Monthly Archives: October 2010

"I Am His Brother" – A Prayer of Martin Luther

O gracious God,
I am fully aware that I am unworthy.
I deserve to be a brother of Satan and not of Christ.
But Christ, your dear Son died and rose for me.
I am his brother.
He earnestly desires that I should believe in him,
without doubt and fear.

I need no longer regard myself
as unworthy and full of sin.
For this I love and thank him from my heart.

Praise be to the faithful Savior,
for he is so gracious and merciful
as are you and the Holy Spirit in eternity.
Amen.

– Martin Luther, from Luther’s Prayers

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Les Misérables: Quotes to Ponder (6)

Julie Rose’s new translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is terrific. On Saturdays, I am sharing some quotes worth pondering (see firstsecondthirdfourth, and fifth collections):

“To shape the soul of a young girl, all the nuns in the world are not equal to one mother.” (730)

“Women play on their beauty as children play with their knives. And they hurt themselves on it, too.” (737)

“It is the province of pain to bring out the childish side of a man.” (743)

“The peculiarity of the sun rising is to make us laugh at all our terrors of the night, and the laugh we have is always in proportion to the fear we have had.” (765)

“What is fright at night is curiosity by day.” (765)

“Love is breathing in the heavenly air of paradise.” (768)

“If there wasn’t someone who loved, the sun would go out.” (769)

“Is the bottom of civilization, being deeper and darker, any less important than the top? Can you really know the mountain well if you don’t know anything about the cave? True history involving everything, the true historian gets involved with everything.” (809)

“Man is not a circle with a single center; he is an ellipse with two focal points. Deeds are one, ideas the other.” (809)

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable spelled out sparkles.” (810)

“Knowledge is a store of provisions; thought is a primary necessity; the truth is food the same as wheat is. An argument that abstains …

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Trevin's Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. What makes for a great book?

2. Oswald Sanders asks: “Are You Ready to Be a Leader?”

3. Jen Byck decided to live as a 1950’s housewife for two weeks. She then gives an interesting take on the experience and the lessons she learned.

4. Andy Crouch reporting from Cape Town on the “missing megachurch pastors” at Lausanne 2010.

5. Scott Klusendorf reports on his debate over abortion with State Senator Daylin Leach. Well worth reading!

6. Nathan Finn asks, “Is Baptism a Secondary Doctrine?”

7. Christopher Wright says the biggest obstacle to world missions is idolatry.

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Book Notes: Homosexuality & The Christian / The Strategically Small Church

Notes on two books I’ve read recently:

Homosexuality and the Christian:
A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends

Mark A. Yarhouse
Bethany House, 2009
240 pp., $16.99

As debates about homosexuality rage in political and religious circles, Christians struggling with same-sex attraction often suffer silently. The gay community hands those with same-sex attraction a “script” that collapses sexual attraction, behavior, and identity into one label.

Yarhouse challenges the church to provide an alternative script, one that makes identity in Christ central, and therefore carefully distinguishes between temptation, behavior, and the center of one’s identity. By taking into consideration those with same-sex attraction who nevertheless reject the gay identity, Yarhouse shifts the conversation from the causes of homosexuality to the choices one makes regarding the will of God.

The Strategically Small Church:
Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, and Effective

Brandon J. O’Brien
Bethany House, August 2010
171 pp., $10.99

Brandon O’Brien thinks the small church’s biggest disadvantage is an underlying inferiority complex driven largely by megachurch ministry’s definition of success. Seeking to renew the imagination of small-church pastors, O’Brien points to the small church’s unique gifts for carrying out God’s mission: simplicity, authenticity, participation, and a family-like environment.

This book is helpful for small-church pastors looking to develop small-church strengths, and for big-church leaders who seek to emulate small-church gifts.

(Both these books were originally reviewed in Christianity Today, August-September 2010 issues.)

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Worth a Look 10.28.10

Gene Edward Veith has a thought-provoking article called “Bringing the Reformation to Protestantism”:

The original Reformation, whose anniversary we mark on October 31, began in 1517 as an attempt to bring medieval Catholicism back to the Gospel, the Bible, and Vocation. It has occurred to me that today the various Protestant churches need that same Reformation.

Tim Challies reviews a new book by James K. A. Smith, Letters to a Young Calvinist:

As I look back on this book I see both strengths and weaknesses. The epistolary form is a wonderful choice. The tone is humble and helpful. The majority of what Smith teaches lines up well with what I believe. But as a Baptist I had to disagree with, well, a good portion of it.

Ideas spread when people choose to spread them. Here are some reasons why.

I am deciding on the cover of my next book, Counterfeit Gospels. If you can help me by looking at these three options and then voting for your favorite, I’d be most grateful.

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Counterfeit Gospels: Help Me Choose the Cover!

We are currently looking over options for the cover of my new book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope, to be published by Moody in April of 2011.

Here are 3 possible covers. Below these covers is a poll. Please choose the one that would most appeal to you should you come across this book in a bookstore somewhere. Feel free to leave a comment if there is a cover that you definitely do not like as well. I’d also be interested in knowing your second choice. Thanks for your input!

OPTION ONE: Match Cross

OPTION 2: White and Red

OPTION 3: Jesus Dying

Posted in Counterfeit Gospels | 33 Comments

Worth a Look 10.27.10

Take a look at this fascinating interview with Craig Carter, author of Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective. Since writing his book, Carter has gravitated toward a different political outlook (from John Yoder to Robert George). This interview chronicles his journey:

I witnessed first-hand the absolutely frightening power and reach of the administrative state and how far the state’s power has grown relative to the shrinking power and freedom of families and individuals.  All I can say is that it shocked me into realizing that it was wrong and dangerous to go on promoting statist solutions to social problems.

As one who has done ministry with the Roma people (Gypsies) in Romania, I was happy to see this report of evangelical growth:

“The Romani churches have nativized the gospel,” he said. “It’s not a foreign ideology; it’s the gospel that has taken on Romani colors.” Acton, a Baptist, said Roma storytellers can make traditional Bible stories sound fresh and immediate. “When you hear [a] Romani translation of the Bible, it sounds like it was written yesterday.”

Kevin DeYoung interviews Tim Keller about his new book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just:

I read the Bible and I’m overwhelmed with the amount of Biblical material that expresses concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. My main gifting is evangelism and I’ve never had extensive experience in a poor community or country. So I reason—if I can see all of this …

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Why Worrying is a Failure to Grasp the Gospel

“Don’t be a worry wart!” people say… and those of us prone to anxiety promptly begin worrying about worrying too much.

I know the feeling. I worry too. I’m not the “lie awake at night” kind of person. But I notice that when I have a lot on my plate, I give an inordinate amount of attention to little details. Worry consumes me in a variety of ways: I lose patience quickly, I snap at my wife and kids, or I lose my sense of empathy for others. Worry turns my focus to Me.

For a while, I thought that worry was caused by my failure to seek first the kingdom. If I would only fix my eyes on Jesus more, then I would stop worrying. If I would only think about the kingdom more, then anxiety wouldn’t be an issue.

Certainly, those who are seeking the kingdom above all things are not preoccupied with food, and drink, and clothing (as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount). And yes, seeking the kingdom first is a good action plan if we find ourselves worrying.

But seeking first the kingdom comes after we have been sought by the King. The root cause of worry is not misplaced priorities. It’s misplaced faith. It’s a failure to grasp the gospel of a God worthy of our trust.

So worry shows up whenever my view of God is diminished and my view of myself gets too big. I worry because my vision of God is skewed. I rest …

Posted in Devotional Thoughts, Jesus | 10 Comments

Worth a Look 10.26.10

Here is news about a new film being made about the life of C.S. Lewis. The movie is Surprised by Joy:

I’m confident there are a great many fans of Narnia who would love to see Jack and Tollers (J.R.R. Tolkien) on their late-night stroll on Addison’s Walk discussing myth in the context of their deep friendship with each other.  To see Jack’s childhood at Little Lea; his tutor Kirkpatrick sharpening his young mind; in the trenches during WWI; at Oxford finding his way through Academia; at the Eagle & Child with the Inklings or on a walking tour with Tollers in the Cotswolds…now that is a movie I’ve dreamed of seeing! And it’s about time.

10 notable buildings that people hated:

All buildings were once new. And all building designs were once new. But some designs, and the buildings that resulted from them, were so shocking to the public that it took grit to get them built, and time for them to be accepted. Here are ten such buildings, in no order…

Albert Mohler on Crystal Cathedral’s bankruptcy:

It turns out that Robert Schuller offers the best analysis of this crisis with his own words. “No church has a money problem; churches only have idea problems.” The theological crisis in Garden Grove is far more significant than the financial crisis.

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Why We Need The Rest of the Story

I need this reminder from Bob Kellemen’s book, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting:

When life dashes our dreams and seems to kill our hopes, we must remind ourselves that we’ve read the end of the story. We need to listen like we would to Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.

Many sports fans, if they can’t watch the big game live, tape it. Then they swear all their friends to secrecy. “Don’t you dare spoil it for me! Don’t tell me who won. I want to watch it and enjoy the thrill of the whole game without knowing the end.”

I guess I’m odd. When I can’t watch the big game live, I tape it, but I watch the end first! I’m a major fan of the Chicago Bulls. Back when Michael Jordan was leading them to six NBA titles, I taped one of the championship games between the Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. First, I watched the end. The Bulls won! Then I rewound the tape and watched the entire game. When the Bulls were behind 17 points, I never panicked. I never threw bricks at the TV.

Normally I would have left the room if they were behind by that much. I would have told my son to call me only if the Bulls tied the game. I couldn’t take watching them struggle. But not this time. I knew the end of the story. So I could handle the ups and downs of …

Posted in Church Issues, Counseling, Quotes of the Week, Theology | 3 Comments