Monthly Archives: February 2009

Which Crown Do You Want?

We follow Christ when we stop showing off earthly crowns of “success” and embrace the crown of thorns that truly models the life of the Savior.

- a quote from my upcoming book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals

Posted in Excerpts | 7 Comments

In the Blogosphere

The internet back in 1996 is virtually unrecognizable from what it is today. A fascinating article.

Russell Moore is contemplating culture in a southern citadel. Conservatism is “not Fox News with prayer requests.”

Tim Challies’ random thoughts on reading.

Cool 1-minute footage of a flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco – showing the lights of cities below.

Owen Strachan on grade inflation.

Michael Spencer on practicing Lent in a new covenant way

The gospel is the antidote to everything

The most religious states in the U.S.

Was Jesus a racist?

Ray Ortlund on Reformed culture.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Thoughts on the NeoReformed

Posted in In the Blogosphere | 2 Comments

25 Meditations for Lent/Easter

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time that Christians historically have used to prepare for the upcoming Easter celebrations.

I know that Lent is not kept by most evangelicals, and that’s okay. There’s no Scripture passage forbidding it or advocating it, so whether one decides to prepare for Easter in this manner is left to one’s conscience.

This season serves as a time of reflection upon the sufferings of Christ. It is a season of repentance, a time of dying to self that anticipates new life on the other side, just like the last days of winter anticipate the arrival of Spring.

During Lent, I try to temper my voracious appetite for reading by adding several devotional works to my reading schedule.

I am glad to see that Crossway has published several solid collections of devotional material in recent years. One of the recent publications, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easteris edited by Nancy Guthrie and contains 25 sermon or book excerpts about the suffering and exaltation of Jesus Christ.

Guthrie’s collection features recent writings from pastors and authors like Adrian Rogers, Joni Eareckson Tada, John Piper, and Tim Keller. But it also features several “classic” sermon excerpts from the past: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards.

I am looking forward to finishing this fine collection of meditations during Lent this year. So let me encourage you - whether or not you “give up something” –  at least use these few weeks to prepare for Easter, giving thought to the price paid for your ransom and the extraordinary love of God manifested on Calvary. May Jesus keep you near …

Posted in Book Reviews | 5 Comments

Thoughts on the NeoReformed

Some people do not like to be labeled. And no one likes to be misrepresented.

Some who seem to fit the “Emerging/Emergent” label don’t want to be pigeonholed into one category. Others resist terms like “liberal” and “conservative,” “fundamentalist” and “progressive,” “Calvinist” and ”Non-Calvinist” (or “Anti-Calvinist”!). But even those who don’t mind being called “Emerging” or “Progressive” or  ”Young, Restless, Reformed” (to borrow Collin Hansen’s clever phrase) want their views to be accurately represented.

Last week, Dr. Scot McKnight added a new name to our list – the “NeoReformed.”

Who are the NeoReformed? According to Scot, the NeoReformed represent a particularly aggressive group of people who embrace Reformed theology and demonstrate an attitude of exclusion reminiscent of pre-evangelical Fundamentalism. The NeoReformed see anyone outside of their circle as unfaithful to the gospel and only pseudo-evangelical. Therefore, they exalt peripheral doctrines to “central status” and then ”demonize” others that disagree. 
 
In Scot’s two posts about the rise of the NeoReformed, you will find some “fighting words.” He describes this group as “religious zealots” that are “wounding… evangelicalism.” Scot is not merely describing a particular group of people; he is hoping his readers will actively resist their influence.
 
What are we to make of Scot’s assessment? Here are some thoughts.
 
1. Does Scot exaggerate his case?
 
Yes, I think so. He writes: “When gospel is equated with double predestination, often said in harsh terms, we are seeing a good example of the spirit of a NeoReformed approach.” I have yet to come across anyone who thinks the gospel can be equated with ”double predestination.” 

Neither do I know of any Reformed individuals (whether leaders or …

Posted in Reformed Theology, Young Restless Reformed | 35 Comments

Being "Found" Leads us to Church

“And when the shepherd has found the sheep,
he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

- Jesus to the Pharisees “The Lost Sheep” (Luke 15:5)

Although the shepherd rejoices when he finds the lost sheep, his joy is not without discomfort. The wandering sheep must now be taken back to the fold, meaning that the shepherd has an exhausting and grueling task ahead.

When a sheep realizes that it is lost, it will lie down stubbornly and refuse to move. The only way the shepherd can take the animal home is by carrying it on his shoulders over the long distance. The joy of restoration does not come without its sweat-producing toil.

Too often, we as evangelicals concentrate our attention only on seeing people “converted.” We want to see lost sheep “found” and lost sinners “saved” – and rightly so. But the parable of the Lost Sheep does not end with the sheep out in the wilderness enjoying its renewed relationship with the shepherd. No, the shepherd takes the sheep back to the flock. Salvation leads to the church.

A new convert must be integrated into a body of believers. This incorporation is not always an easy task. Just as the shepherd rejoices even as he understands his coming labor, so must we rejoice in the burden of restoring wanderers to the fellowship of the church. Throughout the long, wearisome process, we must always rejoice, not allowing the fatigue, exhaustion, and discomfort to get us off track. The joy comes as we consider the eternal value of our actions …

Posted in Devotional Thoughts | 7 Comments

A Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday

O God,
We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
the months of ministry transfigured to a beam of light,
the light of the world,
your light.
May your light shine upon us.

We open our eyes and we see Moses and Elijah,
your word restoring us, showing us the way,
telling a story,
your story, his story, our story.
May your word speak to us.

We open our eyes and we see mist,
the cloud of your presence
which assures us of all we do not know
and that we do not need to fear that.
Teach us to trust.

We open our eyes and we see Peter’s constructions,
his best plans, our best plans,
our missing the point,
our missing the way.
Forgive our foolishness and sin

We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
not casting us off,
but leading us down, leading us out -
to ministry, to people.
Your love endures forever.

We open our ears and we hear your voice,
‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him!’
And we give you thanks.

- Amen

(composed by Bill Loader)

Posted in Prayers | 2 Comments

Faithfulness IS Success

During my time in Romania, I sat at the feet of a well-respected evangelical professor who had suffered persecution under the Communists. His father had been murdered by the Securitate in a car wreck that was made to look like an accident. This professor also served as a pastor of a local church. One day in class, he put aside his notes and began to speak heart-to-heart about pastoring.

“Brothers,” he said, his voice quivering as he fought back tears, “Don’t think that true success will come from adopting a strategy that will lead you to fulfilling one purpose. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd – the One who lays down his life for his sheep. Success in God’s eyes does not come without sacrifice. Don’t try to be successful. Expend your energy in seeking to be faithful. Faithfulness is success.”

- a quote from my upcoming book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals

Posted in Excerpts | 7 Comments

In the Blogosphere

Lots of conversation about two posts from Scot McKnight on the rise of the “NeoReformed” movement (see post 1 and 2). Justin Taylor called McKnight’s labeling a “caricature.” Michael Spencer believes there is some truth to McKnight’s post. And Kevin DeYoung clarifies what he means by saying he is “Reformed.” I too have some thoughts about this new label. Look for a post next week.

12 tools every man should have in his toolbox. Honey, I need to go to Home Depot!

J.I. Packer on restricting the Lord’s Supper.

Want the ESV on your Ipod for free? Here’s how.

Josh Harris shares what he has learned since he kissed dating goodbye.

James MacDonald’s wise counsel on church hiring and firing.

Joe Thorn writes movingly about his father’s newfound faith in Christ.

Top Post this week at Kingdom People: Dear Pastor, Please Exegete Your Church

Posted in In the Blogosphere | 6 Comments

A Plea to the Current Leadership of the SBC

Please share your wisdom!

As the weeks go by, I continue to see articles and hear comments about the loss of young pastors from the ranks of the SBC. Some of the current leaders in SBC life worry that their concerns are not being heard by the younger crowd. Others lament the fact that when their concerns are heard, they are often misunderstood or misinterpreted on blogs.

To those who have courageously led our convention in these past years and those concerned about the future of the SBC: may I make a humble suggestion?

Release your resources.

Give away all sermons and conference talks for free on the internet.

Let us hear your heart!

One reason why pastors like John MacArthur and John Piper have such a large following among young Southern Baptists is because all their sermons (audio and manuscript) for the past 30-40 years are available online for free. I suggest that Southern Baptist pastors look to these men as an example of how to invest in younger pastors. Make your resources available online, for free.

Consider the recent pastor’s conference at First Baptist in Jacksonville. Talk about a line-up! I would love to listen to the conference talks by Al Mohler, Paige Patterson, Matt Chandler, Johnny Hunt, Jerry Vines, Ravi Zacharias, and a whole host of others. But to my dismay, in order to listen to the conference, I will have to purchase more than $50 worth of CDs (I don’t even listen to CDs!), wait for them to be delivered to my home, …

Posted in Southern Baptist Convention | 30 Comments

Captivating Look at World War I

Today’s book review is written by my brother, Justin Wax, a CDT who will be commissioned as 2LT on May 8.

In 1914, an uneasiness enveloped Europe.

Just four years prior, the publishing of Englishman Norman Angell’s The Great Illusion achieved resounding success. Angell’s offering, translated into 11 languages, provided impressive reasons why war had become unnecessary and equally harmful to both victor and vanquished.

The hindsight of history, however, reveals an equally influential book published one year later in 1911 by German General von Bernhardi entitled Germany in the Next War. Bernhardi’s work demonstrated an insatiable appetite within Germany for recognition. This unfortunate characteristic, coupled with Germany’s paranoid, autocratic government hurtled Europe and soon Asia and America into a devastating world war that stole millions of lives.

It is these events, along with many others, that historian Barbara Tuchman so brilliantly relates to her audience in The Guns of August, a book which would have a profound impact on a President of the United States, John F. Kennedy and quite possibly have influenced his foreign policy, from his disastrous management of the Bay of Pigs to his exceptional handling of the Cuban Missile Crises.

In The Guns of August, Tuchman tells the fascinating background of the events leading up to the Great War and the pivotal first thirty days that ultimately shaped the outcome.

For instance, Tuchman explains the exciting tale of the Goeben, a German cruiser that outraced the British navy in the Mediterranean and brought the Ottoman Empire into the …

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