Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James McDonald Debate Multi-Site Churches

This was a very helpful interaction that I commend to all who are thinking through the essential issue of the 'how' of the mission of the church. Specifically, the question is whether having a multi-site church with video screen preaching is a viable New Testament model of making disciples. I've gone back and forth on this one, but at this point Dever's arguments resonate most with me. Watch and be helped!

Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote from Ben Peays on Vimeo.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Gadarene: John Piper's First Graphic Novel

I just saw that John Piper has written an imaginative tale of a demon-possessed man from the gospels. If I remember correctly, this man lived naked in caves, possessed by a legion of demons, and after Jesus' exorcism he was found seated, clothed, and in his right mind. The story has always captured my imagination, and this novel about what his life may have been like, looks really helpful. It looks good for adults, but great for kids (although my four year old, who won't watch Disney's 'Cars' movie anymore because he's scared of 'Frank the Combine' is a few years away from enjoying it, judging by the graphics). Take a look:

HT: Challies

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paul Miller on Prayer

I just saw that Justin Taylor has posted some audio and written transcripts of an interview with Paul Miller on Prayer. My favourite books on prayer are "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire," by Jim Cymbala, and "A Praying Life," by Paul Miller. I read the latter book a few months ago, and the former a few weeks ago, and they have both really impacted my prayer life. Take a listen or a read; I'm sure you'll benefit from Miller! The link is here.

Note: if you are a part of Binbrook Baptist Church, both of these books on prayer are in our church library on the shelf marked 'Our Pastor's Favourites'.

Great Advice on Marriage. . .By Alice Cooper!!! (Yes, THAT Alice Cooper)

I just watched a four minute video interview with a rock star that really surprised me. Alice Cooper gives some really good advice on marriage. Guys, watch and learn from this guy!

HT: Challies

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Reason for God DVD

The Reason for God is among my favourite apolagetics books. Written by a pastor-evangelist-theologian, it thoughtfully interacts with the most major objections people today have about Christianity. The book helps Christians think about 'getting traction' with non-Christians, while deepening their own faith. I was excited, then, to see today that a DVD is coming out. Below is a copy/paste of the summary. A link to the video trailer can be found here.

The Reason For God promises to be unlike any Christian DVD series we’ve ever seen. It actually shows the presenter (Keller) in live, unscripted conversation with an articulate group of six people who passionately disagree with Christian views.

Effectively, it’s Christian Vs Lions all over again. And you can find out who wins on October 15th when it’s released by Redeemer/Zondervan.

Here are the session topics:

Discussion 1

Isn’t the Bible a Myth?

Hasn’t Science Disproved Christianity?

Discussion 2

How Can You Say There Is Only One Way to God?

What About Other Religions?

Discussion 3

What Gives You the Right to Tell Me How to Live My Life?

Why Are There So Many Rules?

Discussion 4

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Is There So Much Evil in the World?

Discussion 5

Why Is the Church Responsible for So Much Injustice?

Why Are Christians Such Hypocrites?

Discussion 6

How Can God Be Full of Love and Wrath at the Same Time?

How Can God Send Good People to Hell?

Published at the same time will be a Discussion Guide to help train group leaders. Additionally, a guide to help you run your group will be published online for free. Nice touch, that.

HT: Challies

Does Using Apple Products Make You a Better Christian?

I've been trying to justify buying a new iPod touch for weeks. . .to myself and my wife. I'm almost there in convincing both of us, but not there yet, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'll use this article by Stephen Altrogge against my wife's claim that I'm an idolater who doesn't really need such an amazing little machine that I claim would be a great calendar, address book, music machine, video recorder, picture taker. . .or. . .toy!

Tim Keller's Small Group Curriculum: Evangelism in Acts

On labour day weekend I finished preaching through the book of Acts. 37 sermons over 11 months or so, and my life will never be the same again! When I first decided to tackle this book I had a few goals. Among them I wanted to: 1) blow all of my theological categories up and be open to change as God's Word shaped me; 2) grow in prayer and evangelism, etc, etc. Wrestling with every word of Acts over the course of 11 months was very precious to me. Reading Bock and Kistemacher were really helpful. Stott's commentary was golden. I Howard Marshall's work on Acts in the 'Commentary of the New Testament's Use of the Old Testament' (ed, Carson and Beale) was extremely helpful. But one book stood out as heads and tails above the rest in helpfulness: Tim Keller's Small Group Curriculum on Acts. I mention it here because most people I talk to have never even heard of it. It's available on the Redeemer Web site as a PDF download for $10. I printed it out and had it spiral bound at Staples. It would be useful as a small group study, but I used it as a bridge from exegesis to application in my sermon prep. As a pastor-theologian, Keller is always thinking about real people, and more importantly, a real church, as he writes. He is concerned to understand the message of Acts and to make it practical for real people. The Curriculum is written for the small group leader, to equip them as they walk the group through a set of questions on a given text (he walks through all of Acts chunk by chunk in 29 'lessons'). The second part of the curriculum is a 'blank' question book for the small group attendees to have handy for note-taking and personal study. With a focus especially on 'evangelism' this is a very valuable resource for any pastor who is seeking to have his own life changed, and to call others to 'come with him' down the path of deeper discipleship. I highly recommend it. You and find it here. The other small group curriculum can be found here (although I've only just begun to use the one on Romans, so I can't testify to their usefulness. . .note that the Acts one is an 'advanced' curriculum, which may indicate that it is that much more technical than the others).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Calling All Cheap, Shameless, Family-Oriented, Hungry Pastors

Cheap family fun. I love it when I find it. And yesterday I hit the big time. I took my family to East Side Mario's, and the four of us ate for under $20 after leaving a tip that was approaching 20%. Here's the story: East Side Mario's (at least the one near our home) has a Monday special: buy one entree, and get a kids' meal for free. My wife and I figured out that the $15 half chicken dinner (with a side of spaghetti instead of potatoes) would be plenty to split between the two of us, what with all of the salad and bread that comes along with it. It would be gluttony not to split it! And we also figured out that our 4 year old and 2 year old would be fine with splitting a 'kids' pizza, as it is big enough for any adult. We took advantage of the huge portions, ordered waters all around, and enjoyed a great family night for just under $20 after taxes and tip. The kids even enjoyed some juice, and my kids and wife even got a mini-ice cream cone each at the end of it all. You have to be willing to forgo pop and a bit of pride, but if you can hack it, it's a big meal at a great value.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Folly of 'Just Me and My Bible'

A while back I listened to some very helpful lectures on John Owen by Carl Trueman (found here). One line that stuck out to me was about Owen's extensive reading as an aid to exegesis. Trueman said (and I paraphrase) that the Reformers would have thought you were an idiot (his word!!) if you bragged about just reading the Bible. The gospel does not need to be reinvented every generation; this is the faith once for all handed down to the Saints'. But still, Piper points out in his lecture on Owen (found here) that Owen believed that prayer and assiduous meditation to be the two most important ingredients of Biblical interpretation. These two sides of the 'exegesis coin' have really informed the way I prepare expository sermons. I spend the first bulk of my time 'in the text' with pen, paper, and sweat. I even leave my computer at home. My main goal is to think and pray and pray and think. Then, I go to commentaries. I've found this to be an awesome aid to exegesis.

With all of that in mind, I was really thankful for Justin Taylor's post on a similar topic today. It's simply a number of quotes by smart godly guys that support what I've just written. Here they are:

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.

“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.”

—J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”

—Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?

“There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries.”

—Larry Woiwode, Acts (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).

(HT: Michael Haykin for the first two quotes)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Julian Freeman, Church Planter

My friend Julian writes about his church's plans to send him out as a church planter in East Toronto. Would you consider joining his work? Find his article here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Church on Mission

This video pumped me up for the advance of the gospel in my city! Take the four minutes and be encouraged!

HT: Challies