Monthly Archives: November 2010

 

Nov

23

2010

Trevin Wax|2:55 am CT

Worth a Look 11.23.10

Where does your denomination fit?

Jeff Young, a Reclaiming the Mind/Credo House Ministries board member created these as part of his research for our ministry. I thought they were too good not to share. This first one shows denominations according to a breakdown.

Adam McHugh on Meals that Change Your Life:

A life-changing meal is not defined by what you eat, but by whom you eat it with. Tax collectors and prostitutes ate meals with Jesus the Messiah and received acceptance, Gentiles ate meals with the apostles and gained salvation, and I, a self-absorbed, naïve, entitled college kid ate a meal with a Kenyan pastor and his wife and received a gift of extravagant, sacrificial hospitality.

Whoopi, Joy, and Barbara do theology:

A few days ago, Joel Osteen was on the show to help kick off the Christmas season, but Barbara Walters immediately ambushed him with a question about homosexuality. Not for the first time, the ladies began showing off their expertise in Christian ethics.

Pope Benedict says he would resign if unable to carry out the duties of the papacy. This news signals a major shift from the past:

With startling candor, the 83-year-old Benedict floats the possibility of something Catholic Church officials do not like to talk about because it could open a doctrinal can of worms.

CBMW on the NIV 2011:

Though we are genuinely thankful for the many positive changes in the new NIV (2011), and though we are deeply appreciative of the very different process by which our friends at the CBT and Zondervan pursued and unveiled this new version, we still cannot commend the new NIV(2011) for most of the same reasons we could not commend the TNIV… In spite of the many good changes made, our initial analysis reveals that a large percentage of our initial concerns still remain.

 
 

Nov

22

2010

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

The Lost Art of Restraint

One of the best words of advice I’ve received as a blogger is this: “Hold back, Trevin. You don’t have to weigh in on every controversial issue. Neither do you need to respond to every negative comment. Exercise restraint.”

That’s a good word, and it’s one I’ve heeded many times. When the blog world erupts in controversy over an issue,  I often ask friends for counsel before entering the discussion. There’s a time to speak up, and there’s a time to hold back. Unfortunately, our world seems to know only of “speaking up.”

My family recently received a promotion from our cable company which gave us cable for six months. How nice to see the news channels again! I thought. A few days later, I was already exhausted from the war of words spilling from the television speakers into our living room. How did I ever watch this?

In the midst of the television commotion, one host stands out from the crowd. Larry King asks penetrating questions in a polite manner, but he never pretends to be unbiased. If you look at how he frames his questions, you can figure out his personal views rather quickly. Still, Larry is always respectful. When he has multiple guests, they don’t talk over one another. Larry doesn’t play the role of umpire between extremists on every side. He keeps the tone civil.

That’s probably why his ratings are down. People must prefer Jerry-Springer political shows that degenerate into a shouting match between sensationalist guests. So now, Larry is about to hang up his suspenders after more than 25 years on the air. Who will take his place? More than likely, he will be replaced with another fiery TV personality who chooses high-decibal guests – none of whom know the art of restraint.

Restraint is a lost virtue in contemporary American society.

But Trevin, you say. Aren’t there times we need to make our opinions known? Don’t we need to speak up? Of course. There are times we need to make our voices heard. There is a time for speech, even loud protest. Restraint is not always a virtue.

But most of us could benefit from the wisdom of timely restraint. Our problem isn’t that we are too quiet. No… we inhabit a world in which the dam of restraint has broken down, unleashing a flood of angry words. So now, the virtue of timely restraint is so uncommon that we don’t know what to do with it when we see it.

Take George W. Bush. Upon the release of his autobiography, the former president made the rounds on all the news channels to promote his book. Though he was vilified by people on both sides of the political aisle, Bush never once lashed out against his opponents. When asked about Obama’s constant criticism of his policies, Bush shrugged and said, “It’s a political tactic.” It was clear he didn’t take it personally and neither would he fight back. In his book, Bush writes compassionately about the anti-war protestors, some of which said unspeakable things about him and his family.

Reporters tried to goad Bush into a fight. Tell us what you think about Palin! Tell us what you really think about McCain. What do you say about the Tea Party and Obama? Each time, he resisted. “You’re trying to get me back in the swamp,” he said. He made it clear that he would not join the cacophony of competing voices. “I don’t think it’s good for the country,” he said. Perhaps we Americans should heed that word.

But didn’t Jesus lash out at his opponents? you say. Why do we have to bow before some idealistic code of civility? Good question. Yes, Jesus called his opponents snakes and vipers and whitewashed tombs. He even called King Herod a fox.

But I don’t think that we are emulate Jesus’ manner of discourse in every respect. Christ had one thing we don’t have: perfect knowledge. He could see into the hearts of his opponents. He alone had a God’s-eye view. His judgment was always right. Because we don’t have exhaustive knowledge, and because we can’t see into the hearts of people, Jesus tells us to “judge not” and to not call someone else “a fool.”

So I hope to follow the model of timely restraint, praying for the wisdom to know when to hold back and when to speak up. After all, I don’t want to be one of the people Jesus describes as surprised on the last day: surprised I was wrong when I thought for sure I was right.

 
 

Nov

22

2010

Trevin Wax|3:17 am CT

Worth a Look 11.22.10

Lots of discussion regarding the ETS meeting last week, and particularly the plenary sessions which included a conversation between Tom Schreiner and N.T. Wright:

The tyranny of innovation:

We’re also singular for having wrested moments of purposeless peace from amidst the brutal struggle of living on Earth. Daydreaming, idling, flights of fancy and curiosity: these too have merit, even if they don’t cure cancer or make a mobile app a little bit friendlier. If our every action is put to the test of “world-changing,” we risk making tools of ourselves.

Is marriage becoming obsolete? (HT: Joe Carter)

Marriage is increasingly optional and could be on its way to obsolescence,according to a survey of more than 2,600 Americans that examines changing attitudes about relationships today. Among the 2,691 adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center last month, 39% say marriage is becoming obsolete, up from 28% who responded to the same question posed in 1978 by Timemagazine, which participated in the survey.

 
 

Nov

21

2010

Trevin Wax|3:13 am CT

Spirit of God, Breathe on Us

O blessed Spirit of God,
the administrator of Jesus Christ,
breathe on your church
and let the inspiration of the Almighty enter it!

Let us feel that you are a presence,
a presence that can be known,
a presence that will comfort,
a presence that will protect,
a presence that will shine on heaven
and make it glitter like diamonds,
a presence that will shine on death
and make it a portal of glory.

So, Spirit of God, breathe on us!

- B.H. Carroll (adapted)

 
 

Nov

20

2010

Trevin Wax|3:23 am CT

Truth in Love

Truth without love is dogmatism.
Love without truth is sentimentality.
Speaking the truth in love is Christianity.

Bob Russell

 
 

Nov

19

2010

Trevin Wax|3:09 am CT

Trevin's Seven

Links for your weekend reading:

1. Donald Whitney: 10 ways to improve your worship service

2. The line between politics and entertainment is increasingly blurred. Sarah Palin (star of a new reality show) is seriously considering a presidential run, as is Donald Trump (of The Apprentice fame). Now I’d definitely tune into that primary debate, but I don’t think I want either one in the White House.

3. Tim Stafford, reporting on Lausanne, points out two blind spots in the planning of the event.

4. Justin Taylor outlines Tom Schreiner’s ETS paper on N.T. Wright’s view of justification. I appreciate the gracious manner in which Schreiner mounts a case against Wright’s theology at this point.

5. CJ Mahaney on how an athlete can cultivate humility

6. Tea Partying like it’s 1860 (HT)

7. The Cast of Home Alone 20 years later

 
 

Nov

18

2010

Trevin Wax|3:39 am CT

"Forgive Me" or "Excuse Me"?

C.S. Lewis:

There is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.”But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.” If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.

Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your action needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.

What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.

There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real “extenuating circumstances” there is no fear that he will overlook them. Often he must know many excuses that we have never thought of, and therefore, humble souls will, after death, have the delightful surprise of discovering that on certain occasions they sinned much less than they had thought. All the real excusing he will do.

What we have got to take to him is the inexcusable bit, the sin. We are only wasting time by talking about all the parts which can (we think) be excused. When you go to a doctor you show him the bit of you that is wrong – say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs and eyes and throat are all right. You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really all right, the doctor will know that.

The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to himself again unless he is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that would not be forgiveness at all.

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.

- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 178-81

 
 

Nov

18

2010

Trevin Wax|2:54 am CT

Worth a Look 11.18.10

“You’re Fooling Yourself”:

There’s loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin’s first casualties. It’s hard to admit, but true none the less: sin reduces all of us to fools. And the fact is that no one is more victimized by your foolishness than you are…

What does foolishness look like? Here are four of its most significant aspects.

9 Ways to Winterize Your Car

More outrage over the TSA’s new procedures. Andy Crouch weighs in. Ed Stetzer lists four reasons we should resist. He writes:

I do not get much into causes– they take way too much energy and produce little change. However, I do think that there are times to stand up– and I think this is one of those times.

Regarding the new TSA scanners… Tim Challies believes putting our faith in technology can be idolatrous:

Humans are prone to idolize technology, to put our trust in it, to believe that it is the first and best place to go when dealing with our problems. And ironically, this is especially true when it comes to problems caused by other technology.

 
 

Nov

17

2010

Trevin Wax|3:42 am CT

Keep the Lamps Burning

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning!” – Jesus, to the disciples (Luke 12:35)

At nightfall, over Goshen fell a stillness that only increased the Israelites’ anticipation of God’s promised deliverance. With the smell of fresh lamb’s blood still in the streets, all Israel’s families shut themselves in their homes and remembered Moses’ instruction to be prepared at any moment. The people were to be dressed and ready for the Exodus. And Moses added: “Keep your lamps burning.”

Thousands of years later, Jesus told his disciples to stay dressed for action and to keep their lamps burning. The Great Exodus was about to take place.

But this time, God was not going to take down an Egyptian Pharaoh and set his people free from physical slavery. He was going to deliver them from slavery to sin and conquer a greater enemy: Satan – the accuser himself. The disciples were instructed to stay alert and ready for the moment when God’s great Exodus would take place.

Two thousand years more and we find ourselves in the final chapters of the history book written by God himself. Once again, Jesus’ words apply to us. We must be ready for the final Exodus – when Jesus will return to earth, raise the dead, judge the wicked and vindicate his people.

This time, Christ will not be coming to inaugurate his kingdom, but to consummate it. Paul tells us all creation is groaning in anticipation of that Day – the day when God will right all that’s wrong and renew and restore his creation – the day when the new heaven and the new earth will become a reality.

But until that day comes, we must be faithful followers, dressed for action, with our lamps burning, awaiting Christ’s return. C.S. Lewis would have us ask ourselves every evening… “What if the present were the world’s last night?”

When Jesus returns, will he find us at our posts, fulfilling his commands? The Final Exodus has been promised. When the curtain comes down, how will we be found?

 
 

Nov

17

2010

Trevin Wax|2:13 am CT

Worth a Look 11.17.10

Justification to take center stage among evangelical scholars:

This week a host of evangelical scholars will gather in Atlanta for the 62nd annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The plenary theme is justification by faith.

A great review of an important new book, America’s Four Gods:

According to Baylor University professors Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, the real war in American society is not between atheists and theists, but between people who have differing conceptions of the divine.

Ben Witherington reviews John Grisham’s The Confession:

I have been a fan of John Grisham for a long time, and I have read most of his ouevre, and have often wanted him to bring in more characters with genuine Christian faith…If you were hoping for this as well, then look no further than the latest of his legal novels—- The Confession, which features a Lutheran minister caught in the stickiest of ethical wickets to say the least.

FaceBook is going after Gmail:

Here’s our question: do users really want a @Facebook.com e-mail address? Would they actually use it in conjunction or in place of their current e-mail addresses?