Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lord, Renew Our Hearts!

The Church I'm privileged to pastor is in a unique community. Eight years ago the village of Binbrook had 200 people. Today, we are sitting at about 8,000, with another two thousand projected newcomers in the next two years or so. We are now a part of the city of Hamilton. What was once a little country town, an intersection, really, is now White/Light Blue Collar suburbia. It's exciting that our church really wants to be on a mission to the growing community around us. We know that we need to grow and change, and we are actively praying/thinking/talking to see just how to do so, to better reach the unreached who are literally moving to our doorstep. As I've been thinking through these issues in my own studies (so I can give leadership in these things), one resource I've been devouring is the Redeemer Church Planter Manual. Granted, pastoring a 170 year old church is the farthest thing from church planting. But the insights that Tim Keller piles on continue to be a blessing to me in my own 'established church in suburbia' context.

Here's one example. In a chapter on corporate renewal/revival, Keller begins by saying that right doctrine is the first essential to any authentic revival. His second point is equally true, but from my perspective, much more pervasive. He writes:

"The second condition for renewal is to be deeply aware that doctrine is not enough. Smugness in doctrinal accuracy leads to dead orthodoxy. Ironicaly, the doctrinal accuracy becomes a 'work' which replaces Jesus as Saviour. The result is spiritual pride. Instead, what makes us Christians is doctrinal truth spiritually applied to a spiritually illumined heart (1 Thess 1:3-5)" (pg 200-201).

Keller then speaks of the Christian's need to anticipate the presence of God 'coming down' during corporate worship. He offers quotes from the Welsh revivals to show just how experiential truth was to these blessed men.

Lord, do this in Binbrook - at our church and all the others around us!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Keller - The Story Behind Counterfeit Gods

Tim Keller tells the story behind his new book Counterfiet Gods: the Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power at his blog. I found most helpful his personal sharing of workaholism and its underlying heart motives. Pastors and any other Christian who works hard, will benefit from this short article.

Note: I've corrected the article's link, I think!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Read a Book

After continually hearing (and reading) references to it by John Piper and Tim Challies, I finally began reading Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading yesterday. Already, only 60 pages in, I've benefited greatly and am thankful for this book on how to learn best from the books one reads. I only wish I read this one sooner! Here's a teaser quote from it (the most famous one, I think):

There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.

Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers — unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books — a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many — every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) …

But the soul of a book “can” be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini’s score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores — marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them—is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author.

Wise Words on Sex by Tim Challies

This week Tim Challies is planning to write five articles on sex. His first article, Pornifying the Marriage Bed can be found here. I've read it and it is excellent advice for any man: young, old, married, single.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

150 free Keller sermons

Here is a link to the Remeemer church page with a new expanded free section - 150 free sermons, to be exact.

Their own explanation is copied/pasted below:

Redeemer’s Sermon Ministry has been faithfully recording, cataloging and reproducing all of our sermons for the past 20 years. To celebrate all 20 years of our history, and to meet the growing demand for our church’s teaching in New York City and around the world, we have created this resource of 150 sermons and lectures covering a broad array of topics, completely free to download and share.

The recordings chosen for the Free Sermon Resource were culled from classic sermon series as well as lectures and seminar addresses delivered to various Redeemer ministry gatherings, and are intended to present to the listener the full scope of teachings they would receive over several years of active involvement at Redeemer.

Navigation of the resource was prepared in such a way as to provide depth and facility to listeners at any stage of their experience with Christianity. All sermons and lectures were classified into three broad categories: Discovery, Growth and Mission. Each of these has more specific sub-categories for further browsing. In addition, summaries and tags for keyword searches have been applied to each of the sermons.

Redeemer’s primary method of evangelism has always been through the planting of gospel-centered churches. The Free Sermon Resource is not intended as a “broadcast ministry” which would create “virtual” members listening from home, rather than getting involved in their local congregations. Instead, we hope that this will serve as a “resource” for the broader movement of the gospel in the world: both as an evangelistic tool to share with our inquiring friends, neighbors and co-workers, and as a way of sharing our core principles, or “DNA,” to assist in the planting and nurturing of gospel-centered churches around the world - many of them in places difficult to reach via traditional means.
Please enjoy listening and sharing the good news!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm really looking forward to reading Tim Keller's new book: Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters I've heard Keller speak on this topic lots and always have my heart sins exposed, and pointed to Christ. Here is a short video of Keller explaining his book:

Tim Challies reviews the book here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

David Letterman and the Gospel

In my sermon this past Sunday I told the story of David Letterman's blackmailer and what it teaches us about the gospel. While Letterman found it chilling that, a) someone knew many of the horrible things he's done, and, b) he held in his hands a catalog of many bad things he's really done, I said that on the day of judgment, our deeds will be made public before a holy God and a watching world, and we will be judged for them. It was a powerful time of reflecting on the severity of sin before a holy God. I thought I'd link to the article by Russell Moore that first showed me this connection with Letterman. I also thought I'd post the 10 minute clip of Letterman outlining the details of the extortion attempt. Notice the way he makes jokes, even when he's feeling very heavy!
Note: I don't think the video was embedded properly. If you don't see it, follow this link.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tim Keller on Learing From Willow Creek

Among the 'most influential' men on my view of the Christian life and Church life is undoubtedly Tim Keller. During the amazing years I spent at Grace Toronto Church, I was immersed in a church atmosphere shaped by Keller's ministry model - our pastor, Stephen Beck was mentored by Keller. In the two years as a member and then additional two as an intern pastor (and still a member), my views of life and ministry were forever shaped, even though I'd never read a word of Keller's or heard any of his 'tapes' (it was the late 90's). Since becoming a pastor I've benefitted from Keller's recent publications (The Reason for God is my favourite), and his audio ministry (I especially love his free class on preaching Christ in a postmodern world, found on iTunes). Not surprisingly, then, this post of his, from his new blog, completely resonated with me. Lately I've been repenting of a lack of intentionality in my ministry and Keller expresses what is going on in my heart. Read his short post and be blessed!