31 October 2011

Review: Ambassador Basic Curriculum-Greg Koukl

Over the past two days, I have reviewed two different apologetics training resources--the first from Ravi Zacharias and the second from Tim Keller.  Today, we move on to the Ambassador Basic Curriculum by my favorite apologist, Greg Koukl. Koukl seems to connect much better with the everyday Christian, but does not sacrifice intellectual sophistication.  I don't want to disparage the man (indeed this is meant as a compliment), but I would consider him a blue-collar apologist.  He is very good at taking the ivory tower arguments and ideas and bringing them to the populous.  He produced a series of 15 audio CDs that build upon one another.  The first five are foundational, the second five build on the first, and the final five address specific apologetic issues.  The topics are as follows:
  1. Ambassadors for Christ: The Essential Skills
  2. Truth is Not Ice Cream, Faith is Not Wishing
  3. The Bible: Has God Spoken?
  4. Tactics in Defending the Faith (2 CDs)
  5. Never Read a Bible Verse
  6. How to Keep from Being Spiritually Weird
  7. Decision Making and the Will of God (3 CDs)
  8. Why I'm Not an Evolutionist
  9. The Bankruptcy of Moral Relativism
  10. Abortion: Only One Question
  11. Setting the Record Straight: The Bible and Homosexuality
  12. Any Old God Won't Do
 This is my favorite collection.  You can listen to it in the car, a distinct advantage over the DVD collections.  He also addresses issues in an understandable, but wise manner.  I have listened to many of these CDs three or four times because I find them so valuable.  Another advantage, if you are interested, is that they offer online testing, if you wish, to prove your learning.  I highly recommend this series.

Summary: If you want a great all around apologetics training course that won't break the bank but will help you to learn more about becoming an ambassador for Christ, this is a great way to go. 

Although not a video series, this will give you a flavor for Greg.

When does the apple ripen?

Since Grace was very young, we have tried to make an annual trip to the orchard to pick apples.  My favorite orchard was somewhere outside of Iowa City, Iowa though the name escapes me.  There were row upon row of well groomed trees, a knowledgeable old man with a tractor, and an ancient German shorthair named Hawkeye.  One of the first lessons learned from picking apples is that there are dozens of varieties of apples at each orchard with different tastes and textures.  What you also learn is that the fruits ripen at different times and that different trees yield different amounts of fruit.  Some trees bear fruit in August whereas others wait until October.  Some trees bear bushels of fruit, some not as much.  Those who live with the trees year after year, like the old tractor driver, also know that in some seasons, some trees just don't bear as much fruit.

Apple trees provide important lessons for us as Christians.  Many of us believe that the moment we are saved, we will be suddenly and radically transformed.  In a sense we are, but perhaps not in the way we think.  Our fruit bearing may not be as quick or abundant as we would hope.  We want bushels of fruit from season one until we come to glory.  But what does the parable of the sower say?

As it is described in Luke, it says "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."  Patience can also be translated perseverance.  Our fruit takes time to grow.  In fact, often when it springs up quickly, it burns out (Luke 8:13).

As Mark describes the parable, he reminds us that  "other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold" (Mark 4:8). In other words, not every tree bears fruit in the same measure.  We must be careful when we look at the fruit of others, or ourselves, assuming we are not bearing enough.

We have a patient vinedresser who loves us and is patient with us.  If we abide in Him (John 15), at the proper time he will cause the right amount of fruit to grow on each tree.

Daily Morsels-October 31, 2011

494 years ago, Martin Luther hammered the 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door, heralding a major change in Christianity with the onset of the Reformation.

3 Ways to Make the Reformers Proud- I love this article, particularly point 1, which reads "read your Bible more than blogs."  It seems that a lot of young folks I encounter are more influenced by what they heard Piper say than what Jesus said.  If you read several blogs per day, or if you spend a lot of your time watching Paul Washer sermons, but you have never read through the Bible all the way, repent and open your Bible.  Archer writes, "If you quoted Calvin in a debate on Election, he would slap you. Quote Scripture."  Amen.

Avoid Snark-There is a great post here on being humble in conversation.  In our increasingly separated world and media-saturated lives, it is easy to criticize or be flat out mean to others.  Tim Keller has wise advice on avoiding snark. 

30 October 2011

Review: Reason for God DVD-Tim Keller

Yesterday, I started a series where I am reviewing apologetics training courses.  I first covered the series by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  Today, I will discuss The Reason for God DVD by Tim Keller.

Tim Keller, pastor and author of The Reason for God, also produced a DVD series that involved a series of conversations that Dr Keller had with a small group of atheists and skeptics.  They discussed:
  1. Isn'tthe Bible a myth?
  2. How can you say there is only one God?  
  3. What gives you the right to tell me how to live my life?
  4. Why does God allow suffering?
  5. Why is the church responsible for so much injustice?
  6. How can God be full of love and wrath at the same time?
The uniqueness of this series is that it involves a civil discussion with unbelievers, rather than training provided to a group of believers.  The real strength of this program is that it demonstrates Tim Keller as a winsome ambassador for Christ engaging questions from real people in a loving, but intelligent fashion.  They do not reach resolution on any of the questions; rather you observe their conversations.  It is worth watching, but should not be considered a traditional apologetics training program.

Summary: If you are looking for an inexpensive DVD that provides questions and a great example of how to engage non-believers, this is for you.

Below is the trailer for the series.

Are your ears itching?

If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying "I will preach to you of wine and strong drink," he would be the preacher for his people!-Micah 2:11  

When I read this verse during my quiet time this morning, I was reminded of Beer Church.  Yes, beer church is a real thing--they celebrate, perhaps even worship, beer.  You can even become ordained by Beer Church--I have a friend who has his ordination through this organization.  According to the prophet Micah, it is no wonder that something akin to Beer Church has taken off.  When overindulgence is promoted as acceptable or even righteous, people will gladly respond.

Sadly, many churches are much more insidious.  2 Timothy 4:3 reads, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions."  The largest church in America teaches that God's primary goal in your life is to make you rich, healthy, and happy and people flock to him.  One of the fastest growing "churches" in the United States is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Mormonism.  They promote the idea that you can become deity.  They sooth itching ears by preaching lies and people follow.

It seems to me that itching ears are one of the most unfortunate problems associated with postmodernism.  People assume that truth is relative. People assume that whatever you believe is true--just don't impose your beliefs upon anyone else.  It is no wonder that churches that teach truth from the Scriptures, addressing God's holiness and wrath as well as his love and mercy, are so criticized by modern culture.  People don't want to hear that they are sinful.  They do not want to hear that God hates sin and punishes sinners eternally apart from Christ.  They want to continue to believe what their parents, their schools, and the media have told them all along--that no matter what, they are good people and that they deserve always to be above the national average with regard to happiness, income, and image. When pastors tell them what they don't want to hear, they just leave rather than continuing to wrestle for the truth. 

There is absolute truth. There is a God.  He is holy.  We are separated from Him because we are unrighteous. But there is hope. Jesus Christ. John 1:12 says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Find a church that preaches truth--absolute truth, Scriptural truth--the truth of Jesus Christ. 

Daily Morsels-October 30, 2011

Happy Reformation Sunday.  Today, take some time to peruse the links that I mentioned yesterday, or just enjoy this glorious Lord's day. 

Home Church-Russell Moore shares his fond memories of his childhood church.  He writes, "Sometimes we tend to think of 'church' generically as a synonym for Christians, some invisible blob of everyone who believes the same facts about Jesus or who follows the same principles from the first century. Yes, the church is the transnational, transgenerational Body of Christ, the redeemed of all of the ages. But the church expresses itself in this age in local, palpable gatherings of believers in covenant with one another." Connect with a local church where the Gospel is preached and commit to them.  There will be good times and bad, but if they teach people to love Jesus more deeply, the effects will last through many generations and will hold a special place in your heart.  

The Counter-intuitive Nature of Grace--Tullian Tchvidjian writes again about the absolutely radical nature of grace.  He writes, "Normally when we think of people in need of God’s rescuing grace, we think of the unrighteous and the immoral. But what’s fascinating to me is that throughout the Bible, it’s the immoral person that gets the Gospel before the moral person; it’s the prostitute who gets grace; it’s the Pharisee who doesn’t. What we see in this story is that God’s grace wrecks and then rescues, not only the promiscuous but the pious. The Pharisee in this story can’t understand what Jesus is doing by allowing this woman to touch him because he assumes that God is for the clean and competent. But Jesus here shows him that God is for the unclean and incompetent and that when measured against God’s perfect holiness we’re all unclean and incompetent. Jesus shows him that the gospel isn’t for winners, but losers: it’s for the weak and messed up person, not the strong and mighty person. It’s not for the well-behaved, but the dead."  Please read the whole thing

29 October 2011

Review: Foundations of Apologetics-Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

I was someone who had intellectual questions before the Holy Spirit grabbed me.  I worked through the reasons for faith first, elementary though my thinking was at the time.  I have devoured several books on the reasonableness of the Christian faith including Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, On Guard by William Lane Craig, Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd, More than a Theory by Hugh Ross as well as perhaps a dozen others.  Each of these resources provides a different slant or addresses a different issue. My belief in the validity of Christianity has only been strengthened by availing myself of these resources.

I have also undertaken to more intensive study through the many training courses available.  I thought it might be useful for me to give my impression of the ones I have done for those who are interested in delving more deeply into the defense of the Christian faith.  Over the next few days, I will be reviewing these one by one. 

Let's start with Ravi Zacharias. 

Foundations of Apologetics--Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has a 12 DVD series based upon a number of lectures delivered at Oxford University.  Each lecture is about an hour in length.  The topics include:
  1. Conversations that Count-Michael Ramsden
  2. Truth and Reality-Stuart McAllister
  3. The Existence of God-Alister McGrath
  4. Establishing a Worldview-Ravi Zacharias
  5. Trustworthiness of Scripture-Amy Orr-Ewing
  6. Uniqueness of Christ-Joe Boot
  7. Trinity and Apologetics-LT Jeyachandran
  8. Pluralism: Do All Religions Lead to the Same Goal?-John Lennox
  9. Faith, Reason and Integration-John Lennox
  10. God, Evil, and Suffering-Ravi Zacharias
  11. Seeing and Exploring Cultural Connections-Stuart McAlister
  12. Reasoning from the Scriptures-Michael Ramsden

I enjoyed this series, but it took me several months to work through it.  This series, though highly informative, is not for many people.  Unless you enjoy watching video of someone standing behind a podium lecturing, it will probably not be for you.  It is probably more academic than many people might like, though I personally enjoyed it a great deal and learned a lot from it.  My wife would catch glimpses of it while I was watching and it was clear that she did not connect with the material on the same level that I did.  I particularly liked the lectures by John Lennox, Michael Ramsden and of course, Ravi Zacharias.  Others were less engaging.  They were very strong on certain areas, including things such as establishing a Christian worldview, but weaker on others such as creation science/intelligent design, likely due to their European audience. 

Summary: This is a good series if you would rather watch than listen, don't mind the more academic presentation, or like British/Scottish accents.

Below is an example of the series from a lecture by Michael Ramsden

Daily Morsels-October 29, 2011

Do Paul and James contradict one another?--This question comes up a lot from believers and non-believers alike.  Apparently, this is not a new question either.  I was reading Calvin's Institutes this morning and in Book Third, Chapter 17, he addresses the apparent contradictions.  John Piper also has a short article examining the apparent contradictions. 

What Sola Scriptura does not mean?--Michael Patton has thoughts on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

Fear verses grace--Is your parenting more governed by fear or grace?  "Legalistic parents maintain a relationship with God through obedience to a standard. The goal of this when it comes to their children is to keep sin from getting into their home. They do their best to create an environment that controls as many of the avenues as possible that sin could use to work its way into the inner sanctum. . . . It’s as though the power to sin or not to sin was somehow connected to their personal will power and resolve. . . . These families are preoccupied with keeping sin out by putting a fence between them and the world.  The difference with grace-based families is that they don’t bother spending much time putting fences up because they know full well that sin is already present and accounted for inside their family."

Banner Ads--Did you know that your Internet ads are often picked just for you?  You may notice that when you search for a new car, all of the sudden, your banner ads start to show advertisements for auto loans.  On my facebook page, most of my ads have to do with mental health counseling.  Google, and the rest of the Internet, knows a lot about you and about what you are looking for.  Erik Raymond suggests that looking at what pops up can help to identify your functional saviors.  

Reformation Sunday

Tomorrow is Reformation Sunday.  I know that many of you probably don't care about this as much as you do Halloween, but you should.  Almost 500 years ago, Martin Luther turned the Christian world on it's head when he pounded his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door.  For any of you who are protestants, it all started then.  Tomorrow, we celebrate the early reformers.  Here are several resources if you wish to learn more about the Reformation. 

Reformation and the Gospel--Matthew Barrett writes an extended summary of events involved with the Reformation, centering on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which cam to be a central tenet of the Reformation. 

Justin Taylor's resources--Justin Taylor has assembled numerous resources for people who want to learn more about the Reformation.  He highlights the movie, "Luther", which is a good movie that will help you to understand what happened during the Reformation and what Luther's part was in it.

Reformer Biographies--Steven Lawson, at the Ligonier ministries site, has assembled biographies of many of the early reformers including: Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin. Bob Kellemen at RPM Ministries has also assembled some worthwhile biographical information

If you are really feeling ambitious, track down some of the longer pieces from these authors.  Read Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians, or delve into Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion

27 October 2011

The Fertile Soil of Foolish Talk

Many evenings, as our children are playing or watching a movie, Heather and I will be sitting in our twin recliners, each with a computer in our lap.  We move briskly from page to page, checking emails, reading Facebook updates, perhaps researching a topic of interest.  More often than not, however, we are scrolling through the endless posts on Failblog, Failbooking, metapicture, Awkward Family Photos, or People of Walmart.  I confess that I have had endless hours of pleasure reveling in the randomness these sites provide. 

This morning, though, I was working through the study guide for the Cedarcreek fall series on being transformed and I came upon a passage well familiar to me from Ephesians 5:3-14,

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Verse 4 reads, "let there be no filthiness nor nor foolish talking nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead, let there be thanksgiving."  I started thinking about these websites.  I have snickered and giggled at many of the things I have seen.  Often the content is innocent, even cute.  At many other times, though the content is insidious.  They often contain jokes of a crude, or sexual nature and I find myself groaning and perhaps saying, "oh wow...I cannot believe they wrote that/said that/did that/wore that."  One of the websites in particular is also antagonistic toward Christianity.  I have justified my actions by saying, "oh, I'll just skip over those posts."  But they undoubtedly have an effect upon me. 

One of the effects I think PG-13 websites like these may have is that they make consumers start wondering what might be found on the next website.  I know that for me, when my thoughts get away from me, I find myself entertaining impure thoughts, covetousness, and the like.  Seeds planted and watered tend to grow in the right soil.  Crude joking is just the right type of soil to quickly grow impurity.  Ephesians 5 provides an "herbicide" of sorts, however.  First, Paul tells us to give thanks.  In other words, he encourages us to talk with God about the gifts he has given.  Second, he tells us to "try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."  We accomplish that by immersing ourselves in Scripture.  Third, he tells us to "not become partners with them."  In other words, we should actively avoid impurity.  Finally, he tells us to "expose unfruitful works of darkness."  We accomplish that by talking with God and with others about our impurity.  In other words, we may walk in the light through avoidance of foolishness, prayer, feeding on God's word, and honest fellowship with other believers.

If you proclaim to follow Christ, I would encourage you to think about your day.  What are you filling your mind with?  Are you filling it with filthiness, crude joking, foolish talk, and empty words or are you seeking to live more and more in the light? 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.-Philippians 4:8

Daily Morsels-October 27, 2011

One of the Most Misused Verses in the Bible--Nathan Busenitz at Cripplegate writes about Philippians 4:13, which says, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  My kid has it on one of his t-shirts.  It is seemingly everywhere.  Busenitz writes, "Out of context, Philippians 4:13 is used as a blank-check promise for whatever is desired. But in context, it is a verse is about contentment. It’s not about your dreams coming true or your goals being met. Rather it’s about being joyful, satisfied, and steadfast even when life is hard and your circumstances seem impossible.

"You see, this verse is not about winning the football game; it’s about how you respond when you lose the football game, or get injured for the season, or fail to make the team altogether. It’s not about getting that new job, that new house, or that new outfit; it’s about finding your satisfaction in the job you already have, in the house you already own, and in the wardrobe already hanging in your closet.

"This is not a verse about being empowered to change your circumstances; rather, it is a verse about relying on God’s power in order to be content in the midst of circumstances you can’t change."

What does Sola Fide Mean for Us?--Michael Patton writes about the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  He writes, "I agree with Martin Luther. Yes, it [sola fide] does mean we can do whatever we please. But if we have truly turned to Christ in faith, our pleasures will change. Some faster than others. Some more definitive than others. It does not mean that we will not be in a battle with the flesh for the rest of our lives. It does not mean that we won’t lose the battle with the flesh from time to time. Heck, I would be willing to say (from personal experience) it does not even mean that we won’t lose the battle with the flesh more often than not. What it means is that we actually desire the flesh to lose."

Children of Privilege in an Age of Peril--Owen Strachan interacts with a New York Magazine article regarding the millennial generation.  He discusses the unrealistic vocational expectations held by many of America's current young people.  This essay also highlights my concern that too many parents are not actively guiding their children's educational decisions based upon real world economics.  Encouraging your child to take out an $80,000 loan to get a bachelor's degree in British literature is simply unwise. 

More Halloween Advice--Jeff Vanderstelt writes more about being on mission for Halloween.  Although he had numerous suggestions, this was one of my favorites: "Think of the Parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible."

Al Mohler on Joel Osteen on Mormonism--Joel Osteen has come out publicly claiming that Mormons are Christians (they aren't).  Al Mohler offers a necessary critique of the pastor of the largest church in America. 

"You want to rage, but there is no object for your anger. There is no wall to punch. Because above you and them is 'only sky.' You want to rail against God, but He is not there. But that means He didn't do it. So who did? There is no who. Only sky above us and only dirt below. In short, you have no right to exhibit the slightest bit of indignation over 'the neglect' that is being shown to these particular end products of mindless evolution. There is no neglect. Nature eats her own and will do so until every last sun has gone out. Deal with it"-Doug Wilson, Letter from a Christian Citizen

25 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 25, 2011

The Halloween links have started to show up.  I'll share a few, because I think they are worth reading.

Challies' Halloween Theory--Tim Challies has shared some wise counsel on the twin roles of sexuality and immaturity in adults around the time of Halloween.  He writes, "It’s fascinating to me—and more than a little repulsive—that on Halloween you can walk into a legitimate, professional workplace—a bank or real estate office where millions of dollars change hands every day—and find women dressed in ill-fitting, sexy costumes. You can find men dressed like skeletons or superheroes. Just for one day we can all act in ways that any other days would get us fired (or institutionalized)."

Moore on Halloween "Judgment" Houses--Russell Moore writes about the trend toward "judgment houses".  I think he has a lot to say that we should listen to.  His first point was that, "[Judgment Houses] are not scary enough. To speak of hell, Jesus used the imagery of a garbage dump overun with worms, a place where babies were once sacrified to demons (Mark 9:43-48). Teenagers in plastic red devil masks and styrofoam pitchforks usually don’t convey what it means to “fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). The answer isn’t better technology, though, since nothing we could conjure up can convey the anguish of the damned walled off from relationship with God."

Can Halloween be a Mission Field?--Michael Patton again shares his annual Halloween post on how Christians should be cautious to not hide out on Halloween.  He suggests that we should keep the lights on and give out the best candy in the neighborhood. 

Are you an Issue Christian?--Ed Stetzer writes about issue Christians. You know the ones. Those who are much more committed to their view of the rapture, or prophecy,or whatever. Stetzer offers some important cautions here.  He writes, "we should always provide guidance, but we should not always provide a platform. "Issue Christians" want a platform with you and your church because they are passionate about an issue--don't let that distract you or your church from being and doing all that God has in store. Move on... and move them on."

23 October 2011

Book Review: Don't Call it a Comeback

Don't Call it a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (DeYoung, 2011) has been on my shelf for a while.  It is an edited volume of short chapters on the essentials of the faith.  Presumably with intention, the authors for this book are all relatively young--no MacArthurs, Pipers, or Sprouls here, but the quality does not suffer at all. 

The opening chapter by Kevin DeYoung, "The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation", is alone worth the price of the book.  He encourages church leaders to grab people with passion, win them with love, hold them with holiness, challenge them with the Truth, and Amaze them with God. The next several chapters cover topics of systematic theology in an understandable way.  Topics such as God, Scripture, justification, and new birth are addressed.  In this section, I particularly appreciated Owen Strachan's chapter on sanctification as he provides a clear exposition of what sanctification entails.  In the final section, the authors address issues relevant to evangelical practice, topics such as abortion, missions, and worship.  Denny Burks chapter on "Gender confusion and a Gospel-shaped counterculture" was a beneficial read. 

I would happily recommend this book to anyone hoping to learn what being an evangelical means in real life today.  4 stars. 

22 October 2011

Passion of Youth, Wisdom of Age

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.-Proverbs 20:29

Despite the increasing concerns in the media regarding the apathy of young people, particularly young men, I am encouraged by many of the young believers I see around me.  They demonstrate a desire to know God and scripture more deeply.  They want to grow in godly character.  They interact with one another and with many Christian pastors through YouTube, blogs, and Twitter. 

Older believers have walked the road for a longer time.  Their reputations among younger believers are often of having lost touch,  of not really understanding the Gospel, or attending church for its own sake.  But older believers have the wisdom of age.  They have endured seasons of hardship and blessing, continuing to walk with God. 

Younger believers are a fresh blaze.  They burn brightly, but haven't developed glowing coals.  Older believers are glowing coals, but the flames may appear to have died down.  Flames are unstable, coals are consistent.  Flames are bright, but coals are hot.  The flames look upon the coals as unexciting, dying out.  The coals view the flames as lacking substance. 

To the younger believers:
  • Read Scripture more than you listen to online teachers--significantly more.  Although men like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Paul Washer and Tim Keller may be able to offer wise counsel, they are fallible.  Just because one of them says something, it does not make it Gospel.  What you learn from them must be balanced against and ultimately submit to Scripture, which you must swim in daily.  
  • Become a part of a local Bible-believing church.  YouTube is not church.  Reading books by Famous Christian Guys is not church.  Joining a congregation of believers who are as fallible as you are, sitting under Godly preaching, glorifying God, and loving one another in the brotherhood is church.  Learn from the men and women who have walked the road much longer than you have--real men and women whom you see on a weekly basis.  
  • Don't assume that because you read books about theology that you have a better developed sense of the Bible than others in the church.  Theology is important, but it is not all-important.  Theology, in wise hands, can be a wonderful tool for knowing and loving God more deeply.  In immature hands, it may be a dangerous weapon.  If you haven't read Kevin DeYoung's "A Tale of Two Corners", I would encourage you to do so right now.  It should be required for all young believers. 
  • Grow in character.  Pursue holiness.  Be self-controlled and disciplined. Pray for humility and practice it.
  • Don't lose your flame; that's how you develop coals.
To the older believers:
  • Listen to the younger believers.  Their passion leads to legitimate questions. Don't be quick to dismiss them.  Although Elihu was arrogant (Job 32 and following), he was accurate in many respects.  Allow younger believers to fan the flame of your faith.
  • Be sound in faith (Titus 2:2).  This may involve studying theology, pushing yourself to chew on some of the more difficult meat of Scripture.  Just like I said above, if you haven't read Kevin DeYoung's "A Tale of Two Corners", do so now.  It should be required reading for all older believers. 
  • Don't flaunt your experience.  It had nothing to do with you.  God has kept you by his grace even when you were a smoldering wick or a bruised reed. 
  • Mentor younger believers.  They will benefit from your experience of having walked the road.  
  • Fan your flames, that's how your coals become hotter still. 

Daily Morsels-October 23, 2011

There are a lot of good links today. 

DeYoung on the Seeker Movement:  Kevin DeYoung has good thoughts on dialog between the seeker church movement and the YRRs.  He writes, "I’m not sure how to move forward with the impasse between the YRR world and the church growth world. No doubt, there are unfortunate stereotypes on both sides. For our part, we could learn from our seeker church brethren when it comes to administration, strategy, being honest about stagnation and lack of evangelism, and being sensitive to the way we are perceived by outsiders. We can be intellectually snobbish and blissfully unconcerned about whether the church grows, reproduces, or multiplies. As for those on the seeker church side: I encourage you to read ten theological books for every business book. I encourage you trust in the word of God to do the work of God. I encourage you to listen not just to this culture of Christians, but to the centuries of Christians that have come before. I encourage you to explicitly, unapologetically love theology and teach your people to do the same. I encourage you to worship in such a way that it won’t be out of date in five years. I encourage you to use the language of Zion instead of the language of Collins. I encourage you to proclaim, not just to communicate."  Read the whole thing here

Apologist Mike Licona on doubt:  Read it here

Paul Tripp on prayer:  "But prayer does something else; it reminds us of the reality of our life. The reality of our life is a constant, moment-by-moment dance of sin and grace. Every day, sin rears its ugly head, and every day, grace gives us what we need to deal with sin."  Read it here.  

Spurgeon on studying God:  Read it here

Albert Mohler on modern media:  Read it here

Mike Riccardi on our blindness to glory:  "When Paul says that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, he is saying that those who do not believe are spiritually dead. The nature of spiritual death is spiritual blindness. To be dead in trespasses and sins is to be unable to see the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."  Read it here

God the Spirit

O Lord God,
I pray not so much for graces as for the Spirit Himself,
because I feel his absence,
and act by my own spirit in everything.
Give me not weak desires but the power of his presence,
for this is the surest way to have all his graces,
and when I have the seal, I have the impression also;
He can heal, help, quicken, humble suddenly and easily,
can work grace and life effectually,
and being eternal, he can give grace eternally.
Save me from great hinderances,
from being content with a little measure of the Spirit,
from thinking thou wilt not give me more.
When I feel my lack of him, light up life and faith,
for when I lose thee I am either in the dark or cannot see thee,
or Satan and my natural abilities content me with a little light,
so that I seek no further for the Spirit of life.
Teach me then what to do.
Should I merely humble myself and not stir up my heart?
Should I meditate and use all means to bring him near,
not being contented by one means,
but trust him to give me a blessing by the use of all,
depending only upon, and waiting always for, thy light,
by use of means?
Is it a duty or an error to pray
and look for the fullness of the Spirit in me?
Am I mistaken in feeling I am empty of the Spirit
because I do not sense his presence within,
when all the time I am most empty
and could be more full by faith in Christ?
Was the fullness of the Spirit in the apostles
chiefly a power,
giving the subsistence outside themselves in Christ,
in whom was their life and joy?
Teach me to find and know fullness of the Spirit only in Jesus.
-Valley of Vision

18 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 18, 2011

The Cure for Monstrum Incertitudinis-I feel like I am reposting everything Tullian Tchvidjian writes recently.  What can I say, his radical view of grace makes more and more sense to me the longer I am a believer.   He writes, "With this shift came a renewed focus on the internal life of the individual. The subjective question, 'How am I doing?' became a more dominant feature than the objective question, 'What did Jesus do?' As a result, generations of Christians were taught that Christianity was primarily a life-style; that the essence of our faith centered on 'how to live'; that real Christianity was demonstrated in the moral change that took place inside those who had a 'personal relationship with Jesus.' Our ongoing performance for Jesus, therefore, not Jesus’ finished performance for us, became the focus of sermons, books, and conferences. What I need to do and who I need to become, became the end game.

"Believe it or not, this shift in focus from 'the forensic to the pneumatic', from the external to the internal, has enslaving practical consequences."  Please read it here

Be Thou My Vision-Zach Nielsen has a great rendition of the hymn Be Thou My Vision.  Good stuff.  Give it a listen. 

2 Shows I will watch, if I have the time-These two shows are both about an hour long.  But I would love to watch them.  The first is a documentary on Charles Spurgeon.  The second is an animated reading of The Pilgrim's Progress. 

Common Objections to Divine Election-John Sanford takes on many of the common objections to divine election.  He addresses biblical verses including: John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, 1 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:2, John 12:32, and 2 Peter 2:1.  He also addresses several conceptual questions such as "if divine election is true, why should be bother to evangelize."  These are worth thinking through.

Jesus in a Pirate Hat-I read Wild at Heart.  It wasn't a terrible book.  Eldridge's new book, Beautiful Outlaw, seems a bit off the rocker, from what I have heard so far.  Tim Challies has been writing his thoughts about the book and he clearly is unimpressed.  He quotes Eldridge, who writes "My son was having a tough freshman year at college. So many students there are bound under the religious fog. It was a lonely fall, filled with misunderstanding. One afternoon, just after a classmate said something particularly hurtful to him, Blaine returned to his room and slumped onto his bed, about as low as a young man can get. He looked over to his desk, and 'saw' Jesus sitting there, in his desk chair, a smile on his face. He was wearing a pirate hat. Then he disappeared. A whiff of the Emmaus road." 

15 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 15, 2011

Apparently, I have been on a daily morsels fast for the past few days.  Here are some good links of interest to chew on. 

Theo-bot:  Michael Patton has a wise analysis of one of the common phrases heard in early apologetics training when you don't know the answer, "let me get back to you on that."  He believes this is a disrespectful, dismissive approach to someone who has real issues with God.  He encourages people to actually wrestle through issues related to their faith and to offer an honest, "I don't know" when you don't. 

The Slander of a Pastor: Many of you, I am sure, are unaware CJ Mahaney, but he is a long-time pastor who authored several books, including an excellent volume on Humility.  In recent months, he has been the source of focused character attack.  Ortlund describes his hope for a full return to ministry soon.  He writes, "A pastor’s high visibility makes him especially vulnerable to destructive talk.  We pastors have no coercive power, and we don’t want any.  We want winsome influence, as we preach the message of Christ and bear the image of Christ.  But to serve people effectively in that way, all we pastors have going for us is our reputations, our public acceptability.  That is why it is a sin of special seriousness to injure the reputation of a gospel-preaching, godly pastor.  He is not the only one who suffers.  The cause of Christ suffers."  I would encourage reading the rest of it here

Mormon vs Christian--how many of you know the difference?:  You've probably seen them.  Their "elders"--young men, riding bicycles in white shirts, wearing name tags.  You've probably considered them part of a cult.  But how many of you, when put to the test, could actually state the reason why Mormons are not Christians?  Amy Hall writes: "But I think perhaps when we say that Mormons aren't Christian, we ought to take a moment to explain what we mean. We're not saying they're weird, scary people, or that they're being brainwashed or controlled by a cult leader, or that they're immoral. We're merely saying that the word "Christian" actually means something, and it has meant that thing for centuries. To claim that their theology fits into that word is to misunderstand what is meant by "Christian." Considering Michael Patton's post above, reading this post and discovering some of the differences may be a good place to start. 

Hitler was no Christian:  It is commonly heard that Adolf Hitler was a Christian.  Well, it is commonly heard from those who seek to discredit Christianity.  Ray Comfort addresses this issue briefly on his blog

Tell your Children Stories:  ND Wilson, a fantastic writer, shares his position on why it is good to read fiction and fantasy to your children.  He says, "Feed your children stories that will keep their eyes wide with wonder when they look out their front windows or wander their yards. Feed them stories of joy and hardship and courage and tragedy and triumph. Give them heroes, real and imagined. Give them a taste for goodness, for truth, for beauty." I agree with him. 

Don't Adopt:  This excellent article from Russell Moore, author of Adopted for Life, issues necessary cautions about adopting to the church.  His words are an important call to anyone considering adoption, or not. 

This is not Biblical Womanhood:  Rachel Held Evans, a prolific and often controversial blogger, has taken the task of trying to follow every command for women in the Bible, seemingly with the goal of paradoxical goal of demonstrating the folly of the project.  Sarah Flashing at First Things writes, "Evans’ Year of Biblical Womanhood has actually been a year of an erroneous hermeneutic resulting in misrepresentation to the church and the public at large of what biblical womanhood actually looks like. She expanded on the literal approach of scripture practiced by complementarians by flattening scripture such that systematic theology is of no consequence." 

Heroes and Celebrities:  Kevin DeYoung discusses the difference between heroes of the faith and Christian celebrities.  He offers very wise counsel.  "And all of us should be circumspect with our words, careful to tear down only what God would tear down and eager to build up what God would build up. Celebrity Christianity is problematic. Loving your leaders and imitating good examples is not. For if the celebrification of every kind of mega-star makes for a sorry state of affairs, so does a world without heroes."

13 October 2011

Book Review: Luther's Commentary on Galatians

Recently, Mike Horton was asked what 5 books besides the Bible every Christian should read.  On the list was Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians.  I downloaded it for free from Amazon. This book is quite simply spectacular.  It contains Luther's thoughts on the book of Galatians, Paul's epistle written to call a church back to the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  Considering his own predilections, it is not surprising that Luther would have such strong feelings about this book and he expounds upon them well.  I agree with Horton that every Christian should read this book.  It is much more accessible than his similarly excellent The Bondage of the Will.  Although I have underlined much of the book, I will share a few of my favorite quotes from his thoughts about chapters 1 and 2. 

  • We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for picayune and imaginary transgressions, but for mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained (in reference to Gal 1:4).  
  • Because my transgressions are multiplied and my own efforts at self-justification rather a hindrance than a furtherance, therefore Christ the Son of God gave Himself into death for my sins. To believe is to have eternal life (Gal 1:4).
  • Every teacher of works righteousness is a troublemaker. (Gal. 1:7).
  • The article of justification is fragile. Not in itself, of course, but in us. I know how quickly a person can forfeit the gospel. I know in what slippery places even those who stand who seem to have a good footing in the matters of the faith. In the midst of the conflict when we should be consoling ourselves with the Gospel, the Law rears up and begins to rage all over our conscience. I say the Gospel is frail because we are frail (Gal. 1:11-12). 
  • The Law terrorizes the conscience. The Law reveals the wrath and judgment of God. The Gospel does not threaten. The Gospel announces that Christ is come to forgive the sins of the world. The Gospel conveys to us the inestimable treasures of God. (Gal. 1:16). 
  • True faith lays hold of Christ and leans on Him alone. (Gal 2:4-5).
  • I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me. (Gal 2:4-5).
  • No person has ever sunk so low that he cannot rise again (Gal 2:11). 
  • This imputation of righteousness we need very much, because we are far from perfect. As long as we have this body, sin will dwell in our flesh. Then too, we sometimes drive away the Holy Spirit; we fall into sin, like Peter, David, and other holy men. Nevertheless we may always take recourse to this fact, "that our sins are covered," and that "God will not lay them against our charge." Sin is not held against us for Christ's sake (Gal 2:16). 
  • Not that we reject good works. Far from it. But we will not allow ourselves to be removed from the anchorage of our salvation. (Gal 2:16). 
  • If we lose sight of Christ and begin to consider our past, we simply go to pieces. (Gal 2:20).
  • What awful presumption to imagine that there is any work good enough to pacify God, when to pacify God required the invaluable price of the death of blood of His own and only Son? (Gal 2:20).
  • Should I be so stupid as to reject the righteousness of Christ which cost me nothing, and slave like a fool to achieve the righteousness of the Law which God disdains? (Gal 2:21).
If you want more, get the book.  It is worth the price. 5 stars.

12 October 2011

Am I obtuse?

Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man.-Proverbs 30:2

I like words.  I like ideas.  I spend a lot of time reading words and ideas that allow me to formulate thoughts about a wide variety of topics, though particularly related to Christian theology.  Because I have spent a lot of time reading deeply, people often ask my opinions regarding various matters.  Sometimes, I even share my opinions without being asked.  Despite my affinity for well-crafted arguments, I realized today that in my desire to share my knowledge, I sometimes entirely miss the person with whom I am communicating.

Too often, I am obtuse.  To be obtuse is to be lack tact or to be slow to understand.  Twice recently, I could have been labeled obtuse (though it could be more; an unfortunate condition of being obtuse is not always knowing that you are).  In each of these instances, I crafted my arguments well, but I missed the person.  In the first case, I missed the sense of loss the person was experiencing; in the second, I was insensitive to his feelings.

A well constructed exposition is meaningless if it misses the audience.  If I unintentionally hurt someone by my words, even if I believe that they are logically informed, the relationship is the worse for it.  I suspect growth in wisdom is not only accruing knowledge, but learning to use it to patiently and humbly love others. 

The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.-Proverbs 16:23

11 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 11, 2011

I didn't post anything for a few days.  Frankly, I was not seeing much interesting for a few days.

But God--I most certainly listened to the same podcast that Erik Raymond listened to.  For me, understanding the notion of "but God" language in the Bible was a significant insight.  The Bible consistently shares a message that points to our depravity and then says, "but God" did something on our behalf.  Many of us think of the Bible as a "me and God" type of relationship.  "I did this and God did that."  So, are you a "but God or an "and God" Christian?  Read about it here

Our Own Buts--I have been increasingly edified by the writings of Tullian Tchvidjian.  Here he reviews Dane Ortlund's new book Defiant Grace (it will be on my wish list shortly). These men blow the doors off of legalism by proclaiming a radical grace.  We all need to hear this lesson daily!  

Kids and Pornography--If you have middle schoolers, there is a pretty good chance they have seen pornography and may be checking it regularly.  Here are some thoughts from Walt Muller.  (HT: Z)

DeYoung hits 1000--Kevin DeYoung hits 1000 posts today.  Most of his are worth reading.  Check out his top ten for wisdom.  

Theistic Evolution and the Bible--I do not believe that theistic evolution with biblical evidence.  Here are some thoughts from John Bloom about the issues. 

08 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 8, 2011

Sinner's in the Hands of Angry God-On Jonathan Edwards 300th birthday, Mark Dever preached the most famous sermon of Edwards, considered by many to be the greatest thinker in the history of America.  In fact, this is commonly considered the best known sermon in American history.  You can listen to it here

Really Small Pictures-Boston Globe's Big Picture features photomicrography.  Cool stuff. 

Internet Church-Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was asked how to respond to young Driscollites receiving significant influence from youtube clips.  I think the concerns can be more broadly offered to those not connected with a local congregation.  Listen here

How to Ask Good Questions-Good thoughts on asking questions from Fred Sanders.

07 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 7, 2011

A Tale of Two Steves-Mark Altrogge at the Blazing Center reflects upon the death of Steve Jobs, whose death has been pondered by millions in the last two days.  He wrote, "But yesterday I couldn't help but think of how many 'unknown' Christians died the same way Steve Jobs did." It is easy for us to "mourn" the death of cultural icons like Steve Jobs, but we must not lose the perspective that all die and that eternity matters. 

Not for a Thousand Worlds-I just read again this morning the advice from Charles Spurgeon to a woman struggling with assurance.  I cannot read this short passage without tears.  Spurgeon seemed to truly understand gospel hope.  He wrote, "Our Lord often makes it calm and peaceful, or even joyous and triumphant, for His departing timid ones. He puts some of His greatest saints to bed in the dark, and they wake up in the eternal light; but He frequently keeps the candle burning for Mr. Little-faith, Mr. Feeble-mind, Mr. Ready-to-halt, Mr. Despondency, and Miss Much-afraid. They go to sleep in the light, and they also wake up in the land where the Lamb is all the glory for ever and ever."

06 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 6, 2011

Ever heard of the Apostolic Fathers?-My friend Rick Brannan wrote this essay about the usefulness of contemporary writings in understanding the New Testament.  He has a forthcoming book available to Logos users as well, entitled The Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear.   We took Greek together at Northwestern for 3 semesters.  It is nice to see what happens when you actually apply your knowledge rather than allowing it to atrophy, like I did. 

Man up--This article on CNN.com by William Bennett is just another documenting the trends of boys not becoming men.  "Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families."  I pray that our churches would take the lead in going after the men.

Credo-Yesterday, the first issue of a new journal, Credo, was released.  This looks to be an exceptional journal for those interested in theology.  I have worked with Michael Haykin for another newsletter I edit and he is an exceptional writer.  The others I am familiar with are great thinkers and communicators as well.

An Atheist Response to Physicalism-A common scientific fallacy that currently exists is that everything can be reduced to physical explanations.  David Deutsch, an atheistic physicist, makes an argument that not everything can be reduced to physical processes. 

05 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 5, 2011

I am not a marathoner from Texas-Did you ever Google your own name?  If your name is Bob Smith, it probably will not be a very exciting search, but if you have a less common name, you can find out a lot about yourself and your online persona as well as others who share your name.  There is another person with my name who runs marathons and writes in chemistry journals (not sure if it is the same guy).  I found this story from Randy Alcorn about name confusion amusing.

Biblical Masculinity-As I began to read this article from the Cripplegate, one of my favorite blogs, I was worried they were going to equate biblical masculinity with being tough--killing animals, fighting, eating bacon.  By the end of the article, though, they drove home the point I was hoping they would reach.  Biblical masculinity is not about being physically tough, or is it about being effeminate.  "To be a Christian man is to be a servant. If you look to Jesus and his cross (Ephesians 5) as the template of masculinity, you will not come away with bravado, but humility. You will not be self-assertive, but self-sacrificing. Regardless of whether you can rebuild a V8, or can’t change your own oil, Christian manhood is endowed with strength which far surpasses our romanticized visions. It is quiet, humble, self-sacrificing, tender and self-restrained. It bears a likeness to our humble Lord washing the feet of sinners for whom he was sent to die."

Rules of Engagement-Tim Keller shared three important rules for polemical engagement.   1. Carson's Rule: You don't have to follow Matthew 18 before publishing polemics.  2.  Murray's Rule: You must take full responsibility for even unwitting misrepresentation of someone's views.  3. Alexander's Rule: Never attribute an opinion to your opponent that he himself does not own.

Reading Christians-I love to read.  I think it is one of God's greatest blessings to me that I have been granted the ability to read.  I treasure the written word.  This interview about reading, as Christians, is worth...well...reading.  

04 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 4, 2011

Another blessed day to be alive.  An ongoing conversation I am having as well as Luther's exceptional commentary on Galatians has me thinking a lot about justification by faith alone, a treasured doctrine to be sure!  Here are some interesting links from today.

Blessed Assurance-At Desiring God today, they share a quote from John Newton, author of Amazing Grace.  It reads,
When we are deeply conscious of our defects in duty. If we compare our best performances with the demands of the law, the majesty of God, and the unspeakable obligations we are under; if we consider our innumerable sins of omission, and that the little we can do is polluted and defiled by the mixture of evil thoughts, and the working of selfish principles, aims, and motives, which though we disapprove, we are unable to suppress; we have great reason to confess, "To us belong shame and confusion of face."
But we are relieved by the thought, that Jesus, the High Priest, bears the iniquity of our holy things, perfumes our prayers with the incense of his mediation, and washes our tears in his own blood.
This inspires a confidence, that though we are unworthy of the least of his mercies, we may humbly hope for a share in the greatest blessings he bestows, because we are heard and accepted, not on the account of our own prayers and services, but in the beloved Son of God, who maketh intercession for us. 
 The End of Mark-Someone at church asked me this week what I thought of the controversy over the end of Mark.  Jesse Johnson does a nice job explaining the end of Mark here

Purity Playbook-Covenant Eyes recommends several offensive and defensive strategies to deal with porn here

Is it a Jar 1 issue?-In GCLI, the leadership training program in the Great Commission Churches, there is an article by John Hopler discussing the differences between Jar 1, 2, 3, and 4 issues.  Justin Taylor presents several other ways to examine degree of theological truth.  Michael Patton looks at how different types of theologians put things in jars. 

Living the Bible-Stephen Altrogge has wise advice here on taking the Bible literally.  It seems to me that a lack of good scriptural exegesis and a poor knowledge of hermeneutics is a plague of the modern church.  People simply don't know their Bibles.  When they do read them, they read them for theological maxims, rather than considering the grand story of redemption, what the author intended, who the original audience was, what the message is for us now, etc. 

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent-Exodus 14:14

03 October 2011

Daily Morsels-October 3

I don't have much today.  I think I am still in post-conference recovery mode.  Anyway, here are a couple of links of interest.

Think!-John Piper's book Think is available for download free this month from ChristianAudio. 

Homeschool Infographic-Although there are myriad reasons why someone might choose to homeschool their children, this infographic may point to a few. (HT: Challies)

01 October 2011

A Father's Son

Ian has increasingly grown emotional.  Wednesday, before I left, Ian must have reminded me 10,000 times that I must give him a hug and a kiss before I left.  "Don't forget to give me a hug and a kiss before you leave."  Those words, oft repeated, are imprinted in my brain. And what a fine imprint!  He is also the first to make sure that I kiss him good-bye every day before work and he insists I pass those blessings along to his sisters as well--sometimes twice. 

So often, people downplay or minimize emotionality in boys.  We don't want them to be feelers.  We expect them to be "strong", whatever that means.  The older I get though, the more I learn that true masculinity includes an emotional side.  Jesus wept. Jesus experienced sorrow.  Jesus felt hope. Jesus became angry.  Jesus is the definition of true masculinity, and he was emotional. 

I cherish the emotions of my children.  I am increasingly learning that even the negative ones can serve a purpose and that as a father, I need to learn to respond to those with grace as well, rather than with irritation.  Christian parenting is not about creating automatons, but loving our children and encouraging their passionate emotions, reminding them that God created them as passionate, emotional creatures. 

May we all have a passionate love for God, deep sorrow over losses, and appropriate anger. May we all have a heart after God, who created us to feel. 

Daily Morsels-October 1, 2011

RCA and CRC, what's the difference?-This link will be of little interest to many of you, but for those who grew up in one of these traditions, it may prove fascinating.  Vriesman, a minister in the CRC who studied at Western Theological Seminary, an RCA school, discusses the differences between the two bodies growing out of the Dutch Reformed tradition.  The interesting thing for me is I took real issue with the CRC folks when I was younger (having attended an RCA church and school), but I guess I never really knew why.  What is perhaps more interesting to me is that as I look at these descriptions, I have no doubt I would choose a CRC congregation, if I had to pick between these two.  (HT: Kevin DeYoung).

Tullian does it again- I am increasingly moved by the writing of Tullian Tchvidjian.  He gets grace.  Read "The End of Control" here.

The First Pitch- I'm not really a baseball fan, but this story is a good one.  Cooper Stone, the son of the man who fell out of the stands last year and died trying to catch a foul ball thrown to him by Josh Hamilton, was able to throw out the first pitch to none other than Josh Hamilton. 

How denominations view each other- I saw this on several blogs yesterday.  It made me giggle.