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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mother Teresa's Redemption?

I was first introduced to Mother Teresa's "crisis of faith" over at The Other Mohler's blog. In his article, he pulled out some intriguing (and disturbing) quotes that caused me to read the entire article.

As I read the article, I was struck by the absolute void of the Word of God. It is not mentioned. It is not quoted. It is not even alluded to. Mother Teresa's religion seemed to be separate from the searching of the Scriptures. It was so sad and baffling as I read it that I couldn't really get my thoughts out into words.

But Rick Phillips does say it in an excellent way.

Watered Down...

Imagine your outrage if you found out the local gas station was watering down their petroleum. You're paying $3/gallon for gas mixed with well water. You'd be irate.

What if you went to pour milk on your cereal, and discovered the farmer had diluted it down with water? You'd probably be indignant.

Now suppose you had medication you needed for your health. The pharmaceuticals are already making money hand over fist. But suppose a company decided to make even more money by thinning out the medication. You're health is at stake. Think that would get your ire up?

I remember discovering this during the winter. My truck is now at the point where it regularly needs topped off with antifreeze. I stopped into a parts store to buy a couple gallons to keep in the truck. To my surprise, the only thing available on the shelf was 50/50 (a mixture of antifreeze and water) for about $5/gallon. Now, our store didn't even sell 50/50, and the straight 100% antifreeze was only $3.98/gallon (I remember, because with tax it was $4.25). How was it that people were willing to pay a dollar more for half the product? At first, it bothered me and I was a little upset. But, what could I do? I walked up to the counter and paid my five bones.


Boy, we'll get mad when it's gas, milk, perscriptions or even antifreeze. But why such apathy when it is the gospel that is getting watered down?

How is it possible that we can consider a pastor good if they refuse to speak of sin and repentance? How can we not consider a pastor negligent in his task if he does not open the Scriptures? How can some think you can actually preach Christ without having to preach a text? How can we think that a pastor is simply "fulfilling the calling God may have specifically directed for his church" when it is void of Christ, the gospel or Scripture?

I'll be honest. 2Timothy 3:13 is not that hard for me to understand. I get that there will be men who deny the true calling to pursue their own desires.

2Timothy 4:3-4 is the hard one for me to understand. How is it that we can be so outraged when we receive a dilluted product in areas of minutiae, but have such complacency when it comes to the words that give life!


I guess it is a lot like antifreeze. It's worth something when it's hot or cold, but pretty much worthless when it is lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quick Update

It's not typical that I go 9 days without an update, so I thought I'd just throw some things out:

a) I said I would not blog angry, and there is a recent situation that really got my ire up. (Plus, it is fresh enough that the people invovled would probably think I'm scolding them, not my desire.)
b) Daughters birthdays within 5 days of each other makes for some extra events.
c) The fall is coming, so I've been swamped with preparation.
d) I wanted the Preaching Workshop post to stay up front for a while. Yes, that is an actual class. No, it is not a newpaper ad I scanned. Yes, there is still time to sign up, but not much.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Preaching Workshop Offered

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who's Responsible for the Pulpit?

From Feed My Sheep, chapter one (The Primacy of Preaching), Al Mohler says:
Secondly, if we are genuinely servants of the Word, it means that our congregations are aware of this priority and honor it. The congregation needs to understand that preaching is not merely the preacher's responsibility; it is the congregation's responsibility. It is the congregations responsibility to see that it is fed. It is the congregation's responsibility to see to it that it calls a preacher who will preach the Word. Then, it is the congregation's responsibility to hold him accountable for that preaching and to measure his effectiveness and his faithfulness to, of all things, the pulpit ministry.
A couple of thoughts this quote (and even the whole chapter) brought to my mind:

A) I am thankful for a church that cares about the preaching, and holds me accountable.
B) Once a church has let that go, how hard is it for the congregation to notice the void, let alone correct it?
C) Do most congregants really believe preaching should be the pastor's primary task?
D) Do most pastors believe it is his primary task?
E) Would most of the pastors' conferences go bankrupt if preachers would just return to this concept?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas...

Waiting for me in my office...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Elizabeth Pierce Update

From Elizabeth's blog today:
Elizabeth and Dan met with the doctors at Duke today. The doctors examined the MRI that was taken last week. In the words of the doctor "there is no sign of the tumor." We are still trying to comprehend the good news but needless to say there has been great joy and excitement over what God has done!

Elizabeth must still complete another round of chemo which is part of the original treatment plan. Chemo should not have the devastating effects that she experienced during radiation.

Please pray:

1) for relief from the headaches that still appear on occasion

2) for no side effects from the chemo

3) that the tumor will not return. Tumors can return within the first two years after successful treatment

4) give thanks to God for His faithfulness and answering the prayers of many people
Please give praise to God and continue to pray for this family!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

McClain on the Beautiful Word

Following up from the last post, In Law and Grace by Alva J McClain, he states:
In this connection I would like to encourage Christians who delight in finding the Lord Jesus Christ upon every page of Scripture. Do not permit yourselves to be frightened by those overcautious souls who cry against what they call "too much typology." Doubtless there are some things which may properly be catalogued as "types" and others not. But whatever you may call it, it is the privilege and highest duty of the Christian to discover and behold the face of the Lord Jesus in Scripture--everywhere! Far better to break a few rules of classical hermeneutics than to miss the vision of His blessed face.

We need only one caution--let us be sure that what we find is always true to the historic revelation of the Son as recorded in the New Testament. With this safeguard, there is no end to what we may find in the inspired record of the infinite and incarnate Son of God. And by finding Him throughout Scripture, we shall be finding the perfect will of God in the wonderful context of His grace. For grace reigns "through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:21)--p67-68

highest duty...

deepest joy!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Beautiful Word of God

The great beauty of the Word of God (text) is that it speaks about the Word of God (Christ). Tim Keller, in his message during the Gospel Coalition makes this observation:
The basic subject of every sermon ought to be Jesus. Doesn't matter what passage. Doesn't matter Old or New Testament. It's got to be about Jesus. And by the way, before you say, Oh, this is about Old Testament hermeneutics, no, my friend Sinclair Ferguson says, "Most evangelical preachers don't preach Christ. Not only don't they preach Christ from the Old Testament, they don't preach Christ from the New Testament."
Keller then acknowledges this is a bit of an "intramural debate." There are "good men" who deny this issue in preaching and say that Jacob wrestling with God has nothing to do with Christ and should just be about wrestling with God. Keller acknowledges that these are good, intelligent men, but he also states he believes they are wrong.

Keller then spoke of the transforming nature of revealing Christ in the passage. He shared that people are truly transformed when they see God's standard, they see their inability to meet it, and then are met with the fact that Christ fulfilled God's standard. The listener then has hope and desires to please God. It ceases to be out of obligation. Keller continues:
Your preaching with never be doxological and won't even be central unless it is Christo-centric.
Keller explains that at the root of every sin is an inadequate worship of Christ. We got to get them to Jesus. If not, Keller says you will just be "beating on their wills."

Keller then offers this quote from Ferguson:
The preacher has looked into the text, even in the New Testament, principally to find himself and his congregation, not to find Christ. You can even do that in the New Testament, even in the Gospels. The sermon, therefore, is principally about the people in the gospels instead of the Christ Who is the gospel! The more fundamental issue is this question: What is the Bible really about? Is the Bible basically about me and what I must do, or is it basically about Jesus and what He has done. Is the Bible basically about the objective and indicative?
Keller, and Ferguson for that matter, are not advocating sloppy hermeneutics. They are not claiming you "find Jesus in every little twig." You must follow the trajectory of the text to Jesus (which I suppose means you also have to believe the trajectory is toward Jesus).

I have begged others to see this beauty. However, Keller and Ferguson claim this is more of an instinct than a trained discipline. It's not about hermeneutical principles. Do you believe the Bible is basically about you, or about Him?

I believe that once you grasp this, the Bible becomes all the more beautiful. Consider this example from Keller:

Jesus is the true and better Adam

who passed the test in the Garden, His Garden, a much tougher garden, and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel

who though innocently slain has blood that cries out not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham

who answered the call of God, to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go into the void, not knowing whither He went.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac

who was not just offered up by His Father on the mount, but was truly sacrificed for us all. While God said to Abraham, "Now I know you love me because you did not with hold your son, your one and only son, whom you love from me," now we, at the foot of the cross can say to God, "Now we know that you love me, because you did not with hold your Son, your only Son, whom You love, from me."

Jesus is the true and better Jacob

who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved so that we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace, that wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph

who is at the right hand of The King and forgives those who betrayed and sold Him and uses His power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses

who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a New Covenant.

Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses

who struck with the rod of God's justice now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job

who is the truly Innocent Sufferer who then intercedes for and saves His stupid friends.

Is that a type? See this is not a type, it's an instinct.

Jesus is the true and better David

who's victory becomes the people's victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther

who didn't just risk losing an earthly palace, but lost the ultimately heavenly one. Who didn't just risk His life, but gave His life. Who didn't just say, "If I perish, I perish," but said, "When I perish, I'll perish for them, to save My people."

Jesus is the true and better Jonah

who is cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

He's the real Passover Lamb.
He's the True Temple.
The True Prophet.
The True Priest.
The True King.
The True Sacrifice.
The True Lamb.
The True Light.
The True Bread.

Wow, isn't it beautiful?

or more appropriately...

Isn't He beautiful!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Should the Gospel be in Every Sermon?

I've had some pretty intense conversations lately as to whether a preacher should be expected to preach the gospel during his sermon. While some seem to believe it is safe to neglect a gospel proclamation, it seems to me that this is poor preaching.

I found it interesting that after having this conversation, our elders began their study in Romans. It seems obvious from the first chapter of Romans that Paul wanted to visit the gentile believers in Rome, that he wanted to preach to them, and that his content he wanted to preach was the gospel.

If that is not enough to remind pastors that the believers in the congregation desperately need to hear the gospel, D.A. Carson also offers this thought (in his message, What is the Gospel? from the Gospel Coalition Conference):
Perhaps more common today is the tendency to "assume the gospel"...whatever that is, while devoting creative energy and passions to other areas. Marriage. Happiness. Prosperity. Evangelism. The Poor. Wrestling with Islam. Bioethics. Pressures of Secularization. Dangers on the Left. Dangers on the Right. The list is endless.

But this overlooks the fact that our hearers inevitably are drawn toward that of which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them. I've resigned myself to that for a long time. They are most likely to learn what I am excited about. If the gospel is merely assumed, while relatively peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to down play the gospel and focus in on the periphery. It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins. What is urgently needed is to be prophetic from the center. What is to be feared, in the famous words of T.S. Elliot, is that the center does not hold.

Moreover, if in fact we do focus on the gospel and understand it aright, we shall soon see how this gospel, rightly understood, directs us how to think about and what to do about a vast array of other kinds of issues.
Where are the pastors who echo with Paul:
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!--1 Corinthians 9:16

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What Builds a Church?

I'm not saying these words are bad. However, I don't see the following words listed in Scripture as virtues or targets the church should aim for:


Perhaps one of these words describes a church...I don't believe that is necessarily wrong. But if a pastor (or any advocate for that church) then tells others that a particular adjective (not found in Scripture) is the key to the effectiveness of their church, are they by nature denying that it is Christ who builds His church. (And if conversely, a method or key adjective built the church, does that mean it must not be Christ's?)

More on McClain

Earlier, I posted some things about grace, quoting about and from Alva J McClain. Last night, I finished reading "A Saint in Glory Stands." (My wife is worried about my descent into nerdhood. I didn't tell her my next read is, "Doctrinal Treatise--Old German Baptist Brethren.")

Near the end of the book (p 120), the author states (speaking of McClain):
He embraced moderately the Calvinist TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints) but did not believe in eternal securityat the expense of holy living. He called for a balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He embraced a balanced dispensationalist view of the Bible, but believed a difference had to be made between Israel and the Church.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it seems that the biography lays out a Calvinism similar to John Piper's (God's sovereignty should be emphasized, as we call upon people to repent and trust Christ), while having a dispensationalism similar to John MacArthur's (Israel and the Church are different, but the book stressed pre-millennial views more than pre-tribulational).

Of course, McClain went to Antioch College (1917), so who really knows?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Caribou FM

I received a phone call last week. Someone in our church nominated us for the JOY FM Church Spotlight.

Apparently, next Tuesday, Jason and I will enter the studio and speak with David Emerson about our church (I keep forgetting to tell Jason...oops).

The interview is scheduled for 8 am on August 7.

My only other radio experience is that I once called in sports radio in Columbus.

Any advice? (C'mon, Roy, if you're going to comment on David's blog regarding Passover & Last Supper, surely you'll throw me a bone now?)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Caribou Equip Log

Jason and I headed up to Equip07 this morning. We were not able to stay for any classes, but we did make lunch, which seemed to be a great time to mill around. Some Highlights:

I got to see this guy (don't bother clicking the link, it hasn't changed since April 06).

I got to see Charity's aunt and uncle, always a delight.

I got to hold a really cute baby. Apparently, it was this guy's. I don't know. I don't think I've ever met him and I hadn't met the mother until after I was already holding the baby. (It did get me a little more ready for October, though).

Was able to bump into another gbc blogger. Bump may not be fair, since we planned it in advance...but it was nice to finally meet.

Met a couple other GBC pastors who told me they've heard good things about Greenville. My thought is always three-fold when I hear this: a) How nice of them to make that up. I could be a jerk by asking right now, "Oh yeah, like what things?"; b) they're probably just thinking of the fair; or c) that was before Daniel left.

I also learned that their must be some major confusion regarding the Caribou.

No one seems to know what the Caribou would have made of this session. Within 20 minutes, I received the four following comments:

Were you there for Brad Powell? (I answered, "no.") Oh, that's too bad, you would have loved him. He was right up your alley and says many of the things you say regarding church marketing and such.

Were you here Monday night for Brad Powell? (I answered, "no.") Oh, you should do whatever you can to get your hands on the manuscript or a recording. It was exactly what you need to listen to and I believe you would benefit greatly from it.

It was OK. (This time answering my question about the session.) I don't think you would have thought anything either way.

and lastly,

Be glad you were not at the session Monday night. You would not have liked it.

My point is obviously not to assess the work Pastor Powell did. I have no idea, I was not there. Apparently, one can not get their hands on the contents of his message since it largely mirrors a book he is currently writing and there are copyright issues at hand. Therefore, I don't think I'll ever be able to evaluate his message.

But I found it baffling that four men, who know me better than most in the fellowship, could have such divergent views on me.

Have I not been bold enough? Do I need to speak more clearly?