Friday, October 31, 2008

John Piper's Perspectives on the Upcoming Election

Whether or not you always agree with Dr. Piper, I think it's clear that he strives to bring Biblical perspectives to bear on real-life, real-world issues.

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Christless Christianity"

Tim Challies reviews Michael Horton's important new book, "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church."

Here is an excerpt from the review: "Through all of this I'd suggest the most important statement in the book may just be this: 'It is not heresy as much as silliness that is killing us softly.'

"All of us can fall into silliness without tossing aside the gospel. We can hold fast to Christian theology, even while allowing silliness and levity to pervade the very fabric of our church. A once-serious institution can become overrun by programs and purposes that slowly erode the gravity and simplicity of the church's unique calling.

"This book is a call for the church to return to its biblical foundations and to remain true to those convictions. It is a clarion call and one that Christians would do well to heed."

HT: Justin Taylor

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Revival We Need

Pastor Tim Keller is interviewed by Darryl Dash about "Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture."

Here is an excerpt:

"When revival breaks out through a recovery of the gospel, three things happen:
1. nominal church members realize they'd never been converted;
2. sleepy, lethargic Christians are energized and renewed;
3. outsider non-Christians are attracted into the beautified worship, community and lives of the converted and renewed church members.
That's how it works. We need it."

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Persecution in Afghanistan

Tullian Tchividjian reports on continuing persecution of Christians in Afghanistan. This was especially striking to me after our recent interaction with missionaries from there.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Wonderful Open Door for the Church

"What a wonderful open door God has placed before the church of today. A pagan world, weary and sick, often distrusting its own modern gods. A saving gospel strangely entrusted to us unworthy messengers. A divine Book with unused resources of glory and power. Ah, what a marvelous opportunity, my brethren!"

-- J. Gresham Machen, "God Transcendent," page 154.
posted at "Christ Is Deeper Still"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"If you want Christ, you may have Him..."

“I do not know who was the inventor of that idea of ‘sinning away the day of grace.’ If you are willing to have Christ, you may have him. If you are as old as Methuselah—and I do not suppose that you are older than he was—if you want Christ, you may have him. As long as you are out of hell, Christ is able to save you.”

- Charles Spurgeon, Christ’s Hospital

posted at "Of First Importance"

Randy Alcorn on Abortion and the Presidential Election

Randy Alcorn presents a compelling essay regarding what is at stake in the upcoming election.

(See also this post from Denny Burk.)

HT: Justin Taylor

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tim Keller interview at the Washington Post

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, is one of the most effective and gracious communicators of the Christian message that I know of -- Justin Taylor links to his interview by Sally Quinn.

I highly recommend his book, "The Reason for God."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Circumstances and God's Promises

“Our circumstances are all in opposition to the promises of God. He promises us immortality: yet we are surrounded by mortality and corruption. He declares that He accounts us just: yet we are covered with sins. He testifies that He is propitious and benevolent toward us: yet outward signs threaten His wrath.

"What then are we to do? We must close our eyes, disregard ourselves and all things connected to us, so that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believing that God is true.”

—John Calvin, commenting on Rom 4:20, in Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Canaday, The Race Set Before Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 282
posted at Of First Importance

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Conversation: Tim Keller, John Piper, & D.A. Carson

This hour-long conversation among Tim Keller, John, Piper, and D.A. Carson was filmed at the 2008 leadership meeting of The Gospel Coalition and recently posted on Facebook: Justin Taylor provides the links.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Lord trust and do good

A meditation on Psalm 37:

The Lord reigns -- he reigns today in absolute and unchallengeable sovereignty. Nothing can stay his hand; no one can threaten or thwart his will and purpose. (And that includes his purpose as it relates to my life and circumstances too.) He reigns in serenity and joy -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- in the glad communion of mutual honor and delight, into which communion, in Christ, I and all believers have been invited to join, although the consummation of that communion for believers awaits His glorious reappearing.

His cause will entirely triumph. His name will be universally revered. Every knee will bow in intelligent submission, every tongue will affirm unreservedly that he is and by all rights ought to be, Lord. He will recompense very person according to what they have done, and according to what they deserve. Grace intervenes for those who believe, so that, because they are in Christ, they will receive all that HE deserves. But the unbelieving and disobedient will experience the recompense that they have incurred by their own choices and they are hardly to be envied (let alone admired!), but are to be viewed with a merciful pity that seeks their repentance.

So my part is to trust and to stick to doing good, to commit my way to him, find my delight in him, to be still before him, and wait patiently for him to act according to his good and undefeatable will.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Worship Matters" from Bob Kauflin

From Bob Kauflin, worship director with Sovereign Grace Ministries:

A while back I recorded four brief videos (3-4 minutes each) that serve as an introduction to the four sections of my book, Worship Matters, but can also be used as stand-alones. They deal with four areas:

The Leader (what do I love the most?)
The Task (what exactly is a worship leader trying to do?)
Healthy Tensions (what false dichotomies do we create in corporate worship?)
Right Relationships (how can I worship God in my relationships with my team, church, and pastor?)

I recently was surprised to find out that the October issue of Worship Leader magazine mentioned them as a resource for worship leaders, pastors, and ministry teams. Since I’ve never posted all of them in one place, I thought I’d put them here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carl Trueman: "The Second Most Important Book..."

Here is an excerpt from Carl Trueman's article in the latest Themelios journal, in which he argues that J. Gresham Machen's book, "Christianity and Liberalism," might be the second most important book that pastors and theologians (and seminarians) could ever read:

"Study can be seductive. The realization that professors who spend their days undermining the faith are actually pretty decent people, interesting and delightful company, loving to their wives and children, and often more likeable than their orthodox counterparts, can produce crises of faith among students more often than many would imagine. The attractive power of real learning should never be underestimated. What Machen’s argument makes clear, however, is that truth is not personal. It is truth, and conformity with such is what is important, not whether we like the people advocating it or not. That Christ has died is fact. That he died for my sins is doctrine. That the person telling me this might be less likeable than that really decent and friendly professor who denies the resurrection is irrelevant.

"Theological students should reach for Machen’s little book every year to remind themselves that orthodoxy does not equate to obscurantism, but that there is something really at stake here in the struggle between orthodox, supernatural Christianity and everything else. Indeed, I would venture to say that this is the second most important book that theologians could ever read...."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

God's Adopted Children

“The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s now (Rom.8:17, 32, 38-39).

“Here and now, believers are under God’s fatherly care and discipline (Matt.6:26; Heb.12:5ff.) and they are directed, especially by Jesus, to live their whole lives in light of the knowledge that God is their Father in heaven, praying to him as such (Matt.6:5-13), imitating him as such (Matt.5:44-48; 6:12, 14-15; … Eph.4:32-5:2), and trusting him as such (Matt.6:25-34).

“[In living this way they express] the filial instinct that the Holy Spirit has implanted in them (Rom.8:15-17; Gal.4:6).

“Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings (John 1:12-13), but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature.

“Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves to bear his character, and takes action accordingly.”

-- J.I. Packer “Concise Theology” pp. 167-168 (Tyndale)

Friday, October 3, 2008

David Powlison on Friendship Counseling

(as introduced by Justin Taylor)...

Friendship Counseling, Part 1
We can change when the God of loving truth intersects some actual human need.

Friendship Counseling, Part 2
The heart of ministry — cooperating with God's transformational agenda — lies at the intersection of our lives and God's Word.

Friendship Counseling, Part 3
The psalmist shows us how to move from questions to answers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Heidelberg Catechsim on "True Faith"

“True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance, created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ, not only others, but I too, have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.”

The Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 21, posted at "Of First Importance"

"The Heidelberg Catechism, one of the confessional jewels of the Protestant Reformation, presents 129 questions and answers of remarkably warm and practical Christian piety, including wonderful treatments of the Ten Commandments, of prayer, and of 'my only comfort in life and in death.'

"The two men usually thought to have authored the document, Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, were only a little older than college students at the time they wrote."

-- C. Plantinga, Engaging God's World, p.xviii (Eerdmans 2002)