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I Repent...

Most always the music portion of the worship service at my church is the highlight of my week. I find the words aided by the music allowing me to express my praise and love for God in my loud, out-of-tune fashion. However, sometimes I find myself "unable to worship" or "distracted" or "just not feeling it" especially when somethings a little bit off: Perhaps the projector for the PowerPoint is broken or maybe there is a new song or a song whose style I don't particularly like. Maybe I do better when so-and-so leads instead of that-guy. Or maybe I find that a full band rather than just acoustic is a little better. Maybe I just had a busy week. Whatever the reason, Bob Kauflin just forever changed the way that I will pray before Sunday service with his post, "Idolatry on Sunday Mornings, pt 2."

...idolatry can be active in my heart even as Im outwardly worshipping God. Thats a sobering thought. Whenever I think I cant worship God unless X is present, Im making a profound statement. If X is anything other than Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, Ive moved into idolatrous territory.

That's just a sampling from the excellent post that is part of an ongoing series. Please check back. I pray that you will be as affected by the simply truth behind that profound statement as I was, and we can repent together. Yet another tactic of the flesh has been revealed. Thanks, Bob, for helping me to mortify sin more effectively and praise God, not idols.

Open but Cautious -> Charismatic

Mark Lauterbach, one of my favorite bloggers, posted a followup to his very helpful, personal post "How Did I Become a Reformed Continuationist?" on his journey from cessationist, to open-but-cautious, and finally ending up being a reformed continuationist. Very helpful stuff. This is the kind of stuff that helps us figure out what this whole debate in the Reformed blogosphere is about (my two previous posts referencing this here and here). I think that cessationists over-react, thinking that the Reformed Charismatics are slaying people in the Spirit, dancing around, spouting false prophecy, and speaking in tongues in a big confused mess. Likewise, cessationists may be characterized as unfeeling, Spirit-diminishing, joyless, fundamentalists. Mark has given in his first post a very personal look at his journey to Sovereign Grace and the continuationism, now in post two he gives a little more explanation with some of the biblical basis for his position, and now I am asking him to complete the series giving examples of where this journey has brought him both personally and pastorally:

Can you follow up with a part 3 now of what physical manifestations of the Spirit now that you have moved from open but cautious to desirous? I'm following you completely so far and am thirsting to see how this change has manifested itself (specific examples) in your pastoral and personal life? (ie Do you pray in tongues? Do you prophecy? Do you heal? Do you have people in your flock who do these things? How does it look?). Give us a day in the life of Reformed, Charismatic, Gospel-Driven Mark Lauterbach. [From my comments at his post]

Anybody else who would like to jump in on this would be welcome.

Dilbert & Moral Relativity

What we're left with when we get rid of God and go relative on morality:
Dilbert Comic Strip from 11/28/2005

Informed by Black Friday?

I asked myself the following question regarding my participation in Black Friday's early-morning shopping and hope it may be faith-refining, repentance-producting, and discipline-enducing for you as well:
If you had no difficulty waking up before dawn on Black Friday to save a few dollars on stuff you didn't need, yet daily it's a struggle to wake up to pray and read the Word in the early morning, what does this say about the relative importance that you place on money & possessions compared to God?

Thankful Rememberings

A meditation for the celebration of the Lord's Supper on Sunday 11/27/05:

As we near the end of Thanksgiving weekend, consider with me what we have just celebrated. In Thanksgiving we have a holiday, much like communion, designed to set aside a period of time, a celebration and a feast to remember God and proclaim our thankfulness to him.  We pause, remember, and say to God that everything that we have is not from us, but is from him. As Abraham Lincoln said it on his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863:

"...No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November...a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens...1"

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Keywords: Thanksgiving,Communion

Boycott Costco?

Over Thanksgiving, I heard from a number of friends and family members that I should be boycotting a few of my favorite stores, such as Costco, Home Depot, and Target because they have removed the word Christmas from their advertising and employees' greetings and replaced it with holidays. My initial response was one of frustration, but rather than unthinkingly share them at the time, I listened and said that I'd blog on it. Well here's that post:

(read more...)

Keywords: boycott,christmas,holidays,gospel

Blogging: Controversy or Edification?

Tim Irvin, commenting on the "The Soap Opera Called 'Blogging'," writes,
The goal of blogging seems to have turned from posting something of practical benefit and edification, like Bible Studies, Sermons and Theological Essays to posting something that attracts the most response and attention from readers. It's kind of a shame that so many gifted and talented writers are devoting so much of their energy to the trivial and mundane.
The fact of the matter is that my controversial stuff is the stuff driving traffic to my site; I suspect that's how it is with everybody. Almost nobody hands out trackbacks for a pastoral, edifying blog posts. I want to be clear that pastoral and edifying posts can be, at the same time, controversial. But their end must be God's glory not winning a fight, and their tone must be gracious and humble, while even at the same time defending truth (Pyromaniac has an excellent warning for me against a postmodernist perspective on internet controversy).  So while once again, renewing my commitment to blogging consistent with the title of my blog, I would like to refer you to a few of my favorite blogs that are consistently godlike in their tone, manner, and content*:
*Not an exhaustive list. Limited to those that popped into my mind as I wrote this. I would love to have readers help point us to other God-ward blogging

Free Seminary OnLine

Many already know about this, but if you don't go on over and check out biblicaltraining.org. The site offers recorded lectures, copies of syllabi, overhead slides, and some homework assignments (all depending on the class) from some of the best conservative evangelical leaders today. I have taken all of Piper's courses, am working through Mounce's Greek class, and I often use topical classes as I have need. They offer classes to brand new believers as well as leaders in the church. Excellent resource; probably one of the best on the web.

Date a Mormon for Free Narnia Tickets

StandingTogether.org is providing free Narnia tickets in groups of two. To get these tickets however, one member of the couple must be an evangelical Christian and a second a Mormon (official rules here). Do not get me wrong in the purpose of this post, I do not think that Christians and Mormons should not be friends - in fact, many of my nonChristian friends are Mormon. The purpose of this post is so that those friends and others out there may realize that the claims like those made in recent books like A Different Jesus and common when "Mormons and Christians are just trying to be friends" are extremely dangerous. My understanding of the basic claims from what I have read (I am just now starting A Different Jesus so you can expect a review sometime this Christmas) is that they are claiming that the Jesus we serve is pretty much the same and we stand for many of the same moral and political ideals, so let's stand together under the name Jesus. I really respect that StandingTogether.org is attempting to reach out to the Mormon community in Utah, building relationships between Christians and Mormons, and the fact that they are able to do it while maintaining the following statement encourages me that they may be successful in their goalst:

While Standing Together is actively promoting interaction, relationship, and dialogue with the Mormon culture, we believe it makes clear the distinction between Mormon theology and that of the historic Christian Church.

However - and this is likely not the fault of the organization, just a by product of dialog where little has existed before - I have had mormons cite interaction with the mormon community by people like Ravi Zacharias and Richard Mouw as evidence that there really isn't that much difference between us, saying that I'm making a big deal out of nothing or that I am simply being divisive. There is often much common ground between Mormons and evangelicals regarding political and moral views; however when it comes to the God, Jesus (God), man, sin, salvation, there is literally no common ground.

(read more...)

James, the Gospel-Driven Epistle?

Mark Lauterbach's blog, GospelDrivenLife, is one of my favorite new blogs on the net. He is blogging on the book of James now, and in his post today he begins with the following:

if the Gospel is the center of all the NT then how do we understand the book of James?  In it there is no mention of the atoning death of Jesus.  There is no reference to justification by faith.  Luther was right - it is a straw epistle!
James does not mention "justification by faith", in fact he mentions "justification by works" two times (2:21 and 2:24). The name Jesus appears only twice (1:1 and 2:1). Faith is mentioned twelve times, but it is only salvific when coupled with works (2:14-26).

I have heard some say that James is "a New Testament Proverbs, lots of rules and good ideas for Christian living." After spending much time studying James, James looms large in my Biblical theology as one of the most Gospel-centric books of the Bible, as it takes my understanding of the Gospel and challenges me to believe it, to have faith in it.

I believe that the Gospel in James is seen most clearly in the white space between 2:11 and 2:12:

11bIf you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.

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Keywords: Gospel,James

No More Blogspotting

This post is in response to the BlogSpotting entry that I had created on Saturday night. Excited that there were finally enough links to this blog to create a BlogSpotting post, without thinking and motivated by pride, I began compiling a list of my favorite links to this blog and the list of blogrolls on which my name is found. Basically BlogSpotting is a practice that has become popular lately in the blogosphere, wherein a blog's auther cites various blogs which have noticed and linked to his or her blog. I do not and cannot project my motivation on everybody who BlogSpots, I can say that for me the function was to demonstrate and proclaim my own wisdom and to make that wisdom known. The BlogSpotting icon that I created is a perfect illustration of the sin that I was allowing to take root in my heart as I searched: Binoculars peering out for any evidence of me in cyberspace, seeking to magnify my glory. A BlogSpotting post gave the appearance that the point of this blog is to demonstrate my own wisdom, and as I chronicled all the links and blogrolls, I began to believe it even though compared to people like Warnock, Challies, Pyromaniac, or James White, I'm a no-one. Neverthless, 10 links in 5 months is enough to trick me into being proud.

This blog is not a place to proclaim my greatness or wisdom; it is a place to proclaim God's. And one place where "the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God" (Rom 11:33) is best seen the person of Christ. Christ, God come to earth as a man to save men and bring them to God, is described in 1 Corinthians 1:24 as the power of God and the wisdom of God. It is Christ and him crucified that I want to proclaim on this blog (1 Corinthians 2:2). And if I boast let me only boast  in the cross (Gal 6:14). So you will see no more BlogSpotting from me. I pray that God would give me the desire and the diligence to mortify pride and cultivate humility by spending my blogging time - time I would have spent searching technorati for any signs of linkage to my site and analyzing my traffic patterns - on preaching the gospel to myself in my writing and then letting you all get a glimpse of it.

Too much time on her hands...

75,000 legos, a little dedication, and a year and a half and what do you get? A church building with seating for 1372 little lego people. Read about it here.

Resolved: Conference

I am now officially signed up to attend the Resolved: Conference. This conference served as a tremendous blessing for my smallgroup last year, and I am looking forward to it again this year. The main purpose of this post is to encourage any readers who might stumble upon this blog to register for the conference. It runs January 13-16, 2005. If you register before December 15 the cost will $145 per person. The speakers will be Rick Holland, CJ Mahaney and Carolyn Mahaney, John MacArthur, and Steve Lawson. The conference description is as follows:

(read more...)

Saturday Blogspotting 11/19/05

My first exercise in blogspotting:  I've never done this before so please forgive me if I missed something. Just email me and I'll be sure to include it next time. Here goes:

First, blogroll-spotted at:
Blogspotted at:

Mormon In Disguise?

Mark Lauterbach gives another excellent post calling specifically all Christian pastors that in what we say, we must make Christ and His love, holiness, and salvation made available and made known at the Cross the highlight of every sermon. If we preach or blog principles for living that are consistent with a Christian world view, we are only different from the culture in the same way a mormon would be. But if we share Christ and Him crucified as the power behind and the motive for our obedience, then we are giving a God-glorifying message. The message of the cross is that God stepped out of eternity, off of His throne in the person Jesus Christ. The Creator died for his rebellious creatures, God the Father killing God the Son as a sacrifice for our sin that we might enjoy Him and give Him glory forever. A message of morality will offend few, the message of the Gospel will offend some, and to those who are being saved it is the power (and wisdom) of God (1 Cor 1:18-24):. I believe this has great application for the blogosphere.

Toilet Books

"If it wasn't for the toilet, there would be no books."
George
   "Seinfeld" The Bookstore"

Thanks, Phil

My blog has officially been deemed "Entertaining" by the ever-so-popular-and-recently-controversial Pyromaniac blogroll. I'm honored and a little bit overwhelmed. I'm just a 25-year-old knucklehead who loves God and likes to type. What a privilege and a responsibility to have a blog that anybody would pay attention to. I pray that what I say is not just controversial or opinionated, but humble, edifying, and ultimately God-glorifying. Please feel free to graciously rebuke me and then restore me if you feel something is out of line with the mission statement of my blog: Philippians 4:8.

Hinn or MacArthur - Inappropriateness at Purgatorio

I know he was just having fun, but Purgatorio's recent "Take Your Pick" post having the readers select who they would pick to come pray for your sick friend, Benny Hinn or John MacArthur, reflects the problem with the recent debate. ScottyB points this out well. The real debate going on in the blogosphere should not be between John MacArthur and Benny Hinn. To the majority of those participating, it takes no convincing to believe that Benny Hinn is a false prophet. The debate, if it is to be fruitful, must be between Reformed Cessationists (Pyromaniac & Grace LA) and Reformed Continuationists (Sovereign Grace)

Derek Webb Didn't Answer My Question

In anticipation of the release of Mockingbird. I was so excited when Tim Challies told me that he was going to ask Derek Webb the question that I submitted for his interview (part 1 here, and part 2 here). My question was
In your opinion, what is the most underappreciated of your songs and why?
The sweet thing about Derek Webb's music is that some of the coolest and most thoughtful concepts which he communicates, which really show that he is writing from his heart, come out in some of the most non-catchy of his music. So much of people's (like mine) favorite songs are their favorite because the tune sticks in their head. My two personal favorite Derek Webb songs are "The Church" (from She Must and Shall Go Free) and "Ballad in Plain Red" (from I See Things Upside Down). So I was excited to hear how he'd answer. Well guess what? He totally avoided the question. I guess that it was a hard question to answer thoughtfully on the spur of the moment, so Derek, if you stumble upon this post, now that you've had time to think about it, I'd love to hear your answer.

Derek Webb Didn't Answer My Question

In anticipation of the release of Mockingbird. I was so excited when Tim Challies told me that he was going to ask Derek Webb the question that I submitted for his interview (part 1 here, and part 2 here). My question was
In your opinion, what is the most underappreciated of your songs and why?
The sweet thing about Derek Webb's music is that some of the coolest and most thoughtful concepts which he communicates, which really show that he is writing from his heart, come out in some of the most non-catchy of his music. So much of people's (like mine) favorite songs are their favorite because the tune sticks in their head. My two personal favorite Derek Webb songs are "The Church" (from She Must and Shall Go Free) and "Ballad in Plain Red" (from I See Things Upside Down). So I was excited to hear how he'd answer. Well guess what? He totally avoided the question. I guess that it was a hard question to answer thoughtfully on the spur of the moment, so Derek, if you stumble upon this post, now that you've had time to think about it, I'd love to hear your answer.

Mexico Ministry

My mother in law, Debbie Mellberg, learned to blog and she has been posting the exciting things that God is doing in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico and among the Huichols there. Within just a few short years, the population of believers among the Huichols has gone from 4 to thousands. I have a lot to learn from these Huichol brothers and sisters who, in the midst of persecution, turned their world upside-down for Christ. I am so honored to be able to watch God work through them, and I hope that our knowledge of God and His love for all peoples will be enlarged as get to watch as spectators His sovereign hand bringing salvation to an entire tribe in the enterior of Mexico. So blogroll her blog and check back for her updates: http://mexicoministry.blogspot.com/

Go to Church for the Gospel?

Eric Costa of Reformation Theology blog points out that since the Gospel is not only what saves us but what sustains us, we should go to church every week in order that we might hear the gospel preached to us. I agree wholeheartedly with those sentiments. I want to take it one step further though. I find very little mention of motives for church "attendance" in the Bible. I do find that the Gospel must be preached. I think we need to go one step further in our understanding and motive for church "attendance" or "going to church". We when go to church, not only must the words be Gospel-centered, but our lives must demonstrate the Gospel.

If we truly believed the words that the Cross-centered preacher is preaching, then we would not be content to come, come, sit, listen, and leave. We would not be content to come, sit with our group of friends, go out to eat with our group of friends, and go on with our week, having our souls filled with the Gospel message. As a church, we must live in community and within the greater community where we are located as those who feel the weight of grace, as those who know that we have been forgiven the largest debt imaginable and given an even greater gift. If we are truly going to church to hear the gospel AND live the gospel, we won't make distinctions among ourselves, creating strata based on socioeconomic status, intelligence, or position on the ecclesiastical hierarchy. We won't squabble over worship styles or hold grudges. We will be quick to cover over sin and to gently restore those who are in sin. We will look for the poor, the outcasts of society and invite them, treat them like kings, and introduce them to the King of kings.

Gospel preaching is necessary, but it is not sufficient without every member of the church living it out among each other and out in the world. O God, I pray that you give me the faith to believe the content of the Gospel in such a way that every single action I do is done in light of that faith.

(See my message, The Gospel in Radical Hospitality, on this point)

Scripture: Our Only Protection

I just read a post by Mark Lauterbach at his excellent blog, GospelDrivenLife. Having heard a sermon mentioning a verse he knew well but had not read in years, he was forced to rethink his position that it is Scripture and not systematic theology that is protecting him from error. Once we "exegete a passage" we are not done with it, so we can move on. No, we are simply better able to understand it in its context the next time around. I must guard myself from the temptation to make my conclusions about Scripture the infallible truth by which I live instead of Scripture itself. One might then argue, "How can you know what Scripture says apart from your exegesis of it." I can't. I must read it (observation), I must seek to understand it, then I must make conclusions about it (or conclude that I cannot make any conclusion - interpretation), and finally I must live according to what I have been taught by the Spirit (application). However, my tendency is then to take my interpretation, and like Lauterbach says, and "read it back into Scripture." I spent two years working through the book of Galatians. My tendency, therefore, is to use my understanding of the book of Galatians to help interpret the rest of the Bible and I find application from the book in literally every facet of life. That's good. The bad is that my tendency is also to not return from the book, having been informed by new understanding of God and His Word, to further refine or even challenge my understanding of that epistle. If that happens with a New Testament book which I find myself reading often for pleasure (and because it's short), how much more for an Old Testament book that does not get near as much coverage and is harder to understand!

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Another Challies giveaway

November Giveaway

I tiptoe Gingerly into Pyro's debate

After accidentally shaking up the whole blogosphere, Pyromaniac points out that he hasn't even blogged on his stance in the cessationism v continuationism debate. His blog actually does a great deal to clear the air after many of the knee-jerk responses that have flown from both sides of the debate after he mentioned it. He points out that his comments were directed toward  the "prophetic-utterances-gone-bad" group (on this point I must link to videos that I personally find very hilarious and an illustration of what can happen when prophetic utterances go bad: Robert Tilton). He even makes the point (which I think is an understatement), "I think I have much more in common with my 'Reformed non-cessationist' brethren than I have with liberal cessationists." He summarizes what he has said into four statements: (read more...)

Pat Robertson's Dover Comments

Pat Robertson's recent comments regarding the Dover, PA vote against Intelligent Design have created a stir in the mainstream media and the blogosphere. Two of my favorite blogs, Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds and James White's Pro Appologian, have both weighed in on it and have come down on opposite sides.

Please keep reading to get my take on it and then leave your own thoughts in the comments. (read more...)

Keywords: Pat,Robertson,Dover,Intelligent,Design,gospel

My Name is John Daker...

I just had to share, I think that this is one of the randomest, funniest videos I have ever seen. According this site, John Daker's performance was first seen on public access television.

Any attempt to describe the video will not do it justice. You can get all of the individual clips at getupoutmy.biz, but check out the little clip first. This goes down in my all-time favorite internet phenomena list along with Peanut Butter Jelly Time and All Your Base Are Belong to Us.

The Gospel in Radical Hospitality

In my second experience ever teaching the Bible publicly, I was given the privilege of teaching on the unenviable topic of hospitality. God graciously blew all of my preconceived notions of hospitality out of the water as I studied His Word. Hospitality is never removed from brotherly love, and brotherly love is motivated and empowered by God's love for us best shown in the cross. I discovered the God's love towards us was the ultimate show of hospitality: To invite an enemy, not only into the house, but into His family adopting us as His children (Gal 3:23-4:6) at great cost to Him so that we could enjoy Him forever. Rather than being a burden, hospitality becomes a response to the gospel imitating and revealing God's love toward us in the Gospel.

I would be honored if you would listen to the mp3 recording of the message. As you listen it may be helpful to know the context. The message was given at East Valley Bible Church Tempe at a BUILD (Becoming United In Leadership Disciplines: one of the first levels of leadership development, identification, and training at my church) class. BUILD is focussed around 6 disciplines. We begin with the first 3:
  • D1: Shepherding your heart
  • D2: Shepherding your home
  • D3: Shepherding your ministry
This message was given focussing on D2 but seeking to show the continuity between the three disciplines. Understanding these labels will help you understand what I am referring to when I mention them. Use the following links to download the resources:
In order to supplement your study, I recommend you purchase the following books related to the topic in order of descending priority:
  1. Cross-Centered Life (Mahaney)
  2. Hospitality Commands (Strauch)
  3. Agape Leadership (Strauch)
  4. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Piper)
  5. Face to Face (Wilkins)

Keywords: hospitality

Bob Kauflin Blogging

Bob Kauflin who leads worship at the Sovereign Grace Church, Covenant Life in Gathersburg, Maryland is now blogging at WorshipMatters. No feeds coming from his site though, so I can't blogroll it. Content is great, and I'm sure it will continue to be. If adds an RSS feed and the ability to comment, it should be a very edifying blog.

Kauflin's CD, Upward: The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project, is the most listened to cd in my collection. He has truly led Sovereign Grace Ministries to crank out consistently good and God-glorifying worship songs. I'm excited about the new Worship God Live cd.

Thanks to Reformissionary for the heads-up.

Blogging and Homosexuality

I have not yet completely gathered my thoughts to the point to where I am ready for a full-fledged post regarding how insincere we are when we say "love the sinner; hate the sin" especially when it comes to homosexuality. Therefore, I will keep my comments short. Check back--probably sometime during in January when I'll have more time to write--for an expanded post. Basically, this is a challenge for myself and for all Christians to see people who's sin is of a homosexual nature as possible recipients of God's saving grace. Yes, they are enemies of God, but so was I (Rom 5:10), and I am proud of I think otherwise. I challenge us not to judge homosexuals by a standard which we would not want to be judged by ourselves. They are in sin, yes! It is a horrific sin, yes. But I am a sinner who, if the truth of my inner thoughts and desires were revealed, is far more depraved than the most hedonistic homosexual I have ever met.

(read more...)

Keywords: homosexuality,grace

Church Buying Strip Club

I just stumbled upon this AP Story in the "odd" stack entitled, "Strip Club Owner Weighs Offer from Church". I'm not sure what to think of it, but what I do know is this seems like a lucrative business model that the strip club owner has discovered: This will be the second start-up club that the church has bought. The owner is "not sure" if he will start another or not. I applaud the efforts, but perhaps this is not the most effective strip-club control methods:

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My favorite software site: Journeyed.com

I always like passing on helpful information, and if you are a student or a teacher, this will most likely prove to save you significant money. JourneyEd is a site that sells student and teacher versions of popular software, many times at over 90% discount. I have personally saved hundreds of dollars from this site and as long as I am a student hope to save much more. This is will be a post you'll want to bookmark so you can get back to the site often (Support my blog by clicking the link below)

(read more...)

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