Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tim Keller Freedom

I guess his books sales have done well enough to allow the poor people of the world (i.e. me) access to some free Timmy K. One hundred and fifty free sermons here.

The Poorest Country in Europe

Moldova. That's where I'm headed tomorrow night with a team from my church. Mainly we will be involved with distribution of food and supplies throughout the country, but we'll also be spending time at a few orphanages, including two days at the orphanage our church supports in Tocuz.

I am really excited for the opportunity and hope God splits my heart open. I heard John Piper say recently that America is the "Disneyworld of the universe." May Moldova awaken me to true reality. May God use this experience to force my face into the dirt, to help me realize my worth compared to his, to make me humble enough to love his people with abounded affection and passion.

Blogging will obviously be put on hold until I return. Your prayers for my team and our families at home are much appreciated.

Unpacking Forgiveness: A Summary

I have yet to read Chris Braun's book Unpacking Forgiveness, but it is on my short list. For a one page summary of the book, which is quite helpful, click on the image below. Also, read this amazing article (I have posted about before).

Count It No Strange Thing to Get Sick

J.C. Ryle:
If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.

By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm.

Andrew Bird: Plasticities

Palate cleanser:

Strident Critique of Christless Christianity

Inside baseball ahead.

I read a book a few months back called Christless Christianity by Michael Horton. I enjoyed it tremendously and quoted from it extensively on this blog. Perhaps I should have been more careful. John Frame has come out with a capacious critique of Horton, finding most of the work exaggerated, unfounded and, perhaps most brutally, unbiblical. Though he shoots sometimes where he need not (I sense he has little capacity for understanding pendulum swinging polemics), his objections seem true and important, especially insofar as we take stock of America and what she has become. Whereas Horton, the constant caviler, sees theological devastation, Frame, an optimist, sees growth. Frame writes:
For what it is worth, my own perception of American evangelicalism is very different from Horton’s. My observation is anecdotal (just like his, in the final analysis), but based on around 55 years of adult observation in many different kinds of churches including the much maligned mega-churches. In most every evangelical church I have visited or heard about, the “focus” is on God in Christ. There has been something of a shift over the years in what Horton would call a “subjective” direction. But that is best described not as unfaithfulness, but as a shift toward more application of Scripture to people’s external situations and inner life. There is a greater interest in sanctification (not just justification), on Christianity as a world view, on believers’ obligations to one another, on love within the body of Christ, and in the implications of Scripture for social justice.

I don’t see this as wrong, or unbiblical. Indeed, I think this general trend is an improvement over the state of affairs fifty years ago. Scripture is certainly concerned about these matters, and we ought to teach and learn what it has to say. Indeed, a “focus on God” that neglects scrutiny of ourselves does not honor God at all. As Calvin says on the first page of his Institutes, we cannot know ourselves without knowing God, and we can’t know God without knowing ourselves. And Calvin (rather unlike Horton) says that he doesn’t know which comes first. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says as its answer to Question 1, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.” (Emphasis mine.) So it is possible to have a God-centered view of human experience and subjectivity, a human “focus” that detracts not one bit from a biblical God-centeredness.
The review goes on at great length, most of which I don't have the time to comment on. One section, however, was especially challenging to me. Horton tries to show, in one part of the book, that preachers who preach without Christ at the forefront, without the gospel at the climax, without ultimately preaching Christ and him crucified, are preaching moralistically. That is, to the degree a preacher focuses on the moral implications of a Bible story (say, the call to be more like David who had the faith to slay the giant in his life), he is not representing the the true gospel. Frame quotes Horton:
Regardless of the official theology held on paper, moralistic preaching (the bane of conservatives and liberals alike) assumes that we are not really hopeless sinners who need to be rescues but decent folks who need good examples, exhortations, and instructions...
Frame responds:
This insult is quite undeserved. Horton says that to use a biblical character as an example for Christians today is a denial of the gospel. (Or is he again criticizing an “emphasis?” Hard to say.) That is nonsense. And it shows again that Horton has no ear for the complexity of biblical salvation, for the distinction between justification and sanctification. Obviously we are not justified by following anyone’s example, only by trusting in Christ. But in the process of sanctification we often have need of examples and, for that matter, exhortations and instructions as well. Scripture itself provides these, and we ought to be thankful for them.

I think what has happened here is that Horton has locked on to a certain theory of preaching and has neglected to look at what the Bible actually says. And at this point the theory is so unscriptural that Horton’s condemnations reflect back on himself rather than hitting his targets.

I agree with Horton that preachers sometimes refer to Bible characters without an adequate appreciation of their place in the history of redemption. Certainly it would be wrong to preach on David and Goliath and conclude that all believers have the power to kill literal giants (cf. Horton, 148-49). But that is just to say that Scripture passages must be understood in the context of the whole Bible. It certainly does not forbid all use of Bible characters as examples.

Horton should have thought about this enough to understand that there is an opposite extreme. I once had occasion to sit for some months under the preaching of a couple of Horton’s students. Their sermons typically developed some too-clever way at making their text “point to Christ.” Beyond that, they offered no illustrations, no applications except a general “repent and believe.” I hope Horton doesn’t regard this kind of preaching as ideal. But had he merely recognized that there were two extremes he would not have used rhetoric that condemned only one, but would have tried to do some careful analysis to define a middle position.
The implications of this, if you believe Frame, are quite profound right now in Reformed circles, and especially those who follow Tim Keller. Though Keller would never go to the lengths Horton does to castigate "moralists," he teaches similarly. How does one promote sanctification within his church body? is the question. Can you make clear that you should avoid adultery by pointing, say, to Jospeh fleeing from Potipher's wife, but not by pointing to the cross? Keller and Horton, I would suspect, would say no. Frame, it seems, says yes and no.

If there is common ground between Frame and Horton, I think it is blinded by Horton's language. He sounds almost legalistic in his gospel assertions, but I know he is not. Similar to Keller, I think he knows that sanctification stands upon justification, not vice versa. "Salvation by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone" as Martin Luther would say. And so Horton and Keller would say that the basis for understanding and emulating Joseph, for example, is the cross, is your justification (and I suspect Frame would be in agreement here). Where Horton, at least, disagrees with Frame is in the application of that. In every sermon, Horton would say, you must present Christ (which is quite similar to Luther's method). If you don't, if you make a moral proclamation based on some character in the bible without making clear the cross, you have left out the gospel entirely. Frame seems to be on to something when he says that it "nonsense." The real issue, and Frame makes this clear, is the preacher who understands this not at all. It is the preacher who preaches only sanctification by justification that we should be concerned with. And, in truth, I don't know if even Joel Osteen falls into that camp.

Whatever the case, Frame calls Horton to the carpet. He concludes the review:
I usually don’t review books at this length. But I have noticed that the theology of this book is becoming more influential in evangelical and Reformed circles, and I believe there is danger in that. I say that despite the fact that I agree with the book about many things. Most relevantly, I agree with Horton that the evangelical church needs to put more emphasis on man’s sin and the saving grace of Christ, less emphasis on what Horton regards as other things and what I regard as the lower-priority applications of Christ’s work. But he thinks this wrong emphasis is so bad as to put the church in immediate danger of Christless apostasy. I do not.

Horton’s alarmism is persuasive to many people, and I have been moved to try to show them their persuasion is premature. The problem is that the yardstick Horton uses to measure the American church’s allegiance to Christ is not an accurate yardstick. Or, to drop the metaphor, Horton measures the American church with a defective theology.

He comes on to the reader as a generic Protestant Christian with a passion for the historic doctrines of the atonement and of justification by faith alone. He writes engagingly. Naturally, then, other Protestants tend to resonate to his arguments. But Horton is not just a generic Protestant or even a generic Reformed theologian. He holds certain positions that are not warranted by the Reformed Confessions and which in my mind are not even Scriptural. To review, he advocates the following:

1. Attention to ourselves necessarily detracts from attention to Christ.

2. We should not give attention to the way we communicate the gospel, or to making it relevant to its hearers.

3. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are a zero-sum game. The idea that man must do something compromises the absolute sovereignty of God.

4. God’s work of salvation is completely objective, external to us, and not at all subjective, internal to us. (Here he backtracks some.)

5. God promises us no earthly blessings, only heavenly ones, and to desire earthly blessings is a “theology of glory,” deserving condemnation.

6. Law and gospel should be utterly separate. There should be no good news in the bad news and no bad news in the good news.

7. Preaching of the gospel must never use biblical characters as moral or spiritual examples. Nor must it address practical ethical issues in the Christian life.

8. A focus on redemption excludes a focus on anything else.

9. In worship and in the general ministry of the church, God gives and does not receive; the congregation receives and does not give.

10. Analysts of the church must compare the Church’s focus on Christ with its focus on other things, rather than considering that many of these other things are in fact applications of Christ’s own person and work.

Horton considers adherence to these principles essential, so that departing from them constitutes Christlessness, and failure to emphasize them sufficiently leads to a false gospel. But not one of these principles is found in any Reformed confession. (#6 is found in the Lutheran confessions, but it is controversial among other Protestants.) And in my view, none of them are Scriptural.

So Christless Christianity is essentially an evaluation of the American church, not from the standpoint of a generic Protestant theology, but from what I must regard as a narrow, factional, even sectarian perspective. Readers need to understand this. If we remove #1-10 as measuring sticks for the American church, the church does not look nearly as bad as Horton presents it.

There is great danger here of further division within the body of Christ, as if there were not already enough. Arguments over redemptive-historical preaching (#7) have already split congregations apart. When one group presents these principles as the only orthodox position, but others (understandably) are not convinced, and the principles themselves are often unclear, we have a recipe for disaster.

And the church would do well, in my judgment, not to add principles 1-10 to its creed. The results could include intentional irrelevance (1-2), especially on social matters (5, 7, 8), Christian passivity (3, 9), intellectualism and impersonalism in our relation to God (4, 9), artificiality in preaching, not drawing on the richness of Scripture (2, 6-8), elimination of lay ministry (9), and poor theological analyses and evaluations of the church (10).

So I must render a negative verdict on this book, though commending the author’s passion for the purity of the church and for the gospel. In doing this, I must disagree with many friends and respected colleagues, who have commended this volume lavishly. They should have known better.
For those of you interested, the whole thing is worth your time, even if you haven't read Christless Christianity.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Does it Matter How Many People Pray?

Fleet Foxes are in The Basement

Tim Keller on Idolatry | Update: Excerpt

Keller was recently interviewed by CT on his new book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. The most interesting section of the interview (emphasis mine):
How do we get rid of idols?

I confess that I don't say much about that. Practicing spiritual disciplines is another book. I do say that analyzing and recognizing an idol is a step away from its power over you. You also have to have a heck of a prayer life. That prayer life can't just be petitioning. There has to be encounter, experience, and genuine joy. You have to have Jesus Christ increasingly capture your affections.

Is it necessary to suffer disappointment before seeing that idols don't satisfy?

I fear you may be right. I don't want that to be true. Very often it's much stronger than disappointment. It's hard for me to look at a young person and know what their idols are, because usually something has to happen in their life to frustrate them for them to see that something has inordinate power over them. No one learned about their idols by being told about them.

What's your next project?

A book on suffering, which I'm hoping will be out next November. I'm planning to draw more on being a pastor than being an apologist. I'm trying to write a book every year during this last part of my career.
Whole thang.


Finally: An Online Editable Bible


You Have to Make a Choice Here

My former proffessor, David Wells, was interviewed by the Globe recently (he is being honored with a conference at GCTS). For all you Mass Christians, the first question and answer will interest you:
Is it different being an evangelical in Massachusetts than somewhere in the Bible Belt?

It undoubtedly is. Here you make a choice whether you want to be an evangelical believer. You have to be serious about it. In the South, it might be more following convention and habit or a family pattern.
Whole interview.

Prophecy Fail

epic fail pictures

Defending the Faith With a Smile

And crazy smarts. Doug almost gets the atheist super nerd to go ballistic at the end. Wait for it.

Worship Christ as Everything

R. Kent Hughes, in Worship by the Book, reflecting on the nature of worship and Colossians 1:15-20 (p. 153):
If you worship Christ as the Creator of everything, every cosmic speck across billions of light years of trackless space, the Creator of the texture and shapes and colors that dazzle our eyes; if you worship Christ as Sustainer of all creation, who by his word holds the atoms of your body and this universe together; if you worship him as the Goal of everything, that all creation is for him; if you further worship of Christ as the Reconciler of your soul--then you worship the God of Bible. Anything less than this is reductionist and idolatrous.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spot On Advice for Gosselin's from...Adrian Curry?

Well, at least Danny Boneduce didn't say it. Adrien Curry, the original Next Top Model, currently married to Peter Brady (aka Christopher Knight):
Jon and Kate handled the entire thing wrong, their kids are going to grow up to resent and hate them. They should hang up their towel and get a real f***ing job to support their children instead of ruining their lives...If I ever do get pregnant, I don’t know that I would ever share it, and if I did, all the money made wouldn’t be going into Ed Hardy shirts but into a college savings account. But to each their own, if they feel like mistreating their kids then that’s their decision. I like Kate more than I like Jon right now, but I would like her more if she got a real job and took them off TV while they are going through the pain of the divorce.

Seems Like a Win To Me

epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

So Many Links (15 OCT 2009)

End abortion at the state level.

Meat is beautiful.

How moms can make space for quiet times (and this goes for dads too).

"Christianity is not first and foremost about a sacred place to pilgrimage to, a philosophical system to ponder, a moral code to live, a religious tradition to honor, or an impersonal god to experience. Rather, Christianity is about a person who claimed to be the only God and said he would prove his unprecedented claim by living without sin, dying for sinners, and conquering death through resurrection."

Belligerent, insane man werkin' for Jesus!

"It was like the money was eating away at whatever was good in him," Misty says. "It reminds me, like, 'Lord of the Rings,' how that little guy -- what's his name? Gollum? -- was with his Precious. It just consumes you. You become the money. You are no longer a person."

Really impressive:

Really impressive:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Parents Now Must Obey the Kids

Or, at least, that's what the new picture books for kids are teaching us. Al Mohler reflects well today on Daniel Zalewski's recent essay "The Defiant Ones." He writes:
Literary critic Lionel Trilling once referred to "the dark and bloody crossroads where literature and politics meet." In reality, almost all literature is political in some sense. Oddly enough, the most explicitly subversive literature is often presented to the very youngest among us -- our children. Far too many parents seem not to notice.

In "The Defiant Ones," a recent essay published in the New Yorker, Daniel Zalewski argues that picture books for children now reflect a world turned upside down in terms of the relationship between parent and child. As he explains, in the newest picture books for children, the kids are solidly in charge.

In this sense, the books we read to our children reflect the cultural values of our age. Inescapably, these narratives for children reveal far more than a storyline. Indeed, the books tell us more than we may want to know about the tenor of our times.


As Zalewski argues, today's young parents "learn that there are many things they must never do to their willful young child: spank, scold, bestow frequent praise, criticize, plead, withhold affection, take away toys, 'model' angry emotions, intimidate, bargain, nag." In other words, "nearly all forms of discipline appear morally suspect."
He continues:
Today's Christian parents must push hard against the prevailing secular wisdom if they are to be faithful. The Bible makes clear (and simple observation affirms) that children desperately need discipline from their parents. Furthermore, the Bible reveals that the faithful and wise parent disciplines, teaches, corrects, chastens, rewards, and punishes the child as a demonstration of true love and parental responsibility.
The whole thing is worth your time and reflection.

Dubious Moments in the History of Christianty Post of the Day

Justo Gonzolaez, in The Story of Christianity, on the Church of England and the early Puritan settlers in America doing "little for the conversion of slaves," pp. 219-220:
The Church of England did little for the conversion of slaves. One of the reason for this was that there were ancient principles prohibiting Christians from hold fellow believers in slavery, and some insisted that those principles were still valid. Therefore, to avoid difficulties, slave owners preferred that their slaves not be baptized. In 1667, a law was passed declaring that baptism did not change a slave's condition--another indication of the degree to which established religion was willing to bend to the interests of the powerful. But even then little was done for the conversion of the slaves, since many owners felt that keeping them in ignorance was the best way to be assured of their service and submission.

Without the Gospel, We Have Spiritual Scoliosis

Michael Horton, in The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World:
Paul and his fellow apostles knew that they were by nature – - like the rest of us – - bent in on themselves. And picking up on a phrase from Augustine, the Protestant Reformers said that as fallen sinners we are all “curved in on ourselves.” Born with a severe case of spiritual scoliosis, our spines are twisted so that all we can see are our own immediate felt needs, desires, wants, and momentary gratifications. But the gospel makes us stand erect, looking up to God in faith and out to the world and our neighbors in love and service. Not every piece of news can do that, but the gospel can...

Like a branch that has been bent out of shape, we fall back naturally to being curved in on ourselves unless we are being pulled back constantly to raise our eyes up to God in faith as he has clothed himself in the gospel of his Son.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Changing Our Tone

Margret Fineberg was asked what she would change about U.S. Christians. She replied,
I would change the tone. We have forgotten that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to settle things once and for all, Scripture depicts him as "gentle." Paul described himself as gentle in 2 Corinthians 10:1. In a culture of noise, gentleness is not a sign of weakness, but can be incredibly powerful for the glory of God.

Manchester Orchestra

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top 10 Reasons it is Awesome Obama Won the Peace Prize

Doug Wilson:
10. Because this means that the Vatican must have verified that reports of the president floating around the top of the Washington monument were reports of a genuine miracle, and were not a deceitful trick by the devil.

9. Because the prize was funded and named after the inventor of dynamite, and it has ever been the destiny of this prize to be wreathed in ironies, the same way a smoking tank is after it runs over one of Nobel's inventions. So this just continues a long and honored legacy.

8. Because there is no apparent reason for the prize, this must mean that the committee is inviting all of us to assign our own meanings to it -- and so I would submit that Obama got it for continuing the Bush policies of rendition, roving wiretaps, indefinite detention of accused terrorists, urging continuation of the Patriot Act, and so forth.

7. Because the prize did not go to David Letterman, it shows that the Nobel committee does in fact have its limits. But on the down side, it also shows they are willing to go right up to those limits.

6. Because it means that intelligent liberals won't know which way to look for at least a couple months.

5. Because this shows that our secular civilization's great awards now have about the same value as the Montessori preschool participant ribbons in a block-stacking contest.

4. Because this is yet further testimony to the deep affinity that necessarily exists between awards and their recipients, kind of like rich little old ladies and their poodles. In this case that affinity is the shared characteristic of being as hollow and as shiny as one of those over-sized vases at Pottery Barn.

3. Because this is a boon to American conservatism almost as great as if Obama won People's Sexiest Man Alive award. This morning, as the news spread across red state America, that noise you heard was howls of delight, happy applause, bloggers typing, cheerful sharing, and gladsome whoops.

2. Because American narcissism is never fulfilled until Euro-weenies join in the applause, which means we might be almost done now.

1. Because soft tyranny can always be effectively fought with the horse laugh. And soft tyrannies never understand this. And on they go, as solemn as a judge. You know, provoking us.

Obama Awesomely Gets Peace Prize Quotes of the Day

"Mr. Obama sees the U.S. differently, as weaker than it was and the rest of the planet as stronger, and so he calls for a humbler America, at best a first among equals, working primarily through the U.N. The world's challenges, he emphasized yesterday, 'can't be met by any one leader or any one nation.' What this suggests to us—and to the Norwegians—is the end of what has been called 'American exceptionalism.' This is the view that U.S. values have universal application and should be promoted without apology, and defended with military force when necessary."


"Yet even within that context, the giving of the peace prize to President Obama is absurd. He doesn't have a body of work; he's a young man; he's been president less than nine months. He hopes to accomplish much, and so far--nine months!--has accomplished little. Is this a life of heroic self-denial, of the sacrifice of self for something greater, of huge and historic consequence, of sustained vision? No it's not. Is this a life marked by a vivid and calculable contribution to the peace of the world? No, it's not.

"This is an award for not being George W. Bush. This is an award for not making the world nervous. This is an award for sharing the basic political sentiments and assumptions of the members of the committee. It is for what Barack Obama may do, not what he has done. He hasn't done anything.

"In one mindless stroke, the committee has rendered the Nobel Peace Prize a laughingstock, perhaps for as long as a generation. And that is an act of true destruction, because it was actually good that the world had a prestigious award for peacemaking."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Work as Your Worship

D.A. Carson, in Worship by the Book, pp. 40-41:
In theological analysis of work, it is a commonplace to say that work is a "creation ordinance" (the terminology varies with the theological tradition). However corrosive and difficult work has become this side of the Fall (Gen 3:17-19), work itself belongs to the initial paradise (Gen 2:15), and it continues to be something we do as creatures in God's good creation. That is true, of course, but under the new covenant it is also inadequate. If everything, including our work, has been sacralized in the sense just specified, then work itself is part of our worship. Christians work not only as God's creatures in God's creation, but as redeemed men and women offering their time, their energy, their work, their whole lives, to God--loving him with heart and mind and strength, understanding that whatever we do, we are to do to the glory of God.

Sufjan in Brooklyn

Adopt from Ethiopia


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Mountain Goats

The song's called "Psalm 40:2" so they must be a Christian band.

Seattle Mariner Prophecy!

We Won't Be Playing Cricket

N.T. Wright, quoted in Worship by the Book, p. 57:
The great multitude in Revelation which no man can number aren't playing cricket. They aren't going shopping. They are worshipping. Sounds boring? If so, it shows how impoverished our idea of worship has become. At the centre of that worship stands a passage like Isaiah 33: your eyes will see the king in his beauty; the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our ruler, the LORD is our king; he will save us. Worship is the central characteristic of the heavenly life; and that worship is focused on the God we know in and as Jesus.

RB Tweets the Gospel (Again)

Rob Bell tries to tweet the gospel again:
The gospel is the counterintuitive, joyous, exuberant news that Jesus has brought the unending, limitless, stunning love of God to even us. offering us giant Twinkies. Or, insert anything you'd like.

Bell, for whatever reason, can't actually bring himself to say what the good news is. To him, it is explanation enough to say that it is "love." But could anyone be saved by knowledge of the 'exuberant news' as he describes it? Can you truly understand the gospel without knowledge of the horribly serious way in which Christ came to us in love? Why does his statement feel a million miles away from "[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"?

So Many Links (07 OCT 2009)

Excellent interview with Driscoll on idolatry (though they it focuses too much on celebs as idols).

Obligatory "Skunk goes on a diet" link.

"In the 41 sentences of her remarks, Michelle Obama used some form of the personal pronouns 'I' or 'me' 44 times. Her husband was, comparatively, a shrinking violet, using those pronouns only 26 times in 48 sentences. Still, 70 times in 89 sentences conveyed the message that somehow their fascinating selves were what made, or should have made, Chicago's case compelling."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What We Can't At Present Imagine

Tim Keller, in The Prodigal God (p. 104):
Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can't at present imagine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Support for Abortion Down

It's within the margin of error. Here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Knowing that We're Sinners Helps Our Marriage

Dave Harvey's book When Sinner's Say "I Do" is really good. Still, there are some who'd avoid this book simply because the title seems to betray the idea that marriage is negative. Is that true? In a good interview with Westminster Theological Seminary, Harvey answers that question:
WTS: Identifying the members of a marriage as “sinners” might seem a very negative portrayal. Why this emphasis in the title?

DH: There is a simple biblical truth that has helped me that may also help you in understanding the title. To say “I am a sinner” is to stare boldly at a fundamental reality that many people don’t even want to glance at. But when we acknowledge the fact that sin holds considerable sway in our lives, several great things become clear. First, we find ourselves in some pretty good company—the heroes of our faith from Old Testament times to present—who experienced the battle with sin on the front lines. Second, we also acknowledge what everybody around us already knows—particularly our spouse. But, by far the greatest benefit of acknowledging our sinfulness, is that it makes Christ and his work for us precious to us. Like Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5: 31-32). Only sinners need a Savior. So I guess the bad news is that we’re sinners, but the good news is that the power of the gospel gives us hope for a happy, fruitful marriage.

Hindrance to Excellent Corporate Worship

D.A. Carson, in Worship by the Book (p. 58):
Hindrances to excellent corporate worship are of various sorts.... [C]orporate worship may be stultified by church members who never pray at home, who come to church waiting to be entertained, who are inwardly marking a scorecard instead of participating in worship, who love mere tradition (or mere innovation!) more than truth, who are so busy that their minds are cluttered with the press of the urgent, who are nurturing secret bitterness and resentments in the dark recesses of their minds.

The Dirty Projectors

Fed Spending Don't Increase No Test Scores

Boy, am I clever. Chart (via JC):