to admit that what Bell is proclaiming is not orthodox Christianity, and it never has been. In doing so he is leading sheep astray. And as Paul and Peter tell us, one of the shepherd's jobs is to protect the sheep (Acts 20:29; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

So, all that being said, let me briefly share four primary errors that I see in the book.

1. Hell

Bell tells us from the very beginning the purpose of the book:

A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear. And so this book. – Preface

The problem is, that while I wouldn't state it the way he does, this is what the Bible teaches. We might not like it and we might not want it to be that way, but in Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) says exactly the opposite of what Bell writes:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Bell goes on to say:

At the center of the Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love in the end wins and all will be reconciled to God. - p. 109

Many people find Jesus compelling, but don’t follow him, because of the parts about “hell and torment and all that.” Not all Christians have believed this, and you don’t have to believe it to be a Christian. The Christian faith is big enough, wide enough, and generous enough to handle that vast a range of perspectives. – p. 111-112

So let's be clear: Bell is teaching (yes, teaching) that hell isn't forever and that everyone is eventually saved. And the reality is that this is not Biblical, and it is not orthodox Christianity and it has not been at the center of the Christian tradition, ever.

2. Hermeneutics

This one really bothers me. Honestly, if you do what Bell does with Scripture you can teach and believe just about anything that you want. How he uses (and misuses) Scripture isn't very different than the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. And I honestly believe a 7th grader in our student ministry with a good study Bible could show that he is off base with his use (or lack of use) of numerous passages.

The danger is that Bell does use a lot of Scripture so unless you are a good Berean (which many Christians aren't) you can easily be fooled into thinking he is on to something.

I have debated about whether to bring out some specific examples here, but to keep the review relatively short, and as I will address some of the hermeneutical errors in other places, I will leave it be for now. If you do want more detail, Kevin DeYoung has done a wonderful job of pointing out 10 exegetical errors in his review.

3. The Character of God

Millions have been taught that if they don’t believe, if they don’t accept in the right way, that is, the way the person telling them the gospel does, and they were hit by a car and died later that same day, God would have no choice but to punish them forever in conscious torment in hell. God would, in essence, become a fundamentally different being to them in that moment of death, a different being to them forever. A loving heavenly father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormenter who would ensure that they had no escapre from an endless future of agony.

If there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities. If there was an actual human dad who was that volatile, we would contact child protection services immediately. If God can switch gears like that, switch entire modes of being that quickly, that raises a thousand questions about whether a being like this could ever be trusted, let alone be good. Loving one moment, vicious the next.

Kind and compassionate, only to become cruel and relentless in the blink of an eye.

Does God become somebody totally different the moment you die?

That kind of God is simply devastating. Psychologically crushing. We can’t bear it. No one can.

Because if something is wrong with your god, if you God is loving one second and cruel the next, if your god will punish people for all of eternity for sins committed in a few short years, no amount of clever marketing or compelling language or good music or great coffee will be able to disguise that one, true, glaring, untenable unacceptable, awful reality. - p. 173-175

First, note that Bell is in no way being fair to those who hold to the "traditional" view of God. He is painting this view in the worst possible light possible. No one who believes in the "traditional" view would state it this way.

Second, in this we can see that perhaps the fundamental error with Bell's theology is the way in which he views the character of God. It's clear that for Bell, God's love is His fundamental characteristic, the one characteristic that is elevated above all others. There are several problems with this.

Yes, God is love. The Scripture is clear about that. But among other things, God is light, spirit, and a consuming fire. Most importantly, God is holy. In fact, the characteristic of holiness is the only one that we see with repetition (holy, holy, holy).

So, we must keep God's characteristics in tension with one another (Ed Stetzer has some good thoughts here). This is particularly true with love and holiness. In fact, this is exactly what the Bible does:

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (ESV)

This passage shows us how God's love and His holiness work together. God is holy and therefore cannot tolerate sin (Hab. 1:13a). But because of His great love for us, He sent his Son to turn aside His wrath (propitiate) from us so that we might be restored to a relationship with Him (see 1 Peter 3:18).

You see, in not recognizing the significance of God's holiness, Bell also fails to see the greatness of God's love. He actually minimizes God's love by not keeping it in tension with His holiness.

4. The Cross

If I could ask Bell just one question, it would be this: what do you do with cross? I would ask this because its clear from statements like the following that for Bell the cross wasn't that big of a deal:

Many have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has to punish sinners, because God is holy, but Jesus paid the price for our sin, and so we can have eternal life. However true or untrue that is technically or theologically, what it can do is subtly teach people that Jesus rescues us from God.

Let’s be very clear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer. This is true for our peace, because, we shape our God, and then our God shapes us. - p. 182

A couple (at least) of problems here. First, Bell subtly tells us here that theology and technicalities aren't really all that important. Of course, Love Wins is true to form on this point.

Second, and most importantly, does the Bible teach us that God is the rescuer, not the one to be rescued from?

In actuality, the Bible teaches both. God is both just (the one that demands that sin be paid for) and the justifier (the one who makes sinners righteous) -- see Romans 3:26.

To press the point more, Scripture clearly teaches that God is a God of wrath:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thess. 1:9-10 (ESV)

So, there is wrath coming. Wrath that we have been saved from. But whose wrath is it? It's God's wrath.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV)

Scripture clearly teaches in numerous places that we are saved from God, by God, for God. End of story.

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning, there are better and more thorough reviews of Love Wins that you can read. I would highly recommend Kevin DeYoung's extensive review as well as some excellent thoughts from Randy Alcorn.

Here's my final word on the matter. In the last quote above Bell says that "we shape our God and then he shapes us." This is perhaps the most accurate statement in the book.

Bell has shaped his God not through the lens of Scripture but through the lens of his own intellect and desire. I believe he started with the thought that a loving God wouldn't send people to an eternal hell for "sins done in a few short years." From that he developed his theology (which is really just old theological liberalism in a new package) by interpreting Scripture through this lens. And what you get from that is the mess of Love Wins, as Martin Bashir revealed.

Bell has shaped his god, and now his god is shaping him. Unfortunately, it is shaping many others as well. Because the god that Bell has shaped is not the God of the Bible. Let's pray that the Lord reveals to Bell the error of his ways and simultaneously protects the sheep who are susceptible to his teaching. At the same time, let's all be good Bereans with everything we read and listen to.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Encouraging Pro-Life News

Gene Veith reports that 15 states are considering banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Nebraska and Kansas have already done so, and Iowa may be next. This is encouraging news, and let's pray that more states do the same.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Seven Year Old

My seven year old son is a constant source of laughs. Tonight he came out from taking a bath with 'horns' in his hair. He simply left the shampoo in his hair and shaped his hair like this:


He then asked if we could wash his hair like we did when he was a baby, so we ended up doing this:

video

The Elephant Room

Two Thursdays ago I had the opportunity to be part of the live audience for an event called The Elephant Room. The event was a gathering of seven influential pastors, hosted by James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel's Aurora campus.

The seven pastors took turns debating various contemporary issues, from poverty ministry to how to engage the culture. I can honestly say that it was the best one-day conference I have attended, and encourage you to consider purchasing the sessions on DVD. You can pre-order them here for $49.95. In the meantime, here are a few clips from two of the sessions:


Highway to Hell - Part 1 from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.



Chandler and Furtick from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

Why is the Muslim World So Resistant to the Gospel?

With 1.4 billion Muslims in the world and an ever-growing presence in NW Indiana, this is an important question that we must answer. Al Mohler gives his thoughts here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Overseas Council

This evening Eva and I had the privilege of hosting an informational dessert in our home for one of our favorite missions organizations, Overseas Council. OC is a unique ministry with a singular focus: partnering with seminaries, Bible institutes and other strategic ministries by leveraging people, expertise and resources to advance quality Christian leadership training, thus empowering churches around the world to fulfill the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.

OC is a great organization that I first came in contact with in 2001. Shortly thereafter I took a trip with them to West Africa, a trip that opened my eyes to the incredible things God is doing around the world. The trip honestly changed my life and developed within me a passion for leadership development in the developing world. 

Through my partnership with OC I have had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East as well develop relationships with leaders from all around the world. I would highly recommend checking out their website and learning more about this incredible ministry.

My Future Chicago Bears

video

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meet Dr. Martin Accad

This afternoon I had the privilege of sitting down for lunch with Dr. Martin Accad. Dr. Accad is a full-time professor at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Beirut, Lebanon as well as a part-time associate professor at Fuller Seminary in Southern California. He also dedicates a great deal of time to leading the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES).

I first met Martin on a trip to the Middle East in 2005. Shortly thereafter Bethel began an official partnership with ABTS, which continues to this day, and we hope will grow in the days ahead.

Martin's area of expertise is Muslim-Christian relationships, and he has a significant role in building bridges between the two, particularly in his home country of Lebanon. You can check out some of Martin's work on this subject at Christian Today.

Please be in prayer for Martin and ABTS as they have a vital role in training Arabic-speaking leaders to minister in the Middle East and around the world. At the same time, pray for Bethel as we seek to minister to the growing Arabic and Muslim population in NW Indiana.

A New Blogger

There's a new blog you should check out -- courtesy of my baby sister. Check it out here.

Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working

Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv just released his latest book entitled Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working.  Here's a good excerpt on what he means by being weird in regards to time management:

We’re always rushed, always on the move, never having enough time. Almost everyone I know has little room for error in their schedule. Tragically, most people have little time for the things in life that they would say are the most important to them. When we overschedule ourselves in the belief that we can do everything, we stop being human and try to become godlike — not only impossible but also incredibly arrogant. Most of us are living at a pace that is not only unsustainable; it’s also unbiblical.

Instead of our typical conclusion that we simply don’t have enough time, what if we embraced the truth — no matter how weird or counterintuitive it might seem?

You have enough time to do everything God wants you to do.

God has given you everything you need to accomplish all that he wants you to do, including enough time (see 2 Peter 1:3). We don’t need more time. We need to use the time we already have differently. You have time for what you choose to invest your time in. Every day most of us say, “I just don’t have time to work out . . . to read the Bible . . . to go to church this week . . . to meet for lunch . . . to add one more thing.” But the truth is, we find time for what’s important to us. If golf is really a priority to us, we find time to play golf. If going to dinner with our friends matters, we make it happen. If tanning, working out, or getting our hair cut is a priority, we seem to find time. Catch yourself the next time you’re about to say, “I don’t have time” for something. Tell yourself the truth: either it’s not a priority and you’re guarding your time for good reason, or you simply aren’t willing to choose to spend your time on it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ultimate Answer

This past weekend I had the privilege of parching on the resurrection of Lazarus from John 11. You can listen to the message here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Living By Prayer

O GOD OF THE OPEN EAR,

Teach me to live by prayer as well as by providence,
for myself, soul, body, children, family, church;
Give me a heart frameable to thy will;
so might I live in prayer,
and honour thee,
being kept from evil, known and unknown.
Help me to see the sin that accompanies all I do,
and the good I can distill from everything.
Let me know that he work of prayer is to bring my will to thine,
and that without this it is folly to pray;
When I try to bring thy will to mine it is to command Christ,
to be above him, and wiser than he:
this is my sin and pride.
I can only succeed when I pray
according to thy precept and promise,
and to be done with as it pleases thee,
according to thy sovereign will.
When thou commandest me to pray
for pardon, peace, brokenness,
it is because thou wilt give me the thing promised,
for thy glory,
as well as for my good.
Help me not only to desire small things
but with holy boldness to desire great things
for thy people for myself,
that they and I might live to show thy glory.
Teach me
that it is wisdom for me to pray for all I have,
out of love, willingly, not of necessity;
that I may come to thee at any time,
to lay open my needs acceptably to thee;
that my great sin lies in my not keeping
the savour of thy ways;
that the remembrance of this truth is one way to the sense of they presence;
that there is no wrath like the wrath of being
governed by my own lusts for my own ends. -- The Valley of Vision, p. 266-267

6 Questions About Hell

I read Love Wins over the weekend and hope to post a short review in the next few days. In the meantime, here's an article by Mark Driscoll in which he answers 6 Questions About Hell.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Secret Millionaire: Gary, IN

21 Great Questions for Leaders

Perry Noble:

God blew my mind while reading the book of James the other morning…and I’ve listed some leadership questions that every leader/potential leader needs to think about and pray through.

1. Do I understand who I am? James 1:1 – notice James didn’t identify himself as the brother of Jesus, but rather His servant! WOW!

2. Do I understand that ministry IS NOT easy? James 1:2-4 (when the writer begins with these verses, that’s a big time sign!)

3. Do I understand that I should spend more time on my face before God rather than worshipping the FACEBOOK god when seeking direction? James 1:5

4. Do you think that James is trying to get a point across? It’s not going to be easy…but we are called to be “in it to win it!” James 1:12

5. Do I understand it’s not "if" I am tempted, but when…and "if" I give into it, then something WILL die? James 1:13-15

6. Do I understand that I am NOT THAT GOOD…that everything is a gift? James 1:16-18

7. How many bad decisions, arguments, and misunderstandings could be avoided if we all simply memorized and applied James 1:19-20? (Also, see James 1:26)

8. Do I understand I am not called just to preach the Word…but live it? James 1:22

9. Do I understand that showing favoritism WILL be a temptation…but I must always war against it? James 2:1-4

10. Do I understand that I am called to live and lead by faith…and if I am not taking steps of faith in my life and ministry, then my faith is DEAD? James 2:14-26

11. Do I understand the weight of James 3:1? WOW!!!

12. Do I fully understand that when I become envious and selfish, then that is simply the beginning of the end? James 3:13-18

13. Do I have the proper motives in regards to leading this ministry? James 4:1-3

14. Am I being opposed by God, or is He offering me grace? James 4:6

15. Am I using my platform (whether it is speaking or the Internet) to falsely attack, accuse, and twist people’s words around? James 4:11-12

16. Do I understand my days are numbered, that I’ve got one shot at this life, and I need to do all that I can to honor the One who called me? James 4:13-17

17. Do I understand that there are seasons of growth and seasons of preparation…and in those seasons of preparation, I should not become impatient but rather wait on God? James 5:7-8

18. Do I understand that integrity HAS to be a priority in my life and ministry? James 5:12

19. Do I understand that I cannot do this alone, that I need accountability in my life? James 5:16

20. Do I fully comprehend James 5:17-18…that Elijah was just like one of us? He literally called fire down from heaven! He prayed for rain…and it rained! I want THAT kind of faith!

21. Do I understand that ministry is messy…that I am called and expected to have tough conversations with the person that the Lord places on my heart, but in doing so, the potential is unlimited? James 5:19-20 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Update from Japan

Late last week I received and update from a Phil Melton, a long-time family friend who has been a missionary in Japan with Evangelical Baptist Missions for over 20 years. Although we have all seen the pictures and heard the reports, I thought it might be helpful to hear from someone on the ground:


Today is one week since the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Confirmed number of deceased is now over 6800. Confirmed missing is now over 10,000. Family members are still seeking to determine whether their relatives are missing or deceased by visiting holding areas where bodies are waiting to be identified.


Those in evacuation shelters because of loss of home or the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant radiation evacuation area now number almost half a million Japanese (over 450,000), and many foreigners are either leaving the country or doing what they can to find a place to stays outside of evacuation areas. One of our goals is to be able to provide shelter for as many as we can through utilizing Camp Raphayada when the time comes.


Last Sunday our church gave an impromptu special offering for the needs of the evacuees and our first donation of food and supplies leaves for the area tomorrow morning through Don, who will be working with CRASH Japan answering the phones for them for eight days.


Much of the north is low on gas, food, heating fuel, and water. We were planning on sending down several special gasoline containers filled with gas for the worker transportation, but after visiting three hardware stores here, we were only able to find one gas container high up on a shelf that was evidently overlooked by early shoppers.


They are now rationing certain supplies even in our area, and we were only able to buy 12 bowls of instant ramen and one box of drink, along with other supplies that were not restricted, to send down to the affected areas. Along with paper supplies, Don took down the new container and two larger but used 5 gallon gas cans from the campsite.


If you would like to have a part in directly meeting the immediate needs of those in the evacuation centers as well as in the lives of Christians and churches in the affected areas, we invite you to join us by making a donation designated Japan Earthquake Relief Fund through EBM at www.ebm.org.


Thank you for your love and concern for us and our ministries here. Contrary to US media, please do not fret too much for us over the radiation fallout. Experts agree that most areas outside of the evacuation area are not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation from the power plant damage.


God is already answering your prayers. The weather is warming. The power plant work is progressing and not getting worse, and there is hope that within the next two days they will be able to provide power back to the plant to restart cooling motors. The Japanese people are amazing in their resilience, mutual respect, and work ethic. Even those within the evacuation centers are actively participating in the care of fellow evacuees. Thank you for praying for Japan. Do pray that God will use this to turn their hearts to Him.

The Muslims Next Door

This upcoming special on CNN raises some important issues, particularly for believers in NW Indiana as we consider how the Lord would have us to reach the many Muslims who are now our neighbors. Assuming we are called to reach them, we must consider what our attitude and response should be to the nations next door.

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Psalm 67 (ESV)


 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
  [2] that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
  [3] Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

[4] Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
  [5] Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

[6] The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
  [7] God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Da Bulls

Some great memories tonight as the Bulls celebrated the 20th anniversary of their first NBA Championship  in 1991.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Warfield's Answers to Objections to Giving to the Poor


Warfield (quoted in Keller’s Ministries of Mercy):
Objection 1. “My money is my own.”
Answer: Christ might have said, “my blood is my own, my life is my own.” Then where should we have been?
Objection 2. “The poor are undeserving.”
Answer: Christ might have said, “They are wicked rebels . . . shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels.” But no, he left the ninety-nine, and came after the lost. He gave his blood for the undeserving.
Objection 3. “The poor may abuse it.”
Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample his blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet he gave his own blood.
Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember his own word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
(HT: Matt Perman)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Status Quo

The job isn't to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo. -- Seth Godin in Poke the Box

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ten Reasons to Be Optimistically Pro-Life

Last night I had the privilege of hearing Janet Parshall speak at The Women's Center of Northwest Indiana's annual banquet. The focus or her message was that despite the long way we have to go, today there are large and small signs of victory.

Following up from that, tonight I came across a recent post from Trevin Wax on ten reasons why he is optimistically pro-life:

10. Recent Polls
9. Abortions Treatment on TV and in Movies
8.The Revulsion to Sex-selection Abortion
7. The Exposing of Planned Parenthood's Corruption
6. Planned Parenthood's Recent Talking Points
5. Abortion as a 'Tragic Choice'
4. Young People
3. Ultrasound Technology and Pregnancy Support Centers
2. The Third Wave
1. God Hears

For more details, read the whole thing here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Tips for Talking to Kids about the Sermon

Joe Holland has some great tips for talking to your kids about the sermon:

1. Remember the outline.
2. Know the one main point.
3. How is Jesus the hero?
4. Engage your kids with open-ended questions.
5. Make sure the gospel is clear.
6. Be the first to pray and confess.
7. Chase the rabbit trails.
8. Remember the first two rules.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rob Bell: Heretic?

I have been concerned about Rob Bell and his theology for some time now. As Justin Taylor points out, his forthcoming book seems to show the validity of this concern. Bell is an extremely influential pastor and author, especially to the Millenial generation, making the question of heresy a very important one. Is Bell a heretic? We need to wait for the release of the book for a definitive answer, but I have to tell you it does look good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tim Keller on Fox News

Watch it here.

Spurgeon on the Material and Spiritual Poverty of the City

If you have to labour in a large town I should recommend you to familiarize yourself, wherever your place of worship may be, with the poverty, ignorance, and drunkenness of the place. Go if you can with a city missionary into the poorest quarter, and you will see that which will astonish you, and the actual sight of the disease will make you eager to reveal the remedy. There is enough evil to be seen even in the best streets of our great cities, but there is an unutterable depth of horror in the condition of the slums. As a doctor walks the hospitals, so ought you to traverse the lanes and courts to behold the mischief which sin has wrought. It is enough to make a man weep tears of blood to gaze upon the desolation which sin has made in the earth See the masses living in their sins, defiled with drinking and Sabbath-breaking, rioting and blaspheming; and see them dying sodden and hardened, or terrified and despairing: surely this will rekindle expiring zeal if anything can do it. The world is full of grinding poverty and crushing sorrow; shame and death are the portion of thousands, and it needs a great gospel to meet the dire necessities of men’s souls. Verily it is so. Do you doubt it? Go and see for yourselves. Thus will you learn to preach a great salvation, and magnify the great Saviour, not with your mouth only, but with your heart; and thus will you be married to your work beyond all possibility of deserting it.

Charles H. Spurgeon
Lectures to My Students

Weekly Reading #3

Here are the books for this week:

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos
Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reading Update Week #2

This past week's reading held two tremendous books. Here's a quick review.

The first book was Intentional Parenting by Tad Thompson, Lead Pastor at Harvard Avenue Baptist Church in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. While the book doesn't contain any new, earth-shattering parenting revelations, it does provide something invaluable -- a simple, practical guide for how to do intentional discipleship in the home. This is a book that all Christian parents can use to improve (begin?) the discipleship of their children. As discipleship in the home is such a foundational issue and at the same time one in which most families struggle, I hope and pray that God uses this book to challenge and equip many parents in the days ahead.

The second book was When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. The authors both serve at the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. This book is so powerful that I don't think a quick review will do it justice. Perhaps I can do that at another time. For now, let me say that the book was incredibly challenging both personally and professionally. It has caused me to seriously reconsider my views on poverty, short-term mission trips, and ministering to those in the community where I live. These issues deserve serious consideration and prayer, and Fikkert & Corbett are excellent guides. To get your mind thinking, and perhaps to generate interest in the book, here are three important quotes:

Defining poverty is not simply an academic exercise, for the way we define poverty -- either implicitly or explicitly -- plays a major role in determining the solutions we use in our attempts to alleviate that poverty. -- p. 54

Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, so the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus' death and resurrection to put all things into right relationship again. -- p. 77

Poverty alleviation is the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. -- p. 78

And I think in this you can find the most important point of the book: until we realize that all people (most significantly us) are poor, our efforts towards poverty alleviation will be misguided. We must come to realize that we all need to move towards glorifying God in all of our relationships -- with God, ourselves, others, and the created world. A lot to think about, isn't it?

The Next Story by Tim Challies

One of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies, has a new book due soon that addresses the digital explosion and how to steward technology wisely. This has the potential to be an important book, and Zondervan has produced a video to promo it's release. You can pre-order the book here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where Have the Good Men Gone?

The Wall Street Journal nails it on the head with their recent answer to this question. It's a rather long one, but well worth the read. There are many implications for our culture and the church. Here are some of the most important parts:

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.


What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.


And most significantly.....


What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Response to Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly, the acclaimed sportswriter for ESPN, wrote a scathing criticism of Joel Northrup and his parents this week (Joel is the Iowa wrestler who refused to wrestle a girl. I normally enjoy Reilly's column, but I just didn't get this one. I thought you might like to see my comment to his article. Note that I didn't go theological on this one, but I think the points I make are valid none the less.

Rick, you are unquestionably one of the best, if not the best, sportswriters of our day. I enjoy your column for its humor, poignancy and occasional provocativeness.

However, you have somehow missed it with this one. As a father of four children (two boys, two girls) who are close in age, I regularly have to remind my sons that boys and girls are different, and that there are certain things they can do with each other (like wrestle) that they can't do with their sisters. I try to teach them that there is a certain way to treat women, a way that honors, respects and protects them.

I have to believe that you have taught your sons similar things -- or am I mistaken there?

If we teach teenage boys that there isn't any difference between male and female, and that it is fine to treat a girl just like they would a boy, than they will -- not only on the wrestling mat, but in the real world as well. And is that what we want?

I, for one, don't want my daughters treated the way that my friends treated me, in high school, college, or yesterday for that matter. 

You see, when we do recognize that there is a difference we are actually honoring womanhood. When we try to make everything the same we do just the opposite.

You take some shots at Joel Northrup's parents here -- but why? Because they are trying to teach him to honor and respect females? Come on, Rick, you can do better than that.

And oh, by the way, the magazine that you used to write for (SI) makes a lot of money every February by showing the world that there is a big difference between male and female. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Over My Dead Body


In light of the Iowa high school wrestler who chose to be disqualified rather than wrestle a girl, here is a post from John Piper a few years back in which he makes some great points. I couldn't agree more.

(HT: Zach Nielsen)

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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.