Thursday, September 29, 2011

Courageous

This trailer made me really want to see the movie. My wife and I really appreciated 'Fireproof', and the same group made 'Courageous'.



HT: JT

Chisso is a Friend of Mine

Here is a little snippet from our church's fellowship lunch this past Sunday. You may have seen the 'Jesus is a Friend of Mine' YouTube video. Well, in honour of our friend Chisso's birthday, our worship team did a little remix. Enjoy!

THABITI ANYABWILE: Multi-Site Churches are From Satan


I really appreciate Thabiti. Some adjectives that come to mind are: normal, authentic, humble, unassuming, gifted, homey, happy. He and his family have sat at my table and shared lunch. Our sons have played together, when they were both in diapers. As we sat and talked, he was as interested in my little ministry as I was of his broader influence. We talked evangelistic strategy and preaching, mentoring and being mentored. So when I saw the provocative title to his essay on multi-site churches, I laughed, then I wanted to read. And it didn't disappoint. As I struggle to come to convictions on this important ecclesiastical phenomenon, as I really wrestle with the desire to see lots and lots of souls saved, but also with the desire for Biblical ministries without pragmatism trumping faithfulness, his article was a great help to me. It begins this way:

Okay, that title is homage to James MacDonald, who says congregationalism is from Satan and whom I had the privilege of spending a couple days with at the recent 9marks @ Southeastern Conference. During the Baptist21 Panel, our moderator stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest by asking me what I thought about multi-site churches. Why me? I thought. Mark Dever is sitting right there. He loves talking about this stuff. Aww… man. Ask me about basketball.

So, after I finished my pity party, I answered my brother’s question, stated something like: “Thabiti, what arguments for multi-site have you found persuasive?” My articulate response: “Uh, none.”

Okay, this should be the end of the post. But because I’m in the Miami airport and the people-watching has become a bit weird, I think I’d rather invite you all to my misery and discovery.


His points are as follows:

Idolatry

Competition and Pride

Removes “Local” from “Local Churches”

Idolatry… Again

Pragmatism

Cultural Captivity


I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing here.

Steve Lawson: Notes Used in the Pulpit

I once heard Steve Lawson refer to the notes he uses in the pulpit as a mix of photocopied/cut/pasted Scripture (with literal scissors and tape) and then handwriting for all of his comments. Thanks to Josh Harris, a copy of one of those sermon notes are available for us all to view (in PDF format) here. When I first heard of this method, I naturally thought him a dinosaur. I mean, who uses scissors and tape in the sermon writing process? But now that I've seen it in PDF (ironically), I'm intrigued. As a Luddite at heart, who is equally an expositor at heart, I can now see the benefits of this. Take a look and learn from one man's model.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paul Tripp: God’s Will for Your Wait


I'm glad a good friend sent me the following article by Paul Tripp. It begins this way:

In ministry there are often moments when you are propelled by a biblical vision but called by God to wait. Waiting can be discouraging and hard. So what does it look like to wait in a way that makes you a participant in what God is doing rather than someone who struggles against the wait? Let me suggest several things.


His points are as follows:

Remind Yourself You Are Not Alone

Realize That Waiting Is Active

Celebrate How Little Control You Have

Celebrate God’s Commitment to His Work of Grace

Let Your Waiting Strengthen Your Faith

Count Your Blessings

Long for Eternity

Read the whole thing here.

HT: JT

Monday, September 26, 2011

Luther on Pastoral Pride

I had the following quote above my desk in my study for the first number of years of my pastorate in Binbrook. I saw Justin Taylor posted it today, so I thought I'd pass it on via a copy/paste. Take heed!

Martin Luther:

If, however, you feel and are inclined to think you have made it, flattering yourself with your own little books, teaching, or writing, because you have done it beautifully and preached excellently; if you are highly pleased when someone praises you in the presence of others; if you perhaps look for praise, and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it—if you are of that stripe, dear friend, then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears.

Then do not spare any expense! Decorate them with golden bells, so that people will be able to hear you wherever you go, point their fingers at you, and say, “See, see! There goes that clever beast, who can write such exquisite books and preach so remarkably well.” That very moment you will be blessed and blessed beyond measure in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, in that heaven where hellfire is ready for the devil and his angels.

—Martin Luther, LW 34:287-288.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MacArthur's Advice to Young Reformed Evangelicals


If I were to hand pick a few personal mentors from the crop of reformed influences today, it is likely that I'd begin with the Pipers and Kellers and Carsons of the world. John MacArthur has an awesome ministry, but I've never quite gelled with it for whatever reason. I have appreciated, though, sitting at his feet from time to time, and his article series to the Young, Reformed evangelicals of today was no different. What follows are the links the the articles, and then a few choice quotes:

1. Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed

2. Grow Up

3. Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

4. Keep Reforming


Some favourite quotes:

I sometimes think no group is more fashion-conscious than the current crop of hipster church planters—except perhaps teenage girls.

Charles Spurgeon understood the principle. He became pastor of London's largest and most famous Baptist congregation at the age of 20, less than five years after his conversion. But he consciously and diligently sought to display maturity beyond his years—especially in his manners and his approach to ministry. At age 40, he reflected on the brevity of his own adolescence: "I might have been a young man at twelve, but at sixteen I was a sober, respectable Baptist parson, sitting in the chair and ruling and governing the church. At that period of my life, when I ought perhaps to have been in the playground . . . I spent my time at my books, studying and working hard, sticking to it."

If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with “success.” The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.”

Now let’s be completely candid: Many (perhaps most) evangelical celebrities from the past half-century or so will never be remembered like the Reformers, because they will pass away with their own self-styled faddishness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where Have All The (Canadian) Pastoral Training Schools Gone?


So, where have they gone? I'm not condemning the Bible Colleges for broadening their purpose and then reinventing themselves as liberal arts training institutes. But the sad reality is, the school that specializes in training pastors seems to have gone the way of the Dodo bird, especially in Canada. Such a school that is also committed to the complementarian position is even more rare. That is why my recent conversation with the academic dean of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario (D.A. Carson's alma mater, by the way), was so encouraging. Their identity as a school is encapsulated by the following (taken from their web site):

1. Our Mandate
We are committed to the integration of faith and learning for the purpose of preparing our students to serve the church locally and globally, fulfilling the Great Commission. To that end, our programs provide for curricula focused on spiritual formation, a biblical foundation, theological integration, ministry and leadership preparation, critical evaluation, and effective communication.

2. Our Denominational Affiliation
Heritage College and Seminary is an agency of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches (Central Region), whose churches we serve along with other like-minded evangelical churches, organizations, and denominations.

3. Our Epistemology
We are committed to the absolute, propositional truth of God that exists and can be known objectively. We are committed to the pursuit of sound doctrine, not simply through the transfer of knowledge from professor to student, but also through Christian life experience and spiritual growth which occur in the context of community.

4. Our Hermeneutic
We are committed to the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Bible as God’s inerrant, infallible Word as the basis for all we do and teach, our interpretation and understanding of which is rooted in discovering the original author’s intended meaning, taking into account the grammatical structure of the text, the historical and cultural meaning of the words at the time they were written, and their literary genre and context, all with a view to ascertaining the theological truth of the passage.

5. Our Ecclesiology
We are committed to the headship of the church under Jesus Christ and the mandate of the church to make disciples, equipping them for ministry and growing them spiritually. We are committed to developing men and women to their full potential to serve Christ in the various ministries of the church. We affirm that the distinctive leadership role assigned to elders (which includes any pastor serving as an elder)is reserved for biblically qualified men on the basis of creation, the fall, and redemption.

6. Our Cultural Relevance
We are committed to being a community of faith that is relevant to our culture but not so affected by it that it compromises our Christian behaviour, beliefs, or message. In our culture we are committed to the accurate, relevant proclamation of the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the practical expression of Christian love, justice, and mercy.


Read more on the school's web site.

Monday, September 19, 2011

James Hamilton: How the Lord Provided For Me in Seminary

Many of my friends know that I have been prayerfully considering more schooling for the purpose of more ministry equipping. Now, I recognize that the stakes are extremely high in such a consideration, because I have a family and I am committed to leading and providing for that family. The discernment process needs to involve church leaders, one's desires, one's abilities, one's wife's support, and whether there the decision is a responsible one financially. But I have been shocked by the sheer volume of Christians who have accused me of being irresponsible for thinking of a) spending all of my savings for the purpose of school; b) entering a program when I don't have all of the funds needed to graduate. Some have even implied that the apex of Biblical faithfulness as a husband involves developing equity and padding my family's security. Sad. In my case, some financial factors fell through this past summer and we decided to defer my acceptance and continue to pray about this whole ordeal. It may be that God leads us into these studies or away from them. We are taking this time to reevaluate. Whether God uses me in the church or the classroom (or both) in the future is yet to be seen. Whether I have the privilege of studies, vocational ministry, or simply working while serving my family and church family for a while, is also yet to be seen. But as I think and pray and talk, James Hamilton's testimony of the way God provided for him to complete his two advanced degrees, was really encouraging. The simple fact is that when God's man steps out in faith, and when that man is both truly called by God and also willing to work hard, God provides. This has been the testimony of every PhD graduate I have ever talked to, and this is Hamilton's testimony as well. His article begins this way:

A friend asked me this morning how I arranged to pay for my seminary studies. I am grateful for this question because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the steadfast faithfulness of the Lord. The truth is that I didn’t arrange anything, but God did. I moved to Dallas in August of 1996 to attend Dallas Theological Seminary, trusting that God would bring me through, and he did just that. Perhaps I was young and na├»ve, but God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness are bigger than the foolishness of those who trust him. The Lord provided, and he provided through people like my friend who asked me the question this morning—that friend bought me my first computer and printer when I started at at DTS.


Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Do PhD Students Do For Fun?

This is an actual copy/paste of an actual e-mail to actual PhD students at an actual Theological Institution:

Starting this Friday we are going to have our first of our weekly scrabble/hang out times in the (blank) Reading Room. We will have Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, and English available to play. Feel free to invite your friends. We hope this can both sharpen our language skills and help us get to know one another.


My favourite line: "Feel free to invite your friends".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Michael Landsberg on Depression


I found Michael Landsberg of TSN's article on his own depression, his friendship with Wade Belak, and the wider issue of depression in Sports, really interesting. Landsberg does not write as a Christian, but his candid article is well worth the read. It begins this way:

E-mail, texting and instant messaging all have places in our lives. But I believe I have relied too much on them, often replacing personal contact with letters and words and symbols that are like the Buckingham Palace Grenadier Guards - conveying no emotion, revealing no subtlety. They are zombies devoid of anything meaningful outside of the obvious.

How many times have you wondered while reading a text whether someone was serious or joking, sarcastic or straight? Have you ever wondered when you ask someone how they are, whether fine really means fine?

Fine written in text always looks the same, but in person, on the phone, fine can reveal so much more. I am having a tough time forgiving myself for texting Wade Belak seven days before he died and accepting his fine.

Wade was my buddy. That didn't make me unique. Wade was everyone's buddy. Even guys he fought with on the ice liked him. Even guys he scored on liked him, even if that list is pretty short. He was the definition of the big fat jolly guy without the fat. Honestly, I don't know a soul who met Wade who didn't immediately like him. He made friends the way most people pick up germs -- gathering more every time he touched someone.

I knew Wade walked with a limp. I knew it because he spoke to me about it. I have the same limp. It's how I refer to depression that doesn't disable us – even though we feel it every step of our lives.

Wade's limp, however, was worse than I knew. Seven days before he died, we chatted on e-mail. He had heard an interview I did for TSN Radio about my own depression and he had written, It was good.


Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Parenting by Grace

I really appreciated this post from the Give Them Grace blog:

It wasn’t long ago that I treated my wife harshly in front of my kids and said some things I shouldn’t have said. And it wasn’t long after that, that I was impatient and unkind with my kids and spoke to them out of frustration. So there I was, the supposed exemplary husband and father whom they looked up to and wanted to be like, completely letting them down.

One of the biggest struggles I have as a father to three boys and a girl is fighting the urge to pretend that I have it all together. To reduce what it means to lead my children and be their example to merely keeping all the rules myself. Of course, the reason why it’s a struggle is because I don’t have it all together and I don’t keep all the rules. I don’t obey God perfectly like I want my children to. In my pride I want to prop myself up as a living example of what I desire them to be. Essentially I am communicating the message that they don’t need grace at all. Instead of my children learning and receiving the grace of God they are looking to this false example of someone who doesn’t need to receive grace because if they try hard enough they can have it all together too.

That isn’t giving them grace. That is giving them law rather than grace. That is giving them a lie and a false hope in something they will never be able to attain to. This confuses and frustrates them because they feel the disconnect between what they know to be true in their own heart (dad fails) and what they see is their dad's goal (someone who never blows it and when he does he acts as though he is right anyway).

One very real way you can give your kids grace is to be an example of a recipient of grace. Show them that you need to rely on grace because you actually sin too. You don’t need to hide it. You don’t need to justify it. You need to confess it to them and repent of it because God gives grace. Show them that you need the Savior. Stop pretending that you are the best example of Him and that you don’t really need what He accomplished on the cross. Lead your kids by the example you live as one who is being changed by the gospel of grace. Give them grace by demonstrating your own need for it. Free them from the bonds of thinking that the parents are good and the kids are bad. Remind them that you are partners in grace, both needing the forgiveness the Savior offers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Life of Keith Green

Watching this video on Keith Green radically fuelled my wife's and my passion to serve Jesus with reckless abandon.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).



HT: JT