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At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” ~John 6:66-69, NLT 

A headline a few days back on Yahoo’s homepage read “The president opens up about his toughest call and what he misses about his old life.” It got me to thinking…
 
Have you ever been on that vacation you would have just about given your right arm for (if you’re a lefty you get my drift) if it meant staying and not having to go back to the daily grind so soon?  I know we all say with Dorothy that there’s “No place like home” or “It’s so good to be home”, but I think it’s just a sales pitch to ourselves to soften the blow of having to leave a place we’d just assume we could throw away the key to and call heaven.  Home is swell, but I could get used to life on a golf course overlooking the ocean with five-star accommodations and my own personal chef real fast.   Maybe it’s that I’ve been on a few vacations over the span of my short lifetime that have ruined me I suppose (and yet, I’ve never been to any of the destinations you might name like Hawaii or Cancun).  I’ve discovered—even on the low budget trips I’ve been on—that once you’ve tasted prime rib, a hot dog never tastes quite the same (not sure what a vegetarian would compare?).  If you’ve ever had the thrill of driving an exotic sports car you know what I mean when I say that a Ford Focus with a spoiler and fancy chrome wheels doesn’t really compare. Read the rest of this entry »

the lyrics sort of remind me a little of what it means to walk with Jesus…  

Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I’m closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I’m falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I’ve held onto
I’m standing here until you make me move
I’m hanging by a moment here with you   

Forgetting all I’m lacking
Completely incomplete
I’ll take your invitation
You take all of me now…    

…I’m living for the only thing I know
I’m running and not quite sure where to go
And I don’t know what I’m diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you    

There’s nothing else to lose
There’s nothing else to find
There’s nothing in the world
That can change my mind…    

~from “Hanging By A Moment”, Lifehouse

Thoughts?

Note: I owe Pastor Matt Chandler in Dallas, Texas (who is currently recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor) in part for sparking the following idea taken from a message he shared this past summer (Preaching the Gospel to the De-Churched)

For those of us who have been awakened to the gospel narrative, it all makes more than good and perfect sense.  But consider how it must sound to someone who’s eyes haven’t been opened to the truth found only in the gospel… it’s what Paul was sort of getting at when he wrote “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Cor. 1:18, NLT).”   

Imagine for a moment that you don’t know the saving grace of our Lord Jesus and ask a friend to explain the gospel and he says “Well, it starts with a virgin named Mary.  She was visited by an angel and told she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and to name him Jesus.  He’s then born in a stable with barn animals and laid in a feeding trough (a “manger” you might call it) instead of a crib for what was a pretty humble inaugural welcome to earth for the infant prophesied to be the Messiah.  He’s raised in a wood shop, the son of a carpenter named Joseph (but not biologically his father because his mom was a virgin).  At about 30 years of age Jesus is baptized in a river by his crazy cousin John (who eats locusts and honey and lives in the wild), signaling the beginning of his life work which would culminate about three short years later. Read the rest of this entry »

The 911 tapes from Tiger Woods car accident at 2:30am the morning after Thanksgiving were due to be released yesterday (story here).  Normally I have no interest in these sorts of tabloid news, but I really admire Tiger and so it caught my attention.  You might think having $100 million a year endorsement deals would be heaven on earth but I beg to differ, swimming in his fish bowl would drive most of us off the edge. 

Whether or not anything is on those tapes that Tiger would wish was erased I have no clue.  Given all the public scrutiny and people’s desire to dissect the lives of those they worship, I doubt the tapes will be tampered with, let alone destroyed.  Sooner or later we will get to hear what was said when a neighbor called 911 after learning Tiger had crashed into a fire hydrant and then veered off into a neighbors tree.  Troopers have already concluded that alcohol wasn’t involved.  Tiger has stated that his wife Elin immediately ran out of their home and came to his rescue smashing out the back windows of his Cadillac SUV, ironically with golf clubs in hand.  It has also been reported that Tiger has skipped meeting with officers a few times now—listening to ESPN the last couple days one could almost get the feeling that Tiger committed armed robbery (it should be noted that he isn’t required to give a statement to the police—supposedly Florida law states you must merely provide your license, registration and proof of insurance when in an accident).   

What Tiger was doing out at that time of night really shouldn’t be my concern and if you ask me it shouldn’t be yours either. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin LutherOn All Hallow’s Eve (October 31), us Protestants recognize and remember this day in church history: The pivotal night a 16th century manic monk turned fiery reformer named Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on a lone church door in 1517.   Luther is a man I continually relate to on so many levels—even if he did live several centuries before me.  He’s a man who understood the necessity of the gospel narrative and grasped a sliver of its wonder and beauty, he also possessed an uncanny ability to put those thoughts into words.  And so, I have assembled hundreds of favorite quotes by the man. 
 
Here’s one for the ages: 
 
There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins… use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up.
 
It’s no secret I love Luther… this small sampling might kind of help explain why.
 
Thoughts?

The post earlier today brought this to mind. Haven’t had the privilege of attending any of the Gospel Coalition Conferences, but was able to recently catch this message by Tim Keller on sharing the gospel and consequently confronting idolatry.

Thoughts?

broken breadUpdate: Don’t do much updating to my posts but I was just listening to Michael Spencer’s weekly podcast #162 (aka imonk) and something he said kind of summed up in a sense the following post I wrote earlier this afternoon.  He was speaking about meeting an educated young man this past week and discussing evolution and how refreshing the conversation was and then stated, “…not going to change the minds of people, don’t even want to try. Because the cost would be too high to my ability to share the gospel, and the gospel is what puts all of these things into perspective. You’ll never know why we can have a different attitude about science than fundamentalists have if you don’t understand that the gospel is what adds the value to everything we do or takes away the value from what is not valuable.”  Bingo bango, Spencer is right on.   

Much of what I encounter in the “Christian” blogosphere seems to suggest that we can almost argue, reason, or push people into the Kingdom with a barrage of the most impressive explanations and the right combination of the slickest words and terms in the English language.  It’s as if the particular kind of bloggers I have in mind assume that in our interacting and conversing with unbelievers—if our theological acumen and scientific knowledge is only weighty and persuasive enough—we will render the unbeliever/skeptic speechless and bring him to his intellectual knees (and subsequently, to the place of genuine faith).    

Well, I beg to differ.

Some are quick to point to Paul conversing with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17.  But even there “Paul’s evangelism again follows the pattern of ‘reasoning’ about Jesus and the resurrection (IVP New Testament Commentaries).”  When Peter writes “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”, I get the feeling that he isn’t saying anything close to “Be ready to list 15 irrefutable reasons you believe in intelligent design”, Read the rest of this entry »

calvinEven though I no longer identify with the term “Calvinist” and haven’t for a few years now I still can appreciate many of the contributions he made to modern day Christianity—all his faults aside.  I consider myself a “hopeful Protestant” (as my bio says).  More than that, I identify with the following label over any other bar none—“Jesus-follower by the grace of God”.  That being said, I’d still pick John Calvin for my team if I were a captain and he was somehow available when I got to pick.
     
Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe. 
      
~John Calvin, from the preface of Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament in 1534
                  
Thoughts?
 

 

…a Driscoll favorite out of my video archives, worth your time.

Thoughts?

There’s no story within the entire bible that is more gospel rich if you ask me, and this story is personal for me, as it should be for all of us who know Christ.   I posted this a couple months back on another blog I do.  If you didn’t see it grab some Kleenex…

It’s for those of us who find ourselves wandering away from our loving heavenly Father in our every day lives from time to time.

Thoughts?

preacherNot sure how serious or accurate my friend and blogging mentor Michael Spencer (aka imonk) was when he said recently that “About 98% of the Christian blogosphere is written by preachers about preaching,” …but I do know that I don’t weigh in on the matter all that much (which I surely have my opinions about).  It could be that its been almost 15 years since I stepped into a pulpit.  Or simply—although Spencer is exagerating—there is some truth to what he says and I figure there’s no need to add my 3 cents worth since I don’t preach anymore (from the pulpit at least, but would surely consider). 

So I’m not turning a new leaf over just yet—just gonna pass on some wise advice that showed up in my inbox today.

A man may be called to preach the gospel in the same place for years, and he may, at times, feel burdened by the thought of having to address the same audience, on the same theme, week after week, month after month, year after year.  He may feel at times at a loss for something new, something fresh, some variety. …It will greatly help such to remember that the one grand theme of the preacher is Christ.  The power to handle that theme is the Holy Ghost; and the one to whom that theme is to be unfolded is the poor lost sinner.  Now Christ is ever new; the power of the Spirit is ever fresh; the soul’s condition and destiny ever intensely interesting. Furthermore, it is well for the preacher to bear in mind, on every fresh occasion to rising to preach, that those to whom he preaches are really ignorant of the gospel, and hence he should preach as though it were the very first time his audience had ever heard the message, and the first time he had ever delivered it. …To preach the gospel is really to unfold the heart of God, the person and work of Christ; and all this by the present energy of the Holy Ghost, from the exhaustless treasury of holy Scripture.  ~C.H. McIntosh, Notes on Numbers, 1869

I couldn’t have said it that well if I had tried.

Thoughts?

HT: Tom Wood

…this is a little dated I know (older than a year—ancient).  Mark Driscoll clearly and powerfully lays out a case against religion that deserves your consideration.  

Thoughts?

nunsTim Brister has been blogging about the lost habit of repentance the last several days and I have benefited from his doing so.  A couple weeks ago I ran across the following clip from Spurgeon (although I can’t seem to reference it) and the words came back to mind this evening thanks to Tim’s reminders. 

His compassions are new every morning, because every morning I commit fresh sins.  Strange creature that I am, I can scarcely open my eyes to the light ere my complex nature begins to display the darkness that still lingers within me.  Miserable mass of humanity that I am by nature, I can hardly breathe without offending in the thoughts and imaginations of my heart; and even though I may watch my eyes, and guard my tongue, and keep the members of my body pure, yet my heart still goes wandering, and my tongue before long speaks idle words.  Yet the mercy is that, with the new sin, there always comes new pardon, for ‘His compassions are new every morning’… We have been washed in the precious blood of Jesus, and we are clean in the sight of God, but we need to be daily cleansed from our daily defilements, and every morning brings us grace.  ~C.H. Spurgeon

Thoughts?

One of the issues I go to lengths to address in the book I have been laboring away on is self-righteousness.  I call it old fashioned religion (and have titled a chapter as such).  Oddly, while writing, I have become increasingly aware of the Pharisee within myself, and not just how I “used to be” one, but how I continue to struggle to date.  When I began to write about the topic I was pretty much unaware of how often I fall into the role (and I will go as far as to say that I personally think it is the most unidentified sin).  Coming to grips with my tendency to play the Pharisee while feeling spiritually superior to others (as Tim Keller explains)—say a child molester or even my brother in Christ who does something “I’d never do”—has been eye opening as well as painful, and surprisingly freeing at the same time. 

It’s imperative if we would follow Jesus that we identify self-righteousness and assess the damage we do others—as well as ourselves—when we fall into the familiar trap. 

Tim Keller makes some great points on the subject here.

Thoughts?

HT: Tim Brister

cross artStill wading through “The Cross of Christ”, and not because the book is boring but to the contrary—it’s eyeball deep in theological richness.  John Stott proposes, “the cross enforces three truths—about ourselves, about God, and about Jesus Christ.” 

First, our sin must be extremely horrible.  Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgement and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior we urgently need.

Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension.  God could have quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. Read the rest of this entry »

…a reminder today that the gospel isn’t about our goodness–it’s about the incredible, undeserved and unexplainable forgiveness that Christ offers to us despite our own filthy sponges.

Thoughts?

On a side note: I received a copy of Jim Belcher’s new book today from IVP, “Deep Church”—a third way beyond emerging and traditional.  I’m looking forward to reading it (he looks to be someone who understands the rift and yet offers solutions and hope).
 
emergent-jesusSacred cows surely need tipping from time to time.  And as Michael Spencer (aka the Internet monk) says, some even need barbecuing.  But as I continue this short series on the emergent movement, the question I want to pose is this: Does that mean our entire theological frame work needs re-engineering?
 
There have been movements within Christendom since the days of the early church, some useful and some detrimental.  Agree with the cause or not, Luther and the reformers made a lasting impact.  It’s safe to say that the Protestant Reformation and much of what ensued (i.e., the Radical Reformation, Anabaptists, etc.) was about calling the church to return to its origins.  Instead of deconstructing the church so much, they saw their mission as one of reclamation.  
 
Charles Finney is the father of modern day American evangelical pragmatism (in which techniques and results are valued over truth and in turn we make up our own truth), hyper-revivalism and sensationalism (where emotions run the table and trump solid doctrine), and what has been termed as “decision theology” (which leaves God’s sovereignty at the door and places salvation in the hands of man, see Jonah 2:9). The teachings and lack thereof espoused by Finney have sadly done more damage than can be measured.  
 
And then there was the “Jesus Movement” with its “Jesus people” which became groovy in the late 60’s and 70’s (which has more or less morphed into the mega church movement according to Michael Horton). Read the rest of this entry »

francis schaeffer…in a post-Christian world and in an often post-Christian church it is imperative to point out with love where apostasy lies. We must openly discuss with all who will listen, treating all men as fellow men, but we must call apostasy, apostasy.  If we do not do that, we are not ready for reformation, revival, and a revolutionary church in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are all too easily infiltrated with relativism and synthesis in our own day. We tend to lack antithesis.   ~Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City (1969)         

40 years later, Schaeffer’s assessment as well as his warning might eerily be all the more apropos.  While love can take on a thousand and one forms—love is never about accomidating lies and turning a deaf ear to truth—rather, love (the kind of love Jesus demonstrated) is commited to exposing lies and embracing the truth.  And it makes sense, because lies bring every kind of bondage and the truth (what Schaffer called “true truth”) is ever about setting people free.

Thoughts?

HT: reformation21

christ stained glassI mentioned reading John Stott’s classic, “The Cross of Christ” a few days back.  I was struck today by the simplicity with which Stott handles a question he poses, “What was there about the crucifixion of Jesus which, in spite of its horror, shame and pain, makes it so important that God planned it in advance and Christ came to endure it?”

First, Christ died for us.  In addition to being necessary and voluntary, his death was altruistic and beneficial.  He undertook it for our sake, not for his own, and he believed that through it he would secure for us a good that could secured for us in no other way.  The Good Shepherd, he said, was going to lay down his life “for the sheep,” for their benefit.  Similarly, the words he spoke in the upper room when giving the bread were,”This is my body given for you.”  The apostles picked up this simple concept and repeated it, sometimes making it more personal by changing it from second person to the first””Christ died for us.” (1)  There is no explanation yet and no identification of the blessing he died to procure for us, but at least we are agreed over the “for you” and “for us.” Read the rest of this entry »

a blog about radical discipleship, the gospel of grace, a theology of the cross, Christian spirituality, the mission of the church in this world and whatever else on the same wave length that may be running around the brain of a hopeful Protestant.

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