Saturday, September 27, 2008

E.B. Reames: Art on Friday (#8)

This is E.B. Reames Art on Friday Number 8, for your viewing pleasure.

This one is called: "Provencal Village."

Email Beth if you wish to ask any questions, or buy her art: HERE.
See all the other posts HERE.
Or visit the E.B.Reames website: HERE.


Friday, September 26, 2008

On Driscoll's 18 Points.

I thought it was passé to comment on Driscoll's visit to Sydney. But then Nicole wrote something, and so did Craig. And I said that I would say something. So here are four reflections.

Let me first say this (and I really can't believe that I have to say this), but by making these four comments, I am not trying to protect the 'status quo'. I am not rejecting his whole 'overall challenge'. I'm not the Blogerati. And I'm not pouring water on the parade. I don't know what it is about Mark (but this does worry me), but when someone blogs something contrary to Mark, then there are some who go ballistic. I'm not sure why.

Four random thoughts:

1. The first thing to do with the 18 points (after deciding which are accurate and which are not) is to separate out the ways I can personally change (e.g. #1,7,15,17) from the things that I can't change (#2,3,18 etc). That is, I can't change Moore College or its structures, but I can change my own actions and my own heart. There is, of course, a case for godly agitation. But not without first examining our own lives. This guards against frustration or anger against potentially easy targets.

2. On Australian guys being immature. This may be true, or it may not be true. Of course, it is better to assume that is is true so that we can examine how to become more mature.

That said, his reasoning was that most guys move out of home when they are 25.

But he may simply not get Australian culture. In America, 18 year olds almost always move away to College. In Australia, there aren't enough cities to actually do this. So you stay in Sydney, right? And the pressure to move out of home is less acute. So the stats on how old a person moves out will obviously be skewed higher.

Mark may get this. But one thing is obvious to my American wife and to me (having both lived in both countries): People moving out of home here in the States has not produced more mature men. Have you heard about Road Trip? Or Spring Break? The stats on US men moving out of home will show a lower age. But this has no bearing on maturity. If you are immature at home, you are immature out of home. If you are mature at home, you are mature out of home. Change may bring some crossover, but - and here is the key - it could go either way.

I am a fan of moving out young, for the record. I did. But not as a guide to the levels of maturity. All the people on Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex in the City had moved out of home and there was no maturing in those homes. Hooley Dooley.

3. On the old guy/young guy thing: Mark said that he was considered 'old' in Seattle. But in Sydney, he was meeting 'young energetic pastors' -- and they were in their 40s and 50s! Here is a speculation: I've heard Mark talk about other churches in Seattle, and other pastors. He doesn't have a lot of good to say about them. And maybe he is justified (I don't know Seattle). But maybe he just hasn't met the kind of extraordinary, godly, passionate leadership that keeps going into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Maybe its simply new for him to be in a city where the men in their 60s are just as passionate as the so called 'young guys'.

4. On being afraid of the Holy Spirit? Mark said:
Many of you are afraid of the Holy Spirit.
You betcha, Mark. Aren't you? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I fear the Lord's Spirit like I fear the strength of a storm. May it always be so.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

When you were 20...

I just received a flashback to early 90's ...
"See this? *This* is my *boom stick*! The 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. *You got that*?"
Classic Movie.

From what I remember.

For fun, tell us a fav movie quote from your post High School years.


I Stopped Attending Church

No. Not really.

Au contraire , I will be a thrice-a-week guy on Sunday!

It's just that I have been thinking on the verb 'to attend' when used in relation to the noun 'church'. I'm not sure that the that the verb 'to attend' should ever be used with the word 'church' - as in 'I attend Christ Church' - not for the believer in Jesus.

Another verb must be used.

I have found it useful to actually ask people what verb should be used before the word 'church'? As in "I [.........] church". I find it is a helpful question that opens up a conversation about a person's attitude to the church.

Two questions:
  • What are your other options? What are the best (or Biblical?) verbs to use with church? And why?
  • What are the implications if 'attend' is the verb being used?
Pic on Flickr by Prof.Tournesol.

PS: This post was prompted because I looked at the website of Sojourn Church in Louisville, KY. The lead pastor there, Daniel Montgomery, has a good way about him. We have met on a number of occasions at Redeemer related events. And my experience of him was simple: I trust him. He has a series at the moment called: "Stop Going to Church."

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the 1662 Book of Extraordinary Prayer (#2)

I've been meaning to keep my series going on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

On Friday night, at my Home Group Bible Study, I read aloud parts of the 1662 BCP. Do you know who loved it? Everyone under 21! They called it 'Hard Core'! I'll post about their thoughts in a few days.

In the meantime, from the Preface to the 1662 comes an interesting piece of history. In the Preface, there is a mention of some additions that they made on the earlier editions (1559). And one of them is the provision of Baptisms for adults. They called it The Ministration of Publick Baptism to Such as are of Riper Years. They give two reasons why, in those 100 years, such a requirement was needed. They included the prayers for... Office for the Baptism of such as are of Riper Years: which, although not so necessary when the former Book was compiled, yet by the growth of Anabaptism, through the licentiousness of the late times crept in amongst us, is now become necessary, and may be always useful for the baptizing of Natives in our Plantations, and others converted to the Faith.
Ah. Those pesky Baptists with their licentiousness! And those natives on 'our plantations'! Their Changin' our prayer book!


Tell me -- I get the feeling that America (and American Christianity) was, in 1662, already having its effect on the world.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Sermon Audio: Romans 13:8-14 -- Take on New Debt

Here is a sermon to roast. 25 Minutes on Romans 13:8-14 which begins with "Owe no one anything, except the debt to love one another."

Click (or right click to save) on here:

Sermon Audio: Romans 13:8-14 -- How Shall I live?

One of the great questions a human being can ask himself, or herself, is this: How shall I live? From sun up to sun down, and then from sun down to sun up, what is required of me?

Now, like you, I breathe, I eat, I work, I play, I sleep, I read, watch TV and listen to my iPod. But these are activities I do without much thought. They are things I just do. I do them just because I want to do them. Or because someone else wants me to do them.

But I often do these things without asking the larger question: How shall I live?

Have you realized how few gatherings in this city there are that meet specifically & regularly to answer that question? There are lots of work meetings and training events; there are meetings designed for pleasure, art, networking and sport; there are of places to eat; to gather to sit and soak up the city. You can occasionally go to a self-help seminar, which is kind of about how to live.

But getting up one morning each week and dedicating your heart to how we live? Well, churches are one of the few places that do that.

When I went into the ministry – age 22 -- someone asked me: How do you feel informing people older than you how to live their lives?

And my answer is – I don’t – I don’t feel comfortable. But the truth is that I don’t tell people how to live their lives. Jesus does. And that is why we read the Bible here at Christ Church NYC. And, together with you, I seek to find the Bible’s meaning for life.

And that is what Romans 12-16 is all about.

LISTEN HERE. But first, read the Text Romans 13:8-14.

There is some brief stuff on handling debt there in the early part of the talk. What a troubling verse that is: "Owe no one anything!"

Pic on Flickr by Debt20.

E.B. Reames: Art on Friday (#7)

This is E.B. Reames Art on Friday Number 7, for your viewing pleasure.

This one is called: "Trois Hommes."

Email Beth if you wish to ask any questions, or buy her art: HERE.
See all the other posts HERE.
Or visit the E.B.Reames website: HERE.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Preaching Boot Camp (An exercise in Tough Love)

This is on the back of Point 7 of Driscoll's critique. Mark claims: "The preaching here lacks three things: apologetics, mission and application." Whether he is right or not, I've got an idea to improve preaching that involves two simple things: your iPod and some tough love. It's called Preaching Boot Camp.

Preachers don't get much feedback after a sermon. I'm not sure why that is. Or when they do get feedback, it is either a gentle critique with kid gloves or an aggressive critique by cynics who lob grenades from a distance. Who wants that?

But what would happen if a friend gave you some tough love? And you had the opportunity to deliver the same tough love back to that person? What would happen if the tough love was collegial?

Here is what I propose: If you preach a sermon on Sunday, send me a email with a link to your online sermon on Monday. I will do one sermon swap a week. I will listen and critique your sermon on two conditions:
  • You must listen to my most recent sermon and you then you must roast it. I'll be happy even if I get nothing positive. I'm just up for some boot camp. I want things to be better.
  • And you allow me to be totally honest about your sermon. All gloves off. I'll start with negative stuff first. I will offer some positive feedback too, but only after a good roasting!
Could be fun.

Who is up first?

Pic by RobertsonPhotography.

Five reasons why Driscoll was heard...

This post is for my friends in the Antipodes, with regard to the 18 point critique by Mark Driscoll to the clergy of the diocese. I have now listened to half the sermon online, and looking forward to the second half.

The half I have listened to was fascinating. Naturally, when you are speaking about a place that you have not lived or ministered in, it was part penetrating truth, part over-generalizations, part misunderstanding. But all gutsy, and all worth listening to!

I won't break down the points and discuss them. That has been done. I've been trying to work out why it appears to have 'hit the mark'. I say that because I've heard most of the 18 criticisms before in various settings at various times. I've heard them from the mouths of bishops, priests and lay leaders. I've heard some of them in the coffee hour and in suppers after church. I've heard them from the mouth of friends, as well as cynics. I've read a few of the 18 in the Sydney Morning Herald and on the ABC. Heck, I've espoused many of the 18 at one point or another.

So what made this different?

Five reasons:

1. They were said all at one time at the one place (the Cathedral).
2. They were said with a sizable amount of the clergy of the diocese present and listening.
3. They were said with a specific reference to (and in defense of) the 'younger clergy' right there in front of the 'older clergy'.
4. They were said by someone who is at the same time young, 'successful', exotic and friendly. (If Don Carson or Kent Hughes had said it, it may not have felt so revolutionary?)
5. They were said without fear or qualification. (How are the #2s in #1 spots feeling right now?!)

The fact that the critique was made at one time and in one place made assessing the critique manageable by people on the ground. I know of some staff teams that going to critique the critique in their staff meetings, which is worthwhile for the sake of mission.

May say something more after I hear the second half.

Pic of St Andrews by OZinOH.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sermon Audio: The Minor Prophets Series..

This is a post for me to simply keep all the Minor Prophets Sermons in one place and in order. These were recorded at Christ the Redeemer Church in Post Falls Idaho.

You can read the preparation questions to make sure that you get reading Scripture yourself, rather than just download talks and listen less critically (which is too easy to do in our New Media World).

Right Click to Download, or simply Click to listen:

AMOS: In Defense of God's Wrath.
The Prophet HOSEA: In Defense of God's Love.
ZEPHANIAH: In Defense of God's Jealousy.
HABAKKUK: In Defense of God's Timing.


Saturday Shot

I wish I could say that it was tonight.

But it was Saturday a week ago. Djokovic V Cilic

Thanks AY.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

E.B. Reames: Art on Friday (#6)

This is E.B. Reames Art on Friday Number 6, for your viewing pleasure.

This one is called: "Bella Toscano."

Email Beth if you wish to ask any questions, or buy her art: HERE.
See all the other posts HERE.
Or visit the E.B.Reames website: HERE.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Sermon Audio - HOSEA: In Defense of God's Love

This is the THIRD in a series of FOUR on the Minor Prophets. Click for online sermon:

The Prophet HOSEA: In Defense of God's Love.

Here is a brief introduction to the man:

Hosea prophesied during dark days of Israel's history, the period of the Northern Kingdom's decline and fall to Assyria in the 8thc BC (c750-c715BC). The apostasy of the people was rampant, having turned away from Yahweh in order to serve the calf idol (8.4-6) and Baal, a Canaanite god of fertility (11:2).

All of that is interesting. But here is the bizarre thing: Hosea has the dubious honor of being the only prophet told to marry a prostitute...!

Find out why by doing some reading.


Read Hosea 1.
  • Why is Hosea told to marry a prostitute?
  • What is God communicating about Israel?
Read Hosea 3.
  • Why is Hosea told to go and 'love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress'?
  • How does he 'win her back'?
  • What is God communicating about himself?
Read Hosea 11.
  • Describe the heart of God.
  • What do you think it means when God says: "My heart recoils within me"?
Read Hosea 14:1-7.
  • What kind of response does this kind of love evoke?

Pic is of the Hosea Commentary Scroll, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and includes the text of Hosea 2:8-12.

Keller and Powlison on gossip: Suspend; Cover and then Speak.

A friend sent me this before I went on Vacation, and I didn't look at it. I should have. Take a look:

Keller and Powlison: Should You Pass on Bad Reports?

Its a survey of texts on the profound evil of gossip, really. It's not rocket science, but seriously, imagine if we actually lived this way?

I know this is kind of ruining it, but here is the conclusion, the 'answer in the back of the book'!
If you hear bad reports about other Christians you must either cover it with love or go to them personally before speaking of it to any others.
  • The first thing to do is to simply suspend judgment. Don’t pass on bad reports.
  • The second thing to do is “cover” it in love, reminding yourself that you don’t know all about the heart of the person who may have done evil—and you know your own frailty. Don’t allow bad reports to pass into your own heart.
  • The final thing to do is go and speak to them personally.
What you should never do is rush to judgment, or withdraw from loving another, or pass on the negative report to others. This is challenge enough when you’re dealing with the local grapevine or slow-moving postal service. In a world of instant world-wide communication of information it’s an even bigger challenge, because you can do bigger damage more quickly. Whether the bad report offers true information, or partial information, or disinformation, or false information—it is even more important that you exercise great discretion, and that you take pains to maximize boots-on-the-ground interpersonal relationships.
So now you've read the answer in the back of the book, go and see the 'working out'.


Pic on Flickr by secretagent007.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sermon Audio- ZEPHANIAH: In Defense of God's Jealousy

This is the 2nd of Four Talks. It is on ZEPHANIAH: In Defense of God's Jealousy.

Here are the Sermons Audio links so far. Click on the links to download the messages. Or Right Click to Save it:
AMOS: In Defense of God's Wrath.
ZEPHANIAH: In Defense of God's Jealousy.

Here is a brief introduction to the man:

Unlike Amos (a farmer), Zephaniah was descendant of royalty. And unlike present day royalty, he felt compelled to speak up, and speak out against the leadership and the godlessness of his day. He spoke during the reign of King Josiah (c630BC), but before that King set about a spiritual reform (See 2 Kings 22-23). Zephaniah knew that his compatriots did not care about God. He knew that many were complacent, saying in their hearts, 'The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.' How wrong they were...

The Book is short!

You can read this one in 10 minutes. But twice it mentions one phrase: "In the fire of his Jealousy". You can read that, for example, in 1:18:
In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.


Read Zephaniah 1.
  • How strong is God's wrath here?
  • Why is God jealous for his people?
  • What are they doing to provoke his jealousy?
Read Zephaniah 2:1-3.
  • Good jealousy can be good. It can provoke a much needed response from an unfaithful person. What response ought God's jealousy to provoke in us?
Read Zephaniah 3:14-17.
  • What does God's jealousy lead him to do in love?
  • How does this chapter reflection God's love shown in Jesus in the New Testament (See 1 John 3:1).
You download the outline as PDF document by clicking HERE.
Again, the talk can be downloaded HERE.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cult of Personality: Emptying the Cross of its Power

2 months ago, I declared to a mate of mine that I would not post any more about what is now commonly known as 'Cult of Personality'.

I guess I'd already said my piece. And more than that, I found myself regularly being misunderstood. (Most of my correspondents thought that I was attacking their hero, and so they defended that hero, not realizing that my problem is *not* with their hero, but with we who lift them up! In many ways, they proved my point, but it never helped the dialogue!)

But I'm going to post once more, because I've just now read an article by Carl Truman from Westminster Theological Seminary. The article has put shape and insight into the very issue that I have found most troubling in our Mega-Church, Personality-Driven World. (H/T Justin Taylor)


I finally feel like I have an ally.

Here is it: "The Day they Tried to Recruit Me" By Carl Trumen.

Please take time to read the whole article. Trueman says of the Professorial world --
The cult of professor worship is perhaps the most dangerous and reprehensible cult in the theological world. (...) It is no respecter of souls: nothing so destroys a Christian leader, or his followers, than the mutual flattery involved in the uncritical adulation of a fan-base for a professorial rock star (and I use that term advisedly). Hence, while every instinct in me told me that the offer was a great opportunity to start up Team Trueman on campus, I chose to go against my fallen desires and immediately declined the offer.
But the bit that was most helpful to me is when Trueman made the point that the Rock Star Professor may 'negate the power of Christ' --
What is worse than this, of course, is that such people negate the power of the cross of Christ. Paul makes the point with ruthless effect in 1 Corinthians 1. To indulge in a cult of personality is not simply to miss the point of the cross; it is also to empty the cross of its power. That is why it is not simply incumbent upon students to guard against being sucked in to such idolatry. How much more is it incumbent upon the professors to avoid becoming the objects of such a cult? It is often said that you cannot enter into a pulpit and make yourself look like a great preacher and Christ look like a great savior at one and the same time. So it is in the classroom, on campus, at conferences: the professor, the theologian, cannot point to the power of the cross and simultaneously encourage a cult of personality. These things simply cannot stand together. Indeed, it is surely vital that the professor not only avoid creating such cults but also actively opposes them as they start to arise around him. To do less than this is, I fear, to empty the cross of its power and to lead others into idol worship.
Hear hear.

I have said something similar here:
It's even further nuanced by this: that when we always link to our favorite preacher, and then download, talk about, love, follow, go to conferences to fawn over, get a photo with, compare to, rate, hire because of fame, join a mega-church on the gifts of a single personality, make a Facebook group to express your appreciation for your favorite pastor-teacher, then… it may just be possible, without even realizing it, to 'empty the cross of it power'! It’s all in 1 Corinthians 1-2. 1:17 in particular.

What does it, in this text, mean to 'empty the cross of its power?'

I’m very nervous about the fact that even the good guys are going down the same route, in principle, as the followers of bad televangelists of the ‘80s: running after their favorite preachers. We just do it in style, and with good theology.
I could write as I have done before 'Discuss'.

But I'd prefer to ask: "Do you actually understand Truman's argument?" And if yes, then what do you think about it?


Here is the original post I put up on this issue:
No, I'm not a fan of John Piper.

And here are some others:
Yes, I am a fan of Selwyn Sexton (3 Posts).
Trading Card for Evangelicals.
Jonathon Edwards and Tacos.

And here are all 14 posts with the Tag:
Corinthian Hoo-Haa.

Pic on Flickr by Noniphon.

Sermon Audio- AMOS: In Defense of God's Anger

This is the FIRST in a series of four sermons on four Minor Prophets. This one is a sermon on the Prophet Amos (In Defense of God's Wrath.)

You can listen to the sermon by CLICKING HERE.

Here is a brief introduction to Amos the Man...

Amos was a simple farmer turned prophet of God. He was from the South [Judah], but he spoke to the North [Israel] in 750BC. Amos was a contemporary of Hosea. Israel at the time was high on prosperity and 'security', but low on obedience and faith in God. And Amos was not afraid to point this out. So the ruling elite didn't like him much. He was like a potato farmer from Idaho challenging the elites in Washington DC.

Amos’ word was simply that God is a Lion [1:2] roaring against all sin. God has a strong and settled anger at sin, and wants Israel to know it. God has set a day when he will judge Israel. Here was the problem: Most Israelites thought that 'The Day of the Lord' was going to be a day of vindication. But Amos pointed out that it was to be a day of punishment [5:18-20]. That day initially came for Israel in 722BC when Assyrian army came to pay a visit...

Now, that is a shock to the complacent heart.

One thing that Amos does for us is this: You cannot take God for granted. You cannot take his mercy for granted. God is good, but he will not be mocked with faint praise and idol worship.

In this sermon, I suggest 5 methods of getting 'around' the anger of God! Or at least, 5 ways Israel tried. 5 ways that don't work.


Read Amos 1:1-3:2
  • Why is God angry?
  • Who is he angry at?
  • The book was written to Isreal, but he mentions the sins of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammonites, Moab, and Judah before he even gets to Israel. Why do you think that the Prophet does this?
Then Read Amos 5:21-24
  • What does God think of their religious efforts?
  • What do you think is the problem here?
Then Amos 8:11-15
  • Does God remain angry forever? (The last word is one of the first positive things said in Amos!)
  • How does God deal with his own anger? (Meditate on Christ's work on the Cross)
Can we take God's Kindness for granted?
You download the outline as PDF document by clicking HERE.

Again, you can listen to the sermon by CLICKING HERE.

Pic on Flickr by DonBaird.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sermon Audio- HABAKKUK: Three Disciplines in the face of the Problem of Evil

It has been a month since I've posted anything serious. But we had some fun times on vacation. We were in Spokane (Washington State) to speak on a camp with Christ the Redeemer Church. I did some talks that I first started working on in 1994. I keep saying that I will never do them again, but I keep being drawn to the Minor Prophets.

Click HEAR to listen to a message on the whole book of Habakkuk. (Right Click to save and Download.)

The message is the final one from the series. It is called 'Habakkuk: In Defense of God's Timing'. If you want a the ones on Amos, Hosea and Zephaniah, then let me know, and I'll post them too.

Here is a brief introduction to the Habakkuk:

Habakkuk had a problem with God, and wasn’t afraid to say it: Why had God let evil go unchecked for so long? If God could stop evil, and he wants to stop evil, why hadn’t he stopped evil. It’s a great question and one that we all face at some stage. But Habakkuk boldly says it to God: Face to 'Face'.

So Habakkuk can help us as we face suffering and pain in the world. He is best known for beginning his prophecy with bold questions to God. And ending it with a daring statement of faith -- something like this - although 'I see no evidence of the blessing of God, yet I will rejoice in God'. Habakkuk offers us three disciplines in a world of suffering and sin.

In Habakkuk, we have a prophet we can relate to.

In PREPARATION for listening to this sermon:

Read Habakkuk 1:1-2:1.
  • What 2 complaints does Habakkuk have with God?
  • How does God answer the first complaint?
  • What does this passage teach about 'wrestling with God'?
Read Habakkuk 2:1-4.
  • What is God's final answer?
  • What is Habakkuk (and all people who 'live by faith') required to do?
  • What does this passage teach about 'waiting for God'?
Read Habakkuk 3:16-19.
  • How does Habakkuk resolve to do?
  • What is his 'evidence' for this resolve?
  • What does this passage teach about 'relying on God'?
You download the outline as PDF document by clicking HERE.

And, again, click HEAR to listen.


Pic on Flickr by Truthinreligion.