Friday, January 30, 2009

The Kingdom of Self vs. the Kingdom of God

From Paul Tripp's chapter, "War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God’s Sake," in the forthcoming book, The Power of Words and the Wonder of God:
I would ask you again to be humbly honest with yourself as you are reading. If I sat with you and I listened to recording of the last month of your words, whose kingdom, what kingdom, would I conclude those words are spoken to serve? Would it be the kingdom of self with its self-focused demandingness, expectancy, and entitlement? Would I hear a person who is quick to criticize, quick to judge, quick to slam, and quick to condemn, because people are always violating the laws of your kingdom? Is the greatest moral offense in your life an offense that someone makes against the laws of your kingdom? When this happens do you use words as a punishment or as a weapon? Do you use words to rein this person back into loyal service of the purposes of your kingdom of one?

Or would I hear you using words of love, honestly, encouragement, and service because your heart is taken up with the big-sky purposes of the kingdom of God. The entire law is summarized by a single command. If you had written that, what would you have written next? I probably would have written, “Love God above all else.” But that is clearly not what Paul writes. He writes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Why is that an adequate summary of all that God calls me to? Oh, it is important to get this truth. It is only when I love God above all else that I will ever love my neighbor as myself. It’s only when God is in the rightful place in my life that I will treat you with the love that I have received from him. Brothers and sisters, hear this. You don’t fix language problems, you don’t fix communication problems, and you don’t fix word problems horizontally first; you first fix them vertically.
For more, see:

Beale and Trueman on Inerrancy

Greg Beale and Carl Trueman join the Christ the Center discussion forum to talk about inerrancy and evangelicalism:
Dr. Beale discusses the significance of Biblical inerrancy, its Scriptural basis, and the problems with jettisoning the doctrine. In addition to a proper concern for inerrancy, Beale explains how scholars can rightly approach the use of Ancient Near Eastern and 2nd Temple Jewish literature without undermining the authority and perspicuity of Scripture. Along the way the panel considers the influence of postmodernism on Biblical studies. All in all, this is a very interesting discussion that hopefully will lead to further interaction.

The Great Books

This new book looks like, well, a great book: The Great Books: A Journey through 2,500 Years of the West's Classic Literature, edited by Anthony O'Hear (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buckingham in England, Director of The Royal Institute of Philosophy, and editor of the journal Philosophy).
The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, The Canterbury Tales: great literature can be read by anyone, with a little help. The eminent British philosopher Anthony O’Hear leads the way with this captivating journey through two-and-a-half millennia of books as powerful, thrilling, erotic, politically astute, and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller.

O’Hear begins with Homer, whose poems of epic struggle have made him the father of Western literature. After Greek tragedy, Plato, and Virgil’s Aeneid comes Ovid, whose encyclopedic Metamorphoses is an inexhaustible source for European art and literature. Via Saint Augustine, O’Hear reaches Dante and his terrifying and sublime Divine Comedy. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton, Pascal, Racine, and finally Goethe complete the cast list. In each case, O’Hear patiently draws out themes, focuses on key passages, and explains why they are important.

Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is also a narrative history shot through with a love of literature and the author’s deeply held belief in its power to enrich and enliven everyone’s world.

What's Next?

The Conference Formerly Known As New Attitude has had a makeover--and it's now called Next.

Joshua Harris wrote a letter explaining.

The lineup looks outstanding:
  • Joshua Harris on Christ's Preeminence
  • D.A. Carson on Christ's Incarnation
  • Kevin DeYoung on Christ's Life
  • C.J. Mahaney on Christ's Death
  • Sinclair Ferguson on Christ's Resurrection
  • Ferguson on Christ's Return
You can now register for the conference, which will be May 23-26 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

They also have a new webzine and blog.

I'll be writing little introductions for them on the speakers. Here's my take on Sinclair Ferguson. One reason to check it out is that I've collected links on that page to a number of his sermons.

An Interview with Wayne Grudem

C.J. Mahaney interviews Wayne Grudem: parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Saving Narnia

Mark Joseph offers some good advice on how to save Narnia:
  1. Start over again with a new producer and director
  2. Understand the core audience of the film and don't offend it
  3. Let Doug Gresham be Doug Gresham
  4. Be faithful to Lewis
  5. Let faith leaders see the film in its entirety months before its release.
  6. Don't be ashamed of the themes in the film or the audience it appeals to
  7. Time the release carefully
  8. Stop spending so much money
  9. Give Phil Anschutz a stronger role in the production.
  10. Let Lewis be your guide
Read the whole thing to see each of these ten points explained.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good News about Narnia

Ross Douthat explains why it's good news not only that Fox has stepped in to produce the Narnia films (after Disney backed out), but also why it's probably a good thing that they have a smaller budget to work with.

Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung—a pastor, and the co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent (which was one of Christianity Today’s Books of the Year)—has now started a blog: DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. Kevin is a gifted writer and leader, so I expect this blog will contain lots of good material in the days ahead.


David Kuo announces that will be no more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moore on Updike

Russell Moore reflects on the death of John Updike. Moore has read all of his novels except the final one, and writes: "he was, if the themes of his fiction and poetry have any root in his own psyche, scared to death of death. . . . There’s something beautiful there, a spark of divine creativity, but something sad and pitiable as well. Updike, it seems to me, had a love/hate relationship with Jesus Christ." Read the whole thing.

Sovereign Grace Book and Music Sale

Bob Kauflin:
We’re doing it again. Having a ridiculous sale, that is.

Last year, during the month of February, we reduced the prices of our CDs and books. The response was overwhelming. So we decided to repeat the lunacy. Here’s the deal:

From February 1–28, at the Sovereign Grace store, you’ll find these prices:

  • Sovereign Grace books (23 of them, including Worship Matters, Worldliness, and Living the Cross Centered Life): $7 each
  • all CDs produced by Sovereign Grace Music (including Together for the Gospel Live, Psalms, Come Weary Saints, Awesome God, In a Little While, and Valley of Vision): $6 each

But wait…there’s more!

During February, we’re offering our normal free shipping in the continental US (library rate). But on all international orders we’re offering a discount of 50% on USPS First Class International shipping.

Why are we doing this? Well, we figure that most of us have been affected by the present economic crisis. We want to do whatever we can to make it easier for people to benefit from what we produce. We want to serve churches and individuals by providing biblically informed, gospel-centered resources at a low cost. And we’d really like to give it all away, but for now, that’s not financially feasible…

So we offer the February sale. Enjoy.

And feel free to tell your friends.

Bethlehem College & Seminary

In addition to Tim Tomlinson, named as President, Bethlehem College and Seminary just announced the hiring of Jason DeRouchie as Associate Professor of Old Testament.

Christian Discipleship and Growth

Mark Dever interviews Don Whitney (66:37m).

: Link fixed.

Christ and State

Hugh Hewitt recently interviewed J.P. Moreland on how Christians should think about government.
Why all of a sudden do we think the Bible doesn’t have anything at all to say about the state and the political life? Why that just makes no sense whatsoever. The problem is not that the Bible doesn’t teach about these things, the problem is that the Church is illiterate because there’s been a lack of teaching on it.
Moreland recommends two practical steps: (1) Christians should be mobilized to vote as part of their calling as Christians; (2) Pastors should teach on four topics: (a) the culture of life; (b) a minimal view of government, recognizing the distinction between negative and positive rights; (c) promotion of government that is strong against crime; (d) the necessity of charity (leading by example in reaching out to the poor, providing education, food, clothing, job training), which should be the job of the church rather than the state.

Those are undoubtedly controversial recommendations, but I think this is more biblical than the left-of-center reading of Scripture.

Discuss (nicely) among yourselves.

[Rule of thumb, though: if you want to criticize, you should read the whole thing rather than just relying on a summary.]

Driscoll on Nightline

Here's the video.

HT: Denny Burk

10 Questions with Ray Ortlund

Colin Adams asks Ray Ortlund 10 questions about preaching. Here are the questions; go to the post for the answers:
  1. Where do you place the importance of preaching in the grand scheme of church life?
  2. In a paragraph, how did you discover your gifts in preaching?
  3. How long (on average) does it take you to prepare a sermon?
  4. Is it important to you that a sermon contain one major theme or idea? If so, how do you crystallize it?
  5. What is the most important aspect of a preacher’s style and what should he avoid?
  6. What notes, if any, do you use?
  7. What are the greatest perils that preacher must avoid?
  8. How do you fight to balance preparation for preaching with other important responsibilities (e.g., pastoral care, leadership responsibilities)?
  9. What books on preaching, or exemplars of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
  10. What steps do you take to nurture or encourage developing or future preachers?
For more of Colin's series of 10 questions for expositors, check out:
For more on Ortlund, you can sign up for the podcast of his sermons, and also read his edifying blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Ten Most Redeeming Films of 2008

From CT Movies.

Updikes's Rules on Reviewing Books

Some good advice here.

Biblical Theology 101 with D.A. Carson

If you're anywhere near Minneapolis on the weekends of February 21 and 28, you'll want to consider attending a unique 13-hour seminar by D.A. Carson at Bethlehem Baptist Church, which will provide an overview of the whole Bible. Carson will also be preaching on Sunday at Bethlehem both weekends. Go here for more details on how to register.

Here's an overview:
Seminar Summary
The seminar will be a fourteen-part series aimed at providing an overview for the Bible and the gospel message. There will be times for Q & A. Christians and non-Christians alike are invited to come and hear D. A. Carson teach through the entire Bible message in two weekends.

The purpose of this series of lectures is two-fold:
  • It is intended to explain what Christianity is all about in a non-reductionistic and non-simplistic way. Seekers are welcome. Carson will trace the storyline of Scripture, and articulating Christianity in such a way as to cause hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel.
  • On the other hand, this series is intended to explain what Christianity looks like. What is the compass? What are the claims of the gospel? It is one thing to know the storyline of Scripture, it is quite another to know one's role within the ongoing story of God's redemption of creation. It engages Christians at the worldview level, at the rub of gospel and culture.
The seminar will cover topics as follows (some of these titles will be combined):
1. The God who made everything
2. The God who does not wipe out rebels
3. The God who writes his own agreements
4. The God who legislates
5. The God who reigns
6. The God who makes his people sing
7. The God who is unfathomably wise
8. The God who is coming
9. The God who becomes a human being
10. The God who grants new birth
11. The God who loves
12. The God who dies--and lives
13. The God who declares the guilty just
14. The God who gathers and transforms his people
15. The God who is very angry
16. The God who triumphs

John Updike (1932-2009)

Acclaimed American writer John Updike died this morning at the age of 76.

I do not know his spiritual state (he was born Lutheran and later became Episcopalian), but I rejoice in the truth that he saw. For example, here is his “Seven Stanzas at Easter”:

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Adoption in Christ Conference

Together for Adoption just announced their 2009 conference. It looks like great worship, and a great lineup of speakers. May God use it to encourage, equip, and edify his people!

Haggard Interview

Dan Gilgoff has a two part interview with Ted Haggard.

One of the things that stands out is the lack of clarity with which Haggard answers questions. There seems to be a sort of fog over most of his answers.

But the most important thing that stands out is the absence of the holiness of God, the cross of Christ, the nature of sin, and the necessity of repentance.

It is very sad to hear about the sort of counseling that Haggard received.
When I started in counseling, I thought I was a spiritual disaster and a complete idiot for what I'd done. And the counselor started out by saying "You're spiritually OK." He asked, "Have you repented?" Yes. "Have you memorized scripture?" Yes. "Have you been through inner healing?" Yes. He said, "According to the Bible, you are in fine relationship with the Lord Jesus." And I said I think I am. I love Him. I've never rebelled against him willingly. This has been a wrestling in my life, never an acceptance thing.

And then he said, "You are rationale—have you read books on the subject?" Yes. And he said "Ted, if you could pray about this and be OK, you would have done it. If you could think about this and rationalize your own life, you would have done it. This is not spiritual nor reasonable. It is physiological." And he started to teach me how the brain works. And in that process, over two years, I've grown in eliminating the incongruities in my life. I've learned physiologically how the brain works and how that related to sexuality.

One thing seems to be consistent throughout this entire ordeal: Haggard regards himself as the consummate victim--the victim of his own brain (he never willingly rebelled) and a victim of his church.

Being Pro-Life in a Culture of Death

Trevin Wax interviews Russell Moore.

Can You Say It in Your Own Words?

Of all the helpful things in Adler's How to Read a Book, the following made the most significant impact on me. Though I often fail at hitting this idea, I frequently think of this principle when seeking understanding and moving toward critical evaluation.
Every author has had the experience of suffering book reviews by critic who did not feel obligated to do the work of the first two stages first. The critic too often thinks he does not have to be a reader as well as a judge. Every lecturer has also had the experience of having critical questions asked that were not based on any understanding of what he had said. You yourself may remember an occasion where someone said to a speaker, in one breath or at most two, "I don't know what you mean, but I think you're wrong."

There is actually no point in answering critics of this sort. The only polite thing to do is to ask them to state your position for you, the position they claim to be challenging. If they cannot do it satisfactorily, if they cannot repeat what you have said in their own words, you know that they do not understand, and you are entirely justified in ignoring their criticisms. They are irrelevant, as all criticism must be that is not based on understanding. When you find the rare person who shows that he understands what you are saying as well as you do, then you can delight in his agreement or be seriously disturbed by his dissent. (pp. 144-145)
Lest anyone is tempted to divorce this advice on critical thinking and reading from biblical morality, consider that what Adler expresses above is really the answer to the question: How, when reading, do I do unto others as I would have done unto me, and how do I love my neighbor as I love myself?

How to Read a Book: The Rules for Analytical Reading

Last night I pulled off my shelf Mortimer Adler's classic, How to Read a Book. It's been several years since I worked through the book, but a review of the underlining and written notes testify to how much it influenced me. I'll share in a separate post a particular section that has marked me indelibly.

Adler suggests that there are three main stages for analytical reading, which can be seen in these three questions: (1) What is this book about as a whole? (2) What is being said in detail, and how? (3) Is it true? What of it?

Here are the rules. Adler occasionally restates the rule, so I've included both versions when necessary:

Stage 1: What Is the Book About as a Whole?
Rule 1. You must know what kind of book you are reading, and you should know this as early in the process as possible, preferably before you begin to read. / Classify the book according to kind and subject matter. (p. 60)

Rule 2. State the unity of the whole book in a single sentence, or at most a few sentences (a short paragraph). State what the whole book is about with the utmost brevity. (pp. 75-76)

Rule 3. Set forth the major parts of the book, and show how these are organized into a whole, by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole. / Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole. (p. 76)

Rule 4. Find out what the author’s problems were. / Define the problem or problems the author has tried to solve. (p. 92)
Stage 2: What Is Being Said in Detail, and How?
Rule 5. Find the important words and through them come to terms with the author. / Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words. (p. 98)

Rule 6: Mark the most important sentences in a book and discover the propositions they contain. / Grasp the author's leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences. (p. 120)

Rule 7: Locate or construct the basic arguments in the book by finding them in the connections of sentences. / Know the author's arguments, by finding them in, or constructing them out of, sequences of sentences. (p. 120)

Rule 8: Find out what the author’s solutions are. / Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not; and as to the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve. (p. 135)
Stage 3: Is It True? What of It?
General Maxims of Intellectual Etiquette

Rule 9: You must be able to say, with reasonable certainty, “I understand,” before you can say any one of the following things: “I agree,” or “I disagree,” or “I suspend judgment.” / Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and your interpretation of the book. (pp. 142-143)

Rule 10: When you disagree, do so reasonably, and not disputatiously or contentiously. (p. 145)

Rule 11: Respect the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion, by giving reasons for any critical judgment you make. (p. 150)

Special Criteria for Points of Criticism

12. Show wherein the author is uninformed.

13. Show wherein the author is misinformed.

14. Show wherein the author is illogical.

15. Show wherein the author's analysis or account is incomplete.
For more detailed notes on the book, see Brian Fulthorp's series.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Piper Responds to Obama on Abortion

John Piper from this past weekend's Sanctity of Life sermon:
As everyone knows, our new President, over whom we have rejoiced, does not share this reverence for the beginning of human life. He is trapped and blinded by a culture of deceit. On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he said, “We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.”

To which I say . . .
  • No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women’s health; you are authorizing the destruction of half a million tiny women every year.
  • No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for a million helpless people every year.
  • No, Mr. President, killing our children does not cease to be killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. Call it what you will, they are dead, and we have killed them. And you, Mr. President, would keep the killing legal.
Some of us wept with joy over the inauguration of the first African-American President. We will pray for you. And may God grant that there arises in your heart an amazed and happy reverence for the beginning of every human life.

Journalistic Ethics 101

As you may have seen, Ted Haggard and his former church are back in the news--revealing that he had had another improper relationship with a young man at the church.

The current pastor, Brady Boyd, explains the financial aspect of the church's settlement with the young man:
AP reports “the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly.”

“It wasn’t at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story,” Boyd said. “Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance - certainly not hush money. I know what’s what everyone will want to say because that’s the most salacious thing to say, but that’s not at all what it was.”

So what did choose as the lede for their story? Eric Marrapodi and Jim Spellman write:
A megachurch paid a 20-year-old man to keep silent about a sexual relationship he had with disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, a senior church pastor said.
It's a false lede--a direct contradiction of what the pastor actually said. This is incompetent reporting.

Mollie Hemingway came to the same conclusion: ", the story is salacious enough as it is. There’s really no need to break basic rules of journalism to spice it up, is there?"

Amusing or Sad?

Peter Wehner collects quotes from Jim Wallis and E.J. Dionne praising the President's consensus-building, bipartisan, common-ground approach to the abortion debate--because after "intense behind-the-scenes lobbying by Obama’s religious supporters" (!) Obama delayed the reversal of the Mexico City Policy--which will increase the number of abortions around the world--by one day.

Dockery's Top 15

Lifeway recently asked David Dockery, President of Union University, to list his Top 10 Books going into 2009. He couldn't limit himself to just 10, so here are his Top 15 (in alphabetical order):

The Advent of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuity, edited by Michael Haykin and Kenneth Stewart (B&H)

Atheism Remix, by R. Albert Mohler Jr. (Crossway)

Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study, by James Leo Garrett Jr. (Mercer University Press)

The Christian Lover, by Michael Haykin (Reformation Trust)

The Courage to Be Protestant, by David Wells (Eerdmans)

Culture Making, by Andy Crouch (InterVarsity)

Doctrine that Dances, by Robert Smith (B&H)

Edgar Allen Poe, by Harry L. Poe (Metro Books)

Embryo: A Defense of Human Life
, by Robert George and Christopher Tollefson (Doubleday)

ESV Study Bible (Crossway)

Jesus Made in America, by Stephen J. Nichols (InterVarsity)

New Testament Theology, by Thomas R. Schreiner (Baker)

Original Sin: A Cultural History, by Alan Jacobs (HarperOne)

The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller (Dutton)

Suffering and the Goodness of God
, edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson (Crossway)

Ferguson and Begg: The Name Above All Names

MP3s from the Christian Life Conference at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis:
Pastors’ Luncheon: Sinclair Ferguson - Preaching Christ in All of Scripture

Session 1: Sinclair Ferguson - The Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:1-15)

Session 2: Alistair Begg - The True Prophet (John 4:21-26)

Session 3: Alistair Begg - The Suffering Servant (Luke 24:39-46)

Session 4: Sinclair Ferguson - The Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-14)

Session 5: Sinclair Ferguson - The Great High Priest (Hebrews 2:5-18)

Session 6: Alistair Begg - The Divine King (Luke 19:28-40)

Session 7: Alistair Begg -The Lamb on the Throne (Revelation 5)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seminars by Ed Komoszewski

If you don't yet have following books on your bookshelf--Reinventing Jesus by Daniel B. Wallace, J. Ed Komoszewski, and James Sawyer, and Putting Jesus in His Place by Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski--I'd warmly recommend them. They are both exactly what the church needs--excellent material, written in clear, accessible English, on important subjects under attack.

Which brings me to the point of this post: Ed Komoszewski. Ed is a godly man with a bright mind and a heart for the church who has a unique ability to communicate complex truths to average folks like you and mine. But don't take my word for it. Here's Dan Wallace's take:
It is a rare thing for a good theologian to also be a good communicator, and even rarer for a good communicator to also be a good theologian. This is what puts Ed Komoszewski in a league by himself: he is a superb theologian and a superb communicator. Co-author of Reinventing Jesus and the highly-acclaimed Putting Jesus in His Place, Ed has become known to a wider audience in the last couple of years. I have known him for more than a dozen years; I am constantly amazed at his incredible gifts coupled with genuine humility. Indeed, what strikes me about Ed far more than his skills in expertly and simply communicating biblical truth is his love for his Savior. In short, Ed breathes Christ. More than anyone I know, Ed’s life is shaped by his passion for Jesus Christ. This comes through loud and clear in his articulate and enthusiastic style of communication, based on rock-solid biblical evidence. I wish there were a thousand like him because the Church today is in desperate need of hearing clear and authoritative voices on the deity of Christ. If you understand the importance of this doctrine, Ed’s lecture series is for you. If you think it has minimal value, then Ed’s lecture series is especially for you, for he will show, from scripture, why the deity of Christ is the foundation stone of our faith. I recommend him to you as enthusiastically as I can, and with the prayer that more churches will put him on their schedule. But be prepared: after a weekend with Ed, your congregation will have changed lives, and an earnest devotion to Christ that they’ve not experienced before.

Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
Executive Director
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Professor of New Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary

The reason I'm posting this is that Ed is now available to do seminars based on these two books. If you need someone for a seminar, and you want to do it on something both meaty and accessible, I think this would be a great choice.

Below are a couple of video clips from a seminar based on the book Reinventing Jesus.

The Deity of Christ in Mark 14

The Deity of Christ in Philippians 2

You can contact Ed through

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lloyd-Jones: Living Water

Crossway has now published Living Water: Studies in John 4--56 previously unpublished sermons by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Here is an excerpt:
Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. I am not sure but that this is not one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services and they are orderly, they are nice ‒ we come, we go ‒ and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute, and there it is. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are ever facing this glorious possibility of having the greatest surprise of our life?

Or let me put it like this. You may feel and say ‒ as many do ‒ ‘I was converted and became a Christian. I’ve grown ‒ yes, I’ve grown in knowledge, I’ve been reading books, I’ve been listening to sermons, but I’ve arrived now at a sort of peak and all I do is maintain that. For the rest of my life I will just go on like this.’

Now, my friend, you must get rid of that attitude; you must get rid of it once and for ever. That is ‘religion’, it is not Christianity. This is Christianity: the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you to a level that you had never conceived could be possible for you. Oh, if we get nothing else from this story, I hope we will get this. Do not let the devil persuade you that you have got all you are going to get, still less that you received all you were ever going to receive when you were converted. That has been a popular teaching, even among evangelicals. You get everything at your conversion, it is said, including baptism with the Spirit, and nothing further, ever. Oh, do not believe it; it is not true. It is not true to the teaching of the Scriptures, it is not true in the experience of the saints running down the centuries. There is always this glorious possibility of meeting with him in a new and a dynamic way.
Update: Tullian shares another good quote from the Doctor.

Alan Jacobs: Internet in the Classroom

Alan Jacobs:
I spend a good deal of time talking to my students about technological resources available to them, and trying to get them to use those resources well and wisely. I think it’s pretty clear from this blog that I am anything but a Luddite or techno-skeptic. But I do not want any internet access in my classrooms. I forbid laptops in the classroom altogether. I teach literature, and I believe that my primary job in the classroom is to instruct students in better use of the technology of the book. There is no more evidently false assumption than the assumption that people — even academically successful people — are comfortable with books and use them well.

Every class I teach is focused in one way or another on helping people understand how books work and how to get the most from them. We can unplug for three hours a week or so in order to pursue that goal, can’t we?

I agree--except that if it were a lecture-based class, I might allow laptops (to take notes), but only if the students were prevented from having internet access (perhaps that's impossible to overcome in some situations).

In my view, the costs of emailing, being online, instant-messaging when you are supposed to be listening, writing, engaging, etc. seriously outweigh any occasional benefits.

Agree or disagree?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Driscoll on Nightline Tonight

Nightline will profile Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church tonight (11:35 p.m. ET).

HT: Justin Buzzard

Update: Here's the write up of the story.

Blogosphere Prayer

Some friends you can pray for:

Phil Johnson's mother has gone to be with Jesus.

David Wayne (aka, JollyBlogger) has had cancer surgery and will be undergoing chemotherapy.

Get Outta My Face!

Westminster Bookstore is offering the new book, Get Outta My Face! How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel, for 65% off ($4.88!). This special price is only while supplies last (which I don't think will be long!). It's written by Rick Horne and published by Shepherd Press.

You can read the table of Contents and chapter 1 online.

Here are some endorsements:

"Rick Horne has invested in teens his whole life. He has learned that he is more like them than unlike them. From years of first hand experience, he knows how to talk with them and his is not afraid of the tough ones. What you will read here is the wisdom of a man who has experienced the courage and hope that transforming grace can give to you and that hard teenager God has chosen for you to be near. This book is a call to action with biblical perspectives and practical steps that God can use to change the teenager and you as well."

- Paul David Tripp, Paul Tripp Ministries and author of Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens

"Rick Horne knows teens—the kind that won't talk and those that won't stop talking. If you have a teenager, you need this book. In fact, don't wait for the teen years! Arm yourself now with the timeless truths from this book that counsels moms and dads with gospel-hope for teenage trials."

- Dave Harvey, Sovereign Grace Ministries and author of When Sinners Say "I Do"

"How do you reach someone who wants to be unreachable? How do you help someone who's not looking for help? Those are questions Rick Horne addresses and addresses well. He knows from life experience how to do what seems impossible—how to connect with teens. If you care about teenagers, if you work with teens, if you live with a teen, this book will help you reach their hearts."

- David Powlison, Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

Abortion and Obama's First Few Days

Here was President Obama's statement on abortion yesterday, released late in the day:
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

By "daughters" and "sons" he means "daughters and sons" outside the womb.

It was interesting that at the Saddleback Presidential Forum, Rick Warren asked a very good and specific question: "At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?" He did not ask a theological question (e.g., when does the baby begin to have a soul?) or a scientific question (when does human life begin?), but a purely legal question (when do babies begin to have rights?).

Obama either misunderstood or misrepresented:
Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
The question, though, was not above his pay grade, for Obama has answered it decisively and clearly by his unmitigated support for Roe v. Wade: a baby gets human rights when the mother wants it to have human rights. The will of the stronger is the rule of law.

Politico reports this morning that today President Obama will reverse the Mexico City Policy, which prevents federally funded non-governmental organizations from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries.

Update: Frank Beckwith comments (below):
Apparently, the only way our daughters can be successful is if they are permitted to kill our grandchildren.

So, without surgery so that women can be like men, women are unequal to men. Thus, according to Obama, women are congenitally inferior unless they can have abortions.

I don't even think the worst chauvinists in the world have implied anything so outrageous.

Marriage Counseling

A podcast (in iTunes) from CCEF's Winston Smith.

Joshua Harris on the Good Recession

Tony Reinke posts some good quotes from Josh Harris's two recent messages, which are outlined as follows:
Part 1: The Folly of Greed (Luke 12:13-21)
  • This recession can be good if we allow it to open our eyes to folly of greed and covetousness.

Part 2: Don’t Worry . . . Seek the Kingdom (Luke 12:22-34)

  • This recession can be good if it helps reset our definition of ‘need.’
  • This recession can be good if it makes us more aware of our helplessness and God’s faithful provision.
  • This recession can be good if it helps us see that only King Jesus and His kingdom are worth living for.
  • This recession can be good if it encourages us to lay up treasure in heaven.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Moral Accountability

Robert George, Hadley Arkes, Francis Beckwith, and other leading public intellectuals have assembled a new website,, to keep track of President Obama's opposition to pro-life and pro-marriage policies.

See, for example, their open letter, their tally of Obama's record on abortion, and their response to the "pro-life" case for Obama.

Abortion and the Early Church

Gene Veith recommends the book, Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish and Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World:
One of the best books I’ve ever read about abortion is Abortion and the Early Church by Michael J. Gorman. It turns out that, far from being a modern medical procedure, abortion was rampant in the ancient world. Especially in Rome. And Christians, as well as Jews, consistently opposed it, standing up for life from the very earliest days of the church. The book was out of print for awhile, so I’m delighted to see it is available again.
If you've had a chance to read the ESV Study Bible essay on "The Beginning of Life and Abortion" (in the Ethics section), there is a brief overview on the extrabiblical Jewish and early Christian literature in contrast to Roman culture:
Extrabiblical Jewish Literature

The noncanonical Jewish wisdom literature further clarifies first-century Judaism's view of abortion. For example, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 B.C.A.D. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.” Included among those who do evil in the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles were women who “aborted what they carried in the womb” (2.281–282). Similarly, the apocryphal book 1 Enoch (2nd or 1st century B.C.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (69.12). Finally, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Contrast these injunctions with the barbarism of Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 B.C.) records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). Plutarch (c. a.d. 46–120) spoke of those who he said “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D).

Early Christian Literature

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, the Didache 2.2 (c. A.D. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. A.D. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother's womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

Four Reasons You Might Be Aborted

Joe Carter posts An Open Letter to Fetal Humans.

The Case for Life, Around the Web

John Piper, Lincoln's Logic on Slavery Applied to Abortion

R.C. Spoul, Video series on abortion (streamed on the web for free)

Robert P. George, Our Struggle for the Soul of Our Nation

Ed Whelan, Senate Testimony on Roe v. Wade (2005)

Michael New, The Case for Pro-Life Optimism

Star Parker and Gary Bauer, A Dream Unfulfilled: Roe v. Wade has Played a Big Role in the Devastation of the African-American Community.

Jason French's seven-minute "musical and picturesque portrayal of the God-wrought miracle of human life":

One Simple, Practical Way You Can Make a Difference for Women and the Unborn

Rev. John Ensor is the Executive Director of the Urban Initiative Program of Heartbeat International, a ministry dedicated to training Christian Communities how to provide life-saving, life-changing assistance to women and couples unprepared for pregnancy through the establishment of donor supported Pregnancy Help Clinics (PHC). John's work involves introducing the PHC model into our nation's abortion-hot zones; cities especially plagued by abortion facilities and lacking life-affirming alternatives.

I asked him a few questions about one way we can help the weak and the vulnerable.

For those of us concerned for women and concerned for the unborn, can you give us one concrete practical thing we can do?

One great project that everyone, at any giving level, can get behind, is Option Line. It directly saves mothers and babies from the pressure and temptation of abortion.

What is Option Line?

Option Line is a national calling center (plus IM and email) fielding calls from women actively considering abortion, taking the time to understand the pressure or fear they face, and directly and immediately connecting them to the Pregnancy Help Clinic best able to serve them locally.

How many Pregnancy Help Clinics are there in the US?

For the past 38 years the Christian community has faithfully established over 2,000 Pregnancy Help Clinics nationwide.

Where does Option Line advertise, and has it been successful?

Option Line ads run on MTV and BET, and many regional networks have generated as many as 700 calls in within the half hour! The truth is, Option Line worked better than any of us expected. The calls rushed in and they expanded the technology and staff to make the most of the opportunity. In 2008, they handled a stunning 225,000 calls with 36 highly trained consultants working 24/7.

How much does it cost to operate Option Line?

It now costs $50 per hour for Heartbeat to run Option Line. It costs $1,200 a day. Since my wife and I are people of modest means, we pledged $100 a month. So we are paying for one full day a year, or serving providing personal, competent, and immediate help to about 700 young women facing a life or death decision.

So what can we do?

Underwrite an hour, a day, a week, or a month, and let us be cross-bearers for child-bearers. Or as Psalm 82:3 says it, "Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."

Roe No More

The "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade was Norma McCorvey. In 1969 she was 22 years old, divorced, homeless, and pregnant for the third time (she had placed her first two children for adoption). Somehow an adoption agency connected her with two young lawyers fresh out of law school who were eager to challenge the Texas statutes on abortion. McCorvey only met with her lawyers twice--once for beer and pizza, the other time to sign an affidavit (which she didn't read). In order to speed things up McCorvey lied and told them she had been raped. She never appeared in court, and she found out about the infamous ruling from the newspapers. The baby she was seeking to abort was born and placed for adoption.

Today Norma McCorvey is pro-life, advocating for the unborn. You can read her sworn testimony recounting her experience as the plaintiff in one of the most significant cases to appear before the Supreme Court.

Here's a brief commercial:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Sermon on Abortion

This past Sanctity of Life Sunday I had the privilege of preaching in my church on the truth of God vs. the tragedy of abortion.

You can download the MP3 (53:18min, 36.6MB).

I was heavily indebted to the work of John Piper, Greg Koukl, and Scott Klusendorf. Follow the links to hear this material said much better than I can!

At the end of my message I quoted James 1:27, where we are commanded to visit orphans. I made the brief comment that if God commands us to help to those who parents are dead, how much more should we seek to rescue those whose parents want them dead.

I neglected to mention that I got this idea from a sermon by Piper on this passage. Here's the relevant section:
James' command to have compassion on the helpless who have lost mother and father applies to them if their mother and father turn on them and become worse than dead parents; namely, killing parents. If orphans should be cared for by God's people, how much more children whose parents reject them.

And when it says, visit them "in their distress" we may ask, Is there any place of greater distress than in the womb of a woman who gives herself over to abortion? This is the greatest distress any child will ever experience. To be torn limb from limb in the very place that should be the safest place in the world is "distress" if there ever is anything called "distress." "Visit orphans in their distress."

Piper closes the sermon in this way, and I call you to pray this prayer with him:
O how I pray that the religion of our church will be "pure and undefiled religion"--pure and undefiled faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! May God grant us to speak both languages of compassion: the language of the orphan and the language of the widow. The language of the helpless child and the language of the desperate woman. There are many other languages we must speak (to the fathers and to the lawmakers and to the doctors, etc.). But whatever we do, let us not be silent. For if we are, our religion is empty, and our faith is dead (James 1:27; 2:14,17).

God's Public Mercies

A moving meditation by John Piper on the providence of God, the plane in the Hudson, and the president in the White House.

Northwestern College Student Government Calls for Resignation of NWC President

Last night the Student Government at Northwestern College in St. Paul issued a statement of "no confidence" in President Alan Cureton's leadership.

Citing "irrefutable evidence that President Cureton has committed grievous sins as our president, ranging from deception and lies to slander," the Student Government calls for his resignation.

You can read the whole document here.

Questioning Evangelism

D.A. Carson on Randy Newman’s book, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did (Kregel, 2004): “This book reflects a deep grasp of biblical theology and a penetrating compassion for people. How very much like the Master himself!”

To listen to a couple of talks at Covenant Life Church related to the book, go here:

Let's Not Celebrate More Ordinary Speeches

NPR political analyst Juan Williams, in an insightful piece:
If his presidency is to represent the full power of the idea that black Americans are just like everyone else -- fully human and fully capable of intellect, courage and patriotism -- then Barack Obama has to be subject to the same rough and tumble of political criticism experienced by his predecessors. To treat the first black president as if he is a fragile flower is certain to hobble him. It is also to waste a tremendous opportunity for improving race relations by doing away with stereotypes and seeing the potential in all Americans.

Yet there is fear, especially among black people, that criticism of him or any of his failures might be twisted into evidence that people of color cannot effectively lead. That amounts to wasting time and energy reacting to hateful stereotypes. It also leads to treating all criticism of Mr. Obama, whether legitimate, wrong-headed or even mean-spirited, as racist.

This is patronizing. Worse, it carries an implicit presumption of inferiority. Every American president must be held to the highest standard. No president of any color should be given a free pass for screw-ups, lies or failure to keep a promise.

During the Democrats' primaries and caucuses, candidate Obama often got affectionate if not fawning treatment from the American media. Editors, news anchors, columnists and commentators, both white and black but especially those on the political left, too often acted as if they were in a hurry to claim their role in history as supporters of the first black president.

For example, Mr. Obama was forced to give a speech on race as a result of revelations that he'd long attended a church led by a demagogue. It was an ordinary speech. At best it was successful at minimizing a political problem. Yet some in the media equated it to the Gettysburg Address.
The closing:

There is a lot more at stake now, and to allow criticism of Mr. Obama only behind closed doors does no honor to the dreams and prayers of generations past: that race be put aside, and all people be judged honestly, openly, and on the basis of their performance.

President Obama deserves no less.

Read the whole thing.

Origen on the Righteousness of God

Lee Irons has a good post on how the Church Father Origen (c. 185–c. 254) understood the Pauline expression, "the righteousness of God." Here's an excerpt:
Contra the New Perspective on Paul, Origen interprets the Pauline lexeme “the righteousness of God” as having reference not to God’s faithfulness to the covenant but to Christ himself and the status of being cleansed from sin, justified, and qualified for eschatological glory on the basis of Christ’s atonement. “The righteousness of God” is thus a soteriological status that sinful humans receive by believing in Christ. And it makes believers fit for glory, “not by their merits, nor for their works, but freely (gratis) offers glory to those who believe.”
Read the whole thing.

Magnifying God: The Legacy of John Calvin in the 21st Century

This looks like a good conference: Magnifying God: The Legacy of John Calvin in the 21st Century. It's on the weekend of Feb 20 at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI.

Collin Hansen is the keynote speaker, giving three talks on "Calvin's Kin." Kevin DeYoung is doing a plenary address on the life of Calvin, and several local pastors are offering workshops.

It doesn't cost much to attend, so if you live near there, consider checking out the website and registering.

How Should We Pray for the President?

Ligon Duncan--who watched President Obama's inauguration with Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, and Thabiti Anyabwile--writes:
Many Christians find themselves profoundly conflicted because of some of the moral positions and social policies that Mr. Obama espouses. So how do you pray for your President when you disagree with him?
"Thankfully," he writes, "the Bible is not silent about such a question." Read the whole thing for his helpful thoughts.

Can I offer a suggestion? If you're like me, you'll click through, give it a skim and a nod, and then go on to the next blog post or email. But consider printing this out and sticking it in a place that you'll see it, as a prompt and guide to fulfill our biblical duty to uphold our President in prayer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


An ad airing in select markets of Black Entertainment Television:

HT: Rachael Starke, Kelly's Musings

Rick Warren's Inauguration Prayer

I thank God for Rick Warren and his prayer:

Almighty God, our Father:

Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.

It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.

History is your story.

The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama,

the wisdom to lead us with humility,

the courage to lead us with integrity,

the compassion to lead us with generosity.

Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans--united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you--forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone--forgive us.

When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve--forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.

And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus—who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,

for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


HT: Brad Greenberg for the initial transcript.

Video here:

The Lutheran Study Bible

Paul McCain provides a preview of the new study Bible by and for Lutherans (and the rest of us, too!).

A Prayer for President Obama

Al Mohler:
Christians are, first of all, citizens of a heavenly kingdom. The followers of Christ know no allegiance of ultimate rank to any government or earthly authority. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches that God has given us the gifts of law, government, and ruling authorities for our good. We are instructed to pray for "rulers and all who have authority" and to be faithful in praying "so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God" [1 Timothy 2:2].

As Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of office and become the 44th President of the United States, Christians should be thinking about how to pray for the new President. I offer this prayer as a place to start, as we observe the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States together.

Read (and pray!) the prayer here.

Helm at the Helm

Paul Helm is the blogging through the Institutes this week at the Ref21 site.

Give Reviving

Here are the lyrics for the song "Give Reviving." The lyrics were written by the 19th century hymn writer Albert Midlane, alt. by Chelsey Scott.
1. Father for Thy promised blessing
Still we plead before Thy throne
For the times of, sweet refreshing,
Which can come from Thee alone
Blessed earnests, Thou hast given,
But in these we would not rest
Blessings still with Thee are hidden,
Pour them forth and make us blest!

2. Prayer ascendeth to Thee ever,
Answer! Father, answer prayer
Bless oh bless each weak endeavor,
Blood-bought pardon to declare
Wake Thy slumbering children, wake them,
Bid them to Thy harvest go
Blessings O our Father make,
Round their steps let blessings flow

3. Let no people be forgotten,
Let Thy showers on all descend
That in one loud blessed anthem,
millions may in triumph blend
Give reviving, give refreshing,
Give the looked-for Jubilee
To Thyself may crowds be pressing,
Bringing glory unto Thee
You can download the song or the album in iTunes, or buy the CD from Westminster Books.

HT: Owen Strachan

Monday, January 19, 2009

Best of the Best

The Faith by Hearing Audio blog--love the graphics!--has posted their picks for best audio highlighted in 2008.

Also, the Sola Panelists Down Under share some of their recommendations for best books, blogs, music, etc. from 2008.

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Amen to this.

HT: Challies

Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

The Sun-Sentinel Times breaks the news of a possible merger between New City Church (in Margate, FL) and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (in Fort Lauderdale, FL). The two churches are currently located 12 miles apart.

New City (an Evangelical Presbyterian Church) is pastored by Tullian Tchividjian, and Coral Ridge (Presbyterian Church in America) was pastored for 33 years by its founding pastor, D. James Kennedy, until his death in 2007. If the merger goes forward, Tullian--whose grandfather Billy Graham preached the dedication sermon at Coral Ridge in 1974--would be the senior pastor. For more info, see the Sun-Sentinel Times story (which was updated this afternoon).

Today the board of elders at New City released a formal statement on Coral Ridge's invitation for Tchividjian to become their pastor:
As was announced January 18, 2009, at both New City Church and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Coral Ridge has issued a call to our senior pastor Tullian Tchividjian to become senior pastor at Coral Ridge. But because of Pastor Tullian's unwavering commitment to remain as Pastor here at New City, both churches have agreed to consider a merger. In response to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church's call of Tullian, the elder board of New City Church at a called meeting on January 13, 2009, carried a motion to begin the process of evaluating the possibility of making the two church's one. The elder board of New City Church unanimously agrees that the intricacies of putting this merger together are going to require a time of due diligence where representatives from both sides will sit down and work out the terms of a merger for approval by both sessions. Legal matters, financial matters, ministerial matters, structural matters, and philosophical matters, will be among the list of things needing to be discussed and hammered out. Only if agreeable terms on all of these fronts can be reached and those terms approved by both church sessions would Tullian formally accept the call and the two become one.

Rick Warren to Invoke the Name of Jesus

He tells his congregation that he will invoke Jesus' name and asks for their prayers.

Guinness in USA Today

Os Guinness has an editorial in today's USA Today on the speech he hopes President Obama will someday deliver on civility and religion in the public square.

God and Race in American Politics

John Piper has just finished a blog series on Mark Noll's book, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History. Here are the posts:
In the first post Piper writes:
It is fitting as the inauguration of the first African-American president approaches that we highlight some history in a theological context. Remarkably, a newly published book helps us do this. The book is Mark Noll's God and Race in American Politics: A Short History.

Mark and I graduated together from Wheaton in 1968. He was my Resident Assistant during my senior year. I admired him then; I admire him today.

With an eye for concrete (incarnational) stories, and meticulous historical detail, Noll is above all a seer of Both-And. Or call it paradox. Or historical conundrum. There are no simple explanations of anything. If you have to have situations and people be only good or only bad, you won’t like this book.

The thesis of the book is: “Together, race and religion make up, not only the nation’s deepest and most enduring moral problem, but also its broadest and most enduring political influence” (1).

That is provocative enough. But his working out of how race and religion are interwoven is where the puzzles come.


Tony Jones highlights a new Emergent network: Queermergent, "An Emergent Safehouse for the LGBTQ Community and All Interested People Seeking Understanding."

HT: James Grant

Related: John Piper explains how Barack Obama will make Christ a minister of condemnation. Here's the upshot:

In other words, to bless people in these sins, instead of offering them forgiveness and deliverance from them, is to minister damnation to them, not salvation.

The gospel, with its forgiveness and deliverance from homosexual practice, offers salvation. Gene Robinson, with his blessing and approval of homosexual practice, offers damnation. And he does it in the name of Christ.

It is as though Obama sought out a church which blessed stealing and adultery, and then chose its most well-known thief and adulterer, and asked him to pray.

One more time: The issue here is not that presidents may need to tolerate things they don’t approve of. The issue is this: In linking the Christian ministry to the approval of homosexual activity, Christ is made a minister of condemnation.

Why I Hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Russell Moore explains.

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

I mentioned earlier that I already have a list (in my head) of Top 3 Books Published in 2009. One of them is Greg Koukl's new book, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions.

Here's the blurb I wrote for the book:
In this wise and compelling book, Greg Koukl—who has thought long and hard about not only what to say but how to say it—provides a game plan for equipping believers through an artful method of careful thinking and winsome conversation. If you struggle with how to talk about your faith and respond to questions and objections in a meaningful and effective way—and most of us do—there is no better book to buy, read, and put into practice. I could not recommend it more highly!
You can read the table of contents and a few pages from chapter 1 online.

Here are more blurbs for the book.
"With the advantage of a lifetime of experience, Greg Koukl has written what must be considered THE authoritative treatment of how to employ various strategies in conversations with unbelievers about the Christian faith. Tactics is not just another apologetics book. It is a sensitive, well-written, widely illustrated treatment of actual situations that often come up when believers share their faith. Koukl not only reminds us it is not enough to know why you believe, it is also crucial to know how to communicate those beliefs by adapting to various situations. And Tactics shows precisely how to do that."
— J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology

"C.S. Lewis once said, 'Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test.' In this book, Greg Koukl passes Lewis's test with flying colors. There are many great arguments in favor of the Christian faith, but many of them are accessible only to professional apologists and philosophers. Koukl has developed a memorable and practical way to translate these arguments so that all Christians can become winsome and persuasive apologists in everyday conversations, no matter what their day jobs. This book should be required reading for every thoughtful Christian."
— Jay W. Richards, Research Fellow and Director, Acton Media Acton Institute

"If you enjoy apologetics, then Greg’s book Tactics is not only a required read, but simply a delightfully entertaining resource. In fact, just try and put it down! Especially for those who struggle with relevant ways to relate to non-Christians while presenting Christian truth, this volume provides many proven methods of natural, non-confrontational dialogue where the purpose is often to simply give an unbeliever something to think about, what Greg calls placing a stone in someone’s shoe. Featuring remarkably simple techniques that are easily and fruitfully applied, I highly recommend this incredibly insightful book."
— Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Research Professor, Liberty University

"Greg Koukl has been using the methods offered in this book for many years with our Summit students and to great effect. His suggestions, illustrations, and witnessing approach work. This is a well-written, practical, and timely book."
— David Noebel, Founder and President, Summit Ministries

"Greg Koukl is a wise, seasoned front-lines apologist. I am happy to recommend a book so full of practical insights and careful guidance for skillfully, winsomely defending the Christian faith."
— Paul Copan, Author, True for You, But Not for Me and Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

"Tactics is the book I’ve been waiting for! I love engaging non-Christians in conversation, but in the back of my mind I often think, 'What if I get stuck and don’t know what to do?' Greg helped me put that fear to rest and gave me practical tools to artfully maneuver in conversations. I enthusiastically recommend Tactics. It will revolutionize your conversations with non-Christians."
— Sean McDowell, Author, Ethix, co- author of Understanding Intelligent Design

"Greg Koukl is a master tactician. I know of no one who is more conscientious in his efforts to communicate effectively and winsomely his Christian faith. In this book Greg shares with us his tried and true methods, skills honed through continual practice and revision. Mastering his tactics will make you a more effective ambassador for Christ."
— William Lane Craig, Author, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics

"When I want someone who can help me train ambassadors for Christ, the first person I call is Greg Koukl. Now, his proven ideas are in this book. I wish I knew these tactics twenty years ago. They are some of the best I’ve ever seen to help Christians be more effective ambassadors for Christ. Trust me—if you read Koukl's advice and learn his methods, your impact for Christ will skyrocket."
— Frank Turek, Author, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

"Just as a course on tactics is a requirement at all military academies, so too Greg Koukl’s Tactics—A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions should be required training for all Christians and churches. Koukl has made a worthwhile contribution to the literature on apologetics by teaching us how to say what we say. Witty and winsome, this resource is as fun to read as it is to put into practice."
— Hank Hanegraaff, host of the Bible Answer Man, author of Christianity in Crisis

"Greg Koukl is a master of the ideas that under gird the Gospel and one of the finest Christian communicators on the planet. He has spent many thousands of hours in front of the most difficult skeptics and their toughest questions and has developed very effective techniques to bring the truth to the surface of any conversation with love and grace. I have learned so much over the years by studying his persuasive yet respectful approach to giving reasons for faith. His book, Tactics, presents his methods in a way that is engaging and accessible to every believer. I hope Christians in churches all over the country gather together to study this important book and learn to stand firm for the Gospel in these dark times."
— Craig Ellison, PhD, Founder and Director, Graduate Program in Christian Apologetics, Biola University

"In a society filled with so much anti-Christian rhetoric, there is no better book to equip Christians to think clearly, soundly, and inoffensively in the face of the devices employed today in opposition to the Christian Faith."
— Norman Geisler, Author, Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, and When Skeptics Ask