Archive for April, 2007

It was a fight to read this chapter because I was fighting a migraine at the time.  But it served as a good reminder that progressive sanctification is not automatic, nor easy.  There is no passivism to be found in the Bible.  Hebrews 11 is full of people who acted because they believed.

Anyway, Ryle addresses why this is a good fight (1 Timothy 6:12).  He notes the horrible consequences of war in our world.  Consequences that have not changed.  People may choose to be pacifists when it comes to earthly conflicts.  But in our internal battle against sin, no Christian may be a pacifist or appeaser.  We are all to be soldiers of Christ.

Keep in mind, the battle is not between nations, or religions or theological squabbles.  The battle in view is the battle with the flesh, the world and the devil.  “But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, he must either ‘fight’ or be lost.”

Interestingly, he quotes “the wisest General that ever lived in England”.  I wish I knew to whom to attribute this great quote to, but: “In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war.”  I can think of some politicians that need to read it.  But the point Ryle is making, and we need to hear, is that we must not underestimate the flesh, the world and the devil.  It is not a minor skirmish, or ‘police action’ or ‘act of terrorism’.  The battle against sin is a full-time, full-blown war.  It is not a hobby, or an option activity for the ‘serious’ Christian.

“Where there is grace there will be conflict.  …. There is no holiness without a warfare.  Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight.”  This should cause us to recognize our own weakness before our foes.  How we need the work of Christ progressively applied to us by the Spirit through faith!  How we need to recognize it is all of grace, even as we dig in or press on.  We will feel the heat, and pressure, if we are to be purified and transformed.  As John Owen has said, “Be killing sin or it will kill you.”

The key, as Ryle notes, is faith.  Not generic faith- but a faith in Jesus.  We trust in his “person, work and office” as revealed by Scripture and portrayed in the Gospel.  We need our Prophet to reveal our sin, our Priest to cover our sin, and our King to kill our sin.  Faith is also rooted, as Piper often notes, in God’s promises.  We are to believe, and act upon, God’s promises for grace.

We are not alone in this fight, or at least should not be.  Sadly we tend to isolate ourselves from the very helps God has provided.  We have allies in the Word and Spirit.  God has joined them together (Calvin & Owen among others) though sinful men drive them apart.  We have allies in one another (Ephesians 6 speaks of tight ranks to oppose the foe).  Do not go it alone, but stand by your brothers and sisters.  And in the words of a great coach, “Fight, fight, fight!”

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PCA Report is In

I know… you’ve been staying up nights waiting for the PCA Report on the New Perspectives on Paul, and the Federal Vision.  Lay awake no longer- read on.

If you are like me, you don’t have the time to study every controversial subject.  I’ve done some homework on the NPP, and find the new perspectives wanting.  I have not done any work on the Federal Vision aside from the short (possibly misrepresenting) answer of “overly objective view of the covenant”.  But as I curl up with this report I will learn more.  This is not exciting reading, thus far, but important as these views make inroads in the Reformed community.  Have fun!

HT: Justin Taylor

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Moss A Patriot

It is still sinking in.  I hope this is Corey Dillon part 2.  I think the locker room leaders can keep Randy focused.  But I’m not sure I like it.

The good part of it?

It only cost us a 4th round pick.  I can’t believe the Raiders were willing to settle for that.

He took a huge pay cut!  He will “only” earn $3 million, which is a far cry from the $9+ million he was due to make.

“I think over the course of my career, I’ve made a lot of money,” said Moss. “I still have money in the bank. By me coming to an organization such as the New England Patriots, why would money be a factor?”  (from the Boston.com article)

He does give the Patriots a deep threat, and this does allow Chad Jackson time to heal, and then learn the system.  Last year’s suspect receiving corps is suspect no more.  But I’m still not sure I like it.  Ask me in Nov/Dec.

Update: It is all too clear what the CHB thinks (2 scathing columns already), great way to build relationships with new players Dan-o.  What does Tom Brady think?  His actions speak for themselves.  He restructured his deal to be able to bring Moss in.

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This video was supposed to be distributed at a church planting conference.  Well, it was not politically correct enough.  Mark tells the story here.

It contains typical Driscoll verbiage.  So, if that offends you- don’t watch it.  I’ve listened to it and don’t understand why some people are upset.  Folks make it sound like he drops f-bombs in the pulpit or something.  The Bible is coarse folks, ’cause we’re idolatrous whores.  So let’s get over it…

HT: Irish Calvinist

Update: And a small portion of Hades broke out on Reformissionary.  Congrats to Steve for shutting down the comments.  And the funny photoshop.

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Another U2 DVD

@U2 reports that Pop Mart: Live in Mexico City, previously available on VHS, will be released on DVD.  There will be the single disc, concert only version, and the 2-disc special edition.  It should be released in late June.  Since they don’t play many of these songs live anymore, I’m interested.

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Many people like me have wondered when the controversy regarding Penal Substitutionary Atonement would begin to divide groups and shatter alliances.  It has begun.  Adrian Warnock has been documenting how this has been taking shape in England.

The UCCF (University and Colleges Christian Fellowship) has been partnering with Spring Harvest to sponser Word Alive.  That partnership is over, at least in part because of Steve Chalke’s denial of the penal substitutionary atonement (his views have been echoed by, Jeffery John, McLaren and other emergent leaders).  UCCF did not want to include Chalke as a speaker, and Spring Harvest withdrew in defense of Chalke.

The book Pierced for Our Transgressions was written to defend the historic view that Jesus died, in part, to bear the wrath of God for our sin as a substitute in our place.  N.T. Wright has now criticized both Jeffery John and Pierced for Our Transgressions.  And the controversy rages on.

Adrian’s friend and mine, The Jollyblogger, interacts with the confusion around Wright’s statements.  I fear it is a matter of time before such actions find themselves to this side of the ocean.  I fear this because thus far no authoritative body has stepped up to affirm the penal substitutionary atonement and rebuke those who reject it.  Individuals like Piper, Dr. Nicole and other leaders have done this.  But unless groups do this, the false teaching regarding the atonement, and the odd perspectives that justify, will spread unhindered like gangrene (see 1 & 2 Timothy).


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“In France… Christianity was attacked with almost frenzied violence, there was no question of replacing it with another religion.  Passionate and persistent efforts were made to wean men away from the faith of their fathers, but once they had lost it, nothing was supplied to fill the void within…”  Alexis de Tocqueville

“But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue?  It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”  Edmund Burke

Both quoted in Turning Points by Mark Noll

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The Golden State Warriors’ guard Monta Ellis was named Most Improved Player in the NBA.  His progress is interesting.

Minutes  18 => 34  slightly less than double.

Points  6.8 => 16.5 almost 10 pts./game higher

Rebounds 2.1 => 3.2  just 1 higher

Assists 1.6 => 4.1  but 2.87 TO/game  not a good ratio for a guard.

Steals .6 => 1.7

He certainly improved, and quite a bit.  But was he the MOST improved player?  I don’t think so.  Let’s look at Al Jefferson.


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We’ve probably all seen this picture.  I hear it showed up on Al Gore’s multi-media presentation.  Global Warming Alarmists have used to to show that glaciers are melting, and (sob) the bears are drowning.  Kids are weeping, afraid that they deadly but beautiful beasts will be wiped out.

The truth, this picture dates from 2004 and a Woods Hole Geographic Expedition.  The caption?  “Mother polar bear and cub on interesting ice sculpture carved by waves.”  No mention in the dispactch of needing to rescue them from this naturally occuring event.  In the midst of the Wikipedia article on polar bears (ridden with Global Warming Alarmism) you find this: “Polar bears are excellent swimmers and have been seen in open Arctic waters as far as 60 miles from land.”  That 4 drowned bears have been found would seem to be an anomalie.  Stop scaring the kids with lies and misrepresentation.  If Global Warming were true, people like Al Gore wouldn’t have to lie, twist the truth and hide facts from people.  To resort to such measure shows me this is a load of something that produces one of those greenhouse gasses called methane.

HT: Rush

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Not in the way you think.  Today was “one of those days”.  I listened to an excellent message by Darrin Patrick on the Life and Death of the Missional Leader.  He talked about trials, and suffering, as a part of ministry- weaning us from dependence on self and teaching us to rely upon Him who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1).  I’ve been meaning to listen to it for nearly a year.

The last year has been one of the more difficult years of my life.  Sometimes I focus on the pain, and sometimes on what God is producing through the pain.  This morning it was the latter.  This afternoon, in the midst of the Presbytery meeting where nothing went even remotely ‘right’, it was all pain.  My humiliation seemed complete- I felt utterly incompetent before all.  Yeah, great day.  Then came the complete low-ball offer on the house.

If you are in ministry, or considering it, you should listen.

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A fellow pastor and I were musing today about the amount of activity that occurs during a typical sermon.  All the ants didn’t get out of their pants during the sit-stand-sit-stand dance during the singing and prayer part of the service.

Perhaps you’ve heard the line, “people can only pay attention for about 20 minutes”.  This obviously doesn’t hold true when a movie is on, but….

We decided that perhaps there ought to be “commercial breaks” between main points.

– “Now for this message from the Youth Pastor on the upcoming retreat”  (jazzy music)

Sermon begins again. “Let’s pause for a moment for a message from Crossway books.”

– “Feeling beat up by the flesh?  Struggling with a lack of desire to pray?  Evangelize?  John Piper’s new book……”

Whattaya think?

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A Red Sox Record

Well, I nearly woke up the little girl laughing as the Sox pounded 4 consecutive home runs off the same pitchers.  This is only the second time it has ever happened, the first for the Sox.  Even nicer that it came against the Yankees.  But what matters is winning.  If they can hold the 7-5 lead against a great Yankees line up, it puts some space between the Yankees that may be helpful in the future.

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Many view holiness as optional, a bonus if you will.  Ryle’s theme verse for this chapter is Hebrews 12:14: “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord…”  That ought to grab our attention.

Ryle starts by identifying what it is not: not knowledge, great profession, doing many things, zeal for certain matters in religion, taking pleasure in hearing preachers, not keeping company with godly people.  Holiness is so much more than any and all of these.

It is a “habit of being of one mind with God.”  As a result, a person loves what God love and hates what God hates.  We agree with God that sin is evil, that righteousness is good, and about what is important.

Additionally, it is a great desire, or “decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to do His will.”  This is a commitment to obedience, a mark of grace.

It is striving “to be like our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This is simply the idea expressed in Romans 8:29.  Those God foreknew have been predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.  Our moral character increasingly aligns with the moral perfection of Messiah.

Holy people follow Jesus, obeying God, despite suffering- responding like Jesus would (gentleness, meekness etc.).  They also put their sin to death, denying self.

Lest one think that holiness is austere and cold, holy people also “follow after charity (love) and brotherly kindness.”  As a result of this love and kindness, a holy person strives to “lessen the spiritual wants and misery around him, as far as he can.”  Holiness encompasses the horizontal as well as the vertical.  Vertical holiness results in horizontal holiness.  Love toward God results in love toward people, who are made in his image.

Lest we have an over-realized view, Ryle affirms the remaining presence of indwelling sin (contra the Council of Trent).  “The old man is clogging all of his movements, and, as it were, trying to draw him back at every step he takes.”  Indwelling sin, what Paul calls the flesh, hinders every attempt at obedience and love.  Every pastor must take note of this.  You can lay out great vision (aka a biblical vision), but there will always be resistance.  You, and your leadership, will resist all movements toward obedience.  Holiness does not come easy, but each gain is made with great struggle.  But the presence of blemishes and imperfections does not make it non-holiness.  As Ryle notes, even impure gold is still gold.

Why is holiness so important?  Why should we struggle to make progress in it?  This may sound too obvious, but because God commands it.  This is one of the reasons Jesus came into the world, to make us holy.  Jesus came, not just for pardon, but to break its power.  As a result, it is evidence that one’s faith is a saving faith instead of a dead faith.  Holiness is proof of regeneration, evidence of a new heart and the indwelling of the Spirit.  Holiness reveals that we are part of God’s family as we bear the family likeness.  Our present comfort often depends upon it.  The less we sin, the less of its misery we shall taste.  And lastly, we shall be more prepared for heaven.  The more holy we are, the more we will long for the consummation of the kingdom.

Ryle quotes John Owen to remind us of the root and cause of all true holiness.  “Did Christ die, and shall sin live?  Was he crucified in the world, and shall our affections to the world be quick and lively?”  The cross of Christ is the foundation of our holiness.  Holiness comes from vital, spiritual union with Him by faith.  Holiness is not produced by the working of the flesh (though there is a counterfeit holiness that is).  We must go to Jesus if we desire holiness.  Soli deo Gloria. 

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RR Poll Results

I occasionally fill out the polls on Road Runner.  One caught my eye today on attendance at worship services.  Nearly 76,000 people responded.  And essentially Road Runner users are not very interested in worship.

34% attend worship services weekly.

8% attend occasionally.

 58% seldom or ever attend worship services.

I wonder if this is representative of society in general.

The next poll is whether or not you attended worship this week.  Although only 38,000 people replied, the numbers were about the same.

33% yes, and 67% no.

Yet, 49% are members of a church or synagogue.  Hmmmmm.

Yet, 48% consider religion very important.

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I almost turned the game off.  Schilling was not doing well, and Petite seemed to have the game in hand.  The Yankees had even put in a pinch runner for Giambi.  The 6-2 lead seemed safe, especially when Mariano Riviera entered the game.  I was tempted.  I was tired.  I needed sleep after a long week including to airline trips, which wear me out.

But I didn’t.  So I got to see the least likely suspects dispatch the Yankees in the 8th inning.  The captain, Jason Varitek who’d hit his first homer of the season earlier to tie it at 2, came through again.  He had been mired in a pathetic stretch of hitting that includes the end of last season.  But the big blow came from Coco Crisp to tie the game.  A triple down the line won some big points with the frustrated Fenway fans.  Alex Cora then drove Coco in to take the lead.

The other Japanese rookie, the Hero in the Dark, took center stage to close the game for the Sox.  Papelbon had been used the previous 2 games.  Okajima got his first major league save against the dreaded Yankees.  In the end it was the Yankees pitching that lost the game, and the Sox pitching that won it.  Although I wonder what would have happened if it was Giambi, not Thompson, up in the 9th.  I thought Joe had learned long ago to not count out the Sox.

On a related note, I agree with Bob Ryan about how the fans (particularly Sox fans) are ruining a great rivalry.  Cheer for your team, even boo the other team.  But still show some respect.  They have great players, they don’t ‘suck’.  Playful banter, like April-Fraud, is okay.  But the venom?  Gotta go!  Support your team, but love even your enemy.

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From a few Saturdays ago.


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Awaiting the U2 Experience

I have not seen U2 live and in person since 1985 on the second leg of the Unforgettable Fire Tour.  Frankly, I couldn’t/can’t afford to.  I guess it is about priorities for available funds.  But, I’ve got some DVDs which you can occasionally hear if you drive by my home.

With the release of U23D this fall, I suspect I’ll be able to enter the experience by watching it with a bunch of other ‘cheap’ U2 fans.  Here is the trailer if you missed it.

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I had to go up to NC for church business this week.  That explains the lack of posts the second half of the week.  It was a strange trip, to say the least.  A comedy of errors, actually (yes, this will be a long, meaningless post).

I left for the airport a little later than expected.  Didn’t think much of it, until I remembered that I’d be parking in the remote lot ($9/day, I noticed the lots were $3/day in Charlotte) and would need to allow time for the shuttle.  Curses!  Well, usually the line at US Airways isn’t long.  Guess what… it was HUGE.  I wasn’t checking anything, but there was no discernable line solely for people in my state.  The one guy they had out there to give info seemed to be ducking me.  After wasting 10-15 minutes in line, they finally said that if you weren’t checking bags you could use the 2 kiosks on the end.

As I wait interminably for a man who can’t seem to figure out how to use the thing, they announce that people getting on my flight can go to the front of the line (hold onto that thought).  I got my boarding pass and headed off to the next line- security.

I choose lines poorly.  This is one of the sad facts of my life.  I suppose I need to learn how to wait.  Of course, I choose the line that has all the international traveller with passports the TSA lady can’t figure out.   ZZZZZZZZ.  But the time is ticking.  I seem to be the only person in a rush, because no one seems willing to prepare to remove their shoes, cell phones, computers, etc.  Apparently I looked dangerous (perhaps it was the glazed look resulting from massive irritation), because my backpack was checked for evidence of explosives.

I arrive at my gate to discover the flight has been delayed about 30 minutes.  Not having lunch, I check the food court.  If you fly out of Orlando, throw out all reason.  It’s like you are at a ballpark.  The prices have been jacked.  I can’t justify it, and should not have justified the $4 for the Coke and bag of chips I did eat.  As I ate I looked up to notice no ceiling tiles and about 10 years worth of dust waiting to plop onto my head.

I love Charlotte, NC.  I’d like to live there some day.  Usually when I fly in and rent a car it is about $30/day.  Suddenly it is like $70.  “What’s going on?”  “Women’s Pro Bowling Tournament.”  Hmmmm.  THAT many people in town for that?  So I get an Aveo.  Thing is, it has power NOTHING.  I’m suddenly in a 3rd World nation rolling down windows by hand, having to lean all the way over to adjust the passenger side mirror, or unlock a door for a passenger.

It was a good trip, just filled with oddities.  One final oddity.  I discovered that the denominational magazine printed an article I submitted.  My subscription lapsed, so I never knew.  I can’t seem to find it on their website.  As soon as I can locate a link, I’ll put it up.  It is on the Emerging Church.  So keep your eyes open.

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The Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore is currently running a series of sales.  This week they are putting some Reformed Classics on sale for up to 50% off.  This is a great chance to load up on great books like:

Calvin- The Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Edwards- The Religious Affections.

Machen- Christianity & Liberalism (must reading, folks)

Owen- The Mortification of Sin

Vos- Biblical Theology

Van Til- Christian Apologetics

Happy shopping!

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