Monthly Archives: May 2010

Spurgeon: The Preacher as Reader

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. – 2 Timothy 4:13

C.H. Spurgeon:

We will look at Paul’s books. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them.

Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot and talks any quantity of nonsense is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains – oh, that is the preacher!

How rebuked they are by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching for at least thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet wants books!

He had been caught up into the Third Heaven and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and …

Posted in Reading | 6 Comments

Worth a Look 5.31.10

Newsflash! Your kids want to play with you:

Children overwhelmingly prefer playing with their friends and parents over watching TV. When children across the world were asked to choose between watching TV or playing with friends or parents, they overwhelmingly choose to play with friends (89%) and parents (73%) with TV a very poor substitute for social interaction at only 11%.

Brandon O’Brien says small churches are the next big thing, but hopes this is not a consumerist strategy:

I think that the future will belong to small churches. But I want to be darn sure that we begin to favor small church ministry for the right reasons and not simply because we think we’ve found a way to win a new share of the religious market.

Seth Odom interviews Jesuit theologian Joseph Fitzmyer (now approaching 90 years of age) on a variety of subjects, including the New Perspective on Paul:

Seth Odom: In your commentary on Romans you not only quoted from Catholic scholars but from scholars in the Protestant tradition as well…

Joseph A. Fitzmyer: I usually quote from any commentator who seems to have caught the genuine sense of a Pauline phrase. What I am driving at here is the interpretation of a biblical text according to the historical-critical method.

Carl Trueman on two ways that churches mistreat history:

An idolatry of the new and the novel, with the concomitant disrespect for anything traditional; or a nostalgia for the past which is little more than an idolatry of …

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O Breath of God… A Prayer for Trinity Sunday

O breath of God, come fill this place;
Revive our hearts to know Your grace;
And from our slumber make us rise
That we may know the Risen Christ.

O word of God, so clear and true,
Renew our minds to trust in You;
And give to us the bread of life
That we may know the Risen Christ.

O love of God, so unrestrained,
Refresh our souls in Jesus’ name.
Let us reflect Your sacrifice
That we may know the Risen Christ.

May God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit make us one.
In holiness let us unite
That we may know the Risen Christ.

Keith & Kristyn Getty

Posted in Prayers | 1 Comment

The Essence of My Ready Belief…

I began, “you wish that I manifest
here the essence of my ready belief,
and you ask also about the cause of it,
and I answer, I believe in one God
alone and eternal who, not moved,
moves all the heavens with love and with desire…
and I believe in three eternal Persons,
and these I believe one Essence, so unified
and threefold that they agree with both are and is.
On the profound, divine state of being
of which I speak now, the evangelical doctrine
many times puts the seal.
This is the source, this is the spark
which afterward grows into a living flame,
and shines within me, like a star in heaven.”

Dante Alighiere (1268-1321), The Divine Comedy

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 1 Comment

Trevin's Seven

Here are my seven picks for your weekend reading enjoyment:

1. Moonshine or the Kids? Nicholas Kristof reveals the heartbreaking darkness surrounding human poverty.

2. Public prayer is always subversive…

3. The Ten Best Cities for the Next Decade

4. An interview with Tullian Tchividjian on the relationship between the gospel and the law. Very helpful!

5. Did Simon Cowell create a culture of meanness? Newsweek thinks so.

6. The most harmful drinks in America. (I didn’t know a drink could have more than 2000 calories!)

7. J.D. Greear joins the discussion on David Platt’s book, Radical, and offers some helpful insight.

Posted in Trevin's Seven | 3 Comments

Are You Tribal or Missional?

This Sunday, I am completing an eight-week series through the book of Jonah. Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (Crossway, 2010) has been very helpful to me as I have sought to present the gospel through this Old Testament prophet’s story.

Here is one of the best sections of the book:

We can’t escape a stark contrast in this story—the tribal mindset of Jonah versus the missional mindset of God.

These two mindsets involve fundamentally different values. The highest value of a community with a tribal mindset is self-preservation. A tribal community exists solely for itself, and those within it keep asking, “How can we protect ourselves from those who are different from us?”

A tribal mindset is marked by an unbalanced patriotism. It typically elevates personal and cultural preferences to absolute principles: If everybody were more like us, this world would be a better place.

But in a missional minded community, the highest value isn’t self-preservation but self-sacrifice. A missional community exists not primarily for itself but for others. It’s a community that’s willing to be inconvenienced and discomforted, willing to expend itself for others on God’s behalf.

A tribal mindset is antithetical to the gospel. The gospel demands that we be missional, because the gospel is the story of God sacrificing himself for his enemies.

Both these approaches are robustly present in Jonah’s story. Jonah represents the best of a tribal mindset, the absolute best. He’s like the trophy for the tribal person. And God—ever-gracious, ever-pursuing, ever-compassionate—serves …

Posted in Missions / Evangelism | 5 Comments

Worth a Look 5.27.10

Great conversation about David Platt’s book, Radical. Kevin DeYoung reviews the book, and includes David Platt’s response.

Atheists, it’s time to play well with others…

It still appears that the New Atheists are behaving like a boorish bunch of intellectual bullies. There is something profoundly un-American about demanding that people give up cherished, or even uncherished, beliefs just because they don’t comport with science.

Romanian Baptist pastors in America convene for a discussion on how to begin a church planting movement:

That “new blaze” is a call for each of the 45 Romanian churches that are part of the Southern Baptist Convention to focus their energies on planting one church or more — thus increasing the number of Romanian Baptist churches to about 100 by the year 2020.

The pastors recognize they are commanded to make disciples of all people — Romanian or not. But among the 500,000-plus Romanians living in the United States and Canada, the influence of Christians is dwindling as second- and third-generation Romanians leave churches in large numbers.

Mike Leake is giving away the books he received at T4G. Here’s how you can enter your name to win.

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Book Notes: Can We Trust the Gospels / Not God's Type

Here are some notes on two books I’ve read recently:

Can We Trust the Gospels?
Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Mark D. Roberts
Crossway, 2007
Rating: ****

There are a number of evangelical books on the reliability of the New Testament documents. F.F. Bruce and Craig Blomberg have made contributions in this area. Now, Mark D. Roberts joins these scholars with a book designed to bolster our confidence in the historical reliability of the biblical biographies of Jesus.

Two things set Roberts apart from the other books on this subject. First, Roberts interacts with current scholarship as well as pseud0-scholarship (like Dan Brown’s overactive imagination). Second, Roberts writes pastorally and on a level that any educated layperson could find helpful. He also includes anecdotes and a personal touch (referring to himself in the first person, etc.).

I highly recommend this book for pastors and laypeople who want to know more about the Gospels and why we can trust their accuracy.

Not God’s Type:
A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith
Holly Ordway
Moody, 2010
My Rating: *** 1/2

I often hear people discount the power of apologetic reasoning by saying, “No amount of debate will bring people into the kingdom of God.” That statement is true, of course. You can’t argue a person into the kingdom. Apologetic reasoning is never quite apologetic proof.

But I worry that some Christians use that statement as an excuse for not engaging in the apologetic task – which, at its best, provides space for intellectuals to consider the claims of …

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Worth a Look 5.26.10

Curator or Creator?

Bloggers are usually either curators or creators. Curators act like hi-tech museum custodians, scanning the worldwide web for quality content to gather, organize, and link to… Creators, on the other hand, create. They write articles, comment on trends, and pen reflections and meditations.

What to do if Westboro Baptist Church pickets your church:

So, what were we to do? We did what any good Southern church would do: served food! No – really – we did. Here’s how we handled the protestors, counter-protestors, church members, and media…

Mike Wittmer on “The New Pharisees“:

The new Pharisees shut the door to the kingdom by assuring people that they are not sinners and therefore do not need to believe in the Savior.  Everyone is born already on the inside and need do nothing to enter.

Too many books:

In the 18th century Samuel Johnson could say that anybody who wanted to understand the vanity of human hopes should go look at a library where vast stretches of dusty unread books, each produced by a hopeful author with infinite care and pains, testified to the pointlessness of almost all learned labor.

And as I dump dozens of books from my shelves into the ‘don’t want’ boxes, I’m struck by the sheer uselessness of the overwhelming majority of them.

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Glorifying God = Fulfilling the Mission

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
- Jesus, praying on the night of His betrayal (John 17:4)

I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus defined glorifying God as doing the work the Father had given him.

Obedience to the Father’s will = Father receiving glory.

We can apply this to ourselves as Christ’s followers too. Jesus receives glory when we accomplish the task that he has given us. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, we might ask: how best do we glorify and enjoy God? The way Jesus glorified the Father was by fulfilling the mission.

This is why I’m encouraged to see the recent talk about “missional identity” within evangelicalism and “Great Commission Resurgence” in Southern Baptist life. Too often, we think of glorifying God in abstract terms. Instead, our concern to glorify the Father ought to drive us to ask bigger questions about the Church’s mission on earth.

Acts tells us that King David died, only after fulfilling God’s purposes for him in his generation. In the same way, for such a time as this, God has placed each one of us in a certain location and has charged us to spread the news and fragrance of his kingdom.

Jesus could boldly say that God the Father had been glorified, because – as the Son – he had finished the master plan that had been set out for him from the beginning of time. We, in turn, must …

Posted in Missions / Evangelism | 2 Comments