Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meaning and Machinery

G.K. Chesterton:
So the truth is that the difficulty of all the creeds of the earth is not as alleged in this cheap maxim: that they agree in meaning, but differ in machinery. It is exactly the opposite. They agree in machinery; almost every great religion on earth works with the same external methods, with priests, scriptures, altars, sworn brotherhoods, special feasts. They agree in the mode of teaching; what they differ about is the thing to be taught. Pagan optimists and Eastern pessimists would both have temples, just as Liberals and Tories would both have newspapers. Creeds that exist to destroy each other both have scriptures, just as armies that exist to destroy each other both have guns.

Arminian Gift

For those of you who have Arminians in your life (they are everywhere!), TBNN has a special gift you can give them. Read about it here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Keller on Humility

This is classic Tim Keller. A true understanding of the Gospel, he says, will lead us to true humility. But it's said much more easily than it is done. He writes
Innumerable Christmas devotionals point out the humble circumstances of Jesus' birth—among shepherds, in a crude stable, with a feed trough for a bassinet. When Jesus himself tried to summarize why people should take up the yoke of following him, he said it was because he was meek and humble (Matt. 11:29). Seldom, however, do we explore the full implications of how Jesus' radical humility shapes the way we live our lives every day.
He goes on:
Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less, as C. S. Lewis so memorably said. It is to be no longer always noticing yourself and how you are doing and how you are being treated. It is "blessed self-forgetfulness."

Humility is a byproduct of belief in the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we have a confidence not based in our performance but in the love of God in Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). This frees us from having to always be looking at ourselves. Our sin was so great, nothing less than the death of Jesus could save us. He had to die for us. But his love for us was so great, Jesus was glad to die for us.
Read the whole thing. Please.

Newsreader: Awesome

One Sentence Movie Reviews v.2

  1. Hancock: Love Peter Berg, hated this movie.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: I'm not surprised that Disney is dumping Walden Media and the Narnia movies after this mediocre release; unfortunate.
  3. There Will Be Blood: Truly remarkable; Citizen Kane lite.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Profit from the Coming Rapture

So awesome. I honestly thought it was real at first. Description:

Are the end times near? Is the Rapture really just around the corner? Could Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson possibly be right? About 1 billion people among us believe, yes, absolutely.

And that means one thing: investment opportunities!

For those who are not as expertly versed in the Book of Revelation, Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman, authors of the bestselling Yiddish with Dick and Jane, helpfully offer both illumination and advice: What exactly is the Rapture, anyway? How is it different from the Tribulation? Who are the Antichrist, the Four Horsemen, and the 144,000 male virgins, and what do they want? And, most important, how can I make money during the 7 years of societal breakdown before Armaggedon?

Taking the familiar form of a how-to investment guide, HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE COMING RAPTURE instructs those readers who will certainly be left behind (Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, less ardent Protestants, and many more) on how to exploit the inevitable demise of the world in order to make a tidy profit. Sure, the rivers and seas will run with blood, locusts will swarm, mountains will move all over the place, and famine will strike. But for the five billion of us left behind, the post-Rapture world will be a time of even more unique investment opportunities.

HT: Neatorama

Saturday, December 27, 2008

God, Suffering and Peace

Unbelievably powerful:



"It wasn't easy. It wasn't what I wanted to happen...Am I upset with God? No. Because God knows. He's in control. If that's what he wants for my life, then that's what I want for my life."

HT: Z

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All I Want For Christmas is This Guy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not So Holy Night

Blasphemy: I hate the song "O Holy Night." It has been done so poorly, so many times. In that spirit, I give to you, as a gift for reading this blog, Not So Holy Night (with a soothing background at no extra charge).

video

Spiritually Significant Films

50 of them, complied by Joe Carter. A sampling:
1. Ponette (1996) (This story of a child grieving over the death of her mother is one of the most devastating explorations of loss ever captured on film. Four year old Victoire Thivisol, delivering one of the best performances of any actor ever, shows the profundity of a child’s faith.)

14. Beauty and the Beast (1996)

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

38. Pulp Fiction

45. Spider-Man 2 (2004) (Oddly enough, this film presents a the comic-book superhero as the best allegorical representation of Christ since Aslan.)
See the whole list.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Penn on Proselytizing



HT: Z

Rick Warren Firestorm

Sounds like Warren is getting attacked from both sides. I suspect he is not surprised. Read Al Mohler on Warren's giving of the inaugural invocation here. It is, as usual, excellent.

My friend pointed out to me that Warren is not the first evangelical to do this. Billy Graham gave Bill Clinton's inaugural invocation. Though many would disagree with me (including Mohler), I think that what Graham did and what Warren is going to do is right and good. I think there is a difference between giving an invocation at the DNC and the presidential inauguration. Praying at the DNC is endorsement. Warren never would have done that. But now that Barack has won, Warren is saying, "You are my president and I will pray for you." That is not, by any means, endorsement.

That's my take, but I could be wrong. And, ultimately, warren has to make this decision by himself before God. Pray for him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowl This

Bowling will be the only sport in heaven.

Rick Warren Will Give Obama's Inaguration Invocation

Here. It's hard to know how to respond. Here is Doug Groothuis' response:
But the real issue is how an evangelical pastor can bless the most pro-abortion president in history, a man who opposes the ban on partial birth abortions, the man who would sign the Freedom of Choice Acts (which would eliminate all restrictions on abortion in all fifty states), a man who opposed a born-alive law in his home state that would have protected babies that survived botched abortions. One could go on. (Obama's supposedly open web page is routinely deleting posts that challenge his pro-abortion extremism.)

If Warren called Obama to repent, that would be on thing. But blessing this man and these policies is simply wrong. We need a prophet. What would John the Baptist say on this auspicious occasion? Of course, his type would never be invited. They would be in prison. But the spotlight is not always the place of honor.
I understand where he is coming from. Though I am not as certain that Warren is "blessing this man and these policies" by praying, there is part of me that wants to feel outrage at this. But I also know Warren is quite a deft person. Even if he is selling out some (though not nearly as
blatantly as DM), Warren is deft and calculated, hoping it will help change the mind and heart of Barack Obama. That has been my prayer since he was elected. May God change him, may God make him into the champion for the unborn.

Don't Waste Your Sexuality

Theology for Kids

Check out these reviews of "theology" books for kids in the new Themelios Journal. Good stuff for Christmas, or any time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lazy=Awesome

Monday, December 15, 2008

I am Gonna Miss This Guy



1. George Bush is part mongoose.
2. How to attack with shoes: Remove one show, throw. Bend down to remove other shoe, throw.
3. Anyone find it odd, and a bit disconcerting, how long it took for Bush's security to react?
4. Mr. President, I am going to miss you.

Reflections on Facebook

Check out this helpful article by Justin Buzzard on online social life and, specifically, facebook. He has some helpful, Christ-centered guidelines. Justin writes:
Like most other new things, Christians tend to either embrace Facebook uncritically, or retreat from it and condemn its use. Embracing technology uncritically—the “bear hug,” as I call it—means using a technology without thinking through its impact on yourself and others. The “cold shoulder”—ignoring/retreating from/condemning a technology—is often driven by misguided fears and shallow biblical interpretation. While the problems with embracing uncritically are more easily discerned, giving a technology like Facebook the cold shoulder also has its problems.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Albums

Love Christmas music. Love many interpretations of it. But, honestly, most of it blows. The key is to reinvent the tunes, but not too much. Case in point, Sara Groves. She is my fav Christian singer/songwriter. But her new Christmas album is pretty bad. She is so concerned with making the songs sound new that it doesn't feel Christmasy...at all. She could have made an amazing album, like Shawn Colvin's.

Anyway, here are three great new albums that are worth picking up:

1. Sojourn: Advent Songs. Killer stuff; varied, interesting, advent focused. Esp. "Glory Be." iTunes, Amazon, Free.

2. Fernando Ortega: Christmas Songs. Usually can't stand his stuff. But this is a great
Christmas album. Quiet, relaxed, sounds like Christmas. Some of the instruments border on cheesy, but that doesn't take away from the record. iTunes, Amazon.

3. Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb of God. This isn't new, but will always be on my list. A true history of Christmas, Peter puts scripture to song like no other. My kids will grow up listening to this record. iTunes, Amazon.

Driscoll on Silence

He writes:
It was a very normal day until I realized that I was actively destroying my own soul.

The day began with my alarm jolting me awake. I immediately turned on my BlackBerry to hear it chime for each voicemail and email that had been left while I slept. I stepped into the shower where I listened to my waterproof radio. I then turned on the television to catch some news while I dressed. Driving to work I tuned in to some talk-radio banter.

Throughout the day the chime on my laptop kept ringing as email arrived, and my cell phone continued to vibrate and ring on my hip. Before long, I needed a break, and I put on my iPod to go for a walk.

On the drive home, I again listened to the radio in an effort to drown out the blaring horns of frustrated fellow commuters. After eating dinner and tucking my five children into bed, I turned on the television to watch shows I had recorded on my Tivo.

As I drifted off to sleep, it dawned on me that I had not had one minute of silence during my entire day. It was possible, I realized, that I could live the rest of my life without ever again experiencing silence.

In that moment, God deeply convicted me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Noise, Hurry, and Crowds. I remembered the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds...Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
Read the whole thing.

The Most Spectacular Sin

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sound Words on Newsweek

On the debate over gay marriage, Prop 8, and Newsweek's entry in the foray, Jonathan Dodson has some sound words:
Wherever you are on this issue, you need to be there not by blind conviction but by careful and deliberate analysis of both sides of the issue. I have friends who are for and friends who are against. I have gay friends who think it is ridiculous to use the Bible to support gay marriage and friends who think it is silly to use the Bible to rail against gay marriage. And herein lies one of the key problems, those friends are “using the Bible” not faithfully interpreting it. Whatever your conviction is, if you use the Bible, don’t. Instead, interpret it as you would want your blog, paper, or will interpreted—word by word, aimed at getting the author’s intention, not in sneaking in your bias.

Newsweek offers one reading of the Bible. Get Religion offers another reading. Both pieces are pretty inflammatory and thin on reading the Bible closely. If you read both, I hope you'll be convinced to read the Bible itself. Grab a Bible, turn to the Concordance, and look up “marriage” and “homosexuality.” Then read two scholarly treatments of the issue here and work through some conclusions. Do it with integrity; do it in love, please.

Kitty is Not George Bush Sr.



HT: Neatorama

The Cycle of Porn Addiction

Over at the Breaking Free blog, Luke Gilkerson reports on biblical counselor Phil Monroe's description of the cycle of any addiction. Most people don't do meth, but a lot of people look at porn. Read the description of the categories in the illustration below here. Don't hesitate to get help if you need it. Porn addiction, while subtle, can ruin relationships and destroy lives.

Books for 2008

Just in time for Christmas, writers and bloggers are coming out with their best books of the year lists. Tim Challies, a prominent reformed Christian blogger and book reviewer, came out with his today. Here.

I hope to have a list up within a few days too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Combatting Spiritual Drought

Though this advice from Craig Groeschel comes from a pastor's perspective, I think it is helpful for everyone:

I am as susceptible to spiritual droughts as the next pastor. Because I know my vulnerabilities, I work hard to keep my passion alive.

Here are a few things I try to revisit:

  • See God working in another part of the world. God is so much bigger than what we see week in and week out and our churches.
  • Visit an impoverished place at least once a year. Some moms choose what to feed their children. Some moms have to choose which children to feed. Putting yourself in a place that crushes your heart keeps the passion alive.
  • Fasting. I don’t know why fasting works, but it does.
  • Develop friendships with non-Christians. Caring about people far from God helps keep me closer to God.
  • Devoted time to prayer. If I don’t spend time with my wife away from all the other pressures, it is hard for us to stay close. My relationship with God is the same. If I don’t spend time with Him, how can I know Him?
  • Give extravagantly. Something about giving big breaks the grip of this world and connects me closer to God.
  • Cry. For a number of years, I didn’t cry. I’m not sure I could cry. By God’s grace, I broke through it and can cry easily now.
  • Visit a cemetery. Seeing today in light of eternity always changes me.
HT: Z

Gay Marriage Front and Center Again

It's clear now that the passing of prop 8 in California has awakened those who support gay marriage. Initially there was some caustic backlash against Mormons and other groups. Now, the mainstream media is getting into the game. This week's edition of Newsweek has them supporting gay marriage outright, both in an editorial article and in the letter from their editor, John Meacham. This is a bold move, but not surprising. To them, I'm sure, this is akin to coming out against segregation.

What is fascinating about their confrontation, however, is that they attack not on the basis of "universal" truths of civility, but go after the scriptures themselves. Rather than arguing their side, they aim to undermine ours. Listen to Meacham:
No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.
That is a stunning assertion. He is saying, in essence, be a Christian, but don't hold too strongly to any of its truth. It's what we make of the Bible that's important, not what the Bible makes us. I hope you see how terrible this sort of idea is. The whole point of God speaking to us through the scriptures is that we have eternal, objective truth outside of ourselves that will guide us. We do not have the capacity to live life rightly. Without the scriptures, our life is a crap shoot.

This deficient belief is put into practice by Lisa Miller who wrote the lead column for the publication this week. Read it here. It is pretty awful. It is based entirely in bad scholarship and assumes that the Bible is a "living, breathing document." She has no real idea what biblical theology is, and, in truth, it doesn't matter to her. It doesn't matter what the early covenants were for, or how they have changed. It doesn't matter to her that there is a difference between temporary Levitical restriction and all-time truth. It doesn't matter to her that the Jesus she portrays is not actually Jesus. No, she is in it, like Meacham, to be master of her own life and to tell everyone to follow suit.

So this is an attack not on our belief that homosexuality is a sin (like many others), but our belief in the Bible; that it is the inerrant and infallible guide in faith and in practice. And that is serious. But it is one we are ready for and should stand to defend against.

There are a few resources to check out on this specific article and one video on the issue of homosexuality in the Bible:

1. Al Mohler responds well here.
2. Mollie Hemingway, here.
3. A 30 minute primer on homosexuality and the Bible (it is excellent):



HT: JT

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Am Second

Man, I love Tony Evans. He doesn't get the credit he deserves. The way he exposits the scriptures can leave you totally exposed, almost naked. In a good way. Anyway, you can see why in a video he's in called "I am Second" on racial inequality and Jesus. Click on the picture below to view.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Shot

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gay Marriage Will Save the Economy

From Funny or Die, against prop 8 in California, A-listers put their talent to work:



1. Awesome stereotypes.
2. I had no idea Jesus was such a bad exegete.
3. Thank goodness Andy Richter is finally working again.

How To Build a Ship

Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

D.A. Carson, on Suffering

From D.A. Carson's How Long Oh Lord: Reflections on Suffering and Evil:
One of the major causes of devastating grief and confusion among Christians is that our expectations are false. We do not give the subject of evil and suffering the thought it deserves until we ourselves are confronted with tragedy. If by that point our beliefs - not well thought out but deeply ingrained - are largely out of step with the God who has disclosed himself in the bible and supremely in Jesus, then the pain from the personal tragedy may be multiplied many times over as we begin to question the very foundations of our faith.
HT: Z

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There's No Revival Without Repentance

J Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine writes today on the Lakeland Revival fallout. The primary preacher at this "revival" left his wife amidst the hoopla for an intern. He lists six lessons he learned from the fiasco. Here's the most important one:
Lesson #6: You can’t have revival without repentance. The word “revival” is thrown around loosely these days. If a few people fall on the floor, get goose bumps or see gold dust, we are ready to christen it a revival and put it on television as soon as possible. After all, if large crowds gather, it must be God!

I’m tired of imitations. History shows that genuine revival is more than a bunch of blessed bodies in a pile. We need more than angel feathers, emotional euphoria and limp pep talks about getting high on Jesus. We need the strong Word of God that convicts hearts, demands repentance, slays sin and has the power to produce converts who will withstand temptation.

Pupaphobia

Do you have it? This kid obviously does:

The Girl in the Window

Though seriously heart rending, this is a must read article about a girl all but abandoned for years. Thankfully, it ends in a sort of salvation. May God continue to bless this family and precious little girl.

HT: Challies