Check out this great quote by Christopher J.H. Wright from The Mission of God, over on Of First Importance.
Bluntly, we need a holistic gospel because the world is in a holistic mess. And by God’s incredible grace we have a gospel big enough to redeem all that sin and evil has touched. And every dimension of that good news is good news utterly and only because of the blood of Christ on the cross.
– Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God, 315.
Also, for an interesting discussion on just what the “gospel” is, go check out my friend Stephen’s blog over at Daylight.
Came across a great article this morning on adoption (much thanks to Justin Taylor for the usually good posts and links). This writer tells the story of their adoption of two boys and the myriad of questions they were asked regarding their newly adopted sons. It has some really great insights into the nature of adoption, the biases we all carry, and the radical truth that lies behind adoption – especially our adoption into God’s family in Christ. Check it out here. This is the part that got me hooked:
Maria and I had returned to Kentucky to wait for the call to return to pick up our children, and had only these pictures of young Maxim and Sergei, our equivalent of a prenatal sonogram, to show to our friends and relatives back home. But people kept asking: “Are they brothers?”
“They are now,” I replied. “Yes,” the lady snapped, “I know. But are they really brothers?” Clenching my jaw, I coolly responded, “Yes, now they are both our children so they are nowreally brothers.” The woman sighed, rolled her eyes, and said, “Well, you know what I mean.”
Of course, we did know what she meant. She meant did these two boys—born three weeks apart—share a common biological ancestry, a common bloodline, some common DNA. It struck me that this question betrayed what most of us tend to view as really important when it comes to sonship: traceable genetic material.
This is the reason people would also ask us, “So do you also have any children of your own?” And it is the reason newspaper obituaries will often refer to the deceased’s “adopted child,” as though this were the equivalent of a stepchild or a protégé, rather than a real offspring.
Just came across this interesting post over here about a church in Texas converting to Judaism. I found two things very convicting. First, the author of the post stated that he “always found the Jewish apologetics more robust.” I honestly think there is something to this. At least on some level guys, typical evangelicalism of today really does have some weak “reasons” for why Christianity is not only true, but relevant. I don’t really know about Jewish apologetics on their own, but I wonder how much more “scholarly” their approach and conclusions are from good, evangelical scholars (the kind you won’t find in a Christian Book Store in the Target shopping center, for example). That being said, I feel fairly safe about what I wrote concerning the state of evangelical christianity apologetics. This is a sad reality, I’m affraid. The second thing that was really convicting was that the author recounted that the minister and his congregation are finding “new insights and heritage to explore.” This just begs the question what “bible” this church was reading before the conversion to Judaism. Even if they did what a lot of churches do these days, and equate the Scripture as New Testament only – Quick Aside, I recently heard at a church meeting someone ask the preacher when he was planning on preaching from one of the Gospels, because it had been a while since they had “heard the words and teachings of Jesus.” Don’t get me started on this one! – they wouldn’t have to read too far to realize that the NT sees the OT as its heritage. Galatians 3:27-29 says:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And aif you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
This is why we need to be careful with how we treat and understand God’s Word. It is His One story about redeeming a people for Himself in order to restore His world that has been ruined by sin.
Paste just published their Top 100 albums of 2007. I find it a little alarming (and maybe I’m just behind the times a bit, for a 29 year old), that there are enough new albums coming out each year that there can be a distinguished list of the Top 100 – not of all time, not of the decade, but of 1 year!!!
Anyway, I’m glad to see several great artists and albums in the Top 10 (a much more telling number in my opinion, than 100). Iron and Wine came in at #10 with The Sheperhd’s Dog (a great album definitely worth getting or checking out). Wilco was ranked #7 with Sky Blue Sky (good). I love – LOVE – that The Arcade Fire was ranked #2 with Neon Bible. But again in my opinion, this should have been #1. It is a fantastic album, with each song balancing fine musicianship, catchy (non-popy) tunes, and penetrating and soul-bearing lyrics.
My only complaint with the list (other than 100 is too many), is that Radiohead wasn’t in the Top 10; they came in at #12. I know these things are subjective, but c’mon! In Rainbows is a great Radiohead album (which is saying alot), and definitely one of the better ones of 2007! Check out the list for yourself (here).
Go to this site and vote for your favorite questions. This is for an upcoming series that Mars Hill Church in Seattle will preach through in the beginning of the year; we pick the questions, which will then be turned into topics and then Mark Driscoll and his teaching team will preach on those topics the first few weeks of 2008.
There are some great questions that would be interesting to hear Driscoll preach on. I don’t think the one about the rapture will get knocked out of the Top 10, but there are some other really good questions that are in contention. I’m actually pulling for the questions concerning Election and Baptism – just because those are topics I am studying and wrestling with, so I’d love to hear a preacher I respect and admire to address those issues. But figure out your own issues, go to the site, vote up to 10 times (either all different questions, or 10x for 1 if you wanted to), and lets see what Mark will preach on come 2008.
As usual, there are some really great posts and links over at Unashamed Workman regarding the privilege and responsibility of preaching. If you guys haven’t checked out Colin’s blog yet, you really need to. He just put up a post about Tim Keller and some thoughts of his on outlines for preaching Redemptive, Gospel/Christ-centered Sermons from the text (click here). Here’s a quote to wet your appetite:
“Our failure to do it [Imperative – what to do] is due to our functional rejection of what he did [Indicative – what is true]. Remembering him frees our heart so we can change like this.”
I have to say that as I read Keller’s outline I found myself being drawn to this approach when developing a sermon outline. To those out there who are willing to entertain this next question I have, does this run counter to what we are being taught here at seminary? (This will probably matter mostly to the guys currently in seminary taking the homiletics classes – but all are welcome to comment). It seems that what Keller would drive at in this outline – and it is a small sampling of his thoughts on preaching as a whole (Amen Collin to the thought about Keller and a book on preaching!) – is that Jesus is the Hero of every story of the Bible – which I am inclined to agree with. But it seems that at seminary we are being told to be cautious and not 1) leapfrog to Jesus (instead see God, not just the second person of the Trinity, as the Hero of the story), and 2) not equate every other “hero” as deficient, and thus showing by negative example our need for another Hero.I have no stated opinion yet, but found myself wrestling with the tension between what I think I’m hearing in class and what I find myself gravitating to regarding preaching (and it’s not just because Tim Keller said it). What do you all think – is there a tension, or am I just missing something?
I have to say that I have been a bad blogger lately – and justifiably so. School has ramped up, and I have been unusually stressed out. So this past week was a great opportunity to practice an area of much needed sanctification in my life, something I like to call rest! It was absolutely fabulous to take several days “off” – no school work, no running out to study, or meet with anybody, or be anxious about how much I have to do in the next two weeks (which is alot). Instead, I got to roll around on the floor with my two children – Maya and Alex, re-arrange our living room to decorate for Christmas, lay on the couch without a Systematic Theology book resting on my belly, and spend some time on the couch with my wife. I also spent very little time on the internet, and think that I might need to make that a recurring practice every so often.I do have some things in the works though for the blog that I wanted to preview for you all. Sometime in the next few weeks I am going to posting several reviews of books. One of my joys is sharing resources, and as I come across good books from class, or from generous folks (thank you Michele!), I’d like to tell you all about them, and recommend to you the ones that are worthwhile. So, be on the look out for a post or two on Pierced for Our Transgressions (a great book on Penal Substitution), as well as something on Piper’s (and others) recent works, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World and The Future of Justification.Early on next year, a friend here at seminary and I will be trying to read through some good stuff by some older generation, godly men. We’ve talked about starting off with Communion with The Triune God – the recent adaptation(?) of John Owens’ classic. I hope to make that a regular posting. In addition, I’ll keep posting thoughts on faith, life, culture and preaching, because it seems those are the things that occupy the free space of my mind these days.
The following are some quotes and insights from Bryan Chapell’s bookHoliness by Grace. The concept of gospel-motivation as normative for the Christian life is one that has been rocking my world lately. Not only is it a vital part of a sermon series at church (“The Joy Church: Series Through Philippians”), but it seems to be resonating with my own struggles with sin and living as a redeemed child of God. I’ve put some my reflecting thoughts in blue to differentiate between what Chapell wrote and what I’m processing.
What Should Move Us? Turning From a Desire for Gain
Not for Self Protection
• “The loses the thankful leper risks indicate that neither self-promotion nor self-protection drives him…what we do for God cannot make god our debtor, and should never be done primarily for our gain. ” [Looking at Parable of 10 Lepers Healed] p. 30
• If we are serving for our personal gain, who are we really serving?
• Serve to get favors from God – self-promotion –> More my deal than I’m aware, I’m afraid
• Serve to keep Him off our backs – self-protection
• “What such people think is gaining them ‘brownie points’ with God is actually to their demerit in heaven’s accounting, which considers the motives of the heart as well as deeds of service,” p. 30 • “The point is not that his blessings should never motivate us at all, but they cannot be the driving force of our service. His blessings are the oil that helps the machinery of obedience operate, but love for God and desire for his glory are the pistons and the wheels,” p. 31
• Frankly, I think I would have been alright without this statement. How do you combat wrong, works-related motivation for the blessings of God when they still “help the machinery of obedience operate?” This is my struggle; I’d rather chuck all of the obedience – God loves you despite what you do or don’t do – or all of the blessings, and not let them mix. But then, what am I left with when I do this? Neither a very good religion, or a joyful relationship (I think anyway?).
Turning to a Delight in Gratitude
• “…the Bible teaches us that what should move us to serve God is our delight in expressing thanksgiving to him for his grace,” p. 32
• “What ultimately keeps our motives biblically prioritized and holy before God is the profound conviction that obeying God will merit us nothing. This is why Jesus tells us that, when we have done all that we should do, we are still unprofitable servants. Jesus does not nullify the value of duty in order to dissuade us from serving God, but to keep us from depending on duty to gain God’s acceptance…Thus we learn to serve God not for personal gain but for his glory – not for love of self but for love of the Savior,” p. 32
• Quoting Samuel Bolton
• “There is nothing more powerful than love. Things impossible to other are easy to them that love. Love knows no difficulties…Love is an affection that refuses to be put off by duties or difficulties which come between it and the person loved,” p. 32
• Quoting B.B. Warfield
• “We are sinners, and we know ourselves to be sinners lost and helpless in ourselves, but we are saved sinners, and it is our salvation which gives tone to our live – a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert. Fir it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much and, who loving, rejoices much,” p. 33
• “Because God accepts us on the basis of his unmerited pardon, rather than on the basis of our earning his affection or compensating for our guilt, we are enabled to serve him with an unrestrained childlike love that is a joyful response to his care. The power of this joy to strengthen and heal our lives makes God’s mercy the primary message we must share in our churches, counseling rooms, classes, homes and workplaces,” p. 35
• “Grace distinguishes its possessors by their joy,” p. 35
• So what does it mean then if “joy” isn’t the characteristic of your life, and with that, your relationship with God?
Here is the content for the Covenant Seminary’s Francis Schaeffer Institute Lecture Series (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) on the Emerging Church. This was a series of talks given by Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey and V.President of the Acts 29 Network. Darrin is a guy who neither absolutely praises or bashes the Emerging Church movement. Instead, he gives a really good inside picture of it, while also standing somewhat outside of it and gives it a good critical assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re out there and you’re the least bit curious, or cautious, of anything that bears the label “emerging”, then listen to these lectures.
Audio Content (page – you can download the lectures individually)