Monthly Archives: June 2010

A Blog Sabbatical

For the past two years, I have taken a break from blogging during the month of July. I have found that this time away has been spiritually and mentally refreshing. Though the short-term nature of the blogosphere makes an extended absence unwise from a blogger’s standpoint, my previous sabbaticals have been good for my soul.

So, during the month of July, no new material will appear on this blog. On August 1, Lord willing, I will resume writing daily here at Kingdom People.

Here are some reasons why this sabbatical is needed:

1. Need for Spiritual Refreshment

I always look forward to directing some of the time I would have spent blogging to more prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading.

2. Other Important Responsibilities Vying for My Time

    I am writing my next book, tentatively entitled Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hopes, to be published by Moody in April 2011. I look forward to sharing more about the project this fall. Right now, I covet your prayers, as my deadline is quickly approaching.
    The summer months are quiet around the church, but these are good months to consider the future and ask for the Lord’s guidance in planning for the fall.
    It’s summer, and my wife is home with the kids. I want to be a bigger help around the house this month. Also, our son is out of school, and our daughter just turned two. I want to play with them more.

3. Blogging can be addictive.

I do not want to be constantly …

Posted in Blog Sabbatical, Blogging | 5 Comments

Worth a Look 6.30.10

Pro-Abortion Former Solicitor General Predicts Supreme Court Will Overturn Roe v. Wade:

Walter Dellinger predicted the Supreme Court will eventually overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed 52 million abortions in the United States and has impacted other nations across the world. Dellinger’s comments are surprising as most abortion advocates don’t readily admit the day may come that the infamous decision will be struck down and states may be able to offer legal protection for women and unborn children.

Mike Wittmer on churches without borders:

Where does Westaby get the idea that it’s wrong to tell others they need Jesus?  Part of the answer may lie in the popular distinction between centered and bounded sets.  And here is where evangelical Christians need to be especially careful.

Why are some Christians jerks online?

Loving your neighbor might be simple, but it’s not easy. Maybe my neighbor is a jerk too. Maybe they hate God. Maybe they are actively and violently opposed to everything I believe. And showing them grace feels impossible. So instead of dealing with that, we get online and police people. We find small things to focus on that will distract us. I think God wants us to discuss the little stuff, but we make it an idol when we practice room cleaning Christianity at the exclusion of love. And we tend to become jerks.

A brain never to be detoxed:

Pom meets all the clinical definitions for addiction except that obscene images can never …

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Book Notes: Surprised By Grace / Hear No Evil

Some notes on two books I have read recently:

Surprised by Grace:
God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

Tullian Tchividjian
Crossway, 2010
Rating: **** ½

C.S. Lewis was surprised by joy. N.T. Wright is surprised by hope. Pastor Tullian Tchividjian is surprised by grace, particularly the grace he finds in the Old Testament story of Jonah.

Although the Bible condenses Jonah’s story into four brief chapters, Tchividjian digs deep into the text and emerges with a book full of gospel treasure. Contrasting Jonah’s tribal mindset with the missionary heart of God, Surprised by Grace places individual salvation and calling into a cosmic context of redemption that emphasizes the need for Christians to be overwhelmed daily by God’s grace toward rebels.

Tchividjian’s book combines insightful exegesis, pastoral wisdom, and personal passion. Art admirers will also enjoy the illustrations: fourteen famous artist renderings of Jonah throughout church history. (Click here to read an excerpt from this book.)

Hear No Evil:
My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost

Matthew Paul Turner
WaterBrook, 2010

Turner’s second memoir of sorts recounts his early years in the world of independent Baptists who frowned on contemporary music and any Christian outside their tight circle of influence. Hear No Evil traces his pathway into the heart of contemporary Christian music and reflects on the power of music to bring back memories and ignite in us a desire for transformation. A bit too meandering at times, this book has some funny moments, but suffers from a lack of overall direction.


Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments

Worth a Look 6.29.10

“One anothers” I can’t find in the New Testament:

Humble one another, scrutinize one another, pressure one another, embarrass one another, corner one another, interrupt one another…

John Piper’s marks of a spiritual leader:

The spiritual leader knows that ultimately the productivity of his labors rests in God and that God can do more while he is asleep than he could do while awake without God. He is not so addicted to work that he is unable to rest. He is a good steward of his life and health. He maximizes the totality of his labor by measuring the possible strains under which he can work without diminishing his efficiency of unduly shortening his life.

Christianity by the numbers

Writing tips from C.S. Lewis:

    Turn off the radio.
    Read good books and avoid most magazines.
    Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.
    Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.
    Be clear.
    Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.
    You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm.
    Know the meaning of every word you use.
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Gospel-Centrality: Resolutions to Ponder

This summer, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the need for our churches to be centered on the gospel. This resolution is worth pondering (and acting upon!), but the form of a resolution can cause one’s eyes to glaze over. Here is a different way of breaking down the concepts in the resolution. I’ve added the Scriptures, so you can spend some time meditating on the truths here.

Gospel Truth

We are, every one of us, sinners against God and, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, deserving of only condemnation.

    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

The gospel is the good news of salvation that reveals who Jesus is, what He has done, and why it matters.

    And he said to them, ”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)
    But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third …

Posted in Gospel | 4 Comments

Worth a Look 6.28.10

The need for impractical books:

There have been many times when we have faced problems that defied “how to” fixes.  In all those times, we needed the gloriously impractical books that gave us nothing to do, but told us of someone to trust and reminded us of his work for us and in us.

Often what God wants us to do is trust him, take steps of obedience and faith, and watch him work as we wait for him.  Only impractical books call me to the life of faith and patience.

Was there leadership in the ancient church? Michael Haykin says “yes”:

The key question for the early Christians was not whether to have leaders or not, but what kind of leaders? Leadership was a given. The key question was: What model of leadership was to be promoted?

The moon has 100 times more water than we thought:

“If we could take all the water which is locked up in the moon’s interior, it would make a one-meter-deep [one-yard-deep] ocean covering its entire surface…”

Garrison Keillor on the future of publishing:

18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.

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A Morning Prayer

Merciful Father, we thank You that in Your great faithfulness You kept watch over us during this past night. Strengthen and guide us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may use this new day and all the days of our life in holiness and righteousness. Grant that we in all our undertakings may always have Your glory foremost in our minds. May we always work in such a manner that we expect all results and fruits of our work from Your generous hand alone.

We ask that You will graciously forgive all our sins according to Your promise, for the sake of the passion and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Your grace we are heartily sorry for all our transgressions. Illumine our hearts, that we may lay aside all works of darkness and as children of light may walk in the light and live a new life in all godliness.

Bless the proclamation of Your divine Word here and in the mission fields. Strengthen all faithful labourers in Your vineyard.

We pray for those whom You have set over us, that as servants of You, the King of kings and Lord of lords, they may rule according to the calling You give them. Give endurance to all who are persecuted because of their faith and deliver them from their enemies. Destroy all the works of the devil. Comfort the distressed. Show Your mercy and help to all who call upon Your holy Name in sickness and other trials of life. …

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Why Are Christians on Earth? Spurgeon's Answer…

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here…

Had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection and have taken us to heaven at once.

Why then are we here? The answer is – We are here to…

    live unto the Lord
    and bring others to know his love.

We remain on earth

    as sowers to scatter good seed
    as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground
    as heralds publishing salvation

We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world.

We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life.

We are here as workers for him, and as “workers together with him.”

Let us see that our life fulfills its goal. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to the praise of the glory of his grace!

Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, 342 (adapted)

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 2 Comments

Trevin's Seven

1. Scot McKnight responds to the responses in Christianity Today regarding his cover story on how little theological value is in historical Jesus studies.

2. David Dockery’s summer reading list

3. Ed Stetzer on TBN? Yes, and the gospel too!

4. Jon Acuff on the differences between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day sermons

5. A review of the Philip Jenkins’ recent book Jesus Wars

6. Pray for Sono Harris and her family.

7. Here’s the audio / video from the 2010 Advance the Church conference. Can’t wait to hear these.

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Today I turn 29. A birthday is a good opportunity to reflect upon the past year and look forward to the next. Any birthday that ends in 9 is a good opportunity to look back on the previous decade.

My wife and I were talking recently about our twenties, and we realized that for me, this decade can be divided in half.

    Five years in Romania; five years in the States.
    Five years getting my bachelor’s degree; roughly five years getting my masters.
    Five years writing devotional thoughts and journal entries; five years writing a blog and (by the time I turn 30) two books.
    Five years serving Romanian churches; five years serving in the U.S.

As I get closer to closing out my twenties, I am filled with gratitude. Every now and then, I listen to the stories of guys my age who have recently gotten married, had kids, and are starting to find their way back to churches they left during their college years. I’ve seen others cry tears of remorse and regret at having wasted many years. Where did my twenties go? they ask. All the factors that the sociologists point to (the party scene, extended adolescence, employment difficulties) only reveal part of the story. Sin is what ultimately lowers the expectations for our generation.

But though that could have been my story, it’s not. So I’m thankful. I’m glad that God preserved me from wasting the past decade in the pursuit of fleeting pleasures. I get choked up when I think that God chose …

Posted in Personal | 12 Comments