Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Lost Art of Restraint

One of the best words of advice I’ve received as a blogger is this: “Hold back, Trevin. You don’t have to weigh in on every controversial issue. Neither do you need to respond to every negative comment. Exercise restraint.”

That’s a good word, and it’s one I’ve heeded many times. When the blog world erupts in controversy over an issue,  I often ask friends for counsel before entering the discussion. There’s a time to speak up, and there’s a time to hold back. Unfortunately, our world seems to know only of “speaking up.”

My family recently received a promotion from our cable company which gave us cable for six months. How nice to see the news channels again! I thought. A few days later, I was already exhausted from the war of words spilling from the television speakers into our living room. How did I ever watch this?

In the midst of the television commotion, one host stands out from the crowd. Larry King asks penetrating questions in a polite manner, but he never pretends to be unbiased. If you look at how he frames his questions, you can figure out his personal views rather quickly. Still, Larry is always respectful. When he has multiple guests, they don’t talk over one another. Larry doesn’t play the role of umpire between extremists on every side. He keeps the tone civil.

That’s probably why his ratings are down. People must prefer Jerry-Springer political shows that degenerate into a shouting match between sensationalist guests. So now, Larry …

Posted in Life & Culture, Politics | 4 Comments

Worth a Look 11.22.10

Lots of discussion regarding the ETS meeting last week, and particularly the plenary sessions which included a conversation between Tom Schreiner and N.T. Wright:

The tyranny of innovation:

We’re also singular for having wrested moments of purposeless peace from amidst the brutal struggle of living on Earth. Daydreaming, idling, flights of fancy and curiosity: these too have merit, even if they don’t cure cancer or make a mobile app a little bit friendlier. If our every action is put to the test of “world-changing,” we risk making tools of ourselves.

Is marriage becoming obsolete? (HT: Joe Carter)

Marriage is increasingly optional and could be on its way to obsolescence,according to a survey of more than 2,600 Americans that examines changing attitudes about relationships today. Among the 2,691 adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center last month, 39% say marriage is becoming obsolete, up from 28% who responded to the same question posed in 1978 by Timemagazine, which participated in the survey.

Posted in Worth a Look | 2 Comments

Spirit of God, Breathe on Us

O blessed Spirit of God,
the administrator of Jesus Christ,
breathe on your church
and let the inspiration of the Almighty enter it!

Let us feel that you are a presence,
a presence that can be known,
a presence that will comfort,
a presence that will protect,
a presence that will shine on heaven
and make it glitter like diamonds,
a presence that will shine on death
and make it a portal of glory.

So, Spirit of God, breathe on us!

- B.H. Carroll (adapted)

Posted in Prayers | 2 Comments

Truth in Love

Truth without love is dogmatism.
Love without truth is sentimentality.
Speaking the truth in love is Christianity.

Bob Russell

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 1 Comment

Trevin's Seven

Links for your weekend reading:

1. Donald Whitney: 10 ways to improve your worship service

2. The line between politics and entertainment is increasingly blurred. Sarah Palin (star of a new reality show) is seriously considering a presidential run, as is Donald Trump (of The Apprentice fame). Now I’d definitely tune into that primary debate, but I don’t think I want either one in the White House.

3. Tim Stafford, reporting on Lausanne, points out two blind spots in the planning of the event.

4. Justin Taylor outlines Tom Schreiner’s ETS paper on N.T. Wright’s view of justification. I appreciate the gracious manner in which Schreiner mounts a case against Wright’s theology at this point.

5. CJ Mahaney on how an athlete can cultivate humility

6. Tea Partying like it’s 1860 (HT)

7. The Cast of Home Alone 20 years later

Posted in Trevin's Seven | 1 Comment

"Forgive Me" or "Excuse Me"?

C.S. Lewis:

There is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.”But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.” If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.

Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your action needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.

What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And …

Posted in Christianity, Counseling | 3 Comments

Worth a Look 11.18.10

“You’re Fooling Yourself”:

There’s loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin’s first casualties. It’s hard to admit, but true none the less: sin reduces all of us to fools. And the fact is that no one is more victimized by your foolishness than you are…

What does foolishness look like? Here are four of its most significant aspects.

9 Ways to Winterize Your Car

More outrage over the TSA’s new procedures. Andy Crouch weighs in. Ed Stetzer lists four reasons we should resist. He writes:

I do not get much into causes– they take way too much energy and produce little change. However, I do think that there are times to stand up– and I think this is one of those times.

Regarding the new TSA scanners… Tim Challies believes putting our faith in technology can be idolatrous:

Humans are prone to idolize technology, to put our trust in it, to believe that it is the first and best place to go when dealing with our problems. And ironically, this is especially true when it comes to problems caused by other technology.

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Keep the Lamps Burning

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning!” – Jesus, to the disciples (Luke 12:35)

At nightfall, over Goshen fell a stillness that only increased the Israelites’ anticipation of God’s promised deliverance. With the smell of fresh lamb’s blood still in the streets, all Israel’s families shut themselves in their homes and remembered Moses’ instruction to be prepared at any moment. The people were to be dressed and ready for the Exodus. And Moses added: “Keep your lamps burning.”

Thousands of years later, Jesus told his disciples to stay dressed for action and to keep their lamps burning. The Great Exodus was about to take place.

But this time, God was not going to take down an Egyptian Pharaoh and set his people free from physical slavery. He was going to deliver them from slavery to sin and conquer a greater enemy: Satan – the accuser himself. The disciples were instructed to stay alert and ready for the moment when God’s great Exodus would take place.

Two thousand years more and we find ourselves in the final chapters of the history book written by God himself. Once again, Jesus’ words apply to us. We must be ready for the final Exodus – when Jesus will return to earth, raise the dead, judge the wicked and vindicate his people.

This time, Christ will not be coming to inaugurate his kingdom, but to consummate it. Paul tells us all creation is groaning in anticipation of that Day – the day when God will right …

Posted in Devotional Thoughts, Jesus | 1 Comment

Worth a Look 11.17.10

Justification to take center stage among evangelical scholars:

This week a host of evangelical scholars will gather in Atlanta for the 62nd annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The plenary theme is justification by faith.

A great review of an important new book, America’s Four Gods:

According to Baylor University professors Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, the real war in American society is not between atheists and theists, but between people who have differing conceptions of the divine.

Ben Witherington reviews John Grisham’s The Confession:

I have been a fan of John Grisham for a long time, and I have read most of his ouevre, and have often wanted him to bring in more characters with genuine Christian faith…If you were hoping for this as well, then look no further than the latest of his legal novels—- The Confession, which features a Lutheran minister caught in the stickiest of ethical wickets to say the least.

FaceBook is going after Gmail:

Here’s our question: do users really want a e-mail address? Would they actually use it in conjunction or in place of their current e-mail addresses?

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The NIV 2011 Forces a Choice

I’ve spent some time looking over the recently revised New International Version of Scripture. The online version has been available for two weeks now.

NIV readers who had philosophical misgivings about the TNIV (primarily because of its rendering of the text in a gender-neutral manner) will be happy to see that some of the more controversial revisions in the TNIV have been modified. Still, the NIV 2011 appears to retain its overall commitment to a gender-neutral translation philosophy.

I don’t want to use this space to get into a debate about the merits of gender-neutral translations. I’ve read through the TNIV on several occasions. I’m a big fan of The Bible Experience as a way of listening to the Bible being read (or better said, “performed”). In seminary, I was required to read books on both sides of the discussion. Good brothers (or should I say, brothers and sisters?) may disagree sharply about translation philosophy. Yet surely we can agree that a person’s conviction on this matter should not cause us to look upon one another with scorn.

The problem I see with the NIV 2011 is that the publisher (Zondervan) seems to be putting churches and church leaders in a position where they are forced to make a choice. A few years ago, upon considering the resistance from some evangelicals toward the TNIV, Zondervan assured Bible-readers that the 1984 NIV would remain available. But no such assurance is given now. In fact, the publisher has expressly indicated the …

Posted in Church Issues | 81 Comments