Monthly Archives: September 2007

Mercy

Saw this great Graham Greene quote on The Anchoress:

“You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”

Love that.

If you’re the literary sort (and if not, why aren’t you?), I can think of no better reflection on “a severe mercy” than Greene’s novel The End of the Affair.

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The Missing Ingredient

I really think it may be joy.

I’m just speculating here.

When I weary of a doctrinal compatriot’s constant knocking of the Church to the extent that it essentially becomes their raison d’blog, I stop seeing “prophet” and start seeing “scrooge.” I see the pervasive unhappiness with the spiritual quality of fellow believers not as indication of the blogger’s properly calibrated prophetic barometer but as indication of their thinly veiled joylessness.

Remember: only God gets to vomit people out.

There’s a difference between being critical and having a critical spirit.

The message of the Gospel is so thrilling. It should produce in us great joy. The message of the cross should create in us a joy unspeakable and filled with glory.

And when we look out at a Church in biblical and doctrinal and spiritual disarray, a culture in need of reformation, we should commit to this endeavor diligently and fiercely, but despite encountering things that can (and should) disturb or even anger us, our pursuit of reformation should be characterized not by anger or despair, but by great, overflowing, boundless joy.

What an incredible day that the message of the gospel is a scandal to even those who claim the name Christian!

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Farewell

Goodbyes suck.

This weekend my church is saying goodbye to our associate pastor, Bill West. More than a few of us have known this was coming for a while (it has probably been BCC’s worst kept secret), but this week a church e-newsletter made it official.

Bill is an awesome guy, a terrific teacher, and a wonderful leader. Our church has essentially made Bill our boyfriend (which is better than having Jesus as our boyfriend, right? since he led us with grace and humility and strength through the most difficult transition of our relatively young life.

I look back to that messy time and I am even more in awe of his leadership, given that so many vocal dissenters said some really hurtful and, frankly, stupid things about Bill. But those of us who stuck around found him to be not just capable, but incredibly gifted and anointed. He was a calming and anchoring presence in a tumultuous and tempestuous time. He was, honestly, the pastor we never had.

As churchgoers, Becky and I have come to love Bill as our pastor. As the Element ministry ramped up, I have come to love Bill as a mentor and confidante and friend. We stood in tears with our congregation to applaud when he announced he would stay. We will stand in tears to applaud his announcement he must go — in gratefulness for his shepherding and care..

Pray for our church, if you don’t mind. We do have an awesome lead pastor now, …

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Clash of the Titans

There is an open discussion thread at Emerging Grace on Mark Driscoll’s bold (and errant?) critiques of emergent big dogs in his SEBTS Convergence Conference message.

(HT: Bill Kinnon)

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"Check in My Spirit" = "I Don’t Like You"

Or, “I disagree with you.”

Man, I hate church politics.And I hate it when people spiritualize personal issues, turning their own feelings or disagreements into God-granted mandates to make a ruckus.

Do you know what is happening at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee? This is the church formerly pastored by the late, great Adrian Rogers. Trevin Wax has a good overview.

There’s bad blood and blogging. All in the name of biblical truth, allegedly.

There is a legitimate concern there about the firing of a minister known to have molested children.

There are some legitimate concerns about pastoral accountability.

There are some marginally legitimate concerns about the accessibility of the pastor. (But, wow, this is a 30,000-attendee megachurch. Not everyone can be best friends with the pastor, and it occurs to me that some of these folks may have been very close with Rogers and now resent they do not have the same access and power under the new pastor.)

I don’t know Pastor Steve Gaines from Adam, but I’m reading this transcript of his meeting with some of the grudge-holders (posted by the complainants as “proof,” I guess of Gaines’s disqualification from office), and I feel very badly for the guy. Some of the stuff brought up is ridiculous.

Maybe Gaines really is an egomaniacal lone ranger rejecting all accountability, but the transcript sounds like he’s a new guy getting assailed with personality conflicts.

They want to know how much every staff member is making. You could make a good case for that being …

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Kit AND Kaboodle

The Gospel isn’t the ABC’s of the Christian life; the Gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life.– Tim Keller, in a sermon called Gospel-Centered Ministry delivered at the Gospel Coalition’s inaugural conference

Btw, that sermon is the bomb diggity.

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Tuesday is for the Ha Ha Ha Ha

Brian Regan on string theory. No, it’s not church-related. Way to figure that out, Einstein.

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Eating Links and Onions by the Nile

Some quality linkage to get your week started off right . . .

Ed Stetzer on a forthcoming book that may help in understanding the emerging church.

Mark Lauterbach on pastoral care and the gospel.

Bible-geek bibliophiles rejoice! Mark Bertrand has launched a Bible Design and Binding Blog. (Say that five times fast.)

Justin Holcomb on “Jesus and the Law” is interesting. I chased a rabbit on this subject in my Element message last night, so seeing his post this morning strikes me as somewhat timely. The guys at the Boars Head Tavern discussed this issue a bit last week too.The Law is indeed a mirror (as James’ epistle elucidates), it does indeed confront us in its very existence with our failure to measure up, with the complete imperfection within us. No, by the law will no one be justified. Yes, the law’s declaration demonstrates our own alienation from God’s holiness. But this notion that this negative declaration is only why it exists, to show us we can’t do it, is just . . . weird. I just can’t read the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, in which Jesus makes the Law harder by making it about our hearts and not just our behavior, and think it’s just some bizarre logic puzzle meant to mean the opposite of what it says.When Jesus says “Love your enemies,” yes it is implicit that we can’t do that perfectly, that it is not in our own power to do that or …

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"Oh My. There is a Lot of Foolishness Going On."

Those are the parting words of John Piper in this AWESOME video teaser for the Resurgence 2008 Conference.

The conference is titled “Text and Context” and will focus on Scripture (text) in relation to culture (context). The video has Mark Driscoll opining on proclamational preaching versus opposing modes of preaching, with some John Piper sampling interspersed. It’s produced by the media maestros at Mars Hill and it’s pretty dang slick.

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Like a Band With One Song

But it’s the best song there is!

Would that all criticism of my teaching be along the lines of “All you ever talk about is Jesus.”

Here’s an excerpt I transcribed from a recent Mark Driscoll sermon from his special series on Scripture:

I had a nonChristian I talked to fairly recently [who] came to Mars Hill. I said “Well, how’s it going? How’d you like it?”

He said, “Well, I liked it, but every week you’re just talking about the same thing.”

“Well, what is that?”

He says, “Jesus. Is there anything else?”

I said, “No. That’s it. That’s all we got. We’re like a band with one song, and we just keep playing it. That’s how it is. It’s all about Jesus.” But I said, “I’m glad you caught that point. I’m glad you didn’t go, uh, it’s about monkeys or something. I woulda had to get fired.”

He got the big idea that when we open the Bible we end up talking about Jesus. And I know that seems very simple to some of you. But let me submit this to you, that it is sadly uncommon.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. I recently, um . . . every once in a while I listen to Christian radio. I can’t do it very often ’cause I say things that I then have to repent of. But I was driving in my car, listening to Christian radio; I had a long trip, and I listened to hours of Christian preachers, and I can honestly say …

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