Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Bible is Not a Magic Book

Some who go by the name of ‘Evangelical’ view the Bible in such scrappy atomistic bits that they can find moralising lessons here and there, but cannot see how the Bible gives us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But the Bible is not a magic book, as in: ‘A verse a day keeps the devil away’. It is a book that points us to Jesus, and this Jesus saves and transforms. This Jesus by his death and resurrection constitutes the good news that men and women may be reconciled to the living God.

Here in this book there is instruction on what God has done in Christ Jesus; here there is the message of Christ dying for sinners, of whom I am chief; here there is the promise of the Holy Spirit given in down payment of the ultimate inheritance; here there is transformation. These Scriptures make you ‘wise for salvation’.

- D. A. Carson

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Friday Funny: Russia’s Top Group for Eurovision 2012

For my American friends who may not have heard of Eurovision, it’s the world’s biggest musical contest. Each country votes to send their top act to compete. This year, Russia surprised everyone with their choice – “Party for Everybody.” (And when they say for everybody, they mean it!)

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Trevin’s Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. Have You Tried the Roof?

2. A Faithful Life is a Stronger Witness than Success

3. Are Your Sermons Too Long?

4. Why We’re Not Emergent: Five Years Later 

5. Kings, Creeds, and the Canon: Musings on N.T. Wright

6. Theology and the Practice of Mission: An Interview with Bruce Ashford

7. Top 5 Supreme Court Soundbites

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The Black Church and the Black Community: A Conversation with Anthony Bradley

You ought to read this book: Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation (Crossway, 2012).

If you’re like me, you’ve got a heart to see churches reflecting the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national kingdom of God, but you don’t know where to start. Concerning the black community, I feel like a newcomer to an ongoing conversation about major issues.

Anthony Bradley has brought together a group of pastors, leaders, and scholars to talk about the state of black families, the role of hip-hop, the Cosby/Poussaint discussion, and the effects of the prosperity gospel. After I read this book, I sought Anthony out and asked him for an interview. There was so much helpful information in this book that I don’t even know where to start in reviewing it. Better to hear from the editor himself.

Trevin Wax: Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint started an important conversation about the state of black communities all over America. How would you sum up the significance of their work?

Anthony Bradley: Cosby and Poussaint catalyzed a needed conversation within the black community between those of the civil-rights generation and those of us born after 1970. For those who suffered under Jim Crow era discrimination, fought through the civil-rights movement, suffered to become the first generation of African Americans to hold many positions in this country, and so on, it has been very painful to look back at the pathologies of many black communities and ask, “Where did we go wrong?” or “What happened?”

What …

Posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, Church Issues, Interviews, Life & Culture, Music | 4 Comments

Worth a Look 3.29.12

Lots of transitions this week: Mark Driscoll is stepping down from the helm of Acts 29 and leaving The Gospel Coalition. Matt Chandler is taking the reins of A29.

Jason Meyer is the candidate to succeed John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Thank God for Smaller Churches and Their Leaders

So to all of you who labor and serve faithfully, please accept my deepest gratitude for all that you do for His glory. You have chosen to pour your life into a ministry that receives little earthly recognition. And though your ministry is not always easy, you know that your greatest reward comes from the One who has said emphatically that the last will be first.

Women Need Support and the Truth, Not Abortion

Recently a Texas judge upheld a law that requires a woman to be shown an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. His decision was discussed on The View and Joy Behar and Barbara Walters made the following stunning statements…

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Jefferson Bethke on Student Ministry

After the Gospel Project webcast a few weeks ago, I had a video conversation with Jefferson Bethke (author of the street poem “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”) about student ministry. I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with Jeff and sensing his contagious passion for Jesus and for people.

Jeff has been speaking to youth groups, high school students and college students for several years now. His advice to student ministers is to preach hard against sin and then preach the beauty of grace. My favorite quote from the video:

Why kids think God isn’t relevant or why they think they don’t need Him is because we’re not making sin big and we’re not making God big. And when you do that [make sin big], the cross is huge. But when you make sin small, then the cross has to be small, and God is automatically small.

Check out the 7-minute video here. If you’d like to sample The Gospel Project for Students for free, join the pilot project here.

Posted in Christianity, Church Issues, Future of the Church, Interviews | 1 Comment

Worth a Look 3.28.12

If you don’t read anything else today, read this - Easter: Echoes from the Tomb:

Leaning forward, you strain to hear. The fresh, cool breeze of the garden morning brushes your cheek. Bending, you look into that open, black-dark mouth of the tomb, its only light the sun’s thin finger reaching past your shoulder to touch the corner of a bone box. But the bones for which it waits have changed, gotten up and walked away. No smell of death; only the sweet scent of burial spices hanging in the air.

What is Love? Here is a list of actions between husband and wife:

    Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
    Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
    Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses. (Continue reading…)

A Counterfeiting Conspiracy - A Philadelphia shopkeeper causes problems for the Confederacy:

Over the next 18 months he built the most notorious counterfeiting enterprise of the Civil War — one that also happened to be perfectly legal. His forgeries flooded the South, undermining the value of the Confederate dollar and provoking enraged responses from Southern leaders. He waged war on the enemy’s currency, serving his pocketbook and his country at the same time.

David Hesselgrave on holistic mission:

I believe …

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Are You Equipped to Respond to the Prosperity Gospel?

I recall a class discussion in seminary about the prosperity gospel and its popularity in North American churches today. The conversation jumped from Benny Hinn to TBN to Joyce Meyer in just a couple of minutes. The class consensus was that hardcore prosperity teachings were so “out there” that they would easily be dismissed by the church members we would be serving. Our professor pushed back: “You’d be surprised at how much prosperity-tainted teaching is in conservative churches.” He was right.

EQUIPPING PASTORS TO RESPOND TO THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL

David Jones and Russell Woodbridge teach at Southeastern Seminary and are the authors of Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? They admit their surprise at the pervasiveness of prosperity theology, even among conservative Southern Baptists. They write in the preface, “The prosperity gospel has tremendous appeal, and it is growing both in the United States and internationally. Millions of people follow famous prosperity teachers, and their souls are at stake” (10).

It would be easy for young, theologically minded pastors to think of prosperity teaching as so obviously misguided that we don’t consider it worthy of attention. This would be a terrible mistake. As pastors and church leaders, we have an obligation to preach the biblical gospel in a way that takes into consideration our current context, a setting that unfortunately is heavily influenced by the idea that God’s blessing is financial and deserved.

Prosperity teaching is the antithesis of grace. Preachers and teachers of the gospel should …

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Worth a Look 3.27.12

Should Christians Boycott Starbucks?

It’s not that I’m saying a boycott in and of itself is always evil or wrong. It’s just that, in this case (and in many like it) a boycott exposes us to all of our worst tendencies. Christians are tempted, again and again, to fight like the devil to please the Lord.

Humility is Compatible with Certainty:

The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.

Al Mohler’s conversation with President Jimmy Carter:

Jimmy Carter served as the thirty-ninth president of the United States. In 2002, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, the only US president to have received that prize after leaving office. He’s the author of many books, including the most recent, The Lessons from Life Bible. And it’s the Bible we’re going to talk about.

Nothing is Wasted with God:

Be encouraged today, Christian – God is no waster of time. He is no waster of experiences. And perhaps today, in the back of His mind, is a future moment when what you are doing today will be called forth in redemption to once again remind others of a God who desires to be immeasurably close to His people.

 

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4 Things to Remember While in Seminary

Not too long ago, I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with a friend from seminary. He graduated not long after I did, and he was telling me about how involved he was in his local church. As we were reminiscing about our seminary days, he said something that stunned me:

“I regret seminary.”

Come again? I asked him to explain.

“I don’t regret going to seminary. I regret how I went to seminary. The very things I should have prioritized, I didn’t. If I had it to do over again, I’d take a different track.”

In talking with my friend, I realized that his regrets were largely the result of his lackluster church involvement during his seminary years. I have another friend who told me that seminary was a particularly “dry” time spiritually. He admitted the tendency to substitute theology for passion.

These conversations have led me to reflect on four things every seminary student should remember:

1. Remember Your Youth

Too many seminary students act like they’ve arrived rather than they’ve been sent.

Most evangelical institutions will not accept students unless they are recommended by their church and pastor. It’s true that you may choose the seminary you want to attend, but make no mistake – you’ve been sent there. Your church has expressed confidence in your gifts, abilities, and calling. Otherwise, you’d be somewhere else.

All this means that other Christians – likely older, wiser, more mature in the faith – have sent you on this journey. You are the youngster starting this new path. Remember that. Remember that …

Posted in Education, Seminary | 12 Comments