Archive for May, 2008

Been a busy week here at the CavHome while I try to prepare for Sunday’s sermon.  We were delighted to have Dr. & Mrs. Probst join us for dinner on their visit to Florida.  They spent nearly 4 years in London while Chris worked on his Ph.D. in history.  It was great to see them again.  The last time we’d seen them in person, we told them we were expecting.  So this time they got to meet the 2 CavKids.  After putting the kids to sleep, we spent a few hours on the back porch catching up and telling stories.

Chris and I have a fairly long history together.  We’ve been on 2 mission trips together, co-lead a Bible study together, shared a house together, spent 2 weeks in England & Scotland together, I officiated the beginning of his wedding ceremony, he was one of my groomsmen and we enjoy some lively Boston/NY sports debates.  So, it was great catching up.

The next morning I brought CavSon to his appointment in Orlando, and gave the car-less Probsts a ride to Orlando.  CavSon really enjoyed them too, playing well with Mrs. Probst.  He cried when we dropped them off.

Friday night I took a road trip up to Orlando (Winter Park, precisely) to join the Probsts, Stephens, Smiths, Tom & Mitch for dinner at PRs (a Mexican place).  For 3 1/2 hours we laughed and enjoyed each others company.  All of us guys were in the same Bible study for years, and I heard about “how long we were in Genesis” among other things.  Tom remembered the odd messages I would have on our answering machine even way back then.  4 of the 5 guys also went on Mission trips together too.  So, we’ve got some good history together.  I really miss being in a ‘band of brothers’ like that.  That has been harder here in Winter Haven.  Many of my pastor friends moved away, and there aren’t many guys my age.

I was a “joy stealer”.  A few of them were excited about the inroad the movie Facing the Giants was making.  It was made for almost nothing and has grossed about $30 million.  It’s even being shown on a Turkish airline.  That doesn’t make it a good movie, just an influential one.  It (inadvertantly?) communicates that all will go well if you just give your life to Jesus.  The coach goes from having a disgustin house, dying car, barren wife and horrible team to an improved house, new car, pregnant wife and winning team because he re-commits himself to Jesus.  Yes, I’m cynical… but there are some false expectations that are created there.  You can like the movie and still be my friend 🙂

Anticipating lots of traffic, I took CavWife’s car so I had access to a CD player.  On the way to Orlando I was able to enjoy Perfecta by Adam Again.  Very good, though not their best album (probably that honor belongs to 10 Songs By or Dig).  Lots of loud guitars and extended songs with jamming.  Gene Eugene’s lyrics here are mostly indecipherable, at least to me.  But there are some very good songs.

On the way home I tried to listen to the Celtics-Pistons game.  Reception was sketchy until it finally became unrecognizable.  So I turned to Tonio K’s Notes from the Lost Civilization.  This was his 2nd post-conversion album and was produced by T-Bone Burnett.  It has lots of surf music guitar and Hammond B-3 organ on it.  His humor is less acerbic, it was a very enjoyable album.  I wish someone would have picked Tonio up after What? Records went under.  I was supposed to see him in Boston after the release of this album, for $1.04 (it was sponsered by FM104 WBCN which used to be a great rock radio station in Boston).  I guess 1.04 people bought tickets, because the venue seemed closed.  Great disappointment, especially after hearing of his wild stage shows.

CavDaughter has been experiencing all kinds of head trauma.  Yesterday afternoon, just before her nap, she was singing “Ring Around the Rosie” while spinning around when her head slammed into the corner of the end table.  Just missed her eye, but it swelled up and is a nicely colored bruise.  Then this morning she was not paying attention while eating breakfast.  She tumbled off the chair and the back of her head slammed into the low-lying marble window sill that is common here in FL.  Lots more crying and drama!

The laptop’s issues have returned- the screen flickers on & off.  Since this is the 4th time- it is declared a lemon.  Back to Best Buy to pick up a replacement, just as the extended warrentee expires.  But I needed to delve into new technology so I could back it up.  Yes, a new external hard drive.  But then the wireless card disappeared.  Coincidence or causation?  I don’t know.  But I’ll have to set up the new laptop.  So … I’m not sure when I shall post next.  Here’s to finding one that still has XP instead of Vista!!!

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Acts 29 has the audio and notes from the Dwell Conference recently held in NYC.  Here is the lowdown & links.

Tim Keller: Dwelling in the Gospel; Persuasion

Mark Driscoll: Dwelling in the Text; Dwelling Thru the Text

C.J. Mahaney: Dwelling in the Cross

Ed Stetzer: Dwelling in the Kingdom

Darrin Patrick: Dwelling with Non-Christians

Eric Mason: Dwelling Incarnationally

Sounds like a great conference, and I’m beginning the downloads!

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Leadership Journal has a new article by Tim Keller called The Gospel in All Its Forms.  In it he is addressing the tension between generations and theological movments about the content of the gospel.

BTW: in a previous post about The Reason for God I mentioned him using a Van Tillian approach.  He does not mention Van Til in The Reason for God.  He does that in his message at the Desiring God Conference in 2006, The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Post-modern World.  Keller uses an eclectic approach- some Van Til, some Lewis etc.  This fits with his notion that you must read widely to become wise.  I think there is some wisdom in that- for no one man-made apologetic style captures all the depth and substance of how the Bible does apologetics.  The Bible uses both general revelation and special revelation.  This is sure to annoy purists from any particular stream of thought.  Oh, well.

Keller has been thinking of a way to pull together both the individual and corporate, human and rest of creation aspects of the gospel.  Each generation will tend to focus on one or 2 aspects at the risk of moving into heretical territory by denying the others.  He pulls together a good quick definition of the gospel, to my thinking anyway.

If I had to put this outline in a single statement, I might do it like this: Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.

Tim Keller than moves ahead to argue that the one gospel is given in different audience appropriate forms.  This is found in Galatians.  There is one gospel, and yet the gospel to the circumcised and the gospel to the uncircumcised.  How you present the gospel will/should matter depending on the person to whom you are offering Christ as He is presented in the gospel.

Since he serves a very diverse group (both religious and non-religious) he finds he has to preach it in various ways so people will overhear him preaching it to others as well as hear him preaching it to them.  In this way, the people to whom he preaches gain a fuller understanding of the gospel as they listen in.  He does not pit these groups against one another, but unites them in a biblical gospel big enough to address both individuals and all of creation, both the kingdom of God and eternal life.

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I was ready to lose my mind during much of the first half of Game 5 between the Celtics and Pistons.  Horrible, horrible calls.  The inconsistency was maddening.  I still can’t believe they called a flagrant foul on P.J. Brown, but one was not called on Billups for taking a shot at Perkins’ head on his break away.  And so was the Celtics inability to hang on to the ball.  It was not looking good for my boys in Green to be sure.

But they regained their composure.  Perkins was a beast: pulling down rebounds, blocking shot and pouring in shots (18 pts. 16 boards 2 blocks, 2 steals).  Ray Allen finally came to life, draining 3-pointers (5-6, 29 pts).  And all this was not a second too soon as ‘Sheed started hitting from behind the arc too.

In the 3rd period the Celtics defense was cranked up a notch as they created turnovers to open up a double-digit lead.  I find Rick Hamilton to be quite annoying.  He consistently over-reacts in the attempt to draw a foul.  Antics like this is part of why Brent Barry didn’t draw a foul at the end of Game 5 of the Lakers-Spurs series.  He didn’t over-react (flop).  They need to start penalizing the floppers.

In the 4th quarter, the Celtics began to settle for the 3-pointer and the Pistons slowly began to close the gap.  It was a 1 point game with 1:05 to go.  Ray Allen hit a 2 to get a 3 point lead.  Billups missed a lay up, and KG missed a too-long jumper at the buzzer.  But Stuckey hit 2 FTs to pull within a point with 8.2 seconds left.  This is just too close for my liking.  So the Pistons put Ray Allen to the line to hit 2.  Stuckey returned to the line (good strategy, boring basketball), and he missed his first FT forcing the Celtics to guard that glass.  But he hit the FT instead.  Garnett was the next Celtic to head to the line, and hit bothto ice the game.

KG rebounded from a sub-par Game 4 for 33 pts and 7 rebounds.  It was barely enough for Gino to dance to the Bee Gees (seriously, a new tradition is needed).

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Monday Morning Insight has a thread about “church pirates”.  At a video taped staff meeting, Ed Young Jr. talked about those who leave a church staff to plant a new church, “stealing” members from the first church.

There are tons of comments, with some interesting thoughts.  People taking different sides.  One of the issues is the “50 Mile Rule”.  Sometimes it is argued that you shouldn’t pastor a new church within 50 miles of the original church.  There are too many generalizations in Ed’s comments, and the feedback.

Since I “haven’t lived it out” Ed doesn’t want to hear from me.  But, here are some thoughts as I’ve observed things:

1. Healthy churches, and healthy church leaders, raise up younger men to plant new churches in their own cities or surrounding cities.  This is a strategic move.  It can be intentional, and should be in my opinion.  This permits people to stay in their communities for the benefit of their families (yes, they matter too).

2. Some churches need to consider doing that very thing.  They often have a “rigid” philosophy of ministry and there are a group of people who would like to see changes.  A wise, secure Senior Pastor and lay leaders could say “we want to remain as we are, but recognize you have some legitimate desires”.  They would then work together to plant a daughter church that has a different ministry style.  The core group would go with their blessing.  But, instead of that people slowly bleed out to attend another church in town that may be more in tune with them.

3. The “50 Mile Rule” is usually (not exclusively) used by either insecure pastors, or when an adversarial relationship has developed.  In the first case, the Senior Pastor or lay leaders are so afraid of losing members they fail to love their members well by seeking what may be best for Christ, the kingdom and the people.  In this case the “rule” is petty and should not be invoked.  In the second case, it may be the pride of the younger man that drives the animosity.  Either way, tensions are heightened to the point that they can not work together, nor support one another.  The desire is to not plant a toxic church.  In this case the “rule” is good.  What often results is a “splant” or a plant resulting from a split.  The community I live in is filled with splants.  There have been very few real church plants here.  As a result the churches tend not to work together, and the reputation of the Body of Christ has taken some serious hits.

4. Then there are the guys who remind me of Absalom.  David’s son stole the hearts of Israel in his attempt to overthrow the King.  Some staff members may do this, purposely undermining the Senior Pastor.  These men are dangerous and shouldn’t be planting a church.  These are the “pirates” but they are not very common in my experience. 

But Ed sounds burned and bitter.  He seems to discount all church plants within the community as a result of these “troublers of Israel”. 

Jared at Gospel Driven Church has some good thoughts.  Ed’s repeated references to corporate America may reveal more than he wishes, and color how he views these things.


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I’m prepping my sermon on Hebrews 10:19-25.  My previous text, Hebrews 4:14-16, focused on Jesus’ intercessory work as our Priest.  This one focuses on Jesus’ sacrificial work as our Priest and how the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Him.  As a result, we live in a new way: boldness, hope and consideration for the community of faith.

It is one of the many one another passages in Hebrews.  One of the complaints of those who are discouraged by the “institutional or organized church” is that people aren’t involved in one another’s lives.  They have a point.  Often church-going can be nearly anonymous.  People want Jesus, but not one another.  Jesus offers some great benefits.  His people offer us sin and misery: relationships with imperfect people are very messy.  Often it is easier to opt out.

The solution of some folks is to opt out of the “institutional church”.  They hope to find this relational ministry among their friends or in a house church.  This passage argues against such neglect of assembling yourselves together.  These meetings appear to be formal, and the root word is “synagoge”.  They were to forsake the disconnected worship of the temple.  It was first disconnected from Christ, and then disconnected from one another.  People were minister to- they didn’t minister to one another. 

The vision of the author of Hebrews is to keep our assemblies connected with Christ by faith, and one another as we stir one another up to love and good works.  I need others to stir me up to greater love and more good works.  Perhaps a better way to think of this is that Jesus stirs me up by using other people.  And He stirs them up by using me.  Jesus uses us to minister one another- we are instruments in His hands.

I don’t say this accidentally.  I began reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul Tripp last week.  It is going slowly as I actually minister to people.  I began to read it in preparation for a new call (I still have hope that God will show me mercy).  I recognize that this is God’s design for the church, and I want to be better prepared to help a body of believers actually do this.

If more churches read books like this, and began to implement such “one another” processes, the church in America would look an awful lot more like what Jesus intended.  It would be healthier, people would be growing and (I think) fewer people would be opting out.  But it is messy because you are applying the balm of the gospel to sin-wrecked lives.  You are getting in the midst of it.

First, we are afraid to get our hands dirty.  We are afraid we don’t have what it takes, and will really mess things up.  We are afraid of how much time and energy it will take.  We are just plain afraid.

Second, people are often afraid of receiving help.  They are afraid to show you their sins, warts and to be vulnerable.  They are also afraid of change.  Their problems are their ‘normal’, and change invites them into an uncertain future.  They are afraid to give up cherished sins, comfortable lies and cozy accomplices.  They are afraid of rejection by those comfortable with the old person and not wild about the new one that is emerging.

Yet, this is precisely the work the church is called to by this and many other passages.  We are to be a place where people change as we help one another apply the gospel to the sin-stained and maimed parts of our lives.  This is the biblical view of Christian community.

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Memorial Day

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm. –  Winston Churchill

Thanks to all those who have served our country with honor & courage in times of war & peace.  I know that peace doesn’t come without a price, and that some are willing to pay that price since some of us would make really lousy soldiers.

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I heard the analysts and commentators.  They seemed to forget that despite their lousy road record in the playoffs, they had a great road record during the regular season.  They seemed to forget that they Pistons have not defended their home court in the playoffs this year.  They pronounced the Celtics D-E-A-D.

Hmmmm, the Celtics took Game 3 in Detroit to regain home court advantage.  They had a double digit lead most of the game.  Their bench players played some good basketball.  They played defense.  They won 94-80 even though Paul Pierce (11 points) and Ray Allen (14 on 5-16 shooting) didn’t have much offensive impact.  Perkins had a very good game, hitting his first 6 shots to pick up a double-double.  Garnett had 22 pts, 13 rebounds & 6 assists to lead the Celtics.

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I’ve been here before.  My disgust with the 2-party system drives me to consider the Libertarian Party.  During time outs of the Celtics game I’ve been flipping over to the Libertarian Party debate.  I saw want to be Libertarian.  More than any other party they seem to get the Constitution.  I agree with small government.  They seem to forget that people are sinners, but the answer is not big government, which is giving lots of power to a group of sinners.

Then they do it.  “It” is something really stupid, something that turns me off just as much as the Big Party candidates.

Tonight it was their comments on marriage as a private contract which the government should not regulate.  If there was no such thing as children, maybe.  But marriage is a public thing, not a private thing.  It was designed to fulfill God’s purpose, not our selfish purposes.  Marriage matters, and since the Libertarians don’t get this, they don’t get my vote.

And this is why they really don’t garner much popular support.  Their isolationism, legalization of drugs and refusal to talk about abortion will sentence them to a mere oddity.  I guess their problem is they are Pelagians who think that evil only exists in the accumulation of power.  They don’t realize that individuals do bad things.

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I just signed up for a free subscription to The Briefing Magazine.  It is available to the first 500 requests by pastors in the U.S. and Canada.  I’ve never heard of it, but C. J. Mahaney brags on it so it is probably good.  A free, no-risk look.  Can’t beat that!  It will be interesting to get a more international viewpoint.

The Briefing has been Australia’s leading evangelical publication for over 20 years, and we’d love you to be a part of it. In subscribing to The Briefing you’re also supporting the ministry of Matthias Media in publishing Christian resources.

What’s in The Briefing?

  • An occasional longer article with space for reflection on the Scriptures and its bearing upon our lives (Briefing Essays).
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    John Newton has a few hymns based on Hebrews 4.  I wish we could have sung them when I preached on this text.

    Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat

    Approach, my soul, the mercy seat where Jesus answers prayer; there humbly fall before his feet, for none can perish there.

    Thy promise is my only plea; with this I venture nigh: thou callest burdened souls to thee, and such, O Lord, am I.

    Bowed down beneath a load of sin, by Satan sorely pressed, by war without and fears within, I come to thee for rest.

    Be thou my shield and hiding place, that, sheltered near thy side, I may my fiercest accuser face, and tell thou hast died.

    O wondrous love! to bleed and die, to bear the cross and shame, that guilty sinners, such as I, might plead thy gracious name!

     Here is the RUF arraingment of the song by Kevin Twit.  They have some chord charts and piano music available.  Here is a quote they have from Luther about the content of the hymn:

    “You should tell the devil “Just by telling me that I am a miserable, great sinner you are placing a sword and a weapon into my hand with which I can decisively overcome you; yea, with your own weapon I can kill and floor you.

    For if you tell me that I am a poor sinner, I, on the other hand, can tell you that Christ dies for sinners and is their Intercessor… You remind me of the boundless, great faithfulness and benefaction of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    The burden of my sins and all the trouble and misery that were to oppress me eternally He very gladly took upon His shoulders and suffered the bitter death on the cross for them.

    To Him I direct you. You may accuse and condemn Him. Let me rest in peace, for on His shoulders, not on mine, lie all my sins and the sins of all the world.” Martin Luther

    Behold the Throne of Grace!

    Behold the throne of grace!  The promise calls me near: there Jesus shows a smiling face, and waits to answer prayer.

    My soul, ask what thou wilt; thou canst not be too bold; since his own blood for thee was spilt, what else can he withhold?

    Thine image, Lord, bestow, they presence and thy love; I ask to serve thee here below, and reign with thee above.

    Teach me to live by faith; conform my will to thine; let me victorious be in death, and then in glory shine.


    As I said, great stuff which we should sing fairly often.  Newton had a good grasp of grace, and it is evident in his hymns.  It is this grace-centeredness that needs to be a bigger part of our worship services.

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    A Long Day, Period

    This was one of the few good moments with the kids yesterday.  Tons o’ frustration.  Parenting challenges to be sure.  CavDaughter was quite melodramatic throughout the day.  Lots of whining, complaining, demanding and just plain ugliness from such a lovely girl. 

    He was pretty whiny himself.  He was also in a rare mood, wanting to be in constant contact with us.  I couldn’t build a puzzle with her on the floor w/out him trying to climb all over me.  Trying to work on lunch or dinner and he was constantly climbing between my legs.  Same for when I was folding laundry.  He wanted me to pick him up and toss him around.  Suddenly he enjoys being tossed in the air.  He clings to my arm but squeals and giggles.  As a result, my back was flaring up.  As I try to work out the kinks on the floor … he (and the dog) are all over me.  When not getting what he wants …. obnoxiously whiny.

    She stayed in her PJs the whole day.  They were hand-me-downs from a friend whose waist is a bit bigger.  So, without the diaper on, they were hanging off her bottom all day.  Yes, she had quite the case of plumber’s butt.  This was one of the few joys, trying to take pictures of the plumber’s butt, but she was not very cooperative.

    We had a talk before she went to bed- tomorrow was going to be a new day and we expected a new attitude.  We got off to a great start- she wanted us to read her Bible to her at breakfast.  Then ……..

    He played with his food until it all ended on the floor because he wanted bread, not the pears.  He got neither.  She wanted a piece of my bread, not her mother’s bread (impatience).  She threw her remaining piece of bread.  No more for her either.  It was time for discipline.  She wasn’t liking that!

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    The NBA

    Where Kicking a Guy in the Package (without a foul) Happens.


    That loss last night was like a kick in the crotch.  But, Detroit has lost to lesser teams at home in the playoffs this year.

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    In Book I, chapter III of The Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin begins to discuss the knowledge of God.  In this chapter he says that knowledge of God was naturally implanted in the minds of people.  This would be a result of our being made in the image of God.  Since we are made to reflect Him, we know He exists and something of His glory.  God put it there when He made us.

    On an interesting note, Calvin uses many ancient philosphers to make some of his points- both positively and negatively.  He uses the philosophers, like Cicero, to show how people think.  This is no different from what Tim Keller does in The Reason for God.  No group of people is documented to be a society of atheists.  Is this because all cultures got a memo to socially construct a ‘god’, or because God has made us religious by nature and we must worship something?  Though some seek to flee from the notion of a God, they still show signs of His existence like guilt, shame, ethics etc.

    In chapter IV Calvin asserts that this knowledge is smothered or corrupted.  This is essentially Romans 1, people choose the lie over the truth just as Adam and Eve did.  We suppress the true knowledge of God through our own unrighteousness whether we are trying to do that or not.

    Some people consciously turn away from God.  Others inadvertintly do this because they fashion a god according to their own imagination.  They create idols according to their own whimsy instead of submitting their minds and hearts to God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus and Scripture.

    Scripture does point us someplace beside itself to gain knowledge of God.  In chapter V Calvin discusses how knowledge of God is found in creation and providence.  Psalm 19 is one of the places pointing us to the heavens, which declare the glories of God.  Romans 1 tells us that creation reveals His invisible qualities.  The process, Calvin is in favor of scientific inquiry to understand God’s creation.  Christians should not be afraid of science or not engage in science.  Rather we should engage in science, though with different presuppositions than non-Christian scientists.  As we gain true knowledge of creation, we gain true knowledge of the Creator.


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    Tim Keller is coming out with another book, this one with the provocative title of The Prodigal God: Christianity Redefined Through the Parable of the Prodigal Sons.  I’m not sure how that makes God the prodigal, but I’d love to find out.  Keller’s work on the parable of the prodigal sons has been very helpful for me.  This will be a more exhaustive work on the subject.  From the WTS Books website.

    This short book is meant to do no less than lay out the essentials of the Christian message, the gospel. It can therefore serve as an introduction to the Christian faith for those whoa re unfamiliar with it or who may have been away from it for some time.

    This volume is not just for seekers, however. Many lifelong Christian believers feel they understand the basics of the Christian faith quite well and certainly don’t think they need a primer. Nevertheless, one of the signs that you don’t grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you think you do. Sometimes long-time church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message of grace that they feel themselves to have been essentially “reconverted.” This book, then, is written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, to both the people jesus calls “younger” and “elder” brothers in his famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.

    This is due out in October, so save your change!  (Update: the subtitle was changed to the Heart of the Christian Faith.) 

    Due out much sooner, June, is John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Christian Life, part of his Theology of Lordship series.  I really like this series, and this would appear to be his course on ethics.  From the WTS Books website:

    The third volume of Frame’s Theology of Lordship series, this book focuses on biblical ethics, presenting a method for ethical decision-making, an analysis of biblical ethical teaching focusing on the Ten Commandments, and a discussion of the relation of Christ to human culture.

    “John Frame’s magnificent work on the Christian life fully endorses the authority of Scripture and practically addresses the need to consider the situations and people involved in ethical decisions.”
    -Richard L. Pratt Jr., President of Third Millenium Ministries

    Can’t get better than that!

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    If you are the praying kind (and I hope you are), please keep Steven Curtis Chapman’s family in prayer.  Wednesday their youngest daughter, Maria (she is the one sitting on his lap and was 5), was accidentally hit by a car in their driveway.  Though she was airlifted to the hospital, the injuries were too severe.

    On top of the obvious loss of a much-loved child, there will be the guilt and blame that the Evil One will try to use to debilitate and destroy.  I’m sure this will be a long and difficult process for them.  They may be tempted to forsake God at various times.  So just like any other family, they could use the support of their siblings in Christ at this time and the days to come.

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    No one won the game.  It was 1-1 and Manchester United won on penalty kicks (sounds like someone did something wrong, but they didn’t- see, nonsensical).  I see 1-1 and think “tie game”.  Come on, sudden death overtime anyone?  This is not the regular season, but the championship game.  In the NHL they’d keep playing until someone won.  Not those “footballers”.

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    When you live in a place like Winter Haven you can easily lose track of what happens in the wider world.  When you are a conservative Presbyterian, this does not help either.  A book may be very popular in broader “evangelical” circles and not come to your attention for quite some time.

    There has been one that has sold over 1 million copies but whose existence eluded me until recently.  A newsletter mentioned The Shack by William Young.  The person mentioning it really liked it, but noted some issues might be problematic.  “Oh, interesting,” I thought.  I did not yet know how popular this book was or how entralled some people are with it (479 Amazon reviews have an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars).

    It is the story of a man whose child was killed by a serial killer some time earlier.  He has been unable to move on.  His seminary training is failing him.  God invites him to the shack where his daughter was murdered.  There he encounters the Godhead and his entire theology and experience are deconstructed and reconstructed.  The Father actually appears through much of the story as a tender woman (this is what my acquaintance mentioned as being problematic).


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    I listened to a great Q&A from the Resurgence Conference: Text and Context with John Piper and Matt Chandler.  It was an interesting dynamic.  Mark Driscoll was the one asking the questions, with some commentary.  John Piper is in his 60’s and Matt Chandler is in his 30’s.  They are in very different places in pastoring “successful” faithful churches.

    They talked about the dangers pastors face, false gospels, TV (Piper hasn’t owned one since he was 18), accountability and relevance.  Some fun comments, and some great wisdom. 

    Some quick quotes:

    “Relevance is ultimate reality lived out with passion in front of people in authentic ways.”  John Piper

    “Doug Wilson is one of the most careful and bright Reformed and postmillenial, objectivist theologians around and he’s got people around him that are dumb.  … Wrong on numerous cases, but wrong in a way you’d expect a Presbyterian to be wrong.  … I don’t know if his trajectory will be as faithful as is the present case.”  John Piper

    “We want other ethnic groups to join us as long as they like to worship to Coldplay.  … I want to preach the death of an ethno-centric idea.  I don’t know how we get past this thing (wanting ethnic diversity on OUR terms).”  Matt Chandler

    “Without a diverse leadership it is unlikely you will have a diverse membership.  … I grew up in South Carolina and was racist to my toe nails for the first 20 years of my life.”  John Piper

    Mark: You insulted my band.  John: You care about insulting people?  Mark: There is a comeback, but this is where I practice on-going sanctification.

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    It has been over a decade since I’ve read The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.  I’ve been wanting to read it again, and I started today. 

    Today I read through Book I, chapters 1-2.  Chapter 2 ends with this idea:

    “Here indeed is pure and real religion: faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed in the law.” (I, 2, 2)

    Faith is joined in fear.  We believe what God says and we hold Him in such reverence that we worship Him as He deems right.  True faith does not lead us to take God lightly; rather we take Him and His Word seriously.  How does Calvin get there?

    True wisdom is comprised of knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves.  Calvin argues that we cannot know ourselves accurately apart from knowing God.  We learn about God as we learn about ourselves.  He doesn’t go there just yet, but this is based on the fact that we are made in the image of God (imago dei).  You can’t possess true wisdom without knowing God.  You can’t possess true wisdom without knowing yourself.  This is essentially the path of the Proverbs.

    “For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy- this pride is innate in all of us- unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity.  Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standarnd by which this judgment must be measured.”  (I, 1, 2)


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