Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What would Jack say?

C.S. Lewis has some helpful advice when considering what to read next. There is always some new book coming out that "everyone must read" and packages itself as some new take. Lewis cautions the reader with some very timely words:

"A new book is still on trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o'clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said... The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity ("mere Christianity" as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

The above quotation is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis' introduction to Athanasius' classic work, On the Incarnation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

David Platt on Practical Universalism

There has been a lot said recently about Hell, annihilationism, and universalism. David Platt gives one of the most helpful responses. It is one thing to debate theology from the bleachers but quite another to get on the "playing field" and put that theology into practice.

David Platt on Universalism, Rob Bell, Love Wins, Heaven and Hell from waterbrook multnomah on Vimeo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

When to baptize a new convert (particularly children)?

3/28, 1:36pm- Links have been corrected- my apologies

Have you wrestled with the baptism debate? No, I'm not speaking about the debate between paedobaptists and credobaptists. I'm addressing mainly those who already hold a view of "the baptism of disciples alone" (as Fred Malone has coined it). The debate is on how to apply this principle. Should a professing Christian, of any age, be baptized as soon as possible? Should there be a period of evaluation and further teaching? If so, how long? If evidence or fruit of repentance and faith must be evident then how much fruit?

I've wrestled with this quite a bit. On one hand I do not want to give false assurance to a false convert. I do not want someone confusing the public profession of faith with actual faith. On the other hand I do not want to require more than Jesus requires or that Scripture requires. This is a tough one. I'd love to get your input. You can post comments (be patient though, they aren't immediately posted to filter spam). Below I've posted links to arguments on each side of the issue. Thoughts?

Argument for withholding baptism from children

Argument against withholding baptism from children

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Three Years of Sanctification

Three years ago today I preached my first sermon as the new pastor of Memorial Baptist Church. Blair and I began our relationship and our ministry with the saints here. It hit me in the shower this morning and I've been a bit reflective. The Lord has been so gracious over these last three years to sanctify me. He has deepened my love and dependance on His Word. He has taught me humility (with much more learning to do). He has sat me at the hospital or nursing home bedside of many precious saints. He has allowed me to glean from the wisdom of others. He has surrounded me with dear friends. He has strengthened my marriage. He has taught me how to laugh and when to weep. He has challenged me and enabled me to endure through difficulty. He has reminded me to rejoice at the work of His hands. He has privileged me to see the power of His gospel and taught me to trust in it. The Lord's lessons are painful at times but always produce joy. I'm not certain what the years ahead will present but I'm certain the Lord has purpose in all things. He will instruct. He will lead. He will be glorified.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (3-22)

  • Just saw this link to an actual baseball player's contract this morning over on Challies' blog. Love this website and this is a cool link for baseball junkies.
  • If you've not kept up with the firestorm on the blogosphere over Rob Bell's new book Love Wins here is a summary by the Resurgence Blog and the official statements by Bell's church here. The blind devotion to Rob Bell by so many Christians and churches (particularly Southern Baptist-- you too Lifeway) has been and continues to be very concerning. I'm in the early stages of planning a mini-series on the doctrines of heaven and hell since there is so much un-Biblical information being lapped up out there.
  • How can I intentionally disciple my kids? That is a question every Christian parent ought to take seriously. It doesn't "just happen" anymore than learning mathematics just happens. Check out Brian Croft's suggestions for disciple-making at home.
  • Grant Hill's slam dunk on Jalen Rose.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Things we take for granted

I was watching Anthony Bordain's No Reservations the other day and was facinated as he toured Cambodia. Peering into another world that has undergone such great calamity (Japan comes to mind in this moment as well) I thought about the many luxuries I have that I often forget are luxuries. So here is a list of things we (people on average in a country like America) take for granted...

1. Bottled Water: There are countless people groups whose regular drinking and bathing water are dirty and contaminated. I can go to Wal-Mart and by a pack of purified drinking water for a couple bucks and I can buy it whenever I want-- it is rarely out of stock.

2. A Ream of Paper: When the books of the Bible were written it was a major undertaking to acquire and preserve something to write it on. When the printing press came along hundreds of years later it was extremely expensive to print on paper. You can go buy a whole ream of paper for a few dollars and fill them with all your ideas and creativity. You can throw all that away and buy another ream.

3. Mental Photographs: God gave us two incredibly intricate eyes to take in the beauty and wonder of His creation and to absorb the experiences of life. Most people don't look at beautiful things or take in special occasions with their eyes anymore. They view life through a cell phone camera. They reduce the experience to a small digital screen so they can "keep it" (we like making things ours) and not view it later. Seriously, how many of you go back and study those pics and vids from your cell phone? At best you post it on Facebook for others to ooh and ahh but nothing replaces just being in the moment and absorbing the experience.

4. Loose Change: It is easy to toss or disregard- especially pennies. We don't like keeping up with it. Bills are getting inconvenient too so we such use plastic. Those coins add up though. In the first year of our marriage my wife and I had a loose change jar and a year or so later used what added up to around $300 for vacation money.

5. 43 peaceful transitions of Presidential power: In the USA we've had presidents assasinated and shamefully leave office but the Republicans and Democrats have never rolled tanks into DC to take power. There's never been the kind of rioting we've recently seen in Egypt and never has our government completely changed from the Democratic Republic the Founding Fathers established. That is pretty amazing and historically unheard of.

6. Meat: I went to a local steak house the other day and ordered a 10 oz ribeye with fries, salad, and unlimited rolls for less than $15. My mind cannot fathom how many cows our nation goes through in a day considering all the meat sold and consumed in our country. I'm not complaining- I'm a meat-lover! Still, that is a luxury of luxuries compared with other countries.

7. Writing Things Down: This is more of something we don't do anymore but should. We send emails, we tweat, we blog, and we text. We don't write much anymore but there is something about writing down an idea or journaling an experience and keeping it bound or in a notebook for future reflection that cannot be captured in the type and post age. Have you ever gone back and read what was posted on your Facebook a year ago. Sometimes I need more than 140 characters to flesh out my thoughts.

8. The Here and Now: We can spend a lot time planning for and pining after the future and the things we want to do. Stop and enjoy where God has put you now. Those people around you are just passers-by. There will be a time when even your dearest friends and family are not around (whether by change in geography or by death). Yet we whisk through life chasing after the next big thing. Don't be in such a hurry. Relish the here and now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (3-15)

  • Do you believe in the doctrine of definite atonement? I do. Here is an example of this doctrine being fleshed out in an evangelistic encounter.
  • Hands-down this is a boy's dream bedroom... my wife already told me no. (HT: Challies)
  • When should a church exclude visitors? Here is one view.
  • If you like Iain Murray and like church history you will like these sermons and lectures.
  • What have I got on my iPod right now? As I have opportunity I'm listening to the excellent series through Mark's Gospel that Jim Hamilton is preaching now at Kenwood Baptist Church. Here are the church's sermon files.
  • Below is an old video of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones giving a biographical portrait of George Whitefield.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Back on Facebook

Recently I got back on Facebook. This is my third go around. The first time was back when Facebook was really cool- there was no such thing as Farmville and you had to have a .edu email address to get an account. Obviously because it was cool it was not a fit for me as I couldn't figure it out, didn't want to waste time trying to, didn't see a purpose, and figured it was a passing fad. Clearly I missed that one.

The second time around- not that long ago- I got up to about 500 friends when I realized it was too much of a distraction (my poor discipline, not Zuckerberg's fault). Plus many of these people I barely knew, would never really know, and frankly wasn't too interested in knowing. I don't mean to sound haughty but how many people can we really know?-- and I'm just not building friendship with females not my wife (couple friends are different). On top of that all these non-friend Friends were filling up the News Feed so I couldn't network or really maintain contact with those I wanted to keep up with (not to mention all the Farmville-esque junk). Oh and one more thing... I accepted all these friend requests from those who used to be in my youth groups only to see their licentious lifestyles flaunted on a regular basis. That was really grieving. So I deleted my account (which FB makes complicated to do).

Now I'm back but with rules. I can easily be distracted so I'm working on limiting my time on FB. Most of my posts are easily updated via Twitter without having to get all caught up in the FB happenings. I log in two or three times a day to check my friends. I've limited my friend list too. You must either be my wife, my mom, my grandma, or a dude to get on the list. I don't condemn having opposite sex friends on FB but for now at least I'm just not going to do it. Mainly I want to stay connected to fellow brothers in ministry (pastors and laymen) so I can hear what the Lord is doing in their lives, pray for them, and just stay in touch.

I realize this post borders on narcissism, I mean why should you care why I am back on FB?? I posted this for two reasons. One, perhaps there is a brother or sister out there who, like me, struggling with disciplining time and these tips will help or encourage you. Two, I need accountability and posting it to the world wide web holds my feet to the fire.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Canon of Theologians- February Report

In case you missed it and care I'm working through various writings of theologians throughout history- my canon of theologians (to borrow Mark Dever's phrase). It is sad to me when Christians today think church history is only the last 40 years (or worse, the last 40 days). Most of what is written today has been written before in one form or another-- that goes for good theology and bad theology. So it is helpful to see how Biblical doctrine has been taught throughout the centuries by faithful teachers. Now I'm a few days late in posting on February's theologian but I read through Tertullian's On Idolatry. He was a Latin Church Father who lived in the 2nd-3rd centuries.

I found Tertullian's essay On Idolatry very convicting, challenging, and encouraging. Much of what he said could easily have been written today and sound very contemporary. He opens the essay by emphasizing the problem of idolatry, "The principle charge against the human race, the world's deepest guilt, the all-inclusive cause of judgment, is idolatry." He essentially argues that the nature of all sin is idolatry which "defrauds God, denying him his proper honors and conferring them to others." Tertullian then begins exposing various forms of idolatry. A lot of the things he hits have to be thought through to consider a more contemporary parallel (ex. he rebukes the guys who train gladiators but are still embraced in the church). There is however great instruction here and he draws from Scripture throughout (be aware though there are apocryphal books he considered canonical). It is especially helpful how Tertullian brings Scripture to bear on his culture and considered how Christians ought to be set apart from the world. There are so many ways that we blend in and are lured to the feet of idols. We need to take this as seriously as this ancient theologian did.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (3-1)