Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2014


The Church in America has struggled with the notion of Christian activism over the years. Usually such activism is associated with the “Religious Right” but there are groups that would not consider themselves part of that “Religious Right” that engage in activism as well. Is the Church to be involved with activism? Are Christians to be involved in activism? This is the subject of Appendix E in The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame.

Frame begins with mentioning the book What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe. There they remind people of the great influence of Christians on Western culture. Christians have been instrumental in education (founding many of our colleges), health care (founding many of our hospitals), political freedom, literacy (the original reason for Sunday School) as well as the arts and more.

“Without Jesus, without the gospel, without the influence of his people, all these areas of culture would be vastly different and very much worse.”

The efforts and influence of Christians have not lead to a perfect society. They have lead to a clearly better society in many instances (note I didn’t say all). Here in America, as a result of the Fundamentalist movement, large portions of the Church retreated from social action. Ironically, it was often the more liberal branches of Christianity that lobbied for things like Prohibition which would typically be associated with Fundamentalists today.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


I appreciated John Currid’s commentaries on Exodus (vol. 1 & vol. 2) when I preached through it a few years ago. He has others that I intend to purchase. I appreciated the dimension he adds with regard to archeology. A friend of mine went on a dig and tour of the Holy Land with him back in the late 90’s. He is not an ivy tower academic. He has gotten his hands dirty as an archeologist and a pastor (an ARP church in the Charlotte area).

His latest book, Against the Gods, is a good addition to a pastor and teacher’s library. In this book he examines the relationship between biblical texts and similar texts and stories from neighboring people. The main focus is on Egypt, but he includes a chapter on Canaanite mythology.

This is a big issue in academia. The issue is who influences whom? Many assume that the biblical writers borrow the stories from other cultures and “cut” the names of the other gods and “paste” in YHWH. As Currid notes, that is a way to look it. But he proposes a better way to understand what is going on: polemical theology. The idea is not that the biblical authors, usually Moses (though he seems reluctant to say that), stole their stories. The point is that God works in such a way as to reveal their gods are nothing and He is the real God they need to know.

“While Thompson may be considered radical in his views, the reality is that modern scholarship commonly views biblical history as invention and propaganda. In other words, it was written by post-exilic authors who had limited access to true historical resources.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »


It has been 30 years since Deep Purple reunited. I was a freshman in college and made the trek from Boston to Worcester to see them live. In all those years there have been no official albums from that tour. Now there is. In late 2013 the audio and video of one of their Australian shows was released. They had a stripped down show in terms of effects. The lasers would come later in the tour. Here the focus was on the music. And the music was great.

I bought the “box set” that had the 2 discs of the audio as well as the concert DVD along with a booklet. “Box set” is a bit of an overstatement. It is a normal CD case in which I have a hard time removing the CDs but the DVD seems to slide around a bit too free and easy. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up getting scratched.

While the packaging was disappointing, the concert itself did not disappoint. The mix seemed to favor Blackmore’s guitar and Ian’s singing over the other instruments. Blackmore seemed reinvigorated with the reunion. His sound on this concert is fatter due to the effects than I am used to it being. He was aggressive much of the night. I wouldn’t say these were his best solos, but he’s leaving nothing back. Ian Gillan had an uneven night as his voice seemed to have some rough spots.. This is part of what drove Ritchie crazy, Ian didn’t seem to take care of his money maker. At times he seemed to forget some the lyrics as well. He discovered effects too, and there are songs with lots of echo on his voice.

There are some differences between the 70’s edition of Deep Purple Mach II and this edition in addition to the technology. They seemed to up the tempo on many of the old songs. The solos were not as long either. As a result, they played far more songs than you’d find on any of their concert albums from the 70’s. They had 5 songs from the new album, Perfect Strangers, as well as some old standards taken mostly from In Rock and Machine Head. So there is something for everyone, and no one should be disappointed. This was a great concert.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


There are some perks for pastors. As an “influencer” sometimes I’m invited to free screenings for movies. They want our feedback, and they want us to spread the word about various “faith-themed” movies.

Andy Erwin, one of the directors and producers, did our wedding video since CavWife knows him. The Erwin brothers had previously produced October Baby. So we were interested to see their latest movie, Mom’s Night Out.  CavWife was hoping they’d have a free promotional shirt like the one for October Baby. She was disappointed in that regard.

After the success of October Baby, the Erwin brothers have been able to up the ante regarding producers, actors and distribution. Patricia Heaton and her husband David Hunt are executive producers and also act in the movie. They also got Sean Astin to play the husband of the main character, Allyson. It is been picked up for distribution by Tri-Star.

The movie is about a young mom who is struggling with the realities of parenting. It was her dream to be married and have kids, and she wonders why she isn’t happier. One part of the struggle is that her husband, Sean, travels quite a bit for work. You quickly get the idea that while her kids are a handful, she also sets the bar incredibly high for herself.

She decides that she needs a night out with the girls, and Sean complies. She sets up a night out with her friend Izzy and their pastor’s wife, Sondra (played by Heaton). The other women have their own issues. Izzy is married to a man who is essentially afraid of children. And they have twins.  Sondra is struggling with being the perfect pastor’s wife and their slightly rebellious teenaged daughter. Each of the women have different struggles, and need something of a break to laugh and relax.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


When I went to the Ligonier Ministries panel discussion at General Assembly in 2013, they offered a free resource in addition to the dinner and discussion. It took me as long to choose as for a MLB hitter to decide whether or not to swing. There was Sinclair Ferguson’s DVD Who Is the Holy Spirit?. Decision done.

It is rare that I can make such a decision so quickly but all bets are off when Sinclair Ferguson is involved. Unlike the Strange Fire and other conferences, this series is not focused on the gifts of the Spirit. Similar to his book in the Contours of Theology series, The Holy Spirit, this is a 12-lesson series that is essentially a biblical theology of the Spirit.

He spends much of his time in the upper room discourse and Romans 8, but from there he goes in many directions to “ransack” the Scriptures to understand who the Spirit is and why He matters to the Christian.

This is an edifying series. Oh, it won’t answer all your questions, particularly the controversial ones. And that is alright because those are not the most important questions. These are not highly academic, but these lessons are not superficial either. At times I was moved to worship. I was also encouraged. I would recommend this series for those who want to know more about this neglected member of the Trinity. Perhaps this will whet your appetite to read his more thorough treatment in the book.

In Sinclair’s typically pastoral style he starts with the Spirit’s role in creation and revelation. He covers such topics and the differences in the Spirit’s ministry under the old covenant and the new. We see the Spirit’ role in the Incarnation and earthly ministry of Son, and then in our own ministry.

Read Full Post »


There has been a wave of books recently on the topic of homosexuality. I haven’t read them all. Out of the Far Country by Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela tells the story of his life as a gay man and subsequent conversion after ending up in prison. The non-biographical Love into Light by Peter Hubbard was very good. Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry is also very good though it is shorter (though in need of a different title). One thing that sets this book apart from Hubbard’s is that Sam admits that he experiences same sex attraction (SSA). Like Yuan, Allberry takes a conservative approach to the Scriptures. What is significant is that both of them end up saying, “Yes, this applies to me too.” They seek to live by what they teach which should eliminate at least some of the pushback. They are not homophobes, they don’t claim to now be heterosexual and they are celibate.

Sam starts off with the words of Jesus to all who want to follow Him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8

He does this to show that everyone who comes to Christ repents, or turns away from all they were seeking life in in order to receive life in Christ. We all have to put parts of our life to death. This was clear to me even before I became a Christian. This is why it took a year for me to become a Christian- I didn’t want to give up my sin. All of us are the same before God if we are not united to Christ by faith, we are dead in sins and trespasses. Homosexuals are not in some special class.

“Every Christian is called to costly sacrifice. Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behavior here and there. It is saying ‘No’ to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. To take up your cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »


In the first section of his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Tim Keller takes care of some apologetics in what he calls Understanding the Furnace. It is a survey of how various religions and cultures have viewed suffering and deal with suffering. The bottom line is that Christianity has the best, full-orbed approach to suffering even if many Christians don’t.

The second section, Facing the Furnace, is designed to help us to understand more fully how Christianity views suffering, the types of suffering and the types of sufferers. Christianity does not have a one-size fits all approach to suffering.

It is to the third and final section, Walking with God in the Furnace, that we turn our attention. While there are many aspects to walking with God in the midst of suffering, Keller rightfully does not want people to treat this a a series of steps as if this was a self-help book. Just as we should prepare for suffering by storing up truth to be used in that day when it comes, we should prepare to walk with God before we actually have to do it in the middle of suffering. If you are walking with Him before you suffer you are more likely to continue walking with Him when suffering starts.

“We are not to lose our footing and just let the suffering have its way with us. But we are also not to think we can somehow avoid it or be completely impervious to it either. We are to meet and move through suffering without shock and surprise, without denial of our sorrow and weakness, without resentment or paralyzing fear, yet also without acquiescence or capitulation, without surrender or despair.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »