Monthly Archives: January 2010
Ray Ortlund on how to wreck your church in 3 weeks:
Week One: Walk into church today and think about how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve sacrificed, how under-appreciated you are. Take note of every way you’re dissatisfied with your church now. Take note of every person who displeases you.
Meet for coffee this week with another member and “share your heart.” Discuss how your church is changing, how you are being left out. Ask your friend who else in the church has “concerns.” Agree together that you must “pray about it.”
Doug Wilson’s interesting insights regarding R.C. Sproul and N.T. Wright on judging by the heart versus judging by the paperwork:
The irony is that the mistake Wright makes about first century Jews, R.C. makes about the Reformed, and the valuable insight that Wright offers pastorally about some of the tight-shoed Reformed, he declines to apply to first century Jews. In short, R.C. judges the Reformed tradition by the paperwork, and first century Jews by the heart. Wright judges the Reformed by the heart, and judges the first century Jews by the paperwork.
The seemingly open auditions in front of the judges are a carefully edited myth. Embedded correspondent Richard Rushfield on the clandestine process.
Advances in ultrasound imaging and abortion procedures have forced providers ever closer to the nub of their work. Especially in abortions performed far enough along …
Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith,
so that in our unity and peace
we may proclaim the one truth
and follow the one Lord,
our Savior Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Adam McHugh’s book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, is well worth reading. (I have a review coming soon.) I found this section to be a good critique of technology’s ability to simultaneously connect and disconnect us from other people:
Ours is an overstimulated culture, and an insidious side effect is that our inner worlds are atrophying. As our world becomes more and more driven by external stimulation and our lifestyles mirror the dizzying speed of our technology, we focus outward at the expense of the inward. We take leaps and bounds in one direction but drift from another, which can have the effect of alienating us from ourselves, others and God.
My wife and I recently witnessed the disorienting nature of technology at a local movie theater. The next day, perhaps ironically, I recorded my reflections on my blog:
There were three people in the rows in front of us who had their cell phones open during the entire movie. They were text messaging and surfing the Internet and otherwise annoying people. As I saw those cell phone screens open during the movie, I observed that the people using them were not fully committed to being anywhere during those two hours. They were physically sitting in the theater, even sitting with others who accompanied them, but their minds and hearts were scattered all over the place. They were not fully present, in terms of their attention, to the visual and auditory experience in front of …
1. Christian History and Biography is offering a sale of historic proportions! You can purchase 68 issues for $68, which represents an 80% savings. If you are not familiar with this magazine, you should be.
2. Lots of interesting discussion about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the proper doctrinal boundaries for a parachurch organization. J. Mack Stiles’ article in the 9Marks e-Journal makes the case that IVF is drifting from the gospel.
In the mid 70’s, some in the evangelical world called evangelism and social action equal partners in the missions mandate. This unbiblical principle has so worked its way into modern evangelicalism that we are threatened to go the way mainline liberal churches went in the 40’s and 50’s, and subvert the call to proclaim the Gospel in all the nations.
What’s at stake is a capitulation to a social gospel, rather than seeing social action as an outworking and implication of the gospel.
3. Michael Bird offers a rejoinder to Stiles’ article on InterVarsity, making distinctions between IVP in the U.S. and the U.K. Bird believes we should save the rhetoric against liberalism for real liberals.
A further problem is who is IVP’s constituency? Is it complementarian, ESV-only, amillennial, anti-charismatic, pro-gun, credo-baptist, home schooling only folks? Perhaps those whom IVP represents and thus caters for is broader than what Stiles himself thinks it should be and that is the problem. The issue I have with conservative evangelicalism is that they don’t mind people more conservative than them (and …
Brief comments on two books I have read recently:
A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God
My Rating: ****
John Piper’s new book takes readers through the Old Testament account of Ruth, filling us with hope that leads to radical risk-taking for the glory of Christ. Piper excels at putting the Bible in context, exploring textual nuances that some readers may miss, and keeping the focus on Christ and his kingdom.
Some may be unconvinced by a couple of his exegetical conclusions, but all will find his treatment to be appropriately challenging and comforting. The imagery of God as the great eagle under whose wings we take refuge will stick with me the rest of my life.
God the Peacemaker
Graham A. Cole
IVP Academic 2010
My Rating: ****
The “New Studies in Biblical Theology” may be some of the most underrated theology books on the market today. Cole’s God the Peacemaker is a gem. Filled with solid textual analysis, Cole’s book shines light on the biblical teaching of the atonement.
At the same time, Cole keeps an eye on current discussions and debates, interacting graciously with proponents of the New Perspective on Paul and those who question the centrality of penal substitution. One section is devoted to the question of what took place on Holy Saturday.
This volume represents the bringing together of exegetical analysis, pastoral reflection, and contemporary discussion.
George H.W. Bush’s letter to his children before the first Gulf War:
I guess what I want you to know as a father is this: Every human life is precious. When the question is asked “How many lives are you willing to sacrifice?”- it tears at my heart. The answer, of course, is none- none at all. We have waited to give sanctions a chance, we have moved a tremendous force so as to reduce the risk to every American soldier if force has to be used; but the question of loss of life still lingers and plagues the heart.
Dostoyevksy on why you need a church:
Moral of the story for Christians: don’t say you “love” Christians unless you’re willing to submit yourself to actual body of nose-blowing believers.
How Ted Kennedy is responsible for giving his seat to Republicans:
As a friend pointed out to me in an email yesterday, the possibility of defeat for national health-care reform is the fault of its biggest champion. If he hadn’t insisted on holding onto his Senate seat until his death—if instead he’d resigned and thrown his weight behind his own choice of successor—the Democrats wouldn’t have lost his seat.
Pastors, be full of Jesus…
Even angels long to gaze into the life-giving riches of the gospel of grace. We prefer to drink deeply from the well into which we’re gazing — our navels.
Pastors, inspiration sells. But only Jesus transforms.
I generally do not interact in great detail with readers who leave comments on my blog. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, but I find it difficult to blog consistently and stay active in every comment thread.
Nevertheless, a friend I used to work with in Louisville left me a long comment about my recent post in defense of proselytism. Since his comment represents the thought of many in our society today, I thought I would respond to his comment with a new post. You can read the original post and his comment (unedited) here.
Gary: Please know that I appreciate you and mean you no disrespect at any point through this missive.
Trevin: I echo the same sentiments, and I am not offended in the least by the points you raise. Even though I’m going to press you on some of your comments, I hope you’ll take them in the spirit of friendship that I offer them.
Gary: Each of us must find that way of viewing the self, world, and the divine that works best for us, that which we feel to be superior, so while an adherent of any philosophy, spiritual system of thought, or religion will likely find their path to be “the best”, what makes proselytizing a rather ugly practice, in my honest opinion, is the belief that the proselytizer’s path is *objectively* superior, not *subjectively* superior.
Trevin: You are rightly focusing on the main issue – that someone who proselytizes thinks their belief …
Francis Chan has a challenging and convicting post about a pastor’s public passion versus private devotion:
It is hard to be rejected. I hated it in junior high, and I still hate it today. It didn’t take long to learn how to fit in, in order to avoid the pain of rejection. That ability has stayed with me and begs me to use it. I know how to keep people from rejecting me and leaving the church. I know what words to say and which actions to take to keep people around. But when I do that, I’m no longer leading. I’m being led by the right or wrong desires of the people.
Looking for a newer, new perspective on Paul? Here are two.
I’m very grateful for Bob Kellemen’s review of Holy Subversion now posted at DiscerningReader.com. This is the first official review that has come out:
In a mere 130 pages of text (excluding the front and back matter), Trevin Wax has walked us through a practical theology of salvation, discipleship/Christian living, and evangelism. In the spirit of the Puritans, he shows us the way of the world and loads our conscience with guilt. Also in the spirit of the Puritans, he clarifies the way of the Word and lightens our conscience with grace. He is a subversive–a holy subversive.
Watch this video on the most abortion-targeted neighborhood in America. (The flyer for discount abortions will make you sick.) The good news is, Heartbeat International …
As of today, Holy Subversion is officially in stock at Amazon.com and will soon be in bookstores across the country.
Last Wednesday, I received my first copy of the book, graciously Fed-Exed to me by Crossway. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to hold your own book in your hands.
Now that the book is out, I’d like to mention a few things that I’ve learned about writing and about myself:
1. Writing is harder than most people realize.
As Corina looked through the book last week, she asked, “Can you believe that all these words are yours?” I looked at her and with a chuckle replied, “Frankly… YES!”
A writer slaves over his words for months. No matter how much you enjoy writing, you will find yourself bogged down in endless edits and continual rephrasing of your sentences.
It is absolutely imperative that you be passionate about your topic before you sit down to write a book. Passion keeps you going when the going gets tough. Have you ever found it harder to write a 5-page book review for a book you didn’t like than to write a 20-page research paper about a subject you found fascinating? Passion makes up the difference.
2. Writing is deeply personal.
Every writer puts a piece of his soul in his book.
As I looked through Holy Subversion last week, I scanned chapter 5, the chapter on subverting Leisure and Entertainment. Every time I look at that chapter, I remember where I was when I wrote it. That particular chapter …
Marty Duren posts the first installment of an excellent interview with author, Douglas Blackmon. The topic is Blackmon’s book, Slavery by Another Name, which explores the ways in which Southerners in the late 1800’s were able to get around the Emancipation Proclamation.
What [the convict lease system] did was create a market for people in a society which, when this began in the 1870s, was just 10 years removed from when people owned people and the idea of buying and selling humans was still natural. This new economic market mechanism for valuing men and trafficking in them, very quickly many people realized a new way to again take possession of a black man who had been their slave only a decade before.
Russell Moore on why King’s vision overcame “Christian” white supremacy:
The arguments for racial reconciliation were persuasive, ultimately, to orthodox Christians because they appealed to a higher authority than the cultural captivity of white supremacy. These arguments appealed to the authority of Scripture and the historic Christian tradition.
As we reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr., other forms of discrimination continue. Martha Coakley, candidate for the Massachusetts Senate, tells pro-life doctors and nurses that they should not work in the Emergency Room.
Paul Copan’s advice to a future seminarian:
As you go on for further pastoral training, continue to develop Christ-oriented, soul-shaping habits outside the classroom. Seminary students often neglect spiritual nourishment, falsely assuming that doing homework in biblical studies and theology will suffice. Meanwhile, their …