Monthly Archives: February 2008

Spurgeon’s Prayer: I Am Yours

What a powerful prayer of dedication from Charles Spurgeon!

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Gospel Definitions: Scot McKnight

“The gospel is the work of God to restore humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community, for the good of others and the world.”

– Scot McKnight, Embracing Grace

“God loves you and everyone else and has a plan for us: the kingdom community.

But you and everyone else have a sin problem that separates you and everyone else from God, from yourselves, from one another, and from the good world God made for you.

The good news is that Jesus lived for you, died for you, was raised for you, and sent the Spirit for you – so you all can live as the beloved community.

If you enter into Jesus’ story, by repentance and faith, you can be reconnected to God, to yourself, to others, and to this world.

Those who are reconnected like this will live now as God’s community and will find themselves eternally in union with God and communion with others.

Those who preach this gospel will not deconstruct the church. Instead, they will participate in what God is doing: constructing the kingdom community even now.”

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Lord's Supper: Feast or Picnic?

“For there to be a new creation, the old self must know its weakness and die to its own prejudices, tastes, class structures, and personal desires. How can we share this eschatological feast if we don’t participate in displaying God’s future, in which all will be equally fed and we will all join together in universal praise? It seems to me that if we eat the body and blood of Christ in expensive churches without care for the hungry, the sacrament is no longer a foretaste of the feast to come, but a trivialized picnic to which not everyone is invited.”

- Marva Dawn

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The Village as Second Home

During my first few months living in Romania, the village became my second home, and one of the church families (the Miculas) became my second family.

After school on Fridays, I would travel by train to the village.

Friday nights, I would participate in a church-wide Bible study.

On Saturday mornings, we did work with the children from the church.

Saturday afternoons, we held youth services.

And of course, there were Sunday morning and evening services, with a youth service in between. I began spending Friday and Saturday nights in the village, at the Micula home.

The Micula family welcomed me with open arms. Brother Nelu and Sister Mariana had four children, three boys and a girl. Marius was my age. The twins, Alin and Florin were three years younger than me. Ela was the youngest, still in lower elementary. As the months went by, I began to feel as if I had a Romanian family. Marius, Alin and Florin were like my brothers, and Ela was like my sister. I looked forward to spending the weekends with them. It was always the high point of my week.

Adjusting to the rural conditions of the village often proved to be a challenge. Outhouses, wood-burning stoves, the absence of drinking water – I found myself adapting to a variety of new experiences, a new way of living that differed sharply from how I had lived all my life up until then. It was one thing to see poverty from a distance and to be taken by …

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In the Blogosphere

Registration for Band of Bloggers 2008 (right before the Together for the Gospel conference) is now open. I’m going. Are you? 

Read Timmy Brister on what churches can do in the midst of the housing crisis

Ed Stetzer on the growing and dying of denominations in the U.S.A. Stetzer believes there will be more Mormons than Methodists in 20 years. 

Tim Challies reviews Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Jesus, and then defends his critique of Driscoll’s language. Reid Monaghan has a more favorable review of Driscoll’s book.

Chuck Lawless on ministering in a difficult church

Leave it to corporate America to begin commercializing Lent. It’s a shame that more people in business pay attention to this holy season than people in evangelical churches.

Wondering what God’s will is for your life? Check out this post to make sure you’re not being held in emotional bondage to “guidance.”

Top Secret Lifeway Research Project revealed

Top Post this week at Kingdom People: Liberalism’s Impotency in Dealing with Guilt

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Clinton Lashes Out at Pro-Lifers

Watch the above video and you’ll see how former President Bill Clinton responds to a group of pro-life activists in the crowd. Dismissal. Sneering. And a clear evasion of the issues at stake.

Clinton argues that pro-lifers want to criminalize women and their doctors. Nothing could be further from the truth. The issue at stake is not who will we prosecute but who will the Law protect? Does the unborn child have a right to live? (Notice how Clinton turns away from the “Abortion Kills Children” sign.)

The abortion-rights arguments are beginning to lose their grip on the American public. Because of the progression of the pro-life cause, many politicians now speak of abortion as a “tragic choice” and clearly affirm the importance of reducing the number of abortions. (Hence Clinton’s contention that he did more to reduce abortion than the “hot air” of the pro-life movement.)

I encourage the Democrats who are pro-choice and find abortion “tragic” to back up their rhetoric with substantial legislation. 90% of women who see their unborn child on an ultrasound choose to keep the baby and refuse to go through with the abortion.

If Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (and even John McCain) are truly serious about reducing the “tragedy” of abortion, why don’t they propose legislation requiring a woman to have an ultrasound before an abortion? After all, a woman should be informed about any medical procedure, especially one that may have emotional repercussions. An argument against the ultrasound law is ultimately an argument against science, against better …

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Book Review: Studies in Matthew

Writing a scholarly commentary on Matthew must be a very difficult task. Matthew’s length (28 chapters) poses a problem for the scholar who wants to keep the commentary to one volume. How much attention should each verse receive? How detailed should the commentary be? How many variant interpretations need to be mentioned?

A single commentary cannot possibly answer all of the questions that the biblical text raises. That’s why supplemental books can be helpful and at times necessary for correctly intepreting Scripture.

Dale Allison’s Studies in Matthew is a supplemental book that brings together several of Allison’s essays on Matthew. The book serves as a resource for the tougher passages of the Gospel, so that one can dig deeper than the average commentary will allow.

In this volume, Allison seeks to answer various questions and problems that surface upon one’s reading of Matthew. One chapter deals with the “star” that led the wise men to Jesus. Was it a “star” in the astronomical sense, or is this a biblical allusion to an angel? Allison trots out a handful of early church interpreters in order to make his case for seeing the star as an angel.

Another chapter probes the difficult promise in the Beatitudes that the pure in heart will “see God.” What does this mean? How is this possible? How has this verse been interpreted through the centuries?

Later chapters deal with the structure of the Sermon on the Mount, how early chapters in Matthew foreshadow the Passion narrative, and how a variety …

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Book Review: Culture Shift

It may be hard to believe that Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth is Albert Mohler’s first book. After all, few evangelical thinkers are as prolific as Mohler, both through his daily blog and weekday radio show.

Culture Shift gives the reader 20 of Mohler’s best essays, covering a wide variety of topics. Mohler speaks of the relationship between American politics and Christian faith. He spends several chapters on the relationship between Christianity and public law, exposing the myth that our nation’s laws could ever be completely “secular.” He covers many of the hot-button issues of our day, including the nation’s shifting opinions regarding abortion.

Don’t read this book without a pencil or highlighter in hand. Mohler has a way with words, and you will want to come back to some of his hard-hitting statements.

Though Culture Shift is a commendable book, I was disappointed to discover that it is little more than a “Best Of” collection of Mohler’s blog posts and essays. I expected a weighty work that transcends the immediate/urgent nature of his daily writings. It serves its purpose as a current commentary on some of today’s important issues, which means that much of the book might be out-of-date within a few years.

That said, I’m glad this book exists. I realize that not everyone follows Dr. Mohler’s blog and radio show, so these essays will be new to most people. Nowhere else can you find some of Mohler’s best work in book form. I look forward to passing this book along to some …

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O Brother, Where Art Thou? How Older Southern Baptists Can Mentor the Younger Generation

A few weeks ago, I offered some thoughts on the Generation Gap in the Southern Baptist Convention - specifically, how we might better involve younger leaders in the Convention matters. One of my suggestions was that we “get together” and that older leaders reach out and actively mentor younger leaders. Just how can this be done?

1. Start with occasional meetings and see where they go.

Most young pastors I know would be thrilled to spend time with an older pastor. Developing a mentoring relationship will not happen overnight. But once-a-month meetings would be a step in the right direction. Having the telephone/email line of communication open will also help.

For young pastors or older pastors a little gun-shy of committing too much too soon, a one-time meeting isn’t a bad idea either. Not every mentoring relationship is going to click. The one-time meeting might be a good start because there is no commitment beyond the initial meeting. If additional meetings follow, great! If not, the one-time meeting is not a failure.

Don’t be scared away from the idea of adding weekly/monthly meetings to your already-filled-up plate. Meet when you can and let God use the counsel of godly men to help you in life.

2. Meet with pastors in your area across generational lines.

At the state level, one can meet with pastors from the same area or pastors of all ages who are interested in similar ministries. Many states can and should take the initiative to link pastors up with other pastors. If you …

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Gospel Definitions

What is the gospel?

We claim to preach it. We want to live according to it. We have been commissioned to spread it.

I am currently collecting “Gospel Definitions” from a wide variety of scholars, pastors, teachers and authors. Expect to see a “Gospel Definition” appear once every few days on this blog.

The fact that I quote someone’s “Gospel Definition” does not necessarily indicate my approval of the definition.

I hope that as our generation wrestles with the important issue of clearly defining “the gospel,” this series will be of some help.

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