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).


scripture highlights

1 samuel 15:22b
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams"
Help us to obey, Lord. Do not leave us to our own devices, but bring us into alignment with your will, that we obey your commands and show ourselves to be believers.
Jeremiah 10:13c
"He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses."
The greatness of our God in His sovereign control of nature. The song rings true "Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go?..."

from owen

hear a snippet of owen:
"Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him"


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

honoring the fallen

the funeral parade just passed by the church only a few minutes ago for Nick Patterson. I never knew him very well, even though he was a grade above me in school. Still, though, it is hard not to cry for those who have given their lives to preserve ours. The patriot riders who came, probably more than 50, made tears well up. To think that some would think it ok to protest the war at such a time is unbelievable to me.

There have been two from Rochester in just over a year that have given their lives in Iraq. May God be glorified somehow. May he show us the power of his mighty.

My heart goes to all those who have lost someone in battle.



here's an interview with Thabiti Anyabwile that addresses the topic of transracial adoption.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in adoption, consider adopting through this agency: Carolina Hope.



i just read an extremely poignant and, at the same time, amusing blog on the idea of dating someone who is not a Christian (if in fact you place your faith in Christ). I think this gives reason to those who don't believe as to why a Christian would reject a date with them and challenge those who do believe to consider the consequences of the choice.


the risen Lord I have remembered. it is a day to celebrate the great resurrection of Jesus from the grave. If He hadn't been raised through the power of the Holy Spirit then the crucifixion and death would mean nothing. Let us ponder the great Holy Lord walking for 40 days on this earth after raising and defeating death and the grave.



Man, how quickly we forget. I mean, how quickly i forget.
I gave a sermon on Sunday where I challenged the congregation to do something, and here it is, two days out and I have nearly forgotten.
Today was supposed to be spent reveling in the death of Jesus. His burial. His suffering even unto death. Thank Him for grace and mercy. Without His death, no victory would be won. No darkness defeated. Amen, and amen.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

scripture highlights

psalm 10:14-15, 17-18
"But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."
God, find the broken. Heal them. Give us hearts to reach out. Give me strength to love. Do justice for them.
Romans 1:13
"that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."
I spent two hours with my pastor today. It was a great time of encouragement for me. I hope it was the same for him. Fellowship of believers is so vital.
Jeremiah 8:11
"They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace."
I see this being played out today, folks claiming peace in the world. But, to me it seems that peace is not here, nor will it be until the end. What is peace? Is it not the great rest we shall find in the love of God?


the latest from Owen

in chapter three of communion, Owen says that God, the Father's, love towards us is in abundance. Overflowing.
Our love toward him is a matter of four things: taking rest in Him, finding delight in Him, revering Him and being obedient to Him.

how I fail to do these things. I've been pretty good on those first three, but man. That last one is a toughy.



please be in prayer for the central american countries after hurricane felix. my sister (who is a missionary in honduras) just talked to a friend of hers in nicaragua. read about it here

may God redeem many

more from postmodern

justin taylor also had a little something to say about the new book on postmodernism. D.A. Carson penetrates to the heart of everything being beneficial and not permissible and the idea of Christianity as a stagnant set of rules to follow.



i've posted a few things on social justice in the last couple of weeks and i've talked about it with a few people as well. today, through a wide circle of reading i came upon this verse in Ezekiel while doing a topical verse on something completely different.
Ezekiel 3:18-21
"If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But ifyou warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul."

there is so much in these verses that puts me to shame, makes me realize the weight i have on my shoulders of not telling people of their wickedness and God's righteousness. thanks be to God that I have forgiveness in Christ, otherwise surely the weight would pull me under.

the blood of them is on our hands if we do not warn them, and how can we warn them unless we speak the truth of the Gospel to them? let us continually put Christ on our lips so that they have the chance to repent and so that we glorify God by doing His work here on the earth.


desiring God

check out the latest blog on desiring God
it is a pre-preview of the coming book by Piper, Carson, Driscoll, Wells, Bauchman, Taylor and Keller called "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. mmm...can't wait.


Monday, September 17, 2007

scripture highlights

1 Samuel 12:20-24 (various parts of these verses)
"...Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart...because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself...Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart."
my sin is heavy. but, by the grace of God, i serve Him faithfully. I fear Him. Lord, help me to continue.
Jeremiah 7:23 "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you."
i remember a camp song of this, the king james version of the verse, but it has stuck all these years. 12 or more years and it still sits there, a golden piece of Scripture tucked into my heart.
Psalm 25:7b "according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord."
remember me this day God. I remember you, your love on the cross. Displayed for the world. remember the love displayed, God. Be gracious to me.


in the famine

I read over Acts 11 today and the verses 27-30 hit me in the face
"Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."

am i reading that right? did i miss something huge?
a famine over the "world"...probably meaning a very large portion of the middle east. and what did the disciples determine? to send help to the brothers in Judea. not to everyone. not to random people. to the brothers. other believers are who they came to aid. the famine was everywhere. why just the brothers?

here's my two cents. we often think that we are aiding people by helping them in the physical realm, what is commonly referred to as 'social justice.' often times (though not always) what happens is that we help people and they get back on their feet and they never turn to God in their time of need, but rather depend on man to supply for their needs.
Christians, however, are told to love one another. By our love for each other others will know we love Christ. Care for the brethren. We care for our own because we are the body of Christ, we act as his intercessor to provide all the needs of those who trust in Him.

do i think that every time a disaster happens we should only help those who are Christian? no. but only to a point. if we help those outside the faith, there must be a call to repent and believe. Luke 13 should be taught. the folks who died are no more sinful than we that are alive. therefore, repent.

thoughts back?


manhood & womanhood

the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood just launched a revamp of their site. it is much nicer and easier to navigate than the old version. go check it out...
and if you are interested in hearing the latest news from across the country as it relates to the gender roles and attacks on them, subscribe to their gender blog


the painter and the cross

i don't know anything about E.J. Carnell...but I will say that his analogy of a painter genius makes so much sense in the light of true worship.
from Christian Commitment p. 222

"The paradox can perhaps be illustrated by a painter who deliberately tries to become great. Unless he strives, he will never be an artist at all, let alone a great artist. But since h makes genius a deliberate goal of striving, he proves that he is not, and never will be, a genius. A master artist is great without trying to be great. His abilities unfold like the petals of a rose before the sun. Genius is a gift of God. It is a fruit, not a work.
So is worship!"

whew. deep. loving it.

in light of that, set your affection on Jesus on the cross. the suffering. the anguish. the pain. the love. the justice. the beauty.

be joyful in it. God is glorified in the death of His son by bringing many into righteousness.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

romans 2

tonight at senior high youth, after an amazing time roller skating in logansport...we talked about the first 16 verses of romans 2.

we talked about mankind as a whole, how they are guilty before God with or without the law. then we got more specific, talking about how each of us is guilty before God. that our works will be held up in light of what we know. that this is a joy, not a burden, because knowing God and knowing more of the law actaully brings us joy on this earth. so each day we should seek to know more of the law so we can better walk as Christ did.

we also talked about suicide, whether or not a person can be saved who has ended their own life.
we talked about war, whether or not they are just, whether or not we should fight if called.

since both of those are pretty big topics, i'll be working on them at another point in time, maybe never. it was a good discussion tonight, though.

the rest of romans 2 for next week. read it. think about it. know it. live it. rejoice in it.


scripture highlights

Jeremiah 4:3b "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among the thorns"
what does this mean in regards to the parable of the sower? anything? nothing?
1 Samuel 8:3 "Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice."
this is similar to what happened to Eli and his sons. the fathers were close to the Lord, but their sons turned from him. it makes you realize how little our upbringing has to do with our faith, for surely the Lord chooses whom He will, but to serve and to turn aside.



today i gave a sermon on john 4:21-24
i borrowed heavily from piper (yeah, that dude rocks) and cited various verses throughout to unpack the idea of spirit and truth. showing that Jesus rejected the idea of the "place" of worship as well as the outward "action" of worship. that it indeed is an outpouring of the Spirit of God through our hearts in reaction to the truth of God as revealed in Scripture and through Jesus Christ.
in order for us to worship him fully, we should seek to understand and know him more. (read: study the Scriptures and the Gospel accounts diligently) after which, by way of the Holy Spirit, our hearts will be quickened, we will respond to the truth in unbelievable joy in our God. then, we will worship. then we can begin to know the idea of corporate worship.
my challenge to the congregation (as well as myself) was to meditate on one aspect of the Gospel each day this week. here's the short version:
Monday--Jesus on the cross bearing the weight of our sins
Tuesday--Jesus in the grave, dead for our transgressions
Wednesday--Jesus is risen and we serve one who conquered the grave
Thursday--Jesus ascending to the heavenly realms, what glory filled the sky
Friday--Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father
Saturday--Jesus triumphant return when every knee will bow

i invite you all to consider the simplicity of our faith this week and fall more deeply in love with our Savior and more completely delight in Him. in that he receive the glory.



rachel had a post today about race...
i can't listen to the video right now because my computer doesn't have a sound card, but i imagine that it will be good when I do listen.
---edit at 10:15 sept. 17---
i listened to the video. my heart broke. may God heal our land. it is broken as well.
---end edit---

rachel, you should glance at my blog a few days ago on race in Scripture
there has been a bit of chatter on various blogs, (mark dever and 9 marks among them, on race and its problems within the church. i'm pretty naive when it comes to race issues. i've never had issues with anyone over the color of their skin, but...i don't really know very many folks who are racially different than me. most of those that have a different color skin have the same basic cultural background..middle class america.
i think, after reading the stuff below, as well as some other stuff awhile back that i can't find at the moment, that there is, indeed, a huge deficit in the church regarding race. i highly recommend reading through these pastors and friends respond to the question of race in the church.

here's some articles and posts for thought. i'd welcome feedback on this post as well.
email exchange between Jonathan Leeman and Thabiti Anyabwile
forum of pastors on race
john piper on topic...this dude knows practically everything.
anyabwile on some more things


Saturday, September 15, 2007

scripture highlights

psalm 25:2-3 "O my God, in you I trust;
                                let me not be put to shame;
                                let not my enemies exult over me
                            Indeed, none who wait for you shall
                                    be put to shame;
                                they shall be ashamed who are
                                    wantonly treacherous."
a plea and a promise...let me not be put to shame, indeed, none who wait will be. hallelujah
Romans 2:4b "...not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"
God loves us into salvation for the sake of His glory and he loves us into His grace for His namesake. (idea borrowed from John Owen)


john owen

i've begun reading a new edition, to be published by Crossway books in the near future, of John Owen's book Communion With the Triune God in order to give it a review. I am already intrigued and locked into the work. Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic both played a mighty hand in the editing and updating of the book, which makes me excited.
the thought of reading John Owen is also exciting. I have not read any of his larger works, though i have read segments and parts of things over the years.
look for my review in a couple of weeks.


race in Scripture

anyone who has ever thought about the Christian aspect of race should take a look at this blog and read the links provided: timmy brister's blog

timmy does a good job of giving the over-arching inclusiveness of God to every race and people. let us all consider how better to welcome all into the kingdom of God. to quote the bumper sticker "every tribe, tongue and nation or BUST!"


Friday, September 14, 2007

scripture highlights

i think i will have a blog post a day of my Scriptural highlights. the purpose is twofold. one, to encourage anyone who reads. the second, to help keep me accountable. so, do that. if i don't post ask me why.

1 samuel 3:7 "Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him."
What a statement. How true of this in our own lives, that before we really knew God, He called us out of the darkness and we put our faith in Him. This happens before we officially believe, the call to believe is issued to us all.
psalm 25:11 "For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great."
i rarely think of my forgiveness in light of this. i know it in my head, but my heart doesn't want to say it.
jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
this hit me today because on two or three separate blogs the authors quotes other pastors and they themselves said that preaching cannot be taught. all those books that have the '5 great step to being a preacher' are of hardly any worth. God makes the preacher. hopefully i am a preacher by birth, because i think that i am a preacher by calling.
this is true of any other profession, whether secular or not. God has ordained where and when you work. where you are called. where you fit in His amazing plan. take courage and strength that if you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling that it is God who works in you, both to will and to act according to His purpose.


desiring God

despite the fact that I'm a self-proclaimed piper fanatic, i'd never actually read the book that gave his site its name: Desiring God

I began reading it the last couple of days and man, what a joy in my life that i've never been able to express before. already i feel more free in Christ. already i have more joy. already i desire God more.

i highly recommend picking it up. here's the book link: Desiring God

publishing a christian book

thanks to justin taylor for the link to this mini-article in Christianity Today. It is definitely sad, but it explains so much of the Christian bookstore scene of today.

Walk into nearly any bookstore and you'll find between 1 and 20 shelves dedicated to "the classics" or "theology". The rest is full of self-helps and fiction (lots of different headings under those, but they cover nearly everything that is on the shelves). I always frustrates me when I find this state of affairs. the article, though, explains that the reason we have so many of the sub-par self-helps is that the names force publishers to pay...which means that they must sell a bunch of the books to break even. i hope and pray that some of the bigger christian publishing firms would begin to tone down these tactics and mimic places like Crossway and Monergism.

books make me smile only when they're good.



here's a video with mark driscoll and john piper talking about the authority of Scripture and the need for Biblical preaching. these ideas will be prominent at the resurgence conference this next year.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

new donuts

dunkin donuts has finally come back to indy...with plans in the work to open several more stores over the next couple of years. here's a brief write-up. the indianapolis star article is no longer available

my love of donuts is only exceeded by that of a good hog roast and Jesus Christ.


(maybe my family and friends are in there too, but's a close call)

the good ol' us of a

we hear it all the time...this country is a Christian nation. we were founded on Godly principles. well, i think i'm going to have to agree with aw pink and his analysis of the Scriptures that those who are proud will be made humble and those who are weak, made strong when he says:
"So it is today: at the present rates of increase, it will not be long before it is manifested that he Lord has more in despised China who are really His, than He has in the highly favored U.S.A.; more among the uncivilized blacks of Africa, than He has in cultured Germany! And the purpose of God's choice, the raison d'etre of the selection He has made is, "that no flesh should glory in His presence"--there being nothing whatever in the objects of His choice which should entitle them to His special favors, then, all the praise will be freely ascribed to the exceeding riches of His manifold grace."

pink, it should be noted, is not saying that china or africa are any worse than the US or germany, but that many think they are inferior compared to the western world. God, however, knows the hearts of men...and knows that we, as americans and europeans, are haughty and proud. what better way to humble us than to save those that we often think of as inferior. and what greater gift could be theirs than the salvation of their souls.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

too much thinking

you are probably sick of all these posts lately, but man...i just can't help but do it. i read so much good stuff. God is working mightily within me...convicting me, mostly... like with this little diddy from good ol' Piper, from a sermon preached back on april 8, 1984:

Evasive Irrationality

Now watch the universal reflex of a person trying to avoid conviction. She has to admit in v. 19 that Jesus has extraordinary insight ("You're a prophet!"), but instead of dealing with her guilt, she tries to suck Jesus into an academic controversy: "O, so you're a prophet, well, where do you stand on the issue of where people ought to worship?" Verse 20: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you [Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." A trapped animal will chew his own leg off. A trapped sinner will mangle his own mind and rip up the rules of logic and discourse. "Why, yes, as long as we're speaking about my five husbands and my adultery, what is your stance on the issue of where people should worship?" Brothers and sisters, that kind of double-talk and evasive, verbal footwork is very common. And texts like this incline me to think that wherever I hear it, someone is hiding something. If your conscience is clean, reason can hold sway; if it's not, you will be instinctively irrational.


I do that. when i get all irrational in arguments. when i get annoyed that someone has brought up a good point, i try to sway the conversation because i don't want them to see my weakness on the point. thank you john, for bringing this truth to my mind. thanks to God the Father, who allowed my heart to be open to this. who didn't let me try to sway from the conviction of the Spirit.



the author of the book "worship as evangelism", Sally Morgenthaler, has completely changed her mind since the time she wrote the book. 
her article gets to the heart of the problem of missional worship. i highly recommend it...for those who would not listen to these words coming from someone like me (a crazy opinionated Calvinist)...give this woman your ear (or eyes) for a little while. Let her talk to you about the change that happened in her heart regarding worship in the modern era.



Albert Mohler, the current president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, had a good blog today about reading. (He reads several books a week...and I thought I was doing good with a couple a month). His main points, summarized:

1. Read in several different genres, and do so with regularity.
2. Read major parts of Scripture (in addition to devotional study).
3. Read the entire works of some authors (my suggestions: luther, edwards, spurgeon, piper)
4. Read some big sets of works (this is somewhat linked to point 3)
5. Read some fun books
6. Write in your books (i am very lacking in this...i never write in books)
point 7, if I can attempt to add one to Mohler's to read good blogs Mohler's, and Justin Taylors and the desiring God blog.

Currently on my reading table: Desiring God - Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womahood - Piper & Grudem, The Sovereignty of God - Pink, Bondage of the Will - Luther
In Scripture: Romans, Jeremiah, Psalm 25, 1 Samuel
In blogs: too many to list

What are you reading lately? Has it inspired you to draw closer to our Lord and Savior? Has Scripture challenged you to become more Christlike?

We should all be spending more time with our nose in a book rather than elsewhere, where little is accomplished in sharpening our minds. No tv at Rob's place (well, except for the daily watching of Talladega Nights) has been good for dedication to reading, both online and off.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

social stuff and some Scripture stuff

my older sister and i had a good conversation last night about the difference between social activism and justice with and without Christ as the central message and method. we talked until 3 am.

our conclusion: good done to man, in order that he might improve on his life, is of no worth unless he understands the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for if that man, who is now helped, does not repent and believe...then you have only spared him a few years on this earth away from the eternity of hell. therefore, we must always, when seeking to serve, preach the Gospel as well.


something else some of you may find of use is a post on the 9marks blog about the way to go about reading and interpreting Scripture (it is meant for teachers, but can easily be adopted for anyone).


Monday, September 10, 2007


Deuteronomy 8:18 really hit me as I was reading a book today (it is quoted).
a.w. pink makes the point that God is sovereign over all things, including the giving and taking of wealth, all for the benefit of His glory being manifested. And so, to some like Gates, Carnegie, that rich guy in your town, he has given the means to make great wealth. In that, however, is a danger that they forget who gave them that ability. The rest of us, likewise, should be just as satisfied with whatever monetary gains we have because it is truly God who is in charge of the entire wealth spectrum.

This, of course, does not deny that mna must work to make living. Indeed, man is still to blame if he flounders and does nothing to provide for himself or his family. But, he is equally to blame if he works and makes a living and does not give the reason for his success to the One whom it belongs. To God along be the glory in all things.


new attitude

i've been reading many of the blogs over at new attitude which have been really challenging and good to read. josh harris and many others have been really hammering down what i think is at the heart of what i hope to someday be doing full-time. to teach truth in humility is what my goal is, but to quote harris on his latest "Sometimes I'm lazy about truth. I'd rather veg. Other times I'm passionate, but my passion is driven more by my own ambition than awe before God. I want to smack somebody down. I'm not being a truth-lover, I'm being a punk. And in light of how little I actually know that's pretty sorry. So I'm interested in talking about and writing about humble orthodoxy because I need it."

i've been a punk quite a few times over the years. sometimes a truth-lover, sometimes lazy and sometimes a punk. that's me in a nutshell. it's probably all of us. we should strive more and more to be humble in our teachings, but to teach orthodox beliefs in that humbleness. i'll probably end up being a punk many more times over the years, but truly...i desire humble orthodoxy.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

another sunday

twas a good night, i think. the middle schoolers were unruly and out of control...which is to be expected. we talked about God's glory.
the high schoolers, as far as i could tell, were actually listening to the things i was saying. i talked about the glory of God as shown in the first chapter of Romans. after the first hour, i asked everyone to stick around and hang out...and they did, for a 1/2 hour. that to me, is encouraging. it was a bit halted at first, but after awhile they really started having a good time being in fellowship with one another.

i've decided that i'm going to take the high schoolers through romans, the basics of the faith are found spelled within its bounds. call me crazy, but i love that book.

the middle schoolers are going to be taking a journey through the OT, getting to understand the greatness of God in the story of mankind. they can only handle short stories. so, i'm thinking of doubling up next week instead of having a set 'lesson' time, i might just sprinkle a couple of stories throughout the evening instead.

i'm feeling pretty good about things. i pray that God would continue to encourage my heart and open both mine and theirs to His truth.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

a week and some hymns

well, i finished up my first full week as a youth and music minister. good times.

do you think using Judges 3 was a bad idea for the first lesson for my middle schoolers? They seemed to love it.


i've been spending some time reading some hymns this week...some of them are truly amazing. here's a few lines from some favorites:

Gracious Invitation by CM Humphreys
Come, guilty souls, and flee away
To Christ, and heal your wounds;
This is the welcome gospel-day
Wherein free grace abounds.

God loved the church, and gave his Son
To drink the cup of wrath;
And Jesus says he'll cast out none
That come to him by faith.

Election Excludes Boasting by CM Watts
Nature has all its glories lost,
when brought before his throne;
No flesh shall in his presence boast,
But in the Lord alone.

Dead to the Law
Thanks be to my Head, the great King of kings,
My life from the dead, the death of my sins;
Who took all my woes, and was made sin for me;
Who died, and who rose, and from sin set me free.

His Spirit he sent, to soften my heart;
The old veil to rend, and life to impart;
To bring me from darkness to light in the Lord,
And kill me to Moses, to sin, and the world.

Thus I, through the law, dead to the law am,
Yet married am I to Jesus the Lamb!
This union is sealed, all heaven's agreed;
From sin and from Moses I henceforth am freed.

My soul, then, rejoice; let Christ be thy song;
With heart and with voice, with lip and with tongue,
Before men or angels, sing, Worthy's the Lamb
Of unceasing praises, for ever. Amen.