Monthly Archives: December 2010

 

Dec

30

2010

Trevin Wax|3:00 am CT

Worth Another Look – 2010 Wrap-Up

The nature of the blogosphere is that blog posts come and go rather quickly. It’s easy for great articles to get lost in the flood of information that we process every day. So, as a service to readers, I went back through some of my “Trevin’s Seven” and “Worth a Look” posts from 2010 and chose some content from other blogs – articles that deserve another look.

Here are ten blog posts from 2010 worth revisiting:

1. Justin Taylor interviews Tullian Tchividjian about the relationship of law and gospel (May 26, 2010)

2. Russell Moore: “God, The Gospel, and Glenn Beck” (August 29, 2010)

3. Ed Stetzer: Don’t Plan or Pastor a Church in Your Head (May 12, 2010)

4. Michael Bird: Justification By Faith and Racism (July 28, 2010)

5. Brad Ruggles: “A Different Kind of Pharisee” (January 26, 2010)

6. Tod Bolsinger: Becoming a Good Disappointing Leader (May 26, 2010)

7. Sam Rainer: The Problem of Personal Preferences (September 24, 2010)

8. Kevin DeYoung: The Hole in Our Holiness (November 23, 2010)

9. J.D. Greear: Small Applauders (August 26, 2010)

10. Tony Reinke: Does God Delight in Non-Christian Art? (May 7, 2010)

 
 

Dec

29

2010

Trevin Wax|3:28 am CT

“Read the Bible for Life” One-Year Chronological Plan

There are a variety of ways to read the whole Bible in a year. In 2011, I plan to follow a new chronology organized by George Guthrie. It’s called “Read the Bible for Life One-Year Chronological Reading Plan”. See info below and download a pdf of the plan.

In this plan, the material of the Bible has been organized to flow in chronological order. Since exact dating of some materials or events is not possible, the chronology simply represents an attempt to give you the reader the general flow and development of the Bible’s grand story. Some passages are placed according to topic (e.g., John 1:1-3 in Week 1, Day 2; and many of the psalms). There are six readings for each week to give you space for catching up when needed.

Here are a couple of typical weeks:

WEEK 1

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

WEEK 31

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

     
     

    Dec

    28

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:13 am CT

    Kingdom People: Top 10 Posts of 2010

    The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically quiet in the blog-world. I’m enjoying time with family, and friends and so I’m blogging very “lightly” this week. For today, I’ve put together a list of the most-read posts this year at Kingdom People.

    1. “Jennifer Knapp and Larry King: Why We Always Lose This Debate” (April 26, 2010)

    After viewing Friday night’s Larry King Live with Jennifer Knapp, pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard, I was struck with the question: Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

    2. “GCR (Great Commission Resurgence) in a Nutshell” (June 2, 2010)

    In this article, I wish to cut through the hype by briefly summarizing the final GCR proposal and the contending viewpoints, providing clarity regarding these recommendations.

    3. “John Piper with Rick Warren: Compromise?” (April 9, 2010)

    The Piper brouhaha is… a sign that there some who are pitching their tents in the far corner of the Reformed cul-de-sac, unwilling to entertain the notion that there are other people with legitimate building permits in the same neighborhood.

    4. “Undercover at Thomas Road: An Interview with Gina Welch” (April 13, 2010)

    Welch faked a conversion experience, got baptized, and spent two years at Thomas Road Baptist Church. She then wrote a book chronicling her journey into evangelical America. This is my Q&A with Gina.

    5. “The Rebirth of Virtue: An Interview with N.T. Wright” (January 5, 2010)

    Dr. Wright agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule to visit Kingdom People and answer a few questions regarding his new book on virtue.

    6. “The NIV 2011 Forces a Choice” (November 16, 2010)

    Since the old NIV will eventually be out of print, pastors and churches will be forced to make a choice. Either make the move to the NIV 2011 or move to another translation altogether.

    7. Mere Churchianity: A Friendly Critique” (June 9, 2010)

    Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) would have been more offended at the thought that I avoided serious critical interaction with his book than he would have been offended by my critique. And though I grieve the fact that he isn’t here to respond to my pushback, I am confident that serious conversation would be his desire. So that’s what I hope this review will provide.

    8. “Steak on a Paper Plate: A Reflection on Worship” (August 17, 2010)

    When it comes to the atmosphere of worship services in the next generation, something’s got to give.

    9. “My Ten Favorite Reads of 2010″ (December 8, 2010)

    Every December, I select the ten books that I most enjoyed reading during the year. Here are my top ten picks for 2010.

    10. “What You Celebrate as a Church is Just as Important as What You Believe” (December 7, 2010)

    Celebrating something other than the gospel can happen in different kinds of churches. Here are two fictitious examples:

     
     

    Dec

    27

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:15 am CT

    What Does It Mean to "Pray without Ceasing"?

    John Piper interprets Paul’s challenging command:

    “Praying without ceasing” means at least three things.

    First, it means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do. This is the very spirit and essence of prayer. So, even when we are not speaking consciously to God, there is a deep, abiding dependence on him that is woven into the heart of faith. In that sense, we “pray” or have the spirit of prayer continuously.

    Second – and I think this is what Paul has in mind most immediately – praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often. I base this on the use of the word “without ceasing” in Romans 1:9, where Paul says, “For God is my witness, who I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you.” Now we can be sure that Paul did not mention the Romans every minute of his waking life, or even every minute of his prayers. He prayed about many other things. But he mentioned them over and over, and often. So “without ceasing” doesn’t mean that, verbally or mentally, we have to be speaking prayers every minute of the day in the fight for joy. It means we should pray over and over, and often. Our default mental state should be: “O God, help…”

    Third, praying without ceasing means not giving up on prayer. Don’t ever come to a point in your life where you cease to pray at all. Don’t abandon the God of hope and say, “There’s no use praying.” Jesus is very jealous for us to learn this lesson. One of his parables is introduced by the words, “And he told them a parable to the effect tha tthey ought always to pray and not lose heart. He knew our experience in prayer would tempt us to quit altogether. So he, along with the apostle Paul, says, Never lose heart. Go on praying. Don’t cease.

    - John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy, 157.

     
     

    Dec

    26

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:11 am CT

    Augustine’s Christmas Prayer

    Let the just rejoice,
    for their Justifier is born.

    Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
    for their Savior is born.

    Let the captives rejoice,
    for their Redeemer is born.

    Let slaves rejoice,
    for their Master is born.

    Let free men rejoice,
    for their Liberator is born.

    Let all Christians rejoice,
    for Jesus Christ is born.

    - Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

     
     

    Dec

    25

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:06 am CT

    Lo, How a Rose e'er Blooming

    Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

    Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
    Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
    It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
    When half spent was the night.

    Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
    With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
    To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
    When half spent was the night.

    The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
    How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
    To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
    As angel heralds said.

    This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
    Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
    True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
    And lightens every load.

    O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
    O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
    Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
    And to the endless day!

     
     

    Dec

    24

    2010

     
     

    Dec

    23

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:37 am CT

    Caesar’s Palace and Christ’s Manger: Who Looks Like a King?

    Consider Jesus of Nazareth alongside Caesar Augustus.

    At the time of Christ’s birth, Caesar had issued a call to the Roman world that everyone be counted and properly taxed. As he enjoyed luxurious accommodations in his Roman palace, he hoped to demonstrate his own greatness before a watching world by publicizing the great number of people under his domain. And yet in an unnoticed corner of Caesar’s kingdom, in a simple stable, sleeping in a feeding trough, the Son of God had come to show the glory of his Father.

    The nature of infancy teaches us something about weakness, and it teaches us something about our God. Every Christmas we celebrate not Caesar’s triumphant census, but our Emmanuel: God with us.

    The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus made himself a servant. The infinite God enclosed himself in a woman’s womb for nine months. God the Son was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger for a bed. God made himself vulnerable.

    Picture Jesus, the firstborn above all creation, the one through whom God spoke the creation of the universe, sitting on his mother Mary’s lap, learning to read and write! Such mysteries can never be fully explained. But it is the story of God coming to earth – God’s being with us – that lies at the heart of the Christian worldview.

    Imagine Caesar in his palace and Jesus in the manger. Which one looks more like a king?

    What would you do if you were in Bethlehem at the time and you had to choose to pledge your allegiance to either a baby boy who excited a few rugged shepherds, or the ruler of the known world with an army of thousands at his command?

    Who was more powerful? Caesar or Jesus? Things are not always as they appear.

    Christians must have a radically different conception of power. After all, when Jesus was crucified, it appeared that he was dying as a weak man at the hands of the strong. Pilate appeared to have the authority and power. “We have no king but Caesar!” the people shouted.

    Caesar ruled by conquering lands and subjugating people. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave by suffering and dying – by bearing the full weight of God’s wrath towards the evil of the world and then rising again to new life.

    - from Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, originally posted in December 2009, cross-posted at the Crossway Blog

     
     

    Dec

    23

    2010

    Trevin Wax|2:24 am CT

    Worth a Look 12.23.10

    CNN has an interesting story on Francis Chan’s decision to leave his church and travel through Asia:

    Chan has been traveling across Asia, according to his website, where his wife Lisa has posted periodic updates. She wrote that the family has been to India and Thailand, visiting small churches and missionaries. In an October update, she mentioned Chan was preaching again: “Francis spoke a great message of encouragement to this little body of Christ hidden away in a slum in India . 100 years from now we will be worshiping together. We will look each other in the eye and KNOW that it was worth it.”

    Earlier this year, I introduced you to Aaron Coe, a pioneering church-planter in New York City. One of the church plants he has been associated with needs help with VBS next year. Here’s how you can be a part.

    Good will toward whom? All? Or Only Those with whom God is Pleased? Mark D. Roberts answers here:

    What’s going on here? Are today’s Christians stingy with God’s good will? Are we becoming like the early Ebenezer Scrooge, wanting to hoard all the grace for ourselves? No, Bible translators are not becoming more hardhearted and less gracious. They are becoming more exact in their effort to faithfully translate the Greek of the New Testament into today’s English, even if this appears less gracious at first.

    Bob Kauflin on how music can become idolatrous in worship (HT – Z):

    Good gifts can become gods. Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.

    Billy Graham’s first television interview in several years took place Monday night with Greta Van Susteren. See video below.

     
     

    Dec

    22

    2010

    Trevin Wax|3:58 am CT

    A Review of John MacArthur’s New Book – “Slave”

    John MacArthur’s new book, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ (Thomas Nelson, 2010), has much to offer in regards to biblical exposition and theological reflection.

    Unfortunately, readers may be distracted by the sensationalist marketing that surrounds the book. On the back cover,  we read that English translators have “perpetrated a fraud”, a “cover-up of biblical proportions” by translating the Greek word doulos as “servant” instead of “slave.” Aside from a few translations (like the HCSB), most English Bibles fail to capture the radical nature of our relationship to Christ as Master and Lord.

    Once you get past the hyperbolic nature of the marketing, you discover that MacArthur quickly tones down such rhetoric. He admits that even though he believes it is a mistake to translate doulos as “servant”, this mistake is unintentional, an admission that quickly throws water on the suggestion that there is a massive “cover up.” Cover-ups are always intentional, aren’t they?

    (An interesting side note for my bilingual readers: MacArthur claims that believers in Russia, Romania, Indonesia, and the Philippines translate the word correctly. I don’t know about the other countries, but as a fluent Romanian speaker married to a Romanian national, I can speak to the Romanian translation. There are actually three possible ways to translate doulos in Romanian: “slujitor” (servant), “rob” (bond-servant), and “sclav” (slave). Romanian translations generally go with “rob” – the mediating version of the three, which isn’t quite as stark as “sclav”, but carries more of a punch than “slujitor”. When I asked my wife how she would translate the word “rob” into English, she said, “servant” – which is what I would have said too. But the Romanian dictionary defines “rob” as “slave”. Go figure.)

    Back to the book. Though MacArthur makes the “lost in translation” idea central to his opening chapter, he quickly moves on to his main goal: to demonstrate how the master-slave relationship is vital for understanding the nature of Christian discipleship. He writes:

    Our slavery to Christ has radical implications for how we think and live. We have been bought with a price. We belong to Christ. We are part of a people for His own possession. (21)

    True Christianity is not about adding Jesus to my life. Instead, it is about devoting myself completely to Him – submitting wholly to His will and seeking to please Him above all else. It demands dying to self and following the Master, no matter the cost. In other words, to be a Christian is to be Christ’s slave. (22)

    As the book progresses, MacArthur describes the Greco-Roman slave system. He also takes readers back to the Old Testament and immerses us in the Hebrew narrative that forms the backdrop for Jesus’ slave-language in the New Testament. When Jesus called people to follow him, he was calling them to a life of self-sacrifice and total devotion to the cause of the King:

    A slave’s life was one of complete surrender, submission, and service to the master – and the people of Jesus’ day would have immediately recognized the parallel. Christ’s invitation to follow Him was an invitation to that same kind of life. (43)

    MacArthur’s forceful teaching on the nature of our slave-like submission to Christ may surprise some readers today. After all, we are not used to thinking in terms of being completely owned by the Savior. Though we sometimes put “Lord” in front of Jesus, we rarely invest that title with its royal connotations. We do have a conceptual problem here, but I doubt that our difficulty in grasping the Master-Slave parallel comes from Bible translation. More likely, it’s due to the disappearance of the hierarchical framework of a monarchy. In a democracy where citizens have certain rights, it’s harder to envision the king-subject relationship that was central to the mindset of people in the ancient world.

    You won’t find “cheap grace” in this book. Everything about MacArthur’s message stresses the personal sacrifice demanded in coming to Jesus.  What’s missing in the early chapters is an emphasis on love. MacArthur is right to put us in our place – as subordinates to the Savior. But the first half of the book does little to describe the bond of love between King Jesus and his citizens. The good news is that by the end of this book this truth comes out in full force. MacArthur takes readers to the doctrine of adoption to show that we become sons, not merely slaves. We become part of the family. “In salvation, the redeemed become not only His slaves but also His friends.” (148)

    Throughout the book, MacArthur’s Dispensationalist version of Calvinism is evident. He makes multiple references to the rapture. He also uses the slave metaphor in his discussion on “sin”, which leads him to articulate the doctrine of total depravity and then make his way through all five points of Calvinism. At times, his vision of salvation leans toward a “transactionist” understanding, but by the end of the book, he has followed the slave imagery until it leads to the full biblical picture of vibrant relationship with Jesus:

    Slavery to Christ is much more than mere duty; it is motivated by a heart of loving devotion and pure delight. Because God first loved us and sent His Son to redeem us from sin, we now love Him – longing from the heart to worship, honor, and obey Him in everything. Our slavery to Him is not drudgery but a joy-filled privilege made possible by His saving grace and the Spirit’s continued working in our lives. (208)

    This book also proclaims the lordship of Christ to be at the very heart of salvation’s message. It’s ironic that MacArthur sounds so much like N.T. Wright in his focus on Christ as Lord. MacArthur writes:

    The language of slavery does more than merely picture the gospel. In fact, it is central to the message of salvation. That is because the slavery meatphor points to the reality of Christ’s lordship, and the lordship of Christ is essential to the biblical gospel. The gospel message is not simply a plan of salvation; it is a call to embrace the Person of salvation. And He is both Savior and Lord; the two cannot be separated. (209)

    Readers who own multiple books from MacArthur may wonder if there is anything different here. Actually, there is. This book is primarily constructive – that is, MacArthur is in teaching mode; so he doesn’t come across as critical as in some of his other works. There are a few swipes at prosperity preachers and a veiled reference to Mark Driscoll. But overall, this book is focused on correctly understanding our relationship to Christ. Even if I don’t agree with MacArthur in all the particulars, I resonated with his emphasis on Christ’s lordship and our allegiance to his kingdom, and I believe other readers will too.