Friday, January 28, 2011

Announcing a New Blog Format (or one that I will try out, anyway)

A day away to rest and reflect has proved very beneficial already. In fact, I may just write an article about the 24 hour retreat my wife and I were recently blessed with. But for now I'll share an idea I had for a new blog format. With life change has come new blog direction, a sort of manageable yet beneficial plan, to help me grow, and to potentially bless a wider group as well. Instead of the previous format, made up mostly of haphazard links to things I appreciate, I've come up with a bit of a plan. Here's what I'm proposing to try:
1) Ian's Links - Instead of posting links as I see them, I'll keep an ongoing list of helpful links, and then post them in one document, once a week or so. We'll see how it goes.

2) Articles - Now that I've stepped out of a regular preaching ministry for a season, I've got a bit more 'output' energy in my tank, and I'd like to use it to hone my writing/critical thinking skills. If I can be of help to people who visit the blog at the same time, even better! My most recent article was an anecdote to illustrate men's and women's God-given roles, and can be found here. Stay tuned for more (maybe one per week or so?).

3) Odds and Ends - I'm sure that I'll still post some odds and ends, but about one link compilation and one article per week may be a good pace to aim at.

4) Confession - Some readers may observe that I plan to do in a week what my friend Tim Challies does every day, and they'd be correct. In developing this blogging plan, I'm simply recognizing my limitations. Tim has a lightning quick mind, an incredible ability to process information quickly, and get that information into pixels almost immediately. I have a slow mind, slow fingers, and a need to edit and reword things that Tim moved beyond in about grade 5.

5) Qualification - Blogging is much lower on the priority list than many other important duties. If this becomes a burden in any way, I reserve the right to pull the plug without warning or remorse.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ian's Links

Here is the first edition that may prove to be a bit of a lasting change here on 'Keeping Christ Central'. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm toying with the idea of changing my blog's format, and this is a first attempt. Leave a comment to let me know how you like 'Ian's Links'!

What would Billy Graham have done differently? Looking back on his life, the great evangelist humbly offers some very wise counsel to young bucks like me!

The Pastor's Prayer Habits - This 86 minute panel discussion features Charles Price (of People's Church in Toronto), Tim Kerr (of Sovereign Grace Church in Toronto), and Ken Davis (of Thistletown Baptist Church in Toronto). Paul Martin (of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto) moderates. I was there and it is excellent.

A Man, A Soldier, A Christian - I appreciated this two part biography of Stonewall Jackson, written by Tim Challies. Biographies of great men often speak to me like no other book (other than the Bible), and short biographies of people with whom I'm not familiar, often introduce me to those whose lives I'll read more about in the future. Jackson is, no doubt, one of those men, thanks to Tim's very moving sketch. Find it here: (Part 1), (Part 2).

The Pastor and Criticism - I've been appreciating CJ Mahaney's ongoing series (Part 1) (Part 2).

Cautions for Mere Christianity - Kevin DeYoung acknowledges that he learns something every time he reads C.S. Lewis, but points out two key flaws in the famous 'Mere Christianity'. The simple fact is that Lewis was not an evangelical, and these two key flaws highlight this for us. For my part, I'll go on reading Lewis, but will be cautious with who I give a Lewis book to.

Why you need to be critical in order to be teachable. I appreciated this Mortimer Adler quote, posted by Justin Taylor.

U.S. Missionary Fatally Wounded in Mexico - This is a tragic story of a female missionary who was randomly shot in the head with her husband at her side while in their car. Whether it was random or planned, she is a martyr in her work in a cartel-controlled region of Mexico!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Roe vs. Wade

I really appreciated this article by Kevin DeYoung on the eve of the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Especially helpful was his overview of the history of abortion and killing of infants from the ancient world, and how the spread of the gospel stopped its general acceptance about 1500+ years ago.

Here is his first paragraph:
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made up out of judicial thin air a constitutional right to abortion on demand. Some view the ruling as a giant step forward, but it was really a quantum leap back–back about two millennia.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Did I Miss This? (The One Space Rule)

I just read an article on typographical convention that totally surprised me. Apparently it's been wrong for decades to use two spaces after a period (woops!). This article explains the logic, the sources, and the rules for what will be a long unbreaking of a habit for me.

HT: Challies

Monday, January 17, 2011


I posted a link to this a week or so ago, but thanks to Kevin DeYoung I found the You Tube video. My kids keep asking to watch it and I don't mind the repetition; it's funny every time. Trust me, watch!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Follow-Up

A while back I posted a collection of links to free Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons (here). That post solicited over 600 visitors in the first two days, and some e-mails and comments added a few more links (which I later added to that post). But today I noticed a new comment that was so helpful, I thought I'd copy/paste it here. Thanks to "Calvinistic" for his wisdom:
The best way to get free sermons from Dr. Lloyd-Jones is through OnePlace, which will give you the url for the podcast. Then just manually add that to itunes for automatic updates.

The main reason that most of MLJ's sermons are not free is that the Recordings Trust was set up before the internet era to make the sermons available through cassette tapes. There was a great deal of audio conversion (reel-to-reel to cassette) to be done to make this happen. The internet era has added another step to this conversion process. If it were not for the Recordings Trust, we would have nothing today.

Also, someone still has to administer the work and pay for things like bandwidth, time, resources, etc. Many of the preachers who give away their sermons already have that built in, because they have a staff and budget to take care of that. The people who make the Lloyd-Jones sermons available don't have that.

Guest Post: Caleb Vaillancourt (My 5 year old's first ever blog post)

Today We Play In The Back Yard.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How John Piper Writes Biographical Messages

. . .and an announcement of his 2011 topic (hint: I've been hoping he'd do a bio of this man for years!!)

HT: Clint. . . who should e-mail Piper his excellent paper!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Interview with Lecrae Moore and Trip Lee

In the video that follows, Justin Taylor sits down with Christian hip hop artists Lecrae Moore and Trip Lee to discuss life, music, and ministry. My wife and I really enjoyed watching, split over a couple of evenings.

We were reinforced in our appreciation for the theological depth, the gospel-centeredness, and the holy lives of these two Reach Records artists.

We also learned:
- that Trip Lee is only 22 and is about to take a 5 month break from music to do an internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church under Pastor Mark Dever
- that they view themselves as indigenous missionaries to the inner city
- that hip-hop as an 'in your face' art form most resembles preaching and most lends itself to challenging people with gospel truth
- that these men are both intentionally humble, seeking to give all glory to God
- that, in the words of Justin Taylor, a 2-3 hour concert provides a 'thick gospel presentation'.
- that there is an enormously mixed audience at any given concert. Many, many unbelievers, and also believers, young, old (60's even), white, black, etc. People who don't even like hip hop come because of how rich the message is. People who love hip hop but not Jesus come because these guys are talented.

My wife and I have also been enjoying Lecrae's Pre-Christmas release: "Rehab", and his most recent release (yesterday, in fact): "Rehab: The Overdose". The links are for the Canadian version of iTunes. Americans will have to do their own searching (sorry!).

Take a look at the video. It's great!

Justin Taylor Interview: Lecrae Moore and Trip Lee from Crossway on Vimeo.

Saskatchewan won't appeal court ruling on gay-marriage law

From The Globe and Mail:

The Saskatchewan government says it will not appeal a court ruling that says marriage commissioners cannot refuse to wed same-sex couples on religious grounds.

The province had asked the Appeal Court to rule on proposed legislation that would have allow commissioners to cite their religion in saying “no” to gays and lesbians.

The court said the law would be unconstitutional and would amount to discrimination against same-sex couples.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goodbye, With Tears!

"And much weeping came from all, and falling on the neck of Paul, they were kissing him" (Acts 20:37, author's own translation).
Such was the response of the Ephesian elders to the Apostle Paul as the moment of goodbye finally came. Extreme affection, extreme emotion, even as they all went about doing God's will with joy. Saying goodbye for the sake of the kingdom is often hard!

'Why these tears, Grace Fellowship Church?' That was the question Pastor Paul Martin asked this past Sunday as he sent away 30 beloved members of his church family. Paul had mentored Pastor Julian Freeman for 11+ years. When they began Julian was a high school kid, and now he is a mature pastor who I'd love to have ministering to my family. The other 29 people included Julian's wife and three kids, and 15 other members of Grace Fellowship Church, with their kids. They were being sent away, hived off actually, to plant a daughter church in the East end of Toronto.

Sunday was a day full of joy in God and full of weeping at relational loss. Paul's sermon was a Biblical theology of weeping, tracing 10 Biblical reasons why people appropriately weep. It was excellent, and it can be found here.

Sunday was exciting. My family and I are becoming a part of a kingdom-minded church, a church that cares more about the great commission than personal comfort. My family and I are becoming a part of a healthy church, a church whose leaders we want to follow because they are worthy of following, and a church whose members we are excited to serve and be served by. But my family and I are not becoming a part of a safe church, where we can settle into comfortable ministries for the decades to come. And we love every minute of it. I hope yesterday was not the only tearful goodbye for the sake of the kingdom that we witness at Grace Fellowship Church!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jesus In Every Book of the Bible

This is excellent. . .

HT: Dash and JLF

Funny - Animal Voiceovers

This is about what we all need on a lazy Saturday morning. Follow the link and laugh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On The Other Side of the Pulpit - A Request For Prayer

John Piper has just returned from an eight month sabbatical, which was really an eight month fast from all public ministry and productivity, in order to focus on his soul, his marriage, his extended family, and his future in ministry. His published report can be found here.

I found reading the report very encouraging, because I'm at the beginning of a projected year (or so) of 'working sabbatical' from pastoral ministry. I have stepped out of the pastorate after six blessed years serving Binbrook Baptist Church, and am seeking employment to provide for my family, but hopefully, that will also allow for me to take a true break in order to keep going in pastoral ministry for the decades to come. My passion is still the advance of the gospel through the local church, and my primary gifts are still preaching, evangelism, teaching, and shepherding. But after much prayer and talking to those closest to me, a break was clearly the best thing right now. (On that note, please pray that God provides the right source of income to help us in this time of transition, and that God begins to prepare, even now, the right ministry fit for us, even as we stop thinking about vocational ministry, at least for the first half of this break.)

Back to John Piper's report, one can understand why I found his writing so helpful on this front-end of my own sabbatical. For this post I'll share three paragraphs he wrote under 'soul' and two key lessons I learned from them.

First, Piper modeled the need to settle into a specific local church. He wrote:

Our normal place of corporate worship has been Sovereign Grace Fellowship, led by Rick Gamache, who used to serve on the Desiring God staff and is one of the best preachers in the Twin Cities.

I find it totally weird that so many men who step out of ministry fail to root themselves in a local church. They go around, preaching from church to church, but have no formal accountability to one specific body. Not that itinerant ministry is bad. But every Christian should be under the authority of a specific group of elders. Even a senior pastor is not to be a lone ranger, but is accountable to the elders with whom he shepherds his church. So why do so many step out of ministry and accountability, and into no accountability? Piper did well to get himself into a local church!

Second, Piper's experience under the regular ministry of the word was a positive one. He desired it to be, but a preacher will only know that he loves God more than the ministry, as he sits under another man's ministry for a season. Over the past six years I've preached, on average, 45 sermons per year, led about 40 Sunday Evening Interactive Bible Studies per year, led in 40 Wednesday evening devotionals per year, and taught about 15-20 adult Sunday School lessons per year, not to mention the odd outside speaking engagement and the recent addition of evangelistic small groups. In other words, I've been swimming in God's Word in order to give it out to others, and this has been an incredible blessing. Through all of this I've kept up private, personal devotions in the early mornings, and I've been learning generally through other reading and iPod lectures. But my main focus has been on giving out the Word. In six years of ministry I've had only one stretch of three consecutive weeks with no public ministry (in year one!), and five stretches of two consecutive weeks. On this side of my sabbatical I've now spent two Sundays in a row with no preaching and I'm refusing all invitations to do so for at least two months. How did Piper handle the long-term on the other side of the pulpit?

This was a soul check: Will I flourish spiritually in corporate worship when I am not leading or preaching? O how sweet to experience the answer to this question! I sang and I soaked. And it was not a chafing to be on the front-side of the precious pulpit of God.

I have to confess that for two consecutive Sundays I've been tempted at times to think through how I'd do things differently (and in my warped imagination, better), than the preacher. On both Sundays I've sat under preachers who are far more mature, have had far more fruitful ministries, and who are far more gifted than I am. But I still daydreamed at times about how I'd put a certain point, or expand or contract or illustrate or apply in a way that would wow the masses. Pride is a sick sin, and it sounds really silly when one admits it in writing! But, thanks be to God, for two Sundays my dominant response has been thankfulness. I get to sit under God's word, grow in him, and worship him, as I rest. For two Sundays I've walked away worshiping God and clinging to Christ in a way that I was not when I walked into the building. Pray for me that this only grows, and that the species of pride are put to death quickly in me! Pray that my calling would be authenticated as I go through this. Again, Piper is a great model:

I love the word of God, and to have it cascade over me with clarity and depth and power has been authenticating to my faith and my calling. My faith, because I really did enjoy communion with Christ in worship. I experienced afresh that I love God, not just talking about God. And my calling, because I was on the joyful receiving end of the power of the preached word. Yes, I want to preach like this. I want to do this for people.

So, praise God for the godly model of John Piper, and pray for me, that I'd follow his faithful example and be refreshed for the purpose of a lifetime of ministry ahead.