Wednesday, September 30, 2009

tales from the planes...

Funniest things that have happened during my travels:

Middle-aged woman telling her two middle-aged friend that Pluto had been downgraded from being a planet and now there were only 7 in the solar system (maybe she forgot to include Earth?) She then said it had been downgraded to "star status." I must have missed something in my science classes...(If this isn't funny to you, then spend some time Googling stars, planets and Pluto.)

I nearly missed my connecting flight to Tampa because of a gate change. When finally boarding the right plane (and making it 10 minutes late to take-off) the flight attendant made this announcement "This flight is going to Tampa, Florida. If you were planning on going to Fort Lauderdale, then you missed your plane." This was funny for two reason: I had just walked onto the plane noticably late and disheveled AND I had accidentally boarded the plane to Ft. Lauderdale.

The girl next to me on a flight from JFK to Chicago (who was very attractive) was asked out via a note from one of the flight attendants. I did not attempt the suave move of trying to act like her boyfriend. Instead we enjoyed the awkward moments that he walked by for the next 1.5 hours.

I watched a middle aged couple grab each others butts at the terminal. Then, after making me want to gag because of the PDA, they started arguing over where their gate was. The woman stormed off with the husband in pursuit...only to return a few minutes later with the man leading and headed the opposite way. All the while: HUGE signs with directions to gates right in front of them.

Worst moment: not getting any sleep on the overnight back from LA. The two folks next to me were quite large and I couldn't quite fit in my seat. Not a good experience.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So, I've got another book to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment here or on Facebook to be entered into the drawing. If you want a second entry simply share this on Reader or Facebook (or tweet it) and I'll put your name down again. Drawing will be Friday.

The book is City Signals by Brad Smith. I'll be posting a review on Thursday I think.


Monday, September 28, 2009

the toll

Despite all the good times I've had traveling around these last few weeks, I'm not sure I'd do it again.

I must be getting old because I'm getting really tired from all this flying and driving.

The Desiring God conference was pretty amazing. I met some great guys from California and hung out with them most of the day Saturday and then Sunday morning before we left. I also talked with the good John Piper for a few minutes.

The messages were pretty amazing. Doug Wilson is much funnier than I thought he'd be and Collision is a good documentary.

If you get the chance you should at least listen to Mark Talbot and Sam Storms. They were extremely encouraging and exhorting (is that a word?)

Posts to look forward to this week: review of a book by Brad Smith, a giveaway of same book, a little something on Hebrews, and hopefully some amusing stories from my travels.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

in the middle of the night

I arrived in Long Beach around 10:30 last night and promptly went out for Taco Tuesday with the Costa's. I had fish and steak. They were delicious.

Later on this evening we'll be hitting the Conan O'Brian Show where we are hoping to make our national television premiere. Alex has hatched a plan...we will need much courage (stupidity) to pull it off.

Then, even later this evening I'll be boarding a plane for home. It's an overnight flight. There is a good chance that crazy thing will happen on said plane in the wee hours of the morning.

So, cheers to you and thanks to JetBlue.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

pay attention

Remember how Jesus is greater than angels? Well, according to Hebrews 2, we should probably pay really close attention to this thing called the "Gospel" because if the message declared by angels (the Old Testament law) had severe punishment (death) then certainly ignoring the commands of Jesus would bring even greater punishment (eternal death.)

How can we pay close attention?

First, by reading, studying, meditating and memorizing the Scriptures, which are the verbal testimony of Jesus, the Lord, and the folks who saw him. If we want to pay close attention to something, who better than the source himself and those closest to him?

Second, you should try to love the church which is where God displays himself via supernatural means and the Spiritual Gifts. The writer of Hebrews hits that idea again in chapter 10, but for now let's just realize that the church is the living testimony of the truth of the Gospel. We should be trying to make her as true to that calling as she can be.

So, go read your Bible and serve the church. And pay attention because this Gospel is the most important thing that has ever been told.


Monday, September 21, 2009


I preached from Luke 23 on the two criminals crucified with Christ.

You can either listen below or click here for the link.


Friday, September 18, 2009

the study of God

I don't have time to fill up this post with good links...but you can always go to, or for some great food for thought.

I'm currently sitting in the JFK airport waiting to head down to Tampa and reading Knowing God by JI Packer. I wish someone would have handed me this book years ago.

A simple quote detailing the act of meditating on God:

”It is a matter of talking to oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God's power and grace.”


Thursday, September 17, 2009

trolls & truth by jimmy dorrell

It's a book written by a guy who pastors a church under an interstate bridge. It started with 5 homeless guys. What's not to like about that?

Dorrell lays it to us early on, citing offenses against the poor and homeless of the world. He decries our obsession with outward beauty, both of ourselves and our church buildings, and pleads for some real attention to the words of James "For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

A few chapters later he talks about the disparity in ethnicity and socioeconomics, decrying our ambivalence towards these things and calling us to bring them out into the light. We have to be up-front about these issues if we are going to bring about real change.

The book is a challenge to love the "least of these" with the love of Christ. That means not making them a charity case but truly accepting them as part of the community and family of God. It means befriending them. It means serving alongside them.

Of his own heart, Dorrell says, "Years later, I recognized that charity involved sacrifice, not giving leftovers or things I did not want to the poor. It meant giving the food I like to eat or the clothes I like to wear or the time I wanted to keep for myself. In a culture of too much, it is easy to get rid of the leftovers, but to the Christian there is an expectation and privilege of giving that which I deeply value."

My one issue with the book is the consistent praising of his own church. I don't think he meant it to come off this way, but it seems like he is saying that his church has it all right. That they're being the real hands and feet...and hardly anyone else is. (Of course, he is largely correct in the instances he sights.)

But, if you can get past this slightly narcissistic tint, this book is for the privileged of the world. It's for Americans in the church who rarely look to serve. It'll open your eyes to people you've probably never given the time of day and by God's grace you'll act differently because of it.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

greater than angels

There was apparently an issue with angels back in New Testament times. Paul mentions angel worship in Colossians and the writer of Hebrews seems to be hinting that others are guilty as well.

So, it's probably something worth thinking about. Why would people worship angels?

Well, let's look at some descriptions of these creatures:

Isaiah 6: Seraphim (which loosely basically translates to "flaming ones" in Hebrew) hover in the air and their voice shakes the foundations of the temple of God. Angels made of fire whose voices shake the heavens...that's some serious power.

2 Thessalonians also says that angels are revealed in flaming fire.

Revelation 7 says that four angels hold the wind and the power to severely wreck the earth.

Revelation 8 & 9 give descriptions of the horrible things that the sound of the trumpets of angels will do. They blow their horns and lots of people die. Then the four angels who were held back in chapter 7 kill 1/3 of the people of the earth.

Basically chapter 10-21 lay out some of the most amazing feats in the world...most of them performed by angels.

All this to say: angels are some seriously powerful beings. They are much more powerful than we are. In fact, one of the fallen angels (a demon) beat up 7 men and left them running away naked. (See Acts 19)

So, you could maybe see why there would be a problem with angel worship. They're made of fire, they have voices that shake the heavens and they can wipe out the earth if they want. That's pretty intense.

But here's the reason we shouldn't worship angels: The NAME of Jesus is more powerful than all the angels. We're not talking about Jesus himself, we're talking about the glory of his NAME. His NAME will cause every angel to bow before him.

Now, take that to the next level. If the very NAME of Jesus is more powerful than all the angels ever created...then Jesus himself is so far above angels that he literally defeats them by putting his feet upon them like a footstool.

Jesus kicks back in a reclined position at his throne...and in so doing defeats myriads of demons and Satan himself!

Angels are crazy powerful and made of fire. Their voices shake the foundation of heaven.

Jesus defeats all the fallen ones by relaxing his feet.

Jesus is definitely greater than the angels.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

north! or be eaten

Some of you may know Andrew Peterson for his fantastic music (and if you don't, you are cordially invited to a concert on Friday, Dec. 18 in Kokomo.) He has an incredible gift for writing both music and books.

A few weeks ago I read through Peterson's first book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness in just a few short hours. It was a funny, intriguing and captivating tale of a trio of kids, their mother and grandfather.

With Janner, Tink and Leeli you'll explore the aptly named world of Aerwiar. The second book, North! or Be Eaten is full of much more danger and conspiracy than the first. My fingers were tingling with anticipation: will Janner escape the factory? would Tink escape the Black Carriage? would anyone make it to the Ice Prairies?

You'll definitely enjoy yourself as Andrew weaves his tale. And, if you have kids, it's perfect for bedtime stories. The chapters are short and the characters are instantly likable.

So, beware the bomnubbles, the Gargan rockroach, the Fangs of Dang and the stranders. Aerwiar is a dangerous place right now, but the Jewels of Anniera promise hope. Redemption looms on the horizon.

You should definitely go pick up a copy of these books. If you still need convincing, just visit the Wingfeather Saga online and check out some of the characters in the Creaturpedia.

Here's to Andrew and his fantastic tales!


Monday, September 14, 2009


A few weeks ago I mentioned that you could get an "all you can jet pass" from JetBlue. For $599 you could buy an unlimited flight ticket from September 8th to October 8th.

I, acting on sheer impulse, decided to grab one. And now, I am happily flying all across the country to visit friends. I figured I'd lay down a post for anyone who may wonder where I'll be during the next month but first I'm going to sing a little praise for JetBlue.

First, they are extremely friendly. Always chipper on the phone. Nice at the terminals. Concerned on the plane. Quality folks.

Second, the seats are LEATHER. All of them. And the leg-room is great. Much more room to move around than American, Southwest or Continental.

Third, the snack and drink are FREE. And you can ask for seconds, thirds, fourths...however much you want. And they hand it over with a smile.

Fourth, satellite TV and XM radio for FREE and you can use any headset. You don't have to get a special set from them. Individual TVs in every headrest. Good stuff.

They're definitely the best airline I've flown. The one downside is that they don't fly you're limited in where you can go. But, if they go where you're going, definitely fly with them.

So, here is my itinerary as of today:

Sep 11-12: Austin, TX to see Chad and Jesse. I met them both on the Yellowstone Project in 2005. It was a good trip. Average cost: $395

Sep 18-19: Tampa, FL to see Travis and Sarah. Travis discipled me for a year in college and recently got married and moved to Florida. Average cost: $209

Sep 22-24: Long Beach, CA to see Alex and Sarah. Alex and I went to Butler together and have gotten to be good friends since graduating. They've been married just over a year. Average cost: $329

Sep 25-27: Minneapolis, MN to the Desiring God Conference. Technically I'm not flying with the pass...but I will be out of town.

Oct 2-3: Buffalo, NY to see Ray and Barb. I met Ray on the mission trip to Philadelphia this summer. We'll be seeing the sites and planning a mission trip to Buffalo for this spring. Average cost: $149

Oct 6-7: Orlando, FL to see Steve. Steve is big, bearded and funny. We will laugh a lot. Little else will happen. Average cost: $179

Which means that without flying anywhere else I'm saving $662 with the pass. Not too shabby.

Happy jetting.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

posting to resume monday

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me and I haven't made a concerted effort to organize my life. Starting school again, Wednesday nights on the church and flying all over the country are starting to make me a little scatter-brained.

But, I've got some things written and ready for posting starting next week (including that review of Trolls & Truth and another of North! or Be Eaten.)

Texas was a good time.

Good night (or morning) to you all.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

been busy

In leiu of my regular postings (which have been absent for almost a week) I'm going to post a portion of the life-changing sermon: 10 Shekels and a Shirt.


Friday, September 4, 2009

we have a winner

Sorry about the lack of Friday links. I'll get it up tomorrow (although Challies free-stuff will be gone by then.)

Winner of the book via = Rachel Bell.

She gets the good Troll book. I promise I'll have a review posted soon.

Is it sad that I was nodding off at 9pm this evening?

Oh, and since my post a few days ago has caused some concern (I promise I haven't delved into the self-deprecating "I'm leaving for Montana" state that I have been known for) I'm going to clarify my intent.

I was really just trying to point out the fact that even though I know I'm saved, I continue to sin. And it's not really the sins themselves that bug me it's that I continue to sin even as a Christian.

My point was that my sin weighs me down. It make me realize that the grace I have received is more precious than I realize. And I think that's good! I think it's good to sit under sin for a time and wonder about the God that saves.

In fact, I think many times we don't spend enough time considering how utterly wretched we are to God.

So, in closing. Thanks for all the emails and Facebook messages. But truly, I am just fine.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

free book! free book!

That's right, I've got another book to give away this week. I'll be posting my review of it tomorrow.

But now it's your chance to win a copy of Trolls & Truth. You can't beat the creepy cover.

Jimmy Dorrell pastors a group of rag-tags that literally meet under a bridge (thus the "troll" metaphor) in Waco, TX.

All you have to do is comment on this post by Friday to be entered. If you share it on Facebook or in a reader let me know and you'll be added a second time.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

are there two unforgivable sins?

Maybe I missed something in "Eschatology 101" or perhaps my understanding of Revelation is of a lesser sort than some. Or maybe, just maybe, we've gone a little crazy over this "mark of the beast" business.

First, let's set the stage. Jesus explicitly states that "every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." (Matt. 12:31) What does that mean? Well, no one is quite sure...but...

It definitely means that you can do a lot of crazy terrible things and say awful things about God but there is something called "blaspheming the Spirit" that is the final call. Now, I'm not going to get into a heated debate about this, but it seems pretty easy to then say that there isn't a particular "sin" being talked about here. By "sin" I mean an outward act of physical disobedience. It seems to be implying that the only thing that keeps people from Eternal Life is a denial of the Truth of the Gospel that the Spirit brings.

So, if the only thing that warrants un-forgiveness is this act of refusing and blaspheming the Truth-bearing Spirit then it would mean that we've gotta read that into other blanket statements in Scripture.

Like this one: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

By that definition nobody that's ever lived is gonna see the Kingdom. But Paul qualifies it that without CHRIST we'd never make it. He shows that unrepentant physical disobedience leads to the final inward rebellion and blasphemy against the Spirit.

Why am I saying all this?

Because, for some reason, a bunch of theologians who are obsessed with figuring out the enigma of the last days have latched onto Revelation 14:9-11 which states, basically, that anyone who has the mark of the beast is going to Hell. And then they grab it and say " If you are a Christian, you MUST NOT take this mark or you, too, will miss the kingdom of God and suffer eternal torment over this single act of disobedience, according to Scripture."

I don't buy it. All through Scripture we are shown that outward, physical disobedience is not the thing that condemns. It is the heart.

Plus, we know from Revelation 13:8 that believers WON'T take the mark. Now either every present and future believer will somehow instinctively refuse the mark (doubtful) or it will have to be something that can be undone and repented of. (Plus, if everyone who had the mark were guaranteed Hell then evangelism would serve no purpose...rejoice ye hyper-Calvinists!)

Since the Bible makes clear that every act of disobedience is equal in the eyes of God then I'm going to just come out and say it.

Taking the mark of the beast won't send you to hell.
Refusing to listen to the Spirit's plea to worship Christ will. There must be a way for you to repent of this sin otherwise we have elevated a single act of disobedience, that is only available in the last few years of existence, to trump God's grace.

There is only one unforgivable sin. It's blaspheming the Spirit by refusing to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Of course, this is assuming that the mark is, in fact, physical. I personally don't think it IS physical...If taken metaphorically, then it is, in my opinion, another description of the unforgivable sin. The mark of the beast is contrasted against the mark of the elect, implying that it is an inward spiritual stamp marking us as God's or not. This post is simply trying to point out that if you take the mark as a physical act then it cannot be equated to the unforgivable sin.)