Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beauty Will Save the World

Earlier this year, I saw a blurb in Christianity Today about a new book titled Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of ChristianityOnce I saw the title and description, I knew I had to get it.

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably seen me harping on the need for Christians to consider the inherent beauty of truthand how that beauty shapes the way we present Christian teaching. Brian Zahnd, author of Beauty Will Save the Worldis saying something similar:

To a generation suspicious of truth claims and unconvinced by moral assertions, beauty has a surprising allure.

I appreciate the evangelistic impulse behind this idea, and I found that this book offered some good suggestions that point us in the right direction. For example, Zahnd is right to insist that beauty has been manifested most powerfully in the cross of Christ:

Every cross adorning a church is in itself a sermon—a sermon proclaiming that if Christ can transform the Roman instrument of execution into a thing of beauty, there is hope that in Christ all things can be made beautiful!

He is onto something when advocating Christian aesthetics:

With an emphasis on truth, we have tried to make Christianity persuasive (as we should). But we also need a corresponding emphasis on beauty to make Christianity attractive. Christianity should not only persuade with truth, but it should also attract with beauty. Along with Christian apologetics, we need …

Posted in Art, Book Reviews, Christianity | 7 Comments

Worth a Look 4.30.12

Once an Evangelical…: On Balmer on Douthat

 Some, like Balmer, believe that progressive, revisionist, non- and post-denominational, “updated” Christian start-ups are the way the faith will survive.  Others of us, like Douthat, see such ventures as extending something other than Christianity.  In contrast, we’re betting on something that will seem almost completely counter-intuitive: that the future of Christianity in the United States depends on the revitalization of orthodox institutions–even (gulp),denominations.  Or, to put it otherwise, we’re betting that the future of Christianity in the United States is catholic.

5 Ways to Overcome Nerves Before Speaking in Public:

Most people feel nervous prior to giving a speech.  This is human nature and indeed some degree of nerves is absolutely essential to remain alert and deliver the speech clearly.  However nerves do become a problem if they are debilitating in any way.  Thankfully, there are practical ways to overcome this which are outlined below.

Learning to Delight in Scripture:

So how can we go from having little to no love for God’s word to savoring it even more than we would a big, fat, juicy fillet or a delicious canoli? I want to present just a few points of application that will help you to get a taste for the sweetness and sufficiency of God’s word in your life.

The South, The War, and “Christian Slavery”

Many Southerners, though, came to embrace the interpretation of their history suggested by Elliott and made explicit by the Reverend J.C. Mitchell. “Read the annals of other …

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Swimming in the Merciful Waters of Your Grace

Lord of hosts!
When I swim in the merciful waters of Your grace,
I find that I can neither plumb nor measure the depths.
Your compassion is the greatest of all Your works.

Lord, who ever came to you with a devout heart and was turned away?
Who ever sought You and did not find You?
Who ever desired aid from You and was not given help?
Who ever prayed for Your grace and did not receive it?
Who ever called upon You and was not heard?

Yes, beloved Lord, how many You have received in grace
when according to Your strict sense of justice
they would have deserved something else.

Adam departed from You
and believed the counsel of the serpent.
He transgressed Your covenant
and became for You a child of death.
But Your fatherly love
would not allow Him to be thrown aside.
In grace You sought after Him,
You called and admonished Him
and covered His nakedness with pelts of fur.
You mercifully comforted Him
with a promise concerning His seed.

Paul, Your chosen vessel, was at one time like a roaring lion
and a ravaging wolf against Your holy mountain.
Yet You shone Your grace upon Him
and enlightened His blindness.
You called Him from heaven
and chose Him to be an apostle and servant in Your house.

Beloved Lord,
I am the greatest of sinners and the least among the saints.
I am unworthy to be called Your child or servant,
for I have sinned against heaven and before You.
There was a time when I opposed Your glorious Word
and Your holy will with all my power.
Yet this miserable sinner was never abandoned by Your fatherly …

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No Such Thing as a Normal Christian Life

You ask if anyone with such a sick history as yourself can live a normal Christian life. One would have to say, “What is the normal Christian life?”

None of us are normal, even after we are Christians-if we mean by that being perfect.

What is possible, however, is for us to live in the fullness of life in the circle of who we are, constantly pressing on the border lines to try to take further steps. This is not done in our own strength, but looking to the Lord moment by moment as well as day by day.

- Francis Schaeffer, Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life

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Friday Funny: The Value of Textbooks

Ever wonder why textbooks are so expensive? Me too. (HT)

 

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Trevin’s Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. World Clock - a running tally of population, death, illness, energy, crime, etc

2. Whose Bible? Which Adam? – James K. A. Smith reviews Pete Enns’ The Evolution of Adam

3. OK! I Got It the First Time! How and Why to Sing Simple, Repetitive Worship Songs (HT)

4. The Flight from Conversation (HT)

5. The first chapter from Mark Dever’s new book, The Church

6. Bill Mounce – “Listening to God: General Revelation”

7. Lecrae’s “Man Up” Mission to Address Father Absence

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Ransomed Singing

The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing.
- Isaiah 35:9

“Houston, we have a problem.” Those famous words from the commander of the failed Apollo 13 mission in 1970 were immortalized by Tom Hanks in the successful movie version that told the story of the astronauts’ harrowing return back to earth.

The astronauts had a mission. They were going to the moon, but something went horribly wrong. They couldn’t fulfill their mission. They had to turn back, and the astronauts of Apollo 13 just barely made it back to earth alive.

We too were created for a mission. We were created to reflect the glory of our Creator God in how we relate, how we work, how we rest, and how we rule wisely over the earth.

Yet something has gone horribly wrong. We have rejected our mission and exchanged it for lies. We have chosen to reflect other things. We worship whatever is not God. “Houston, we have a problem.” And that sin problem has sent us spiraling out of control.

The good news is that God is mighty to save. He rescues us from our sin. He showers us with His mercy instead of His wrath. Jesus’ blood pays our ransom. Though sin may hold us back, flinging us back to earth and keeping us now from completely fulfilling our mission to glorify God, we hold fast to the promise of God – that “The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion …

Posted in Devotional Thoughts | 2 Comments

Worth a Look 4.26.12

The idol you love doesn’t love you back:

Here’s what you need to know about your idol: That idol that you love, it doesn’t love you back. False gods don’t love you. Idols don’t keep their promises. Anything you worship and build your life on other than God will suck the life out of you and destroy you.

Being Biblical More than Logical (Or, Why I Am a Four-Point Calvinist):

Like most Calvinists who hold four of the traditional five points, I have struggled with the L of limited atonement. On the one hand, limited atonement makes perfect logical sense and I like the idea that the cross actually accomplished salvation for me. Further, if the cross is efficacious for salvation, then it must be limited or it leads to universal salvation, which is unquestionably non-biblical. On the other hand, there are a number of verses that I have not been able to reconcile with limited atonement. Placing biblical arguments over logical or theological arguments has led me to affirm a general understanding of the atonement.

Leadership and Entitlement:

 As a leader’s sphere of influence increases, he may feel that certain benefits and perks are due him. She may believe that those in the organization exist for her service and needs. Entitlement is a creeping sickness that often envelops a leader with such deceptive subtlety that the leader is often unaware of its control over him.

Here’s an amazing sermon illustration for you, along with a moving video (

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Heroes and Monsters: A Conversation with Josh James Riebock

Almost every day, I get a book in the mail. It’s one of the perks of being a blogger, I suppose… the constant stream of books from publishers who hope you’ll say something on the blog about a new work.

Most of the books I receive don’t get reviewed. It’s not that they don’t look interesting or wouldn’t be a fit for the blog. Usually, it’s simply a matter of time.

I want to be careful not to focus the majority of my reading on the latest, greatest thing. Better to mix it up. To visit saints from other centuries. To listen to the church fathers preach. To pray with the Puritans and scratch my head with the philosophers.

Occasionally, though, a book grabs my attention and won’t let go. Josh Riebock’s Heroes and Monsters: An Honest Look at the Struggle within All of Us(Baker, 2012) was that kind of book. The look and feel of Josh’s memoir intrigued me. So I started reading and then kept reading and kept reading. I finished the book after a couple of evenings, thoroughly impressed with the artistry with which he crafted the story. Like all good books (and particularly memoirs), some of it bugged me. Some of it moved me. Some of it inspired me. But none of it bored me.

The result is a quirky memoir (“Hide your quirks and you’re a Volvo,” Josh says) that contains some nuggets like these:

The most fascinating people in the world are the people who are most …

Posted in Book Reviews, Interviews | 1 Comment

Worth a Look 4.25.12

Zach Nielsen points out a variety of cheap eBooks this week, including Sifted, AND, Exponential, For the City, On the Verge, Barefoot Church, and It’s Personal.

Coaching Young Leaders Effectively: Seven Observations

The key to coaching missional leaders is relationship. Young, developing leaders are looking for relationship, and they will receive coaching and mentoring from those with whom they have relationship.

Christian goods and appreciating the best:

To me, the consumption or promotion of goods based on their “Christian-ness” contributes to that false and prevalent mindset of a divide between sacred and secular. We have imbued cultural goods of various kinds with a supernatural value that allows them to be “better” than other “secular” goods whether they are qualitatively so or not. In so doing, we have determined their value based on criteria that aren’t inherent to their respective mediums and have praised work that is qualitatively deficient by the standard of its field.

Carson and Zaspel: Rest in the Gospel or Strive Unto Holiness?

What we need to get rid of is this bifurcation in which God does everything and we sort of sit around and do nothing. Or, on the other hand, we think of God doing so much and we add our bit. They’re both wrong. You want to say a plague on both your houses. Whereas you put them together and see that the things that are mandated to us are precisely the things God empowers us to do by his Spirit, and it seems …

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