Sunday, November 29, 2009

advent begins

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath 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 aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

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.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!
Here's a favorite youtube version (it's incomplete, but I still like the four voices):

Thursday, November 26, 2009


One day a year millions confess to God their thankfulness for all things earthly. Food, family, friends, cars, houses. Some of them include spiritual blessings.

It is good to be thankful for these things, but it is dangerous to do it once a year. It is dangerous to do it without also pleading with God that you would not be more content with things than you should be. If your entire thanksgiving is based on physical gifts then likely you have forgotten that his "kindness is meant to lead us to repentance."

Physical things lead to spiritual blindness. I thank God for what I have and plead with Him not to let me be entombed by it. I cry out with Pastor Larry Stutzman "if God does not love me, there is nothng in the world to be thankful for because it all comes to nothing, and that right soon."


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

talk to yourself

Here's my sermon on Psalm 42. It is adapted from Lloyd-Jones book on Spiritual Depression. You can listen below or download it here.


the rest

So, after posting the quiz we learned yesterday which ones I think are false. (Now, to be a little more clear, the least dangerous is the idea that we can bring heaven to earth. And, for the post-millenialists, I don't think you think in exactly the same way Rob Bell does, but you have a similar problem in my mind.)

I don't know if you were able to figure this out, but out of the remaining statements only one is not found explicitely in Scripture. It is the following quote from Martin Luther in Bondage of the Will:

All things take place by necessity.

He grounds it in Isaiah 46:10-11 among other places. The point is that everything that happens in the world is there for a reason. It is not unnecessary. The bird falling from the next, the hairs on the head and the great tragedy and glory of the cross. All things are necessary and all things make God look glorious.

The rest of these are straight outta the Bible:
From Proverbs 26 come these to conflicting statements. You see, it takes wisdom to apply wisdom from others:

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

This one comes from John 1, you'll probably recognize the verse previous if you look it up:

We are born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

From Jude:

Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

First John 2:

This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

Exodus 4-12 this is repeated several times and quoted in Romans 9:

I will harden Pharaoh's hearts, so that he will not let the people go.

In the end, God is sovereign. He is merciful. He is good. And He is just.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the false ones

I believe with every ounce of my being that not only are the following statements from yesterday's quiz wrong, but they are dangerously wrong. I worry about the men who say these things and even more for the people who believe that these things are true. May God be merciful and save them.
Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. - Rob Bell

The terms forgiven, justified, glorified, saved, born again and a host of others are so interchangeable in Scripture that I find it beyond difficult to think that there are forgiven people in hell. If you are forgiven of your sins, then you are saved and if saved you are resurrected to glory. (See the end of Romans 8)
The stories of creation, Jonah and the whale, the sun standing still, Jesus virgin birth, walking on water, multiplying fish and loaves, and changing water into wine are to be understood as purely metaphorical. - Marcus Borg

I put it to you that if you begin down this path that nothing will remain believable in Scripture. Truly, if you toss the virgin birth out as metaphorical then you lose the whole essence of Christianity since you lose the divinity of Christ.
The goal of Jesus isn't to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here. - Rob Bell

I would disagree with Bell and the post-millenlialists that we are ultimately responsible for bringing the Kingdom here. The Kingdom is present in heaven already and will be fully revealed at the end with the new heaven and earth. We are to act like Kingdom men and women, but not with the idea that we can accomplish heavenly unity here on this broken planet.
I can't find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. - Rob Bell

Seriously? One place? Ephesians 2? Psalm 51? Genesis 6? Romans 3? Really?
It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. - Brian Mclaren

I quote Acts 17, "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." To leave people in ignorance of the exclusivity of Christ is to leave them in ignorance of salvation.
Beware of the dangers of folks who masquerade as sheep, but are wolves prowling amongst the flock.


Monday, November 23, 2009


You should go here and win some sweet JC Ryle commentaries.

Grow up and be a man

This is how the health bill is going to pass

The trinity

Have you signed the Manhattan Declaration yet? I have

I enjoyed this:
(HT: Sola Panel)


which ones belong?

I used the following set of quotes to teach my youth last night. Their job was to decide if these statements were found in Scripture, were true (but not found in the Bible), or if they were false. It led to some great discussion. How well can you do?
1.Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.

2.Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

3.Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for.

4.All things take place by necessity.

5.The stories of creation, Jonah and the whale, the sun standing still, Jesus virgin birth, walking on water, multiplying fish and loaves, and changing water into wine are to be understood as purely metaphorical.

6.We are born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

7.The goal of Jesus isn't to get into heaven. The goal is to get heaven here.

8.I can't find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners.

9.It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.

10.Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

11.This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

12.I will harden Pharaoh's hearts, so that he will not let the people go.

Well, what do you think? True, false or biblical? I'll post my thoughts throughout the week.


Friday, November 20, 2009


Free stuff here and here and here

Prison ministry more vibrant than my own

The Gospel in three words

The Manhattan Declaration

Pyro's got a series on gambling (insert betting joke here)

A little more Hebrews action


Thursday, November 19, 2009


If you have a Facebook account you can find out how you know you're a member of my youth group

Win the book Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Jesus is the Christ

Something funny

A couple good posts on Hebrews here and here

Keeping Christ centered and the danger of not keeping Him in front

Be careful how you pray

A good list of books

Screwtape Letters brought to audio:
(HT: Thinklings)


in us

Have you ever pondered this phrase "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Earlier in the book of Colossians (where that sentence comes from) we read that there is a "hope laid up for you in heaven" and that this is where the strength to act according to the Gospel comes from. It is a future hope in the glories of heaven.

But it is also present now. We have the hope of glory presently in our bodies. Christ is in us. We contain in our flesh some sort of manifestation of the spirit of God so that we can "fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions," that is, to make Christ visibly seen in the flesh through our own bodies.

This is meant to encourage each other, by visibly seeing that Christ was human, and for our own selves when we see the hope of glory springing out of us. This should propel us forward to good works. This future hope of glory is here presently abiding so that we can taste of it and be assured of its culmination.

It also means that the future hope of heaven is Christ himself. Yes, it is a physical creation and yes we will have physical bodies with which to work and enjoy it, but the main hope is that of Christ himself who is the temple and the light. And when we come into that final place of rest we will bringing with us the glory of God that was present here on earth (Revelation 21:23-25).

Praise God that He has not left us alone to hope without knowing.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Why so late you ask? Well, if I had a good reason I'd probably never have asked the question.

Book giveaway from Terry Delaney

I'm going to this because it is awesome. You should send your pastor.

This series on the woes of bad missional churching is worth the read.

JC Ryle quotes are awesome.


The first video has some odd graphics, but these are worth a listen (especially if you like Joel Osteen)


racial speciation?

Let me start by telling you that I'm not a scientist and make no claims about knowing how to "classify" species, but I take issue with the way it is apparently done.

I was point to an article this morning that stated a new species had been born in the famous Galapagos Islands, amongst the very finches that spawned Darwin's famous theory of evolution.

And, I have to tell you, I don't buy it. Now, scientifically it may very well be a separate species, but racially it is not. Right near the end of the article this statement is made "The birds might even return to the fold of their parent species, and merge with them through interbreeding." That means that they can still breed with their "former" species. Which, in my mind, means that it's no new species at all.

Think of it in human terms. For simplicity sake, let me compare the aboriginal African and myself.

They are very, very dark skinned. Nearly black. I am quite pale.
They have wide noses. Mine (although wider than some) is narrow.
They most likely have black eyes. I have blue.

And then, culturally, we are very different. Their idea of beauty is probably not my idea of beauty. Their ideas of ethics are probably different than mine. Their idea of what is good for a man to do is probably different than mine.

So, if I were to move to some remote country in Africa, the odds of me "singing their song," as it were, would be quite impossible. I'd probably not end up with a wife because of SOCIAL and VISIBLE differences (whether good or bad) would mean that I probably would not marry.

Let's say, though, that one of the ladies and I somehow end up married, and that 3 or 4 generations later all that is left of us is our great-great-great grandkids. And they marry. And they are much paler in skin, they have lighter eyes and skinny noses. Let's say I taught my children well the Biblical truth and that they are markedly different socially than the rest of the tribe because they are they only Christians.

Are they a new species?

Of course not. They are just as human as the original African and myself. They may be socially and visibly different than everything around them and still not be a separate species.

So, I don't buy it, Darwinists. No new species has been made. That is racial speciation and it will do nothing but harm our ideas of what defines humanity.


Monday, November 16, 2009


No time for a regular post today, you'll have to make do with only a list of links.

Quit it with the event=church growth

The Bible, you should read it

The title of this post is eerily similar to our current preaching series at church

If you've never seen "Who's on First?"


This'll make you smile (HT: Sarah Costa)

(HT: RO)


Saturday, November 14, 2009


The Psalms

Shout for joy

Clergy self-care, is it good?(HT: JM)

The slippery slope of allowing women to preach

Tim Keller on advancing from despair

Hip-hop with a Calvinist tint:
(HT: JT)


Friday, November 13, 2009


A chance to win some sweet commentaries from Challies and go sign up to win Unpacking Forgiveness or a Flip Camera

A book for singing the Psalms

If you can, you should go see this concert

The Gospel is for the broken

Secondhand porn

Making pastors good?

(HT: Thinklings)


Well, it's time for me to make a commitment to losing some weight and I thought that making it public would at least give me the shame factor if I don't follow through.

A couple months ago I borrowed some of the P90X dvds from a friend and lost a few pounds, but had to give them back and then went right back to the weight I was at. This last week I bought the system and it arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon.

So, here's hoping that some of the 255 lbs that I weigh will be shed in the next 3 months.


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Missionary in need

A review of the new Christmas Carol

Should we strive to get the "movers and shakers" into our congregations?

Divorce and homosexuality

Boys wearing skirts?

If you've ever wondered how to pray, the Westminster gives the answer

Bibline bloodline

I'll sing this note forever

If anyone is looking to spend some cash on me for Christmas...


do it anyway

Today, I was planning on writing a post about being disciplined in action, specifically related to evangelism but encompassing all points of the Christian life.

However, this other guy named, Jon Bloom, (who is the head honcho of Desiring God) decided to beat me to the punch. Here's a snippet:

Each struggle is an invitation by God to follow in the footsteps of his Son, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Those who are spiritually blind only see futility in these things. But for those who have eyes to see, God has woven hope (faith in future grace) right into the futility of creation (Romans 8:20-21). Each struggle is a pointer saying, “Look! Look to the real Joy set before you!”

So when you don’t feel like doing what you know is best for you, take heart and don’t give in.

Go here and read the rest of it.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today is Veterans Day

Win Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover

Last day to win and ESV Study Bible

Piper claims to have struck gold

Identifying idols

Sproul on obedience, sin and grace

Tim Challies wife, Aileen, finishes up her three part series on sex for women


take it easy

Taking it easy in evangelism is the theme of the times.

Slow down, develop a solid friendship so that you can open up lines of true communication.

Ease off the judgmental language of saying that someone is guilty before God.

Hell is too harsh to put into a friendly conversation.

Just talk about purpose and how God has one for you and He just loves you so much.

That's all evangelism is, right? Talking about God's love and his purpose for you?

Sorry to bust your bubble, but evangelism is much more robust than that and must necessarily have elements of God's holiness, his judgment, one's guilt, Jesus sacrifice on our behalf and his resurrection. It must also have words like repent, believe, turn away, follow and the like. It must.

You've gotta work on consistently turning conversations to the majesty of God through the love of Christ. And then, when you get into a conversation with someone who does not believe the Gospel it will be a natural outflow of conversation and not a forced evangelistic talk. You'll evangelize simply by talking normally if you work at seasoning ALL of your conversations this way.

So, don't take it easy. Work at making your speech salty because even the sweetest cake needs salt to make it taste right.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Win The Righteous Shall Live By Faith or Wait Until Then or nominate your pastor (me?) to win some books.

Compassion has a short series of questions to inform about AIDS worldwide.

What comes before?

How does the Gospel affect you?

Come to Jesus all ye...weary?

The danger of low expectations in the church.

20 years ago yesterday the Berlin Wall came down.



evangelizing jericho

Years ago I began changing my stance on evangelism. (For awhile it was nearly non-existent, thankfully a good man named Scott gave me a good chewing out to get that idea out of my head.)

But, early on in my zeal I was notoriously the arguer. I wanted to smash every single rational defense against faith. I wanted to break down the walls and I wanted to show people that the Gospel was real.

Oftentimes it would take the form of debating creation/evolution or the problem of evil. More recently it might be apparent contradictions in Scripture or the fallibility of the church.

All of those things, as good as they may be, are not evangelism. Not even close.

Think about it like this.

Your friend is like the city of Jericho. He is a fortress city with high walls and great defenses. He can withstand attack after attack on his non-faith because he has spent years stockading.

Your job isn't to pull down his walls of defense brick by brick. Your job isn't to try and smash your way inside the heart of your friend.

Your job is to trumpet the good news of the Gospel and watch those walls crumble beneath the power of the Holy Spirit.

Evangelism is not our battle to fight. It is our duty to trumpet the news of the already won war. So, the next time you find yourself trying to tear down the walls of Jericho to witness to someone take a step back and realize that's not your job. Get out your Gospel trumpet and declare the majesty of God, the culpability of man and the good news of Christ. And then let the Spirit do the battle.


Monday, November 9, 2009

links of the day

I've decided to update my blog with some good links everyday, in addition to my regular posting. This will keep the number of links on Friday down and it will give you something to read during the week. This will, for the most part, be from my Google Reader shared list, so if you already subscribe to that, this will be a repeat.

Don Carson answers the question: How can I know if God exists?

5 ways that sin is serious

Fact: Brian Regan is funny

The beauty of God's love

The good Doctor on the pride of knowledge


the majesty of God is greater

The heavens declare the glory of God.

We often think of the majesty of the stars, their magnitude and the immenseness of space. We see unbelievable pictures from the Hubble telescope and it is hard not to be awestruck.

But here's the thing. The heavens are telling of the glory of God. Not themselves.

God created the ubelievable things in the sky.Interacting Spiral Galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163

They aren't meant to make us say "how amazing are the stars" but "how amazing is God." They are unequal things and too often we equate them.

When you look up tonight remember that these things are to bring us into worship of the Creator, not the created.


Friday, November 6, 2009

the yankees? really?

I don't like the Yankees. Go Cubs!

And now on to more important matters.

Freebies of the week(ish):
50 chances to win at Challies
Win a Paul Washer book from Christian Book Notes
Unpacking Forgiveness is still available
Still a chance to win an ESV Study Bible

Some things to read and consider:

Prayer is Christian humility

Abortion: new healthcare plan includes it (even Planned Parenthood thinks so), The View can't decide if it is ok or not, and a former Planned Parenthood director resigns

Striving to be inadequate

The 130 million dollar church

We should simplify but never balance

To build or not to build

Help somebody this week

Fantastic deals on Piper's books for Christmas *hint*hint*

It's the International Day of Prayer on Sunday:
(HT: Persecution Blog)


Thursday, November 5, 2009


Psalm 73 tells a familiar story.

Asaph prays to God and says "my foot had almost slipped...for I envied the arrogant. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens of common man. This is what the wicked are like--always carefree, they increase in wealth."

Envy sometimes comes in mild forms. The neighbor gets a new car. A friend gets a raise. That family hasn't had to deal with a young death.

But always the end result is "Why don't I receive all the blessings that everyone else gets?" This is entitlement. This is evil and Asaph knows it...but sometimes his foot starts to slip and he sees that people who are "more wicked" than he are getting outrageous good fortune.

He goes so far to say this "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure; in vain I have washed my hands in innocence." **

How is he able to combat such a force of pride and envy? Like this:

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

The answer is bound up in the hope of glory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This earth will be full of trials and tribulations but we have a better hope and an abiding one. Behold the weight of glory and envy not your neighbor.


**Despite his doubts and fears, he keeps quiet when his heart cries out with this haughty declaration saying "If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children."

He knows that speaking such things without an answer would lead many to abandon the faith. So, don't let these few verses give you permission to declare all kinds of terrible things and call it "being honest" about your doubts. If you have not found the reason for your hope then it is best to confess these things to close friends and to God, not to a public audience who may be led astray without the hope of Christ.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

the prosperity "gospel"

There is absolutely no way to describe my feelings after watching this:

The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

(HT: Z)

John Piper responds to the issue:
(HT: DG)

This is entitlement.
We preach it without saying it many times.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Do you deserve the computer you're using right now?

What about that cell phone you just flipped open?

And that car that you drove today, do you deserve it?

Not to mention your clothes, house and the food you ate today. Do you deserve any of it?

Really sit and ask yourself these questions. Did you feel your heart start? Did you think for just a split second "yes, I deserve to have a roof over my head"?

But, the answer is "no" you do not deserve any of it. "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought" says Paul in Romans 12. Don't be conformed to the pattern of this world. The pattern of entitlement. Instead, humble yourself in the sight of all.

Jesus Christ humbled himself to the ultimate, taking the very form of a servant and then dying a terrible death on the cross. For people who forget about him daily. For people who think they deserve that morning coffee and get frustrated when the drive-thru line just won't move fast enough.

Friends, remember that this life is not your own. Don't be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Don't let your sense of entitlement outshine the humility of the Gospel.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

You are not entitled. Christ was. And he gave up everything for the sake of those who believe.