Monthly Archives: February 2008

In the Blogosphere

Listen to Southern Seminary students Robbie Sagers, Phillip Bethancourt, and Jenny Clark on NPR’s All Things Considered talking about the shady evangelist in the novel Elmer Gantry.

This family has unplugged the TV. Four months later, they testify to what it has done for them spiritually.

Timmy Brister asks some tough questions about evangelism and our confidence in the gospel.

Michael Spencer visits the LifeWay bookstore on Southern Seminary’s campus and notes the lack of spiritual formation books written by life-long Southern Baptists.

Why blog? Zach Nielsen explains why he does.

Joe Thorn on the characteristics of an ingrown church.

Hershael York and Tony Campolo run into each other at an airport.

It’s not too late to register for Band of Bloggers 2008.

Out of all denominations, Baptists are most likely to be obese.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Book Review – Surprised by Hope

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Gospel Definitions: F.F. Bruce

“Only one saving message is attested by the NT. The “gospel to the circumcision” preached by Peter and his colleagues did not differ in content from the “gospel to the uncircumcised” entrusted to Paul (Gal. 2:7), though the form of presentation might vary according to the audience. Paul’s testimony is, “Whether therefore it was I or they [Peter and his colleagues], so we preach, and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:11).

The basic elements in the message were these:

1. the prophecies have been fulfilled and the new age inaugurated by the coming of Christ;
2. he was born into the family of David;
3. he died according to the Scriptures, to deliver his people from this evil age;
4. he was buried, and raised again the third day, according to the Scriptures;
5. he is exalted at God’s right hand as Son of God, Lord of living and dead;
6. he will come again, to judge the world and consummate his saving work.”

- F.F. Bruce

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N.T. Wright on Nightline

Watch N.T. Wright speak about the common misconceptions about heaven that are prevalent in Christian circles today. (Nightline describes Wright’s view as a radical departure from traditional doctrine. Better said, Wright’s view is, for the most part, a robust return to the traditional, biblical view.) The video below is no longer active. Click here to view the file.

Related Articles:
Book Review: Surprised by Hope
You Were Made for Earth: My Interview with Michael Wittmer
My Interview with N.T. Wright

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Working with the Villagers

I spent a lot of time with the village families during my first year in Romania.

Not wanting to be a burden, I knew it was necessary for me to carry my own weight, helping out around the house, helping them do the work in the field, etc. even though I was not one who generally knew how to do these tasks. This was a new experience for me. I think by working in the garden, I demonstrated an attitude that helped endear me to the people.

There were many weekends that we worked in the fields, and although I wasn’t too familiar with this kind of work, eventually I got the hang of it. I knew that my ministry would be boosted by the fact that the village people knew that I knew how to do the work they do, and help out with the outdoor chores.

At the university, I noticed a pervasive mentality among pastoral students that a person training for the pastorate should not get involved with menial tasks like working in the fields or doing some kind of work of this nature. A pastor should be paid for being in the pastorate. He should do his work and let the people do theirs.

I did not agree with this mindset at all. A pastor should be among his people. He should not be foreign to the kind of work they do. If the people do work that is considered menial, he too should be ready to do that kind …

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Church Bulletin Humor 5

• The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing “Break Forth into Joy.”
• Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
• Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
• Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
• Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.

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Book Review: Surprised by Hope

For three months in the summer of 2004, I labored through N.T. Wright’s massive book, The Resurrection of the Son of God - an important work for anyone interested in the historical evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of the Son of God significantly deepened my appreciation for Easter. Wright’s research bolstered my confidence in the historicity of the New Testament accounts, but more than that, it helped me to understand why the Resurrection was necessary and why it is so important to Christian theology.

Needless to say, I was happy to discover that Wright was working on an edited, popular-level supplement to The Resurrection of the Son of God. Fast forward to 2008. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church has been released, a sequel of sorts to Simply Christian. (And yes, the allusions to C.S. Lewis’ works Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy are an intentional advertising gimmick, although readers quickly discover that the comparisons to Lewis do have some merit.)

In Surprised by Hope, Wright attempts to do three things. First, he exposes current Christianity’s muddled views of the afterlife by taking us through the historical evidence for and the theological explanation of Jesus’ resurrection. Second, he answers questions regarding eschatology that necessarily arise from his Resurrection theology – showing how his eschatological framework best fits the New Testament witness. Third, he shows how the Christian’s future hope of resurrection forms the foundation for current social action, evangelism, and spirituality.

For those familiar with Wright’s …

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Preaching that Tickles the Ear

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” - 2 Timothy 4:3

Pastors who tickle the ears. Many of us read this verse and nod our heads in agreement.

Ahh, yes. Lord, deliver us from the liberals who don’t believe anything and don’t preach anything!

Lord, deliver us from those who give good advice and moral platitudes without the good news of individual salvation!

Lord, deliver us from the stand-up comics who fill stadiums with ear-tickling, side-splitting sermons that are all about us and not about God!

But are these the only examples of preaching that tickles the ear?

Is it possible to preach harshly against certain sins and yet still be an ear-tickling preacher?

I say yes, and here’s why.

The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. We think that preaching hard messages with hard truths will necessarily keep us out of the “ear-tickling” category. But such is not the case. Paul tells Timothy that itching ears want teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. And many congregations hope to hear a preacher who every week will tell them what’s wrong with everybody else.

Itching ears? Judge for yourself. 

The congregation of teetotalers who hires a pastor who every week, without fail, will condemn alcohol in the pulpit…

The congregation of staunch Republicans who hires a pastor that will preach against “the gays, the liberals, and the environmentalist wackos” every week…

The congregation of Calvinists who hire a pastor that will preach …

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Gospel Definitions: Mark Dever

“Here is what I understand the good news to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God. Now that is good news.”

from The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

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Village Life – No Hot Water

Living in a Romanian village was often difficult. Perhaps the biggest issue for me was the absence of hot water. In fact, the Micula family had no running water at all.

Whenever we needed water, we had to draw it from the well outside the house. Using an outhouse wasn’t the end of the world. But whenever I spent a week or a weekend with the Micula family, I found myself pining for a good hot bath or shower, at least once a day. Due to the conditions, that was impossible.

Whenever I wanted to bathe, I had to close off the kitchen, draw water from the well, heat it on the stove and then mix it with cool water until it reached a pleasant temperature. Then I would fill a small plastic tub with the water, a tub hardly big enough to sit in. Needless to say, I would wash myself quickly! To wash my hair, I would dunk my head in a pot of warm water and shampoo and rinse with the water I had prepared in another pot.

You haven’t lived until you’ve taken a cool bath in a tin!

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

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Sheep & Goats 5: Least of These

“And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers,
you did it to Me.’”

- Jesus, to the disciples (Matthew 25:40)

In Jesus’ foretelling of the Last Day, a King has separated the righteous from the wicked. As He rewards His followers, He mentions specific actions of kindness that they had performed for Him. But the righteous are puzzled, having no recollection of ever serving the King personally. The King then clarifies: what they did for the least of His brothers, they did for Him.

Much ink has been spilled in heated debate over the phrase “the least of these My brothers.” Some claim that Jesus is referring to any poor and needy person in the world. Others counter that based on passages where “the least of these” specifically refer to Jesus’ disciples, Jesus is judging people based on the care they have given His followers.

When all is said and done, both teachings have biblical support. God has called us to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, proving that we are a member of His family by showing love and kindness to fellow family members. God has also called us to show mercy to any person in need, even if they are not Christians. Still, in this specific passage, the “least of these” probably refer to Jesus’ disciples, “His brothers” who will soon face persecution and be in dire need.

A common Jewish belief in Jesus’ day …

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