Monthly Archives: May 2011

Learning from the Bible's Unsung Heroes

We hear a lot about Paul, Peter, James, and John. But there are plenty of people mentioned in the New Testament that can slip by us unnoticed.

In Colossians 4, the Apostle Paul lists ten less-familiar names from the early church. Paul’s “shout-out” to these saints reminds me of the vast majority of Christians who quietly play important roles in the kingdom of God. Even though these mentions are brief, they contain life-long lessons for us today.

Tychicus – Encourage one another by speaking God’s Word.

Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and so that he may encourage your hearts.

Tychicus had a job to do. He was to deliver news about Paul, as well as Paul’s letter to the people in Colosse. The result would be the encouragement of the Christians’ hearts. I want to be like Tychicus. I want to be a herald of the Word, so much so that it overflows from my heart at the right time and place.

Onesimus – The gospel turns uselessness into usefulness.

[Tychicus] is with Onesimus, a faithful and dearly loved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.

Onesimus was a runaway slave. His name meant “useful,” but he had proven “useless” to his master, Philemon. Yet Paul commended him as a faithful and dearly loved brother, adding “he …

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Worth a Look 5.31.11

Topic-Modeling:

Topic modeling is a probabilistic, statistical method that can uncover themes and categories in amounts of text so large that they cannot be read by any individual human being. Applied to the Dispatch for the entirety of the war, topic modeling enables us to see both broad and subtle patterns in the Civil War news that we would otherwise be unable to detect.

The Soul’s Thirst:

Every soul thirsts. This thirst may not be obvious in every moment, but at some point and to some degree every soul thirsts after something, something it does not have. We are rarely content in our current condition, rarely content just the way we are. But while we all thirst, we do not all thirst in the same way. Donald Whitney identifies 3 ways in which our souls thirst…

Hiding Baby’s Gender:

By now, you’ve probably heard about the two parents in Canada who are keeping their infant baby’s gender a secret. Why are they doing this? It’s not because there is any physiological ambiguity in the baby. They are doing this because they don’t want their child shoehorned into culturally defined gender stereotypes. Rather, they want their baby (whom they’ve named “Storm”) to make his/her own decisions about his/her own gender.

The technological revolution hits the academy:

Think about it for a minute. If education moves to a teaching model in which students learn through online tutorials, exercises and evaluations created by a handful of the best educators in the world, then how …

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Gospel Definitions: Joe Thorn

“At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and offered to all who believe. This is therefore very ‘good news.’

Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. While we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful. Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.”

– Joe Thorn, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

 

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Worth a Look 5.30.11

Matt Perman on the significance of the Piper / Warren conversation:

The main point here is that we don’t have to choose between deep thinking and effective practical action. Instead, they drive one another: thinking hard about truth motivates and directs wise, effective practical action for good. We should think theologically about the practical for the sake of love. The Piper-Warren interview models this well, and gives both the more practically oriented and the more doctrinally oriented something to think about.

Church Growth vs. Church SeasonsNot every church is in the “My, how you’ve grown!” stage, and that’s okay

Healthy churches do often grow, and sometimes for long periods of time (i.e. 20-25 years!). But healthy churches also plateau, decline, and receive pruning from God’s hand. Size is not in our hands.Size is in the hands of the Sovereign one.

Refocused: An Interview with Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly:

The reputation of Focus on the Family seems to be changing. For a while journalists made it seem to be an essentially political organization.

Our budget has always been roughly 90 percent toward the bread and butter, marriage and parenting issues, and 10 percent toward policy. That really hasn’t changed. What has changed is how we address the issues in terms of tone. . . . Everything I’m trying to do at Focus on the Family is to win the culture. I’m most concerned about our expression of the gospel preventing somebody from coming to the conclusion that …

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Praying for Guidance

O Creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

Thomas Aquinas, 1225-74

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On My Own

I’m just now discovering the beauty of the Les Miserables musical (after having rediscovered the magnificence of the book last year). “On My Own” is my favorite song from the musical. In this clip from the 25th Anniversary Concert, Samantha Barks portrays Eponine. By the end of the song, the emotion she is able to project is simply astounding.

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Trevin's Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. The Long-Awaited 98-minute video conversation between John Piper and Rick Warren

2. I’m Not a Christian, but I’m Coming to Your Church This Sunday

3. Mark Galli responds to Jeff Cook’s response to Francis Chan’s response to Rob Bell. Got that?

4. How Abortion Became Illegal in the United States

5. Quick! Somebody Talk to Me about Cancer!

6. Harold John Ockenga and Pastor-Theologians: An Interview with Owen Strachan, Part 1Part 2

7. Advice for Slow Readers

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Guard Your Heart: A Conversation with the CEO of Covenant Eyes

Pornography is an insidious sin that eats away at the heart of our marriages, objectifies women, disqualifies men from ministry, and draws our eyes from the beauty of Christ. We should take every precaution to guard ourselves and our families against the onslaught of sexual temptation that comes through the internet. One of the precautions I have used for 6 years now is Covenant Eyes.

Today, I’m glad to introduce Ron DeHaas, the CEO of Covenant Eyes, to readers of Kingdom People. Ron pioneered the concept of Accountability Software in the spring of 2000 when he founded Covenant Eyes. He is also the founder of Nehemiah Ministries, a 160-acre retreat and counseling center in south-central Michigan (a center for pastors, missionaries, and their families offered free-of-charge).

Trevin Wax: Ron, you’ve been helping men in their struggle against lust for many years now. What do you think is the biggest danger online today?

Ron DeHaas: There are two, actually:

    Lack of knowledge
    Torn relationships

I could write extensively about these two. Regarding lack of knowledge… Our surveys indicate that 46% of parents are not sure if their families are safe on the Internet. And 79% of parents are not even aware of secure anonymizers—the most common way of getting around other filters.

But for now I’ll focus on the issue of torn relationships. We are all painfully aware how parents are losing their children’s attention to new technologies, the rise of cyberbullying, Internet predators, the growing access to pornography, and the …

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Worth a Look 5.26.11

Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic:

I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead.

Two views on Mitt Romney. This evangelical says that a vote for Romney is a vote for the LDS Church. Another evangelical says that Romney is a co-belligerent on social issues.

Interesting article on the current state of publishing: “The Veneer of Media”

Do you want to break into publishing? Say something important, but more importantly, say it well. We don’t need more voices, and we certainly don’t need more celebrities. We need transcendent ideas. We need people that challenge us to see how the world ought to be, and inspire us to make it so.

The jury is still out on which film will be next in the Narnia franchise. According to this interview with Micheal Flahery, it’s still possible that The Silver Chair will be next. He also talks about the box office results for Dawn Treader.

What’s interesting in the United States is, ticket sales almost exactly mirror the book sales. So the number of people who saw Prince Caspian was half the number of people who saw The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And the book sales are half. The people who saw Dawn Treader was about a third less than the people who saw Prince Caspian. And the …

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Worth a Look 5.25.11

Alan Jacobs – “A Bachelor’s Degree in Atheism”

Secularism is moving slowly in America, but the story of religious belief and practice here looks even more complex if one takes a long view. More than 60% of Americans belong to some formal religious body today. In the late 18th century, that number was less than 10%.

Jared Wilson on finding Christ in the Old Testament:

The Old Testament is chock-full of Jesus. How do we preach him from its pages in a way that honors both Christ and the text?

Too good to be true:

The declaration of Psalm 103:12 is the most difficult for us to grasp and embrace: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Or, as Corrie ten Boom once said, “God takes our sins—the past, present, and future—and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says ‘No Fishing allowed.’” I know this seems too good to be true, but it’s true. No strings attached. No but’s. No conditions. No need for balance. If you are a Christian, you are right now under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Your pardon is full and final. In Christ, you’re forgiven. You’re clean. It is finished.

The Perfect Pill:

Imagine, for a moment, scientists inventing the Perfect Diet Pill that enabled people to maintain their weight while being able to eat anything, anytime. This pill allowed people to burn calories in their sleep …

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