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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Worth a Look 1.25.11

Anthony Bradley thinks the Missional Reformed movement is over. (I think not.)

So I’m beginning to wonder if it’s “a wrap” on this whole “missional” movement splash, especially in terms of church planting? I can definitely see the wind being taken out of the sails for some. I’ve been particularly curious about crickets I hear when bringing up a few issues among missional Christians.

Two noteworthy interviews with Michael Horton about his recently-released systematic theology. Check out the 9Marks interview as well as TGC’s.

Social television gaining in popularity:

“It’s the cyber-watercooler,” said Marie-José Montpetit, a research scientist at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics. “This is where television is going.”

Michael Gerson on two good arguments for civility- and passion – in politics:

With Americans shocked into reflection on the desperate, divisive tone of their politics, it is worth asking: Why, other than upbringing, should we be civil in the first place?

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5 Trends to Watch for in Evangelicalism: 2011-2020

The temptation in predicting trends is that we imagine God in Deistic fashion, as if he were uninvolved or absent in human affairs. But history is not an inevitable progression. God may choose to start a revival in the United States within the next ten years. He may allow the U.S. to wither from a nuclear attack. Who knows what the Lord has planned? We should never speculate about the future in a way that makes God seem distant and removed.

There is, however, something to be said for understanding the times in which we live. If we can discern contemporary trends in evangelicalism, we should consider their implications and trajectory for the coming years. Here are five trends to watch for:

1. Chastened Expectations of Culture Change through Politics

Evangelicals will be less inclined to focus our efforts on changing culture through the political process. Books like Culture Making by Andy Crouch, To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter, and Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson are already influential among thoughtful evangelical leaders. Younger evangelicals (on both the political right and left) are increasingly put off by the politicization of evangelicalism.

Evangelicals will continue to be socially aware and active – perhaps even more than in the past – but in different ways (art, literature, movies, etc.). And even our expectations in these areas will be chastened by a theologically-driven humility regarding how much change we can effect.

2. Growth of Evangelical-Style Prosperity Teaching in South America and Africa

The …

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Worth a Look 1.24.11

Q&A with Billy Graham:

Even through he struggles with his hearing, sight, and other health issues in his ninth decade, Billy Graham continued to do what he’s done with every American President since Harry Truman. Last year, he met and prayed with President Obama and in December, he met again with former President George W. Bush. But if he could go back and do anything over again, he told Christianity Today, he would have steered clear of politics.

10 foods that can help you sleep

Eating the right foods in the hours before you hit the hay may help you fall asleep faster, say experts, and even improve the quality of your sleep.

Words in the King James Version that now mean something different:

The following are just a few of the more than 500 words that could trip up modern readers of the King James Version, because they now mean something different—often very different!—than they did in the early 1600s when the KJV was being translated.

    accursed devoted, Josh 6:17, 18; 7:1, 11-13, 15; 22:20; 1 Chr 2:7. This one shocked me!
    addicted devoted, 1 Cor 16:15. And this one, though more understandable, could also cause considerable confusion in the modern reader.
    allow (1) approve, Luke 11:48; Rom 14:22; 1 Thess 2:4. (2) accept, Acts 24:15. (3) know, Rom 7:15. Just as with modern English, KJV terms can have two, three, or even more meanings. And all of them can be remote from our modern understandings.
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The Lord’s Prayer (Extended with Scriptures)

One of my favorite ways to pray the Lord’s Prayer is to fill each line with other related Scriptures. Pray with me:

Our Father in heaven

Everlasting Father of the fatherless,
Heaven is Your throne and the earth is Your footstool.

The heavens declare Your glory,
and the sky above proclaims Your handiwork.

O Father in Heaven…

Hallowed be Your Name

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
may Your Name be praised and be great among the nations!

Let Your glory be over all the earth!

Let heaven and earth praise You,
the seas and everything that moves in them.

Your Kingdom come

May all the ends of the earth remember and turn to You,
and all the families of the nations worship before You.

For kingship belongs to You;
You rule over the nations.

You are the strength of Your people –
the saving refuge of Your anointed!

Oh, save Your people and bless Your heritage!
Be our Shepherd and carry us forever!

You are our King, O God!
You are the King of all the earth!
Your throne is forever and ever.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Make us to know Your ways, O Lord.
Teach us Your paths.

Teach us to do Your will.
Let your good Spirit lead us on level ground.

Not our will, but Yours be done!

Give us this day our daily bread.

You, our God, will supply every need of ours
according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Give us neither poverty nor riches;
feed us with the food that is needful for us,
lest we be full and deny You and say, “Who …

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In Christ Alone – 10th Anniversary Arrangement

My favorite hymn:

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Trevin's Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. The war in the Middle East against Christians and why this important story is not being told

2. Thom Rainer on minister criticism: The Great Distraction to the Great Commission and how we should respond

3. Moody Publishers has launched a new blog called “Inside Pages” that will feature frequent giveaways as well as articles from authors and bloggers. I’ve got an article up there: “10 Steps Toward Reading Wisely for the Glory of God”

4. Six rhetorical secrets that made JFK’s inaugural speech a classic

5. Collin Hansen: The First Great Awakening: America in the 1730’s to 1740’s

6. The Ghost in the Shriver Obituaries (Again)

7. Russ Moore explains the “kingdom of God” to a fifteen-year-old

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Which Counterfeit Gospels are Most Prevalent Today?

The temptation when writing a book like Counterfeit Gospels is to focus on everything wrong with everyone else. I didn’t want to write that kind of book, as it didn’t strike me as particularly constructive.

Instead, I thought long and hard about the doubts and struggles of people in my congregation. I also looked within my own heart to see the kinds of counterfeits that appeal to me in one way or another.

Ultimately, I narrowed the list to six counterfeits. Then, I sought to hold them up to light of the biblical gospel in a way that exposed their flaws and made them less attractive to us.

Below is a list of counterfeits I considered. I’m interested to see which ones you think are most prominent. Take the poll below and let me know the six you would have chosen. Then, leave a comment telling me why you made the choices you did. I’m curious to see how your choices line up with the six I put in the book.

Therapeutic Gospel: Sin robs us of our sense of fullness. Christ’s death proves our worth as humans and gives us power to reach our potential. The church helps us find happiness.

Formalist Gospel: Sin is failing to keep church rules and regulations. Christ’s death gives me an agenda, so I can begin to follow the predescribed forms of Christianity.

Moralist Gospel: Our big problem is sins (plural) and not sin (nature). The purpose for Christ’s death is to give us a second chance and …

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Worth a Look 1.20.11

In the past week or so, I’ve been on the road a lot. My “Worth a Looks” have been slim. Here are some links to make up for the absence.

Bonhoeffer Brouhaha

Lots of discussion on Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. First, Alan Wolfe writes a thoughtful review for The New Republic that focuses on the relationship between faith and courage.

Secondly, Tim Challies shares a couple of reviews that criticize Metaxas’ book for making Bonhoeffer appear more “evangelical” than was actually the case. Challies thinks the critics may be right.

Carl Trueman weighs in, encouraging us to ask, “What can I learn from Bonhoeffer’s life?” instead of “Did Bonhoeffer believe just like us?” This discussion is not new. Bonhoeffer scholars have long debated about how evangelical or non-evangelical he was. Metaxas takes one position. Others find evidence in the other direction.

In case you’d like to hear different perspectives on Bonhoeffer’s beliefs, I recommend Albert Mohler’s interesting radio program (from 2006) about this very issue.

Other Noteworthy Links

Andy Crouch: “A World Without (Steve) Jobs”

Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?

My youngest brother, …

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It's a Big Thing to Know You're Small

During the Emerging Church conversation a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about mystery. What can we know? How can we know it? Should mystery be embraced?

When it comes to God, the Bible seems to simultaneously encourage and dispel mystery. The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and in it, he discloses himself. And yet, the Bible often reminds us of what we can’t know about God.

    The Apostle Paul tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).
    Many passages in Scripture portray God as distant, removed, altogether holy and distinct from us.
    The Psalmists praise his glory and greatness, saying that no one can fathom just how awesome he is (Ps. 145:3).
    His knowledge is too wonderful for us.
    His thoughts are so high and lofty that we cannot think them after him (Psalm 139:6).
    His ways are beyond finding out (Romans 11:33).

Verses like these clue us in on the fact that God is not like us. We were made in his image, yet we seek constantly to make him into ours. Coming to grips with the magnificence of God reminds us that we cannot fully comprehend him. If we could completely wrap our minds around God, then we might as well trade places with him. We would become God, and he would become a creation of our own imagination.

Seeking to understand God always leads us to a place of mystery.

Mysteries intrigue us. Many novels, short stories, television shows, and movies utilize the compelling genre of mystery, in which …

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Applying the Sermon on the Mount to Politics

What happens when a government official, emperor, or politician decides to rule according to the politics of Jesus? Peter Leithart powerfully describes the picture in Defending Constantine:

The whole of Jesus’ teaching and activity is abundantly instructive to rulers. Welcomed into the city of man, the Eucharistic city models and teaches rulers to rule like Jesus.

    “Turn the other cheek” gives instruction not about self-defense but about honor and shame. To slap someone on the right cheek, you have to slap back-handed, and a back-handed slap expresses contempt, not threat. Is this relevant to political ethics? Of course. The Roman Empire was built on a system of honor, insult and retaliation. Before Rome, Thucydides knew that wars arose from “fear, honor, and interest.” Remove retaliation and defense of honor from international politics, and a fair number of the world’s wars would have been prevented. There would have been a lot of slapping but not nearly so much shooting.
    The Eucharistic city would teach rulers to agree with their adversaries quickly, to defuse domestic and international disputes before they explode.
    What if rulers were instructed not to look at a woman lustfully? That would also prevent some wars, keep presidents busy with papers and things at their desks, protect state secrets, save money and divisive scandals. The church would insist that rulers be faithful to their wives and not put them away for expediency or a page girl (or boy).
    The church would insist on honesty and truth telling, urging rulers to speak the truth …

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