Monday, December 31, 2007


Well, I'm just now wrapping up my Sunday. I think the late night will probably become a pretty regular occurrence because I now have 25 monthly teaching/preaching engagements. (Most, not all, of these are directly related to my job at the church.)

I think trying to juggle pastoring and my other job while trying to finish school could be a difficult time.

I don't often ask, but I'd like some prayer. Please pray that God would keep up my spirits, that He would give me strength and that my lessons would glorify Him. Also, pray that I'd do well in school and finish my degree in a timely manner, so that I can finally go to seminary.

I hope everyone has a great New Years Eve.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

a definition for life

Spurred on by my friend Rachel, I have thought back on the year and tried to see how often Christ defined my life.

Sadly, it was not often. Too many times it was my sinful self shining through in the wake of trials, joys and agitations. Only when I was at a breaking point did Christ show up...and by then, His reputation had been severely tarnished.

What defines you? What is it that marks your life for others to see? A love of sports? Music? Literature? Work? School? "Maybe, just maybe" (said like Jean Girard) it should be something else.

I've spent a good portion of the evening contemplating my deficiencies and Christ's supremacy. And that, my friends, is our victory. Let us wake every morning and think "I am a horrible, wicked and sinful person. Ah, but Christ, He is righteous, good and holy and I am defined by Him by virtue of His blood."

When we are focused on those things, then Christ is able to shine through. In our weakness, He is strong.


the gospel

These last few days a couple of friends and I have been talking about the importance of preaching the Gospel. Specifically in the context of those who claim to believe in Christ, but there seems to be no evidence of the Spirit in their lives. There may have been times when they seemed to sprout up, but in the end they are without leaves or fruit.

What are we to do? It is such a complex question, especially when family is involved. How do you talk to those who are unsaved in your family? What if you've already explained the Gospel, with no response? Should you continue to proclaim it every time you see them? or should you just live a life worthy of the Lord? When should you talk about it?

I think, many times, our fears of rejection by our family (or close friends) causes us to avoid the Gospel and we become ashamed of the one who saved us. I think that if we have not been bold before with those who don't know in our families, that we must be bold now! And, if then--after hearing the Gospel--they still reject Christ, then we continue to love them. But we must at least step up and declare to them the great mercy of God and the great sinfulness of man.

May we be bold and loving with the good news of Christ. May He grant us wisdom in each situation and may He save those who we love. Oh, Lord, our families. May the call of Paul be on our hearts, that we should be condemned that they may be saved. Have mercy on those we love.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have spent some time thinking and rejoicing in the birth of Christ today.

I had many plans for the day. The only one accomplished?...Going to my brother and sister-in-laws for lunch. I was also planning the following:
1. Reading a good portion of Calvin's Institutes
2. Finishing my sermon for Sunday
3. Finishing these books (20 pages or less each) Brothers We are Not Professionals, Let the Nations be Glad, Cost of Discipleship, Fit Bodies Fat Minds.
4. Going over to Nigel's. (I came home to take a quick nap and just now woke up...8 hours later)
5. Going on a quick hike up the river.

Well, hopefully I can get some of that reading done tomorrow. I'm planning on working on my sermon until I fall asleep again.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

numero 3 on traditions

I've been thinking about the question "what to do if you need to eliminate a tradition from your church" and I've been trying to look around at Scripture to find some clue.

It seems that the basic method of removing a traditions is to just cut it off (see Matt. 15, 2 Kings Chapters 22-23). Stop doing it. I think it relates well to sin in our own personal lives.

For example, say that at some point you realize that you have been ignoring a sin in your life and you become painfully aware of it. And, let's say that this is a very enjoyable sin. When God makes you confront that sin, does he want you to slowly try to cut it out? No! He wants you to claim its death on the cross. He wants you to stop immediately so that He can be magnified in you. He wants you to be more like Him so that more people will see your good deeds.

The same is true of a tradition that needs to go. First, you need to search over those things that seem ingrained and ask if they are still serving their purpose. Do they run counter to Scripture? Are you worshiping God in Spirit and Truth by doing them? If you come to a head and realize that a common practice in your church is not lining up, then you need to chop it off.

But, since this is a whole body of believers and not just yourself, you will probably want to show some grace by explaining to people why that particular thing needs to go. That doesn't mean you should make exceptions and say "but for the time...let's just let it work itself out," it means that you should do a good enough job explaining the problem that the folks in your church want to axe it as much as you.

The second half of my original question was whether or not you should replace the tradition with something else. I think that really depends on what it is. If something in your music tradition needs to go, you'll probably want to have something to replace the void. But, if the tradition is something like singing the doxology after the offering...then you don't necessarily have to have a different song that becomes your traditional hymn, you can just wack it.

So, take time to consider your traditions and those of your church and begin weeding out those that degrade your worship of our awesome God or that run counter to Scripture. Begin taking joy in new traditions that enliven your heart to a better understanding of the greatness of the glory of God, revealed in Christ. Amen?


p.s. and, since i have been lacking in humor the last few days, watch this sketch from MadTV and think of the topic at hand.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

traditions, continued

Traditions are dealt with several times in the New Testament.

There is a very prominent example of Jesus talking with some Pharisees about the tradition of hand-washing in Matthew 15. It seems that the test that Jesus administers to that custom is whether or not it is a heart thing or a head thing. He also makes sure that it lines up with Scripture, saying that they have cast off the real commandment in favor of a tradition. So, there are at least two things we should keep in mind when figuring out what traditions should stay and which should go.
1. Does it align with the Scripture or counteract Scripture?
2. Is it simply an outward motion or an inward worship of God?

Another very popular place to look for traditions is in 1 Corinthians 11. Now, that is a very difficult passage and I claim nothing on it. I think we would all do well to read Grudem and Piper's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the section that is dedicated specifically to that passage. For my discussion, I'm moving on without touching this one. (Maybe I'll talk about it in a post in the near future.)

Galatians 1 is a very revealing statement on traditions. Paul basically says in v. 14-15 that he was too zealous for the traditions and then Christ snatched him up out of them. Obviously, tradition, at times, to Paul was not a thing to be desired. I think that a reading of Galatians will reveal that those customs Paul is talking of are again the outward showings of a false faith. The test of Jesus stands. Is it against Scripture? Does it glorify God inwardly?

And finally, twice in the second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul warns them not to veer from the traditions that he has passed on to them. So, here, Paul makes it clear that traditions can be good. So, what were those traditions that he was referring to? I think that a quick read of the two letters reveals that Paul is talking about living a life worthy of the calling they received.

We are to maintain the Gospel tradition, telling the Good News and faithfully living in a way that magnifies God and causes us joy. We are to eagerly await His return. We are to diligently work, so that Christ, again, is glorified in our midst. Those are the traditions that we must cling to.

So, looks like Jesus' test stands again. Is anything about the tradition anti-Scripture? Does it magnify Christ in your heart?

Let us begin examining the customs in our own lives and start pulling down our own traditions that we have built up instead of the Gospel. Let us cling to that great tradition. Everything else? the axe.

I guess I still have left my original question unanswered. So, I'll continue my thoughts tomorrow, this is quite long enough. For Friday: What should we do if we find we must eliminate a tradition from our church?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

christmas traditions

Sorry that I did not have a post for today. I was busy having fun at my sister's expense. She "didn't realize" that she couldn't park a foot away from a fire hydrant and got my grandma's car towed in Chicago. Now, that proved to be one extremely entertaining evening. (And, for once, it wasn't me making the dumb mistake and having everyone laugh.)


My parents and sisters are heading to Florida this Saturday to spend a week in Orlando. That is probably the closest thing to tradition that my family has regarding the Christmas season. (We spent over half of my childhood X-mases in Florida.) We, sometimes with great joy, have no great attachment to the actual day or week leading up to the 25th.

In recent years (since I first left for college) we have started a few traditions. We drive over to Pulaski (pronounced Pu-lass-kee) in Pulaski (pronounced Pu-lass-kigh) county and look at the town entirely covered in Christmas lights. That's right. The entire town is decorated. It is pretty sweet.

We also go to the Chinese restaurant in town on Christmas Eve (we had to after I convinced my Dad it was that he had to watch "A Christmas Story") and then head over to the Baptist Church (where I now work) for the evening service.

I suppose those are traditions, but they are only recent traditions. Each is probably 5 years old or so.

But even though these are recent things, they are still very ingrained in us to do them. It is strange to me how traditions start and continue on and I wonder at their persistence at times.

I also wish for more tradition...sometimes. Traditions can ground us and make us feel firm, but they can also make us stoic and unchanging.

The same is true of our Christian faith. We all have traditions (old and new) and the Church itself has traditions (old and new). It is up to us to determine the worth of those and to either continue them or let them dissolve. It is often a difficult and trying process to cut out the antiquated or unBiblical traditions, but at times it is very necessary.

And our family must do the same with our traditions. If ever the Chinese joint should close or move out, and another move in, I doubt that we'd go there. We would be too attached to the old restaurant, the people and the food.

What then happens when we toss out a Christian tradition? Do we attempt to replace it or simply keep the void?

I'll let you think for a day and then tell you what I think...


Sunday, December 16, 2007

hike in the snow

Well, yesterday I bought a sweet new pack. It's a GoLite Jam2 in Grease. I've been looking and thinking about a new pack for over a year and I finally have some I splurged and bought it at Extreme Outfitters. And, today I got the chance to try it out.
*The story below may contain false and misleading statements. It is also funny to the author, though few others will laugh while reading. Continue at your own risk and don't tell me if you didn't like it, cause I won't publish your comment anyway.*

Church was canceled to do the snow and the drifting. So, after helping shovel some snow, I grabbed my pack and stuffed it to the brim. I put about 25lbs in it and took off. (For some reason I can't find either of my sleeping bags, so I didn't camp out. But, man, did I want to.)
And so began the adventure. It started off pretty normal. I walked down my road and down to the public access on the Tippecanoe. Then I climbed the hill and wandered around the woods above the access point. After I got bored there, I crossed the road and went in the Kern woods.
That's when things got interesting. I was out, meandering about when I came upon a den of Alaskan Timberwolves. I kid you not. At least 15 of these crazy wolves comes out of their den and start howling. The whole time I'm thinking "Should I run? Should I climb a tree? I can't believe they're gonna tear up my brand new pack...that sucks." Then, I had this brilliant idea. I watched the pack to find the Alpha male. When I figured that out, I went in all crazy ninja-style. I sucker punched that wolf right in the face and then wrestled it to the ground. So now, I have this whole pack of wolves who follow me around like I'm the king of the world. That was pretty sweet. So, we went around terrorizing the other wildlife (mostly rabbits and dear...and one crazy little fox) for about a half and hour. It was a good time, but I had to be on my way, so I gave the howl for them to "head on without me and I'll look you up later." (I learned the language pretty fast. It's based on the Morse Code.)
So, on I hiked, back down pine tree lane to where it butts against my neighbors house. I then headed south across the open prairie. I thought that it might be a good idea to follow the creek that runs along the road, so I made my way through the foot of snow to the edge of the creek. After fighting the 10 foot drifts all along the bank, I decided to tough it out with the winds on the prairie instead.
So, away I went, on towards the sand dunes that I'd loved as a kid. I spent a little time hiking up those molehills (which I had thought were mountains many years ago.) All of the sudden, I notice several tall peaks over near the creek that I would need to cross. So, I went to check them out.
I found a large cave on the biggest of the mountains (which were at least 100 feet tall). As I was poking around, I noticed some seriously big tracks and decided that I'd better high-tail it out of there. The only problem was, the bridge (aka precarious 2x10 plank) was right behind the mountains.
Well, I decided to just try to find another place to cross, rather than mess with the Abominable Snowman who resided in the ice mountains. I found an even more precarious looking bridge made from a fallen tree and decided to give it a go. Long and short of it...I ended up upside down hanging from a breaking tree limb inches from the freezing water. I somehow managed to right myself and scramble up the bank, unfortunately still on the same side of the creek.
I had no choice now. I had to go brave the great beast that lived in the cave. And, so...I headed to what I knew was my certain doom.
I think that stinkin' Abominable must have been watching and waiting because he didn't show himself the entire time I trekked over his mountains. Not until I saw the demise of the old plank did I catch site of him. The plank was no longer in its place (10 feet above the water) but was sitting just submerged below the surface of the water. The Snowman had set a trap.
Suddenly, I had the idea to howl out the "help me, the Abominable Snowman is gonna eat me" howl and call my new pack of wolves. Well, they were quite a ways away and didn't get there immediately, so I stood there trying to decide if I should chance the trap set by the Yeti. Before I knew what I was doing I was standing with my feet fully submerged in the middle of the creek on the plank. I quickly scurried to the other side. I laughed to myself then, because I remembered that Abominable Snowmen are afraid of water. So, I stood on the bank and made fun of the big oaf as he howled and moaned on the other bank. Then I remember the wolves who were on their way and I had mercy on the idiot and called them off with the "nevermind, I whipped that ugly mugger by myself" howl.
And so, I trudged on towards my goal: the tractor at the furniture store to make sure it started so that I could plow tomorrow. After finding the tractor in good shape, I took off for home (by a different route...I didn't want to have to cross that creek to that shamed Abominable. I'm not mental.)
Nothing much happened on the way back (if you consider getting attacked by rabid deer nothing) and I came home to a great meal of ribs, baked mac&cheese, and cookies.

What a day.


Thursday, December 13, 2007


A few days ago I wrote about how it upsets me that people have to think twice about giving to someone in need. Now, in order to clarify a few things (since that post was written in a little bit of anger. ok...a lot of anger).

When someone approaches me (which happened just a week or so ago) and asks something of me, I gladly give if I can. I also do my best to share the good news of Christ with them. It is usually my 30-second Gospel and is usually met with a "Yeah, I believe in God." By this point the person is typically disinterested in what I have to say, so I ask if I can pray for them. To me, this is one of the greatest time of Gospel proclamation because I can thank God for His saving grace in prayer and ask for Him to show the Gospel to be true to that person.

And, since I am talking about giving, I have these thoughts to add. I think that any giving which comes from habit (meaning tithes and gifts to organizations that you do regularly), should go only to the church. That's right. I don't think a Christian should give a dime to any organization that is not evangelistic in nature. That means no Invisible Children, no Bono, no End World Hunger campaign. Nothing, unless it is directly involved with the Gospel and the church.

Some may call me cold-hearted because so many organizations exist to help people who are suffering physical and emotional distress. But, I counter that the good news of Christ is the only way to truly take care of those needs. By giving to a secular organization who cares for their worldly needs we have taken another step in hardening the hearts of non-believers who now think that salvation can come in many forms instead of just one, Jesus Christ.

Also, there are many Church and para-Church organizations that help with the same problems as the secular ones. If the people of the Church would faithfully give to those causes, then we would have many more resources for God to use through us for the spreading of the Gospel.

So, if you are a Christian, increase your charitable the Church.

(A PS before the end. I do think that if you are confronted with a one-time plea for help, like those at stores that ask if you'd like to give $1 to something or other, then we should give. To me, those show the love of Christ to those outside the church. I am only talking, again, of habitual giving, when I say one should only give to the Church.)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Ever since I heard Derek Webb sing "Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming" it has been a favorite of mine. And so, I will post the lyrics and chat about them a bit.

Lo! how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hat sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show god's love a right
She bore to men a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.

This flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
true man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.

My favorite of the verses is definitely the second. The precious fulfillment of prophecy and a view of Mary seldom thought. She beheld the same miracle that we now talk about. She was there...she felt it. She knew it in a way that is indescribable. Truly, she found favor with God.

And those final words, to show God's love aright...she bore to men a Savior. Oh, how that needs to ring true in my own heart. God's love is aright, now. He has fulfilled all and made atonement and now is seated at the right hand. How glorious is the God who loves.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

andrew peterson

Some of my friends have been obsessed with Andrew Peterson for years. To my chagrin, I have only recently started listening (and reading his blog). He has an album out called "Behold the Lamb" which is quite good. He has been posting videos of many of the songs, done live, on his blog. Below is one that I found quite humorous. Enjoy.

(HT: Andrew Peterson)

Monday, December 10, 2007


I just took the quiz on abortion and I received a 66%. More importantly, I learned a few more facts about the atrocious nature of abortion in the US. I encourage you to take the time to take the quiz and consider for yourself the unjust and unholy act of abortion.

To me, the answer from a Christian perspective is found in Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

How does this verse relate? If we are considered sinners from the time of conception by God, then we should consider another as a life as soon as the sperm has hit the egg. Therefore, to take the life of a human without just cause is to violate every tenet of Christian (and moral) law.

Let us continue to advocate for the voices that cannot be heard.


(HT: Justin Taylor)

on the huckabee trail

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a big fan of former Gov. Huckabee. He's the man I'm voting for. I'm actually re-registering so that I can vote in the primary election.

My buddy Matt sent me this link that was written in 1998. It is really great to hear someone in politics talk so profoundly about the true nature of the problems that this country (and the world) are having. Amen to Huckabee.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

the Bible

After some light encouragement from the esv blog I have decided to add a daily reading plan to the site. Hopefully some of you will find this a useful feature. I encourage everyone who visits to, first and foremost, spend time in Scripture before taking the time to read blogs. I know the temptation is great, but we must fight for time in the Word before we take time to read the thoughts of others.

You can use the service in a couple of ways.

The first way is to simply click on the link to the right under 'esv bible in a year'. That will take you to the texts that are to be read that day.

You can also subscribe to the feed for use in your reader. There are several more feeds to choose from over at the ESV website

Happy reading,


(HT: ESV blog)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

song to be

Here are the words to a song that will be recorded on the next Sealed album. Thanks to Rachel for making it actual poetry instead of just random words.

The poem starts in Isaiah 6, then moves on to the cross of Christ and His defeat of sin and death, and, finally, to the joy that salvation brings to my heart.

As robes do fill the temple
The seraphs there who fly
Sing "holy, holy, holy"
And cover feet and eyes

For He is wholly other
The Holy God on high
Enthroned in light, majestic
A bloody sacrifice

For bleeding, hung in anguish
Our sin, our shame He bore
And life, by Adam curs'ed
Is new, by death made sure

Now free, this grace redeemeth
The basest of the beasts
Alone we are but sinners
Yet He brings high the least

O joy, for my salvation
My wand'ring heart it stays
Not fleeting, this emotion
But true and holy praise

Each morn now filled with singing
Each night with endless praise
For ev'ry joy and glory
Your loving cross displays


Thursday, December 6, 2007

helping the poor

I've recently been confronted with a couple of situations that, frankly, are making me sick to my stomach.

For several months last year I was really poor. I sold stuff to make rent. I borrowed money from friends. I spent less than $15 a month on food and still didn't have enough money to make it to work. I borrowed $5 from my supervisor at UPS several times so that I could make the drive home at 4 in the morning. I went several days without food on occasion. I went without insurance for my truck (what? could I?...because that was the least of my worries). I filed for extensions on my student loans. I had to give up on attending Butler again because I didn't have the funds to pay for it. I lost over 30 lbs during that time (some of that was probably working for UPS but most of it was stress and not having food.)

Now, I have some money. Not a lot, but some. I have money in the bank so when something happens (like my battery dying in my truck or getting a flat tire) I can pay for it without having to borrow money. It is nice to have God provide.

When I was without the means to pay for stuff, it was one of the most humbling experiences to have to ask for money and to ask for extensions from friends on paying them back. Thankfully, most of those people were gracious to me. They didn't ask a lot of questions because they knew it hurt me to talk about what was going on.

To me, especially after having gone through that time, the thought of giving to others is not even a consideration. If I have funds, I give them when I am asked. I don't ask a lot of questions, I just do what I can. And, I will give until I am broke again. If it means that I don't get to eat at my new local sandwich shop...then so be it. If it means that I can't go see friends in Indy for a month, too bad. I will give when I see a need. (Now, don't get all stopped up on the fact that I have only been talking about giving financially...I know there are lots more ways to give to those in need.)

The sickening part comes when I see others who are Christians who think that there are people who aren't worthy to receive their help. Lots of reasons are given: "I've helped them before" "They will just waste it" "We are struggling right now, too (still having cable, internet, cell phones, lots to eat, several vehicles)."

I think every reason that is given to the question "Will you help me?" is bogus, save one. If you are actually unable to help. If, in fact, you have nothing to give. Then, and only then, should you say "I'd love to help, but I can't." To me, that's the only reason. That's it.

In all these circumstances, do you think you have given a good view of Christ by not giving? How can you expect someone to know how gracious God is (who saved you and I when we were covered in filth and had nothing) when you will not humble yourself to not eat for a day so someone can fill up their tank with gas? Do you think they will "see your good deeds, and glorify your Father in heaven"? I doubt it.

But, what if...even after you've seen the same person time after time, who has squandered your help...what if you give that one last time, that time that nearly breaks the bank, and God opens that person's heart to the glorious Gospel? Won't that make it worth it? And what if they don't ever come to know Christ? Count it joy to suffer for the sake of Him who suffered for you.

So, without revealing details, I think you know what those two situations are about. It makes me sick.

So, don't talk to me about whether you should give...cause I'll likely get really angry at you and might even throw-up on your precious new sweater.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

corny christmas tv

My family has started the only tradition that has made it through the years...watching sappy Christmas movies. Every. Single. Night.

These movies suck the life right out of me. It is like breathing in toxic air and being told that it is the freshest mountain air in the world. Most Christmas movies are centered on the idea that people are good at heart and just need some person in their lives to love them and then POOF...they are once again a great person.

These movies do nothing to exalt the name of Christ and how He is the only one who can move a person from their default bad state of being the awesome righteousness given to us by virtue of His blood.

They also start on the premise that all of the characters were once "good kids" who just went awry sometime later in life. Sorry, that doesn't hold up. We are all horrible kids. A few of us are better at obeying and keeping the rules, but we're still bad. We still suck at life. No kid is good. No kid deserves to get those Christmas gifts.

The reason we give gifts is not because a kid or person has been good enough to deserve them, but because God has granted to us a gift we don't deserve. So, we give gifts that are undeserved so that in them, the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be shown. We give graciously and joyously to those who have done nothing to receive because Christ has done the same for us.

So, this year, as you begin your Christmas shopping, think of Christ. Dwell on His gift and then, in that spirit, give to the people in your lives...because they don't deserve it and God graciously gave you what you also didn't deserve.


Monday, December 3, 2007

one book11

Despite the fact that I'd love to recommend lots of books (I can think of at least 15 I've read this year) I am only going to recommend one. That's right. Just one. And I've only recently read it (finished it just minutes ago).

The book? Mark Dever's The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. It is simple. It is short. It is powerful.

I could spend lots of time talking about other great books by Piper, Edwards, Owen, Lewis, Sproul or Carson. I could talk about my love of the books and resources from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. But, no matter how great and inspiring these books are, I think Dever's has the most practical implication for everyone. (I could probably argue for Don't Waste Your Life, too).

10 reasons you should get this book...

10. It is short. Really, 108 pages with the Foreword, Intro and Appendix. Less than 100 pages in the actual book.

9. It is cheap. From $ can't beat it.

8. It is practical. What is more practical than learning about the Gospel and how to tell people about it?

7. Great endorsements. John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, Randy Newman, Thabiti Anyabwile, Robert Coleman, Johnny Hunt, John Folmar, David Thomas, J. Mack Stiles. Seriously...those are some pretty big props.

6. the Foreword. C.J. Mahaney writes in the foreword

"If you, like me, have walked through entire days unconcerned and unaware of the lost sinners all around you, or if you desire to share the gospel but are unsure how to build a relationship or start a conversation, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism will encourage and equip you."

5. No theological jargon. I love studying hard to read stuff...but this is easy. No big, unknown, need a dictionary words. Dever uses normal language to communicate timeless truth.

4. Something for everyone. Whether you side with the Reformed, the Liberal or the will benefit from something in this book.

3. Useful chapters.
Chapter titles:
Why Don't We Evangelize?
What Is the Gospel?
Who Should Evangelize?
How Should We Evangelize?
What Isn't Evangelism?
What Should We Do After We Evangelize?
Why Should We Evangelize?

2. Cuts to the quick. Gems like this "When we don't sufficiently consider what God has done for us in Christ...we lose the heart to evangelize."

1. Cause I said it was awesome...the only criterion that should matter.

So, go buy it. Seriously. For you and the countless others to whom we should be declaring the Gospel, to the glory of God.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

huck and chuck

Many of you know that I'm all about Mike Huckabee (even before the HuckChuckFacts commercial). I saw this clip from Fox News with both Mike and Chuck and it was interesting to find out that Chuck stumbled upon the rebelution blog and that is what sparked his interest in Mike.

I also got sparked by that blog (and Justin Taylor's). So...maybe I'm the next Chuck Norris?'s the clip.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Friday, November 30, 2007

night light

My light burns longer than everyone else in my family and tonight I needed to share two things.
One is that I have recently begun praying this psalm for the youth in Rochester:

12May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;

Oh, that God would raise up the young men and women in my youth groups and use them to spark a great revival of hearts and minds in Rochester. I pray that the baby-boomers would see the great love of Christ dwelling richly in the youth and that their hearts would be quickened to that same joy and love.

The second is related to the has to do with evangelism (which must occur to see our sons and daughters grow). Below is a quote found in The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever (which is a great easy read. no theological jargon. no hard to read statements...just down to earth writing in about 115 pages). The quote is by John Stott:
The invisibility of God is a great problem. It was already a problem to God's people in Old Testament days. Their pagan neighbors would taunt them, saying, "Where is now your God?" Their gods were visible and tangible, but Israel's God was neither. Today in our scientific culture young people are taught not to believe in anything which is not open to empirical investigation. How then has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? The first answer is of course "in Christ." Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. John 1:18: "no one has ever seen God, but Bod the only Son has made him known." "that's wonderful," people say, "but it was 2,000 years ago. Is there no way by which the invisible God makes himself visible today?" There is. We return to 1 John 4:12: "No one has ever seen God." It is precisely the same introductory statement. But instead of continuing with reference to the Son of God, it continues: "If we loves one another, God dwells in us." IN other words, the invisible God, who once made himself visible in Christ, now makes himself visible in Christians, if we love one another. It is a breathtaking claim. The local church cannot evangelize, proclaiming the gospel of love, if it is not itself a community of love.

So, let us take up the charge of evangelizing our youth by being a community of love so that God, the invisible, is displayed. And then, then...we will see the fulfillment of our prayer that God would make our sons and daughters like pillars and full-grown trees.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


ever wondered what the point of praying was? ya go

(HT:Vitamin Z)   i in no way endorse or condone any of the answers this man gives for the reason we a little

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Would anyone prefer me post a few links everyday rather than just have the links appearing in a feed on the page? I subscribe to several blogs that have their top blogs of the day in a single post and I thought that it may be an easier format for some of you. could subscribe to my feed for good blog posts here


the great spurgeon

Some of my friends have said I look like Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher. I saw a picture today...and...i do bare a striking resemblance.

Here's a link to the Spurgeon Archive which has tons of resources...not just those of Spurgeon.

You should check out his writings, they will do you great benefit.

(HT:Colin Adams)

Sunday, November 25, 2007


well, thanksgiving week (yes, week) has come to and end. This is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year. It is probably everyone in my immediate family's(i don't know how to make family possessive) as well. (my sister, amy, blogged about it included...check it out here)

Thursday starts with a round of turkey days. I start at my place (sometimes accompanied by a couple of friends) then off to my buddy Jump's family. Then off to see Nigel's family. Then finally settling in at Rob's family gathering. This has been tradition for nearly a decade. Sadly, as we have gotten older it has been more difficult to make it to all of these (marriages...grandparents leaving town...)

Ahh...then Saturday. Saturday is really the day that Thanksgiving revolves around on the Helt side. My Grandma used to have it at her place and there would be anywhere between 100 and 150 relatives and friends. It. was. in. sane. She made all the food herself (including her state champion pies). Sometimes she brought in an extra oven. It took her the entire holiday weekend to prepare.

She died 5 years ago this past August. Since then, the gathering has happened at my folks house and has been trimmed down, since we have a smaller house and we just don't feel like killing ourselves to cook for that many people. We still average about 50 every year.

I've been made the bread chef. This is for a couple of reasons. One, I am a voracious bread-eater. I am the current record-holder at 26, in one sitting, of my Grandma's famous home-made yeast rolls. No one has even caught site of the record (people usually talk of going for it and then buckle anywhere between 10 and 18). The second...I make a darn good roll. Seriously. They rival my Grandma's.

I made somewhere around 350 this year. It took forever. I think I may need another stove like she used to have.

Besides the food, the holiday is really great because of my family. They are wild, crazy and blunt. They are also all tremendous story-tellers. My grandma was the queen. She could weave a tale so great that we would forget that we'd heard it countless times before and we would still laugh at all the insane moments she made tall.

My aunts and uncles (and my dad) run in the same vein. My hope is to one day be able to tell a compelling story the way they do.

I hope your holiday week was a great one. I hope that you know the reason we can give thanks and I pray that you believe in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, today.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


3 things from Sunday.

1. I got a new guitar on Saturday (12-string Alvarez). It was a sweet used guitar, perfect condition, half-price. My old guitar needed serious I played my sweet new guitar on Sunday. It was awesome (not my playing...just the guitar).

2. I preached on Ephesians 4 and the preeminence of Christ in corporate worship. My sermon tore at my heart...I long for the day when pastors across the world will unite in equipping the saints so that they won't be turned by falsities and so that they will love the world through Christ.

3. I talked through the first 2/3 of Romans 8 at Sr. High. A quick summary:
We are now alive in Christ and in His Spirit. We need to constantly be mortifying the flesh so that Christ can be made supreme in our actions and so that we do not
succumb to the sin that dwells in our body.
We are heirs with Christ. We have a Father who loves us dearly, one who we need to cling to because we are unable to do anything good without Him.
We also must suffer for His sake if we are to be counted among those who love Him. That means living a life of sacrifice, willingly giving to God all that He demands (which is everything...)
We see the beauty beginning to shine in the predestining of us to salvation. We are in utter and total sinfulness, unable to do good. How gracious of God to stoop down and pluck us from the pit of sin that we live in.
We are promised that if we are foreknown and predestined, then we will be called (oh how sweet that irresistible grace is), we will be justified (counted righteous in God's eyes), and we will be glorified (to be forever with God in His glory).

'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me' begins to melt the heart when the love of God is understood.


Monday, November 19, 2007

a little something for ya

I don't update this blog every day (although I think about doing it nearly every day), so I have added a little feature.
To the left at the top of the column is a little spot with some links to blogs that I like on that day. I read about 50-100 blogs per day, so I usually have read something worthy to be noted.
So now you have something to read even if I don't have anything to say.
Happy Thanksgiving (that's your Christmas present, too).


Sunday, November 18, 2007

mike huckabee and...chuck norris?

You read it right. I knew that Chuck had already donned his Huckabee hat, but this little message made me laugh until I cried. For all those who love Chuck, know that he loves Huck. It's only a minute long...and well worth the 5 that you'll spend laughing.
I hope Mike wins the is a bit of a long shot...but i still can hope.


(HT:vitamin z)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

upcoming and a funny

I am stoked about Sunday. You wanna know why? 2 reasons.

#1. I am preaching from Ephesians 4:11-16. Ephesians to me is like Galatians to Luther. I may call my future wife Ephesians. I can't wait to talk about Christ on Sunday. I'm jittery with excitement.

#2. I am talking through the first half of Romans 8 with the Sr. High. That passage is such a good follow-up from chapter 7 and there is a nice little break (in my opinion) that will allow me to teach for a couple of weeks on Biblical manhood and womanhood (a requested topic).

and now...the funny. (and no, I'm not going to tell my sweet knock-knock joke).
This is Dr. Jim Orrick. I have no idea who he is or what he thinks, but I saw this on Hershael York's blog and thought it was hilarious. Old man rap...gotta love it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Joseph Hart

I began looking around for information on Joseph Hart, the guy who wrote "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy," and stumbled upon this prayerful hymn. Considering how often I am moved in my Spirit, I think it may be good for me to read this once (or more) a day. I nearly cried...yeah. I know.

O for a Glance of Heavenly Day

O for a glance of heavenly day,
To take this stubborn heart away,
And thaw, with beams of love divine,
This heart, this frozen heart of mine.

The rocks can rend; the earth can quake;
The seas can roar; the mountains shake:
Of feeling, all things show some sign,
But this unfeeling heart of mine.

To hear the sorrows Thou hast felt,
O Lord, an adamant would melt:
But I can read each moving line,
And nothing moves this heart of mine.

Thy judgments, too, which devils fear—
Amazing thought! unmoved I hear;
Goodness and wrath in vain combine
To stir this stupid heart of mine.

But something yet can do the deed;
And that dear something much I need:
Thy Spirit can from dross refine,
And move and melt this heart of mine.

His other hymns are equally good. You can check a few out here and a few more here.


Monday, November 12, 2007

best facebook group of the week

So, I stumbled upon this facebook group: Everything I know about Calvinism I learned from Caedmon's Call songs

I laughed hard...and then I joined it. I suggest that you join it, too.

I just went to a Caedmon's concert this past Friday. It was rockin...and Todd Bragg is a great guy with a passion for Christ.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

romans 7

The death of Christ has released us from the law. He has died and we die in Him if we believe that His death is what sets us free. What a beautiful portrait of love. He died to set us free from the law that to the love that abounds in the fruit of the Spirit.

And then on into the battle that rages. The great do-do verses. These verses give me no confidence in myself. They strip me of everything that I think I bring to the table for Christ. I'm dry, barren, knowing the good "but not [having] the ability to carry it out." It is the passage that I turn to to destroy the pride in my life. I cling to this passage because it tells me my worth outside of Christ is nothing and reminds me of the despair that I once lived. It reminds me that even in my salvation that I still have nothing to bring.

And finally, the crux verse. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" That's my prayer. That is all our prayer is..."God, I'm unable to do anything good even though I want to...but thankfully you also move me in your Spirit to do that good. Let me flee temptation and cling to You."

The beauty of salvation is made no clearer than this passage. Our utter worthlessness our 'wretchedness' and Christ's ultimate worth through His death and His Spirit's work in us.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

my family

Here is an email that I sent to my brother. It is fairly typical of what a night with the family produces. Absolute crazy.

The context of the email is this: about 15 years ago my brother was offered some pickled pigs feet by my grandpa. He took one...and took a bite. (which is enough to make most people stop reading, but on). He nearly threw-up. The whole episode has become legendary. My little sister (who is 16) claims that not only was the entire family present at this little activity but that she vividly recalls the event. Which, if you do the math, means she remembers, with great clarity, something that happened when she was 1. order to end the debate between us, i sent this email to my older brother. Hopefully he'll remember his own story and be able to lay the argument to rest.

pickled pigs feet...
when did you eat them?
have you eaten them more than once?
just recount the story to me.

we're having a bit of a debacle.
anna, seems to have remembered an event that may or may not have occurred. The rest of the family thinks she has completely lost her mind.
Dad, sides with her. But that is to be expected, because it has been evident for some time that he is completely insane as well.
Mom, has no opinion and cannot stop laughing...probably because she's nuts.
Amy left the room hours ago. She hates the family.
Mo won't let anyone pet him. He's freaked out by the whole thing. So freaked out that he shut his own pen. He wants no visitors.


Your brother (the one who knows the real pickled pigs feet story)


p.s. anna does not approve or endorse this message. paid for by the campaign to elect joe helt as ruler of all things dumb in the family. (which is entirely separate from the campaign to elect mark smiley...because my campaign understands the legal implications of the open door policy)

hope you enjoyed it.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

romans 6

To borrow a term from Watchman Nee, we must 'reckon' our sin dead in order to begin living the 'normal Christian life.'

The first 14 verses of Romans 6 talk about this very idea. One of the greatest gifts given in salvation is the freedom from sin. It is no longer alive, it is dead. It has been crucified with Christ. We are not bound to it. To realize this truth frees us from guilt. It frees us from repetitive sin. It frees us from a legalist form of Christianity.

The second part of Chapter 6 is equally awesome. Not only are we free from sin...we are free to righteousness. That is our great duty and gift. That even though we are free from the law we are now bound in our heart to Christ. We are now to live a righteous life because we are bound to do so.

Let us all reckon these to be true and live truly God-glorifying lives in Christ Jesus.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

romans 5

On Sunday night we discussed Romans 5 at Senior High youth. It was a good discussion with lots of questions asked and most of them answered.

Chapter 5 begins to unpack more fully the idea that we are sinners by virtue of being human, while the first few chapters focus on individual sins as the guilty vice which damns us, this chapter focuses on the absoluteness of the fall and reinforces the idea that we are born evil. Psalm 51:5 is the greatest of examples. "In sin did my mother conceive me."

Truly this puts a great urgency on the Gospel being told to the countless millions who don't know Christ. A great burden is placed on anyone who understands that all people who have ever been born, just by being conceived (which should convince all Christians not to support abortion..God thinks of us as humans at the point of conception (sperm hitting the egg) and not at a later point).

The great truth and joy comes only in Christ, the second Adam, who redeems us and gives us a new birth. Again, we are counted righteous in an instant and continue in that righteousness forever, having been born of the Spirit and washed in Jesus blood. The Gospel comes no sweeter than this.


Friday, October 26, 2007

reformation day

So, because October 31 falls on a Wednesday and my church has many meetings on Wednesdays, we thought it prudent to watch the movie Luther instead of our regular meetings. I could get into all the details of reasons, but that would probably bore you. Instead, I offer this...

Ligonier Ministries is offering the Reformation Study Bible for $15.17 (get it? the year of the 95 theses) on October 31 (the day they were nailed up). But only for that day, and it is a significant sale.

I happen to own a copy...and despite the Presbyterian overtones, it is quite good and Sproul does a nice job in his notes. So, go buy it...but only on the 31st.

[HT]:Shepherds Scrapbook

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I listened to a great sermon by Mark Driscoll on the freedom of Christians and the duty to keep a brother from stumbling. He does a great job of drawing the line between freedom in Christ and obedience in all circumstances. He also stresses how we are all free and strong and we are also all weak and in need of someone else to keep us from stumbling.
Give it a listen here.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

piper on sin

here's an article on Christianity Today...(DOT COM!!!!!...oh, man. I still crack up when i picture Driscoll's face yelling about the here to know what I'm talking about)

It was written by John Piper to address sexual sin, but the concept of guilt is easily applied to all sin. I think it is a great read on the absolute righteousness imputed to us on the cross by Jesus being crucified. It is an encouraging article and Piper hits a nerve that, I'm sure for many of us, is tingling from ignoring it for so long.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Commnion with the Triune God

If you get the chance, pick up Communion with the Triune God by John Owen. (edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor). It just came out from Crossway.

The book is weighty and moving. Owen splits up the Trinity and talks about how to commune with each person. (I found it to be highly educational on for my theology on the Trinity. It was great to have someone expound on the many aspects of each person so fully and with such care.) The purpose of the book is best summed up by this quote:

"both he that writes, and they that read the words of his mercy, may have such a taste of his sweetness and excellencies therein, as to be stirred up to a further longing after the fullness of his salvation and the eternal fruition of him in glory." (pg 94)

This was my first big book by Owen (I've only read a few bits and pieces). The updated language by Kapic and Taylor was a huge help. I easily got into a rhythm while reading it because I wasn't bothered by hard to decipher language.

Speaking of the editors, Kapic did a great job in the introduction. I could see that section becoming a small tract on its own. For someone, like me, who is only somewhat familiar with Owen, it was a good min-biography and a great detailing of the work at hand.

One of the best features of the book is the outline, which is over 30 pages long. I had my doubts at first...30 page outline?!? But it really did come in handy. I found myself glancing back to it many times to find the flow of Owen's thought.

My very brief thoughts on the substance of the book:

His chapters on the Father were good for me. I often think of Jesus as the love of God, when it was the Father who "predestined us in love."

During his talk on Christ, I couldn't help but be brought back to the Derek Webb song "Lover." "I am my beloved, and my beloved is mine." The greatness of Christ, the fullness of His grace was made clear.

The efficacy of the Holy Spirit because he comes with the authority of the Father and the Son was made real to me. The last quote on here really stopped me and made me think.

Here's some quotes that hit me:

not "holding immediate communion with the Father in love...makes us go heavily, when we might rejoice; and to be weak, where we might be strong in the Lord." (pg 123)

"This is the first act of communion, as to the personal grace
of Christ. Christ makes himself over to the soul, to be his, as to all the
love, care, and tenderness of a husband; and the soul gives up itself
wholly unto the Lord Christ, to be his, as to all loving, tender obedience.
And herein is the main of Christ’s and the saints’ espousals. This,
in the prophet, is set out under a parable of himself and a harlot: “You
shall abide for me,” says he unto her, “you shall not be for another, and
I will be for you” (Hos. 3:3)—“Poor harlot,” says the Lord Christ, “I
have bought you unto myself with the price of mine own blood; and now, this is that which we will consent unto—I will be for you, and you
shall be for me, and not for another.” (pg 156)

"Our universal obedience and good works are indispensably necessary,
from the sovereign appointment and will of God; Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost." (pg 304)

"The conversion of others. “Having your conversation honest among
the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evildoers, they
may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the
day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12; Matt. 5:16). Even revilers, persecutors,
evil-speakers have been overcome by the constant holy walking of professors;
and when their day of visitation has come, have glorified God
on that account (1 Pet. 3:1–2)." (pg 308)

"Hence is the sin against the Holy Ghost (what it is I do not now
dispute) unpardonable, and has that adjunct of rebellion put upon it
that no other sin has—namely, because he comes not, he acts not, in his
own name only, though in his own also, but in the name and authority
of the Father and Son, from and by whom he is sent; and therefore, to
sin against him is to sin against all the authority of God, all the love of
the Trinity, and the utmost condescension of each person to the work
of our salvation." (pg 363)



I read a post today by Tullian Tchividjian. He talks about whether or not it is important to pinpoint the exact moment of salvation.

I've wrestled with this for several years. Some have told me that I was saved much earlier, at the age of 5 or 6. Others have referred to my baptism as the age and time (which I just found the date of in a Bible: 4/20/97...I was baptized at Faith Outreach Center...and I don't remember it at all...real meaningful).

I refer to my salvation as a time during the summer of 2003. I don't know a date. I don't know much of anything, just that my life drastically changed, inwardly. I became a new person.

I've thought the same thing as Pastor Tchividjian when he writes

It frustrated me not knowing for sure whether my relationship with God began when I was five and “prayed the prayer” or when I was twenty-one and my life clearly changed. Did I become a Christian when I was five and then simply rebelled until I was twenty-one, at which point I rededicated my life to God? Or did I become a Christian for the first time at twenty-one? I didn’t know, and it really bothered me. I wanted to pinpoint the time and place.

So, if any of you have struggled...I side with Tullian and Arnie...the end is what matters most.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

romans 4

It has been a crazy week. We are having a completely new Bible school concept at church. It is for the entire family, not just the kids. It seems to be doing quite well.

Sunday, we went over the end of Romans 3 and most of Romans 4. What a great couple of paragraphs. Paul stresses the absolute gift of salvation. That grace is bestowed on the believing aside from anything that they have done or will do. It is given in love from God to justify us while we are sinners.

A great confidence should well up when we hear this. This means that any of us can be saved. Any of us can be brought up out of the bondage of this world. And any of us who do believe will not be counted worthless once we have been gifted with grace. We will remain now matter our actions.

I'm sure some will be grumbling at this point. Paul will answer the grumblings in couple of this grace given does not mean we can continue sinning. Indeed, we should be more righteous than the Pharisees. However, it is of utmost importance to know the greatness of grace in our salvation. It gives us solid rock to stand on, Jesus Christ. Without this grace, faith falters on the sand of good works.


Monday, October 8, 2007

the basics...

my buddy matt and I were talking about the basics of the faith tonight. The conversation came when we were posed with the idea that the Christian faith is not based on facts in the uttermost sense. That, without the facts of the faith, someone could still be saved. (This is a very dumbed down version of the actual question, but it gets to the heart f it.)

Here is what I think, regarding the bare faith of Christianity. I will give a metaphor and a short fictional story to show my ideas.

The first is the story. Suppose a man named Abihu meets a man named John. They meet randomly as John is on his way to another place in the jungle. John is a Christian and desires that Abihu also believe so that Abihu might know the glory of God and joy of salvation. Abihu hears the following version of the Gospel in the 2 minutes that John is in contact with him. "Jesus was a man, who was also God. He came to this earth and had a ministry of several years. He performed many miracles. He was anointed with precious perfume. He died taking on the sins of the world. He rose again and spent 40 days more on the earth. He then ascended into heaven. If you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead and confess with your mouth that He is Lord, you will be saved from the judgment of the most Holy God."

Abihu hears this and in his heart, believes. He leaves the brief encounter rejoicing. He goes back to his tribe, being the only one who has ever met a Christian. He tells them all of this news that he has heard. He preaches it faithfully for 30 years. All of his tribe also believe.

Thirty years later, another man, Tim, who is also a Christian, comes to the tribe of Abihu to tell them the good news of Christ. Much to his surprise, Abihu and the tribe already profess faith in Jesus, despite this tribe never having been ministered to by a missionary. Tim asks how they know of Jesus and Abihu tells him of the brief encounter with John.

Tim stays with the tribe and continues to teach them the faith, entrusted to the saints. Surprisingly, the tribe accepts, with little hesitation, all that Tim tells them. They readily acknowledge that Jesus was born of a virgin. They see how the Trinity must be. They find much comfort in the joys and sufferings of the folks in the Bible.
This story illustrates, to me, the basic faith of Christianity. It is true, that all one must do to be saved is acknowledge Jesus as Lord and recognize Him to have been resurrected. The key to the story is that 30 years later, all the other doctrines of the faith are brought in, and because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the tribe of Abihu, they readily agree to the other doctrines of the faith. So too, we must readily accept the doctrines of the faith if we believe. It is true that they are not utterly necessary but if we believe we will want to know deeper the fullness of the Gospel. We will want to understand more and more the joy of our salvation. Our desire will not be to stagnate and be satisfied with the absolute minimum of faith.
The metaphor (I might have used the wrong word...analogy? simile? i never know...)

Suppose one is learning to drive. That person is told "This is the gas. This is the brake. This is the steering wheel. The gas moves you forward. The brake makes you stop. The steering wheel makes you turn."

That is, essentially, what driving is. Three things. But isn't there more? What of shifting to a different gear? Driving in the rain? In the dark? Why use turn signals?

Even though this person might be able to "drive" they will not be very successful if the driving gets difficult. If, however, they are taught the full measure of driving...they will have much greater success. (It is true that they may not...which is true of faith as well. Some may know all that Christianity entails, but not believe.)

Thoughts back?


don't waste it...

I finally have a computer that has Windows XP which allows me to have the sweet application...iTunes.

I'm a Mac lover, so this is huge. (if any rich folk out there wanna buy me a computer, make it a MacBook Pro)

One of the first things I did when I got iTunes was sign up for a bunch of video and audio podcasts. They are great. I get to hear Piper answer questions, MacArthur answer questions. I get to hear stuff from the Resurgence. I love them.

There is one, though, that is most powerful. The "Don't Waste Your Life" videos. If you are a Christian and you have itunes (or some other video podcast downloader) then sign up for them here: DWYL vodcast

"There are three types of Christians. There are the goers. The senders. And the disobedient."...ugh. that hit me hard.

Let us go and let us send that the world might know and be saved.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

derek webb

Derek Webb (yeah...that Derek Webb) was hanging out with a friend of a friend and recorded a message for my bud, Matt Henning. It's only 15 seconds because it was on a cell.
Check it out


Thursday, October 4, 2007


From the pen of A.W. Pink:

Sometimes the wind blows so softly it scarcely rustles a leaf; at other times it blows so loudly that its roar can be heard for miles. So it is in the matter of the new birth; with some the Holy Spirit deals so gently that His work is imperceptible to human onlookers; with others His action is so powerful, radical, revolutionary, that His operations are patent to many.

He takes this statement by reading from John 3:8. It is true, isn't it? My salvation was a nearly imperceptible change (except for the radical shift in my theology). I acted much the same. Few of my outward actions differed (although, now...slowly...I am becoming more Christlike).

I have known others who are so radically lifted that it is impossible not to notice. My Bible study leader in college was one of them (I wasn't there for his conversion...but the stories I have heard are quite remarkable). Instantly he became ignited by the Spirit and desired to 'reap the harvest'.

It is good for me to think about the differences in conversions. I often think that all people should come to faith like I did...but, the Spirit is sovereign in how the non-believers is 'pricked'.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I have spent a good amount of time talking about preaching the Gospel in social justice and apart from social justice. That, in the end, the Gospel of Christ is of the utmost importance and the betterment of the world is a secondary. That does not mean that we should not strive to better the lives of those around us, to rescue the poor and downtrodden.

Now, I think, in order to preach the Gospel at all times by proclaiming the good news of Christ, we must be fully aware of the great grace we have received. If we are to ever be able to properly tell of the faith and hope we have, then we must be fully enthralled by the greatness and glory of our great Savior. We must become enraptured in his love.

We does this by proclaiming the Gospel to each other before we ever go proclaim it to others. We must, each day and each hour, tell each other and remind ourselves of the great Gospel which we have received so that we don't forget it. So that we continue to be in love with Him. So that we abide each day in His grace.

If we do this, I agree with John Piper in his book Desiring God then we will be like the Macedonians who, although they were poor, gave with great joy out of the love that was in their hearts that the Gospel of Christ be made known to all and that those in need within the bounds of the church would be provided for.

May we, as brothers and sisters, take time to remind each other of the greatness of our Gospel, lest we forget it and not fulfill our great commission. We cannot do it without first knowing it and being fully engulfed in it. We may try and at times God may grant us the ability to succeed but it will be weak compared to what can be accomplished by the overflow of our hearts to the hopeless world.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007


On the old truth blog there is a post about the idea of 'non-essentials' in the Christian faith.
It is true that there is no need of knowing every doctrine in order to be saved but it something else entirely to say that, once having been saved, we should not seek to know the fullness of God.

The fullness of God is found in the doctrines of the faith. Salvations through faith, propitiatory atonement, the trinity, what defines an elder, male and female complementarity.

Each day we should strive to know more of God so that we can be more like God. The law (doctrine) is not what saves us but it is what directs us to Christlikeness. That is why I fight for doctrine and will continue to do so. It is essential to the fullness of the believer.


Monday, October 1, 2007

the gospel

Timothy Keller lays down what a Christ-centered sermon looks like. We all must apply this, even those outside the pulpit. This is how we turn ordinary things into the extraordinary Christ. We do it by showing the inadequacy of whatever it is and the sufficiency of Jesus.
Take some time to read more of Keller's stuff. He works with Driscoll, after all.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

in other news

Desiring God has posted all the audio and video from their conference online at this page.

I will be spending time listening to as much of it as I can tomorrow. You should too.


romans 3

Tonight at senior high we discussed the practical implications of Romans 3. That those who continue in sin so that "grace may abound" do not understand the Gospel, that it is the power of faith to those who believe. We talked about the mission of evangelism and the weight of our duty as Christians to tell the world the Gospel. In doing so, we are not to judge the world, because to tell them to act like Christ before they have the Spirit of God is to tell them to obey a law that leads them to a dead-end. The law apart from Christ is nothing.

We also talked about those on the flip side who do everything according to the law of 'goodness'. Who walk this earth as saints by their good deeds but do not have a faith in Christ and never point anyone towards the Gospel of repentance. For them, the law of works is also a dead end. Both of these sides must end in the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ.

Because of this idea, evangelism becomes most crucial. It also becomes most difficult because of the weight of the souls of men and the unwillingness of us, as believers, to actually tell anyone about the Gospel. It should weight heavy on our minds each day that those without Christ may cease to be alive tomorrow and will not be with God in heaven, but they will be forever in the torment of hell.

It is undeniable that we must do a better job of telling others the joy of Christ and the life that we live in accordance with faith in Him. We must again seek the power of the Gospel, the good news, so that all those who are destined will come to faith in Christ.

It all comes back to the Gospel. Live it and preach it.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

for my emergent friends

hey guys.
You and i have went rounds, it is true. You are probably sick of hearing me talk about I thought I'd drop you a message from someone else.

Mark Driscoll is much better at getting to the core of things than i am and his last sermon over at Southeastern Baptist Seminary was truly powerful. It addresses problems with the three main guys in emergent thought: Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt and Brian McLaren.

Please take a listen to it. It is long. Over an hour. Set aside some time to hear (from a guy who is friends with them) about their Christianity.

If you aren't friendly towards emergent things you should listen too. The sermon is really great at helping us discern different gospels.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

great article

I just read another great article at Sola Dei Gloria by PJ Miller. Here he writes of discernment. It is a great article and well worth the read, talking of the witness of believers and those who are 'respectable' in the faith and how we should always seek to test our own interpretations against those already established by the church for the last 2000 years.

One point of interest to me (although the whole essay was helpful) was a specific verse quote from John 5:31-39. There is a popular theory floating about (popular among those advancing the modern-day Rabbi) that Jesus testimony was confirmed by TWO, those being John the Baptist and God the Father. The claim is that for someone to be considered a rabbi they must receive that authority from two who give them the right. (I forget the Hebrew word that is used, shmirka? maybe). Here, in this passage, we see that Jesus was not affirmed by two, but by four. He lists them as John the Baptist, His works, the Father and the Scriptures. If Jesus only needed two, then why does He list four? Just a thought.


the language of Paul

I read an interesting article today at Parchment and Pen.
Don Wallace talks about the rough language used by Paul (with some mention of Peter) in his epistles. It is not a bunch of crap (you'll get that once you've read it), so give it a whirl.


Monday, September 24, 2007


I went to an auction with my dad and some friends of ours this evening. It was only the second or third auction I've ever been to, but it differed because this was a land auction.
They auctioned off about 520 acres of farmland in about 3 hours. At times it got pretty intense and confusing because there were 8 pieces of land that could be combined or split up however the bidders wanted. If you've never been to one, it is a pretty neat experience. Plus, hearing an auctioneer really get into it is a pretty cool thing.
The total property sold for a little over 1.5 million. The most expensive farm ground (which my Dad and the other farmers who were with us said was not great land) went for nearly $3500 an acre. The cheapest was around $2100.
There is no moral to this story, sorry if it bores you. I enjoyed myself, though. Auctions are pretty exciting and can really get you excited even if you aren't bidding.
There is another auction tomorrow with 36 individual parcels of land...I don't think I could handle that, 8 seemed confusing enough.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

been a couple..

some of you are thinking..."man. there was a week or so where joe made 3 or 5 posts a day. now it has been 2 days and nothing". for those in that boat, i'm back.
others of you were thinking "man, it's nice not to have a million different posts from joe in my inbox" For those in that boat, i'm with ya.

I'm going to try and be a littler more deliberate in my posting. I'm going to try to stay myself to three a day. Hopefully, you'll find it easier to keep up with me.

So, without further ado...

Tonight's lesson was on Romans 2:17-end. It was on the idea of living by the law and how that translates now to those of us in the church who grew up under the 'law' of the church. This is not an exact translation of what was occuring in the arguement by Paul, but it is a good general way to think of it.
We talked about the idea of circumcision and why it was such a huge problem for the 1st century church. Then, we talked about some aspects of circumcision and how they relate to salvation.

Specifically, that circumcision is not something you can do to yourself. It must be performed by someone on you. You can't take the tool and clip your own heart, you'd probably muck it up and die. So, instead, God the Father takes care of it. He does it through the sacrifice of His Son. He extends it in His sovereign grace.

So, we must live as those who have been circumcized of the heart. We must be truly changed before anything we do that follows the 'law' of the church will matter.

After I talked about that for 20 minutes, one of the guys popped the question in about "Does God know everyone who will be saved?" answer "yes." Simple. Concise. Never enough.

Next question "Well, then why doesn't God save everyone?" Proceed to Romans 9. Explanation: because God is Sovereign and has mercy on whom He will have mercy.
"But why?". Proceed to next of Romans 9.
Because God wants to make Himself fully known both in power and might and in grace and love. He is all those things and in order for Him to be perfectly glorified He must display them.
Another reason is so that we, who are saved, will understand the abounding joy that comes from knowing God.

I concluded by going back to Romans 1 where all are guilty not because they are not chosen by God, but because they are guilty of not giving Him glory. Of sin. Of attempting to dethrone God. Therefore, man is responsible to believe and is justly condemned if he does not.

And there you have it, week three of Romans.


Friday, September 21, 2007


Today I am focused on an aspect of the Gospel that, to me, brings me more joy than any other. More rest. More faith. More desire to do good works. More zeal for Christ.

It contains two aspects, one is of the slain lamb of God. The other is the ultimacy of that act.

I'm focused on Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. That is a sweet, sweet thing. Once for all. One time and it was over. He was slain. Now, He no longer works for our salvation. He did it. Done. He's sitting there waiting until the end when He will return triumphant.

In eager anticipation of the end, desiring it to be today, I think of Him seated. The comfort to me, a wretch, a faithless scum, that I don't have to worry about the end result of my faith. It is done. And so, I desire more faith in that promise. I desire to do things to bring that slain and seated God more glory.

This idea is where I spend most of my thinking these days. To me, it is the best of the Gospel. The truth of the sacrifice and the ultimacy of its effect. Praise be to God. Glorify Him on His throne.


two things

one is funny...go here to read some awesome pick-up lines...

one is just good...go here and read with excitement that we will hear an interview with Piper about his new book refuting N.T. Wright. I'll post the new links every time they come(sounds like Mondays).


Thursday, September 20, 2007


today, i'm thinking of the ascension of Christ. What does it mean that 'he ascended into heaven'. How does that affect me, here and now? What if he had stayed here? Truly, his kingdom is not of this world. Glory to him who ascended.



interview with Leland Ryken on the forthcoming ESV: Literary Study Bible. I'm excited about it, although I'llex probably continue to hold onto my Reformation Study Bible, this too will probably be added to my library.


bible smuggling

So, upon arriving home to Indy this morning I opened my Voice of the Martyrs mail and I found a pamphlet, that I am pretty sure I can reproduce, since you can request them for free. If I find out later that they don't want me to reproduce in full, I'll take this down.
What about Bible smuggling?-Tom White
In some countries around the world today, it is against the law either to print, sell, import or distribute the Holy Bible or other Christian literature. How should Christians react to this?
The words "against the law" disturb us. Some Christians claim that Bible "smuggling" is wrong because it dishonors scriptures concerning obedience to the government.
How far and into what areas does that obedience extend? The following contrasts are presented to illustrate the gap between historical reality and uninformed judgments.
When the mother of Moses was lovingly hiding her baby in the basket (Exodus 2), one of her church officials knocked on her door and convinced her that her act was "illegal." Realizing her sin, she surrendered Moses to the authorities. He was killed and the Jews remained in slavery.
When Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were sneaking Him out of Bethlehem at night (Matthew 2), their friends, representing various religious institutions, reminded them that King Herod would be displeased by their illegal act.
They surrendered Jesus. He was murdered with the rest of the children. The angel who had warned and instructed them was informed upon by some irate seminary professors and was tried in absentia and given a five-year prison sentence.
The first few centuries of Christians were very embarrassed that they were called atheist for not worshiping Caesar. They listened to some theological experts who unrestrictedly embraced a few Bible passages about government authority. They turned in their lists of members, gave up their secret (scroll copying) print shops, revealed the addresses of their catacomb meetings and stopped smuggling Bible texts out of the respect to the emperor who claimed to be God. In a few months, Christianity ceased to exist.
During two jailbreaks set up by God (Acts 5 and 12), the apostle Peter told surprised angels that he must respect the authorities and return to jail. The Christians praying with Rhoda never learned of his miraculous release.
When Paul was being lowered in the basket over the wall (Acts 9), one of the men above had second thoughts and grabbing the rope said, "Wait a minute, fellas, are you sure this is legal? Didn't Paul want us to give the authorities our spiritual rights, too?" Paul didn't get a chance to answer. When the basket jerked to a stop, he had fallen out and broken his neck.
When the jailer took the apostle Paul into his home after the earthquake (acts 16), Paul told him that God had made a mistake and they must return to the jail house.
The above illustrations may sound ridiculous or even blasphemous. They are not meant to be. They are based on prevalent attitudes among some Christian circles today about secret Christian work.

isn't that illegal?
As I was giving some high school students a tour of our building describing our work and our five main gaols, one of them kindly asked, "isn't that illegal?"
A representative of one of the largest Bible printing agencies tells an inquirer at a church service that smuggling Bibles to China is "illegal." china is a nation that everyone admits will never have enough Bibles, where there is an estimated 20,000 conversions to Christ per day, a nation where pastors are still beaten and some vomit blood. Giving the Word of God is illegal? We seem to have forgotten that God is legal. Satan is illegal.

toilet paper Bibles
In the '70s, even though we produced photos showing how "officially presented" Bibles had later been made into toilet paper by the Communists in Easter Europe, some organizations refused to sell Bibles to us for smuggling. Therefore, our presses in Europe printed 200,000 Bibles for smuggling to four countries in Eastern Europe.
Some groups still publish that Bible smuggling is "wrong." A few engage in insufficient legal printing inside restrictive nations. WE encourage anyone to gieve also to their worthy efforts, but feel that some of their publicity tells only the "official" story. They cooperate with religious and political officials who beat, kill and imprison Christians now, today. Our news speaks for that other part who have no voice and no Bible. WE are thankful that the Lord uses different parts of His Body to complete His Work.

breaking the "law"
Can a Christian use deception when confronted with evil? Certainly such situations are plentiful in Scripture. Rahab hiding the spies, etc. Do we write "tourist" on our visa application when our purpose is to deliver the Word of God or do we write "Bible Smuggler"? do you tell a rapist where you daughter is hiding? WE do not need to feel guilty about such deception, just as King David did not feel guilty for acting crazy and slobbering in his beard so that his enemies would release him.
In Cuba, I was sentenced to a twenty-four-year prison sentence under a literature law, which had maximum fifteen-year penalty. They abused their own law. Do we have such Christian/political literature laws in our country? Those who feel that secret Christian work in restricted nations is "illegal" do not realize that those nations' laws themselves would be illegal in our own nation.
Many restricted nations have wonderful religious freedom laws on their books for their publicity value. The former Soviet Union had such laws while imprisoning or murdering Christian leaders. On the other end of the world, police in Vietnam confiscate Bibles in homes, when no such anti-Bible law exists.
We come from 1,000 years of respecting English law. To make statements that smuggling Bibles is breaking "the law" of another nation simply reflects our ignorance of their situation.

the law of love
In an imperfect world there are soul-wrenching questions. We might agree o the fact that William Tyndale had to hide pages of the Bible in bale of cotton to smuggle into England. He was burned at the stake. That is history. Hindsight is comfortable. There is no risk or embarrassment. But what bout hiding a Bible today? This is when the law of Christ's perfect love takes effect.
What would we say to a Vietnamese school teacher who hid her Bible under her skirt when police began confiscating Bibles at a meeting in her home? She had brought many non-believers to Christ using the Word of God. Should she submit? Give the authorities her Bible? The police "represent" the law. We are not discussing Greek and Hebrew and "interpretations" in an air-conditioned Bible class. WE are discussing real life situations today. this school teacher is friend of mine. I have met many such Christians during several visits to Vietnam.
We would probably agree to Christian short-wave radio broadcasts which "smuggle in" the Word of God in spite of the hostile North Korean jamming stations. That is an "easy" decision. NO permission is needed. No life is threatened. Smuggling in the printed Word is not so easy. Korean Christians hide rolled-up hymn sheets inside the walls of their houses. How easy is it for them? "Smuggle" is a negatively loaded word which makes us think of drugs or weapons. Think again.
It is not "legal" to distribute Scriptures or witness about Christ in certain Muslim nations. Jesus said, "God unto all the world." What will we do with that? Can we visit a few "international church buildings" for foreigners or worship only on protected oil company compounds while millions die in the streets without Christ? What does ALL the world mean? currently there is one missionary per one million Muslims.
Paul finally went the legal route to execution and God received glory in Rome. Thomas was speared to death in India. He evangelized "without permission" understanding his spiritual authority when he stepped off the ship. Almost all of the disciples died violent deaths with approval of the authorities. Might we risk a statement saying that their acts were considered "illegal"?
What would we say to Christians (in nations where Bibles are totally forbidden for nationals) who secretly use government-controlled presses to print Christian literature? In such situations (not "situation ethics") there is only one law, the laws of love which begins and ends with God and His sacrifice on the cross. Those who do not receive this message are condemned to hell. Would we tell the Christians to stop printing?

When "official" churches or one printing press exists, many outsiders are deceived.
China has a huge Bible press. Yet no other Christian presses are allowed in a nation of over one billion two hundred million people. Christians discovered with their own press in Northern China in the early '90s were tortured and killed. Their homes were dynamited. If the American government only allowed one Christian press in the U.S., would we then raise our spiritual noses in the air and call all other printing "illegal"?
North Korea has two church buildings, Catholic and Protestant, in the capital city of Pyongyang. No other churches exist in the other cities with an estimated underground Christian population of 60,000. If only one Baptist church was allowed in Dallas, Texaas (as was in Moscow for decades) would we call all the other Baptist churches "illegal"?
We hear about "registered" churches and "unregistered" churches in countries where Christians are restricted. WE are told that even in America all churches must be registered with the government. That is not true. The IRS has a fourteen-point criteria for registration to qualify as a "tax-exempt" organization-church. Even without exemption, anyone, anytime can have a church. There is no compulsory church registration in America the way there is in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc. There is no need to feel guilt when describing the "unregistered church" in some countries. WE do not realize that churches in America go through most legal establishment procedures on a voluntary basis.
Many large denominational operations in the West could receive a greater measure of fellowship and love and a more completed view of Christ if they risk forming contact with the persecuted church, even in areas where they have no official representation. Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba, had 100,000 Bibles taken to a sugar mill where they were ground up. The leather covers were kept for making purses. A Cuban denominational leader joyfully revealed that at least fifty percent of all Bibles brought into Cuba these last decades were smuggled by man who dared to intervene. It takes both official and "unofficial." We thank God for both.

God's attitude/angelic encouragement
It is good to review and realize the purpose of all of the "illegal" acts in Scripture which God Himself ordained. The purpose is not to protest having a driver's license or paying taxes. It is not to focus all our energy on a government as the great enemy. In the light of centuries of humanity and millions dying without Christ, such a focus can easily become a waste of Christian energy.
In Romans 13:5, Paul wrote that the principle in submission to government was to have a good conscience, citing civil obedience. Would you have a good conscience if you were against sending God's Word to those in closed countries who have not heard? We are accountable to God and the government, but to God first. Early Christians respected Caesar's authority in civil matters but did not submit in matters of worship/spiritual freedom.
For those of us who truly understand this foundation, the statement that Bible smuggling is "illegal" has the same effect as water running down a duck's back. We are usually too busy to worry about it. The idea that it could be illegal to give the Word of God to anyone, anytime, anywhere, nay way who needs and wants it is sad and a trick of the author of illegality--the Devil.
Acts 5:19-20,29 clearly demonstrates God's attitude, God's actions and our response. The angel disobeyed the authorities telling the apostles to continue to speak "the words of life." The apostles, greatly encouraged, said to the council, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Angels throughout the New Testament encouraged men and women to circumvent restrictive situations for the sole purpose of spreading the gospel the same way the Holy Spirit enlightens us today.
Some theologians will argue these Scriptures were special cases for special times. That argument hides the main point. God's attitude is revealed. What do these "legal-spiritual confrontation" sections in the Bible reveal about God's attitude and adaptation toward authorities when they inhibit the spread of the gospel perverting the program of Christ's Great Commission in Mathew 28? God, who is legal, "bypasses" the devil who is illegal and continues with His program.
Perhaps those who declare secret work in restricted countries illegal do not realize or know about the immediate imprisonment or death for Christians today, stretching from North Korea and China across Saudi Arabia over to Algeria. David Barrett reports in The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 2000) that there are now about 165,000 martyrs for Christ each year, more than any time in past centuries. We must remember those in bonds as bound with them (Hebrews 13:3). We must "weep with those who weep," but those who "sow in tears will reap with joy."
May God enlarge our vision to reach our neighbors around the world. We encourage all Christian institutions, all believers to follow Christ's greatest commandment--Love your neighbors as yourself. Your neighbors are waiting.
Extra copies of this pamphlet are available for you and your friends. Write to:
The Voice of the Martyrs
P.O. Box 443
Bartlesville, OK 74005
(First copy free. Package of ten for $1.00 (plus shipping and handling).