Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wala People

I'll be at a missions conference Wed-Fri learning more about missions in W. Africa. In particular we're interested in pursuing more information about how to make an impact for the glory of God by partnering with others in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Wala people. Please pray for the conference to be equipping, challenging, and fruit-producing.

Here is a nice TN Baptist article featuring our friends Phillip & Teresa Lyons who are missionaries among the Wala in Burkina Faso.

First GC Worship Service

You are invited to worship Jesus with us this Sunday at the very first Grace Church worship service.

Service Schedule:
  • 4:30 - Group Prayer
  • 5p - Worship service (nursery provided)
We meet at:

477 N. 5th
Memphis, 38105

Zwingli (2)

This is the second part of Sam Storms thoughts on Zwingli...

Zwingli (2)
Sam Storms
Oct 31, 2006

In the previous article we looked briefly at the life of Huldrich Zwingli and his influence on the reformation in Switzerland. Here I want to say a few things about his theology.

Zwingli was undoubtedly dependent on Luther for much of his early thinking. In 1540 Calvin wrote to Farel concerning Luther and Zwingli: "If they are compared with each other, you yourself know how greatly Luther excels."

Zwingli tried to stress his independence from Luther: "Why don't you call me a Paulinian since I am preaching like Saint Paul. . . . I do not want to be labeled a Lutheran by the Papists, as it is not Luther who taught me the doctrine of Christ, but the Word of God. If Luther preaches Christ, he does the same thing as I do. Therefore, I will not bear any name save that of my chief, Jesus Christ, whose soldier I am."

Again, he declared, "I am not ready to bear the name of Luther, for I have received little from him. What I have read of his writings is generally founded in God's Word."

Zwingli shared the views of Luther and Calvin on both the sole sufficiency and authority of Scripture and the sovereignty of God in salvation (divine election). In his book On Providence, Zwingli argued for God’s exhaustive providential control over all of life, both good and evil. He advocated the abolishment of all images and furnishings of medieval Catholicism, fearing that they served as obstacles to the simplicity of faith in Christ.

The point of greatest and most consequential divergence came with the doctrine of the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist. Whereas both Zwingli and Luther repudiated transubstantiation as well as the belief that in the Eucharist was a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ for both the living and dead, they could not agree on the nature of Christ's presence in the elements.

Fearing the political consequences if the German and Swiss reformations did not unite, Philip of Hesse, leader of the German princes, issued an invitation to both Zwingli and Luther to meet at his castle in Marburg in 1529 to reconcile their differences on the Lord's Supper. Luther and Melancthon represented the German wing of the reformation, while Zwingli and Oecolampadius represented the Swiss.

Luther referred to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, according to which the physical elements of the Eucharist are miraculously transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ, as absurd, little more than “a monk’s dream.” Still, Luther’s understanding of the presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist, often referred to as consubstantiation, insisted that the body and blood of Christ appeared "under, with, and in" the elements. The natural elements of bread and wine become united with the body and blood of Christ by a supernatural work of God. They are not identical, but they are inseparable and indistinguishable. Lutheran theologian Francis Pieper put it thus: “In the Lord’s Supper we therefore receive with our mouth no more and no less than Christ’s body and blood, the body with the bread, and the blood with the wine” (Christian Dogmatics, III:356; emphasis mine).

Zwingli, on the other hand, understood the words of Jesus (“This is my body . . . This is my blood”) to be a metaphor There are literally hundreds of metaphors in the Bible: "All flesh is grass" (Isa. 40:6); "The Lord is my shepherd" (Ps. 23:1); "You are the salt of the earth" (Mt. 5:13); "You are the light of the world" (Mt. 5:14); "I am the bread of life" (Jn. 6:35); “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20); “the seven heads are seven mountains” (Rev. 17:9; see also Mt. 13:38; John 8:12; 10:9; 1 Cor. 10:4).

Therefore, Zwingli insisted on a strictly symbolic view, in which the sacrament is nothing more than a visible symbol or tangible representation of the body and blood of Christ; partaking is but an act of remembrance or symbolic declaration.

The dialogue at Marburg initially looked hopeful. Both parties jointly affirmed 14 articles of faith (such as the Trinity and justification by faith alone). But they couldn’t agree on the nature of Christ's presence in the elements.

The debate proved fruitless. Luther stubbornly insisted on the literal force of the words: "This is my body," while Zwingli, no less stubbornly, pointed to the words of Jesus: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life." The dialogue was often bitter:

Zwingli: "I remain firm at this text, 'the flesh profiteth nothing.' I shall oblige you to return to it. You will have to sing a different tune with me."

Luther: "You speak in hatred."

Zwingli: "Then declare at least whether or not you will allow John 6 to stand?"

Luther: "You are trying to overwork it."

Zwingli: "No, no, it is just that text that will break your neck."

Luther: "Don't be too sure of yourself. Our necks don't break as easily as that."

One final meeting was arranged. With tears in his eyes, Zwingli approached Luther and held out the hand of brotherhood, but Luther declined it, saying: "Yours is a different spirit from ours." Zwingli said:

"Let us confess our union in all things in which we agree; and, as for the rest, let us remember that we are brethren. There will never be peace in the churches if we cannot bear differences on secondary points."

Luther replied:

"I am astonished that you wish to consider me as your brother. It shows clearly that you do not attach much importance to your doctrine."

The split was final.

Although Zwingli’s reputation is nothing in comparison with that of Luther or Calvin, we cannot afford to ignore his monumental contribution to the Reformation. Although he had his flaws (don’t we all), he was committed to the fundamental principles on which the Reformation proceeded, and succeeded. So, on this Reformation Day, let us thank God for the way in which he used yet another “earthen vessel” to accomplish the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ alone (solo Christo). To God alone be the glory (Soli Deo Gloria)!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Memphis - Nation's 13th Most Dangerous City

Report here.

Even more reason for more New Testament churches to be established in our needy city! Even more reason for existing churches to rise up and own the burden to be used by God to redeem culture by having the whole gospel for the whole city. Even more reason to pray like never before for a supernatural nearness of God that results in a genuine people movement (described below).
People Movement* – a wave of group decisions, by people who share culture and kinship while retaining their identity and relationships.

Advantages of People Movements: p 336
a. enduring churches rooted in culture.
b. naturally indigenous in its own culture
c. spontaneous expansion is natural vs mission station approach
d. enormous possibilities of growth
e. sound pattern of becoming Christian … change in inner character by the power of God

* People Movement description taken from Perspectives Study Guide.

Giving Them God Might Actually Be What Teens Want - Imagine That?

...In recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early '90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.
Did I mention this quote come from an article in TIME magazine? Read Al Mohler's thoughts here.


Sam Storms has the following thoughts on "Reformation Day" (In some circles known as Halloween). I'll post part 2 when it comes out...

* * * * * *

Zwingli (1)
Sam Storms
Oct 30, 2006

What’s a Zwingli? Zwingli’s not a “what” but a “who”, a man who was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation, a man largely forgotten by the church in the twenty-first century, a man we would do well to remember as we approach October 31st, the day traditionally acknowledged as “Reformation Day” (not Halloween!).

Huldrich Zwingli was born in Wildhaus, Toggenburg, in the eastern part of Switzerland, on January 1, 1484, just seven weeks after the birth of the much more famous Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. His family was quite wealthy and thus able to provide him with a good education. He began formal studies in Vienna (1500-02) and later studied at the University of Basel where he received his Bachelor of Arts (1504) and Master of Arts (1506) (Luther received his in 1502 and 1505 respectively).

Zwingli was highly influenced by the Humanist tradition of Erasmus (a man with whom Luther engaged in a bitter theological fight over the freedom of the will). It was Erasmus who influenced Zwingli to focus on the original text of Scripture apart from the medieval speculations of the scholastic tradition. Their friendship, however, was short-lived, as Zwingli's embrace of protestant theology turned him against the Catholic humanist.

Zwingli celebrated his first Mass as a priest on September 29, 1506. He became pastor in Glarus and remained there from 1506-16. Zwingli had a keen awareness of his responsibilities as a pastor and cared passionately for the people entrusted to his care. He wrote: "Though I was young, ecclesiastical duties inspired in me more fear than joy, because I knew, and I remained convinced, that I would have to give account of the blood of the sheep which would perish as a consequence of my carelessness."

It was during Zwingli’s pastoral ministry in Einsiedeln (1516-1518) that he was initially provoked by Catholic abuses, in particular (and like Luther), the sale of indulgences. A Franciscan monk from Milan, Bernhardin Samson, often called the "Tetzel of Switzerland", stirred Zwingli to action in August of 1518 (Johann Tetzel was the Catholic whose brazen sale of indulgences prompted Luther to post his famous 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg). Some have actually suggested that the reformation began there with Zwingli rather than in Wittenberg with Luther. Zwingli's conversion in 1519 was influenced both by his miraculous deliverance from the plague and by his reading of Luther's early works.

What sparked the reformation in Zurich? Some have pointed to the so-called "Affair of the Sausages." During Lent of 1522, Zwingli was at the home of Christoph Froschauer, a printer who was working on a new edition of the epistles of Paul. Froschauer decided to serve sausages to his weary and hungry workers. This public defiance of the Lenten fast was both an affront to medieval Catholic piety as well as a violation of ecclesiastical and public authority. The Zurich town council arrested Froschauer, but not Zwingli, who himself had not eaten the meat.

Later Zwingli preached a sermon entitled, "On the Choice and Freedom of Foods" (March 23, 1522), a message almost certainly influenced by Luther's pamphlet, "On the Freedom of the Christian Man." In it, Zwingli argued that Christians were free to fast or not to fast. Although seemingly innocuous enough in itself, the issue stirred public debate over the medieval catholic traditions and the authority of the church in relation to the freedom of the individual believer.

Another factor that accelerated reform in Zurich was Zwingli's practice of expository preaching. He abandoned the Roman Catholic Church calendar and on January 1, 1519, began preaching verse-by-verse through Matthew's gospel. For the next several years he expounded the New Testament and awakened in the people an appreciation for the simple truths of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. In other words, by this practice the banner of sola scriptura displaced the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

It soon became evident that the challenge to medieval Catholicism had to be publicly addressed. The council of Zurich convened several public disputations to address the matter, in preparation for which Zwingli published his 67 Articles or Conclusions. They resemble Luther's 95 theses but surpass the latter in terms of theological depth.

The first debate occurred on Jan. 29, 1523 (600 attended), the second on Oct. 26, 1523. The latter, which drew a crowd of 900, focused more on the worship of relics and the Mass. Zwingli's articulate defense of the Scriptures won the day. A third debate took place on Jan. 20, 1524 with similar results. The reformation in Zurich was completed in 1525 when the Roman Catholic Mass was abolished. The movement was confirmed in Bern in 1528 and in Basel in 1529.

Zwingli apparently struggled early in life with sexual temptation. By his own admission he broke his vow of chastity on several occasions and often spoke of the shame that overshadowed his life. In fact, his appointment to the church in Zurich in 1519 was challenged based on rumors that he had seduced the daughter of an influential citizen. As it turned out, this "lady" had seduced many in Zurich, Zwingli among them. The charge of immorality was finally dropped when it was discovered that Zwingli's only rival for the post openly lived with several mistresses and had six illegitimate children! Zwingli himself lived with a widow, Anna Reinhart, and finally married her in 1524 shortly before the birth of their child.

Although philosophically opposed to the military, he served as a chaplain when recruits from his congregation went to Italy in service of Popes Julius II and Leo X. Later he engaged in fighting Catholic forces at the battle of Cappel in 1531. After being wounded, he was recognized by the Catholics and immediately killed. His body was quartered (the punishment for traitors) and then burned with dung so that nothing would be left of him to inspire other protestants.

In the next installment, we’ll look briefly at Zwingli’s theology and, in particular, his tragic dispute with Martin Luther.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Godly Men - A Great (Self-Imposed) Gift To My Life

For a few months now Mike Rusten has been willing to take an intentional discipling/mentoring role in my life (Thank you Mike!). On Thursday of last week, another friend and I had the joy of meeting Mike in MO for an afternoon of fellowship and discipleship.

I'd like to commend Mike's books to you, and highlight (below) a portion of today's chapter from The One Year Book of Christian History - a book that Mike co-authored with his wife, Sharon. This interesting book highlights a significant event in Christian history that happened on each day of the year.

From 1996-2001, I was indelibly marked by Clyde Cranford's discipling influence on my life, which thankfully, were also the first five years of my Christian pilgrimage.

Perhaps you are in a discipling relationship now? Maybe you want to be, but don't know where to start? Well, for what it's worth, I initiated both the relationship with Clyde and with Mike. Maybe you know someone well of the same gender as yourself who has walked with the Lord longer than you? Why don't you consider asking that person to disciple you? It never hurts to ask. But I can attest that it sure does help!

A summary from today's chapter in the OYBOCH:
Born October 29, 1837, Abraham "Bram" Kuyper was the son of a pastor, who, upon going to college became very liberal only to be grabbed by God, turned biblically conservative, and embrace a thoroughly God-centered worldview. After being used by God as a pastor, member of legislature, founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, and professor of systematic theology, in 1901 Kyper became the prime minister of the Netherlands!
The Rusten's ask, "How would you like to have a godly theologian lead your nation?"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jesus. What Is Heaven?

Going to God.

Why is heaven so often portrayed as a place we should be motivated to have as our eternal address for every reason OTHER than being with God? Please supply additional scripture references that speak of going to heaven, and the motivation to want to be there, because of a desire to be in the presence of the Triune God.

Johnson On A Non-Chrisitan & A Potty Mouth

One Pyromaniac has concerns with the emergent types:

Bell's syncretized amateur yoga exercise is not Christianity by any stretch of the definition. I'll go further: if this is what Bell really believes, he himself is no Christian.

This is the first time I have ever posted anything critical of Driscoll. I have appreciated his defense of the atonement and his willingness to confront the neo-liberalism of other Emerging leaders honestly. But I don't think his perpetually coarse language in the pulpit and his apparent preoccupation with off-color terms and ribald subject matter are merely minor flaws in an otherwise healthy ministry. It is a serious shortcoming.
Read the post/comments here.

(HT: Jim Suggs)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ease, Discomfort, & True Conquering

How soon are we broken on the soft pillow of ease! Adam in paradise was overcome, when Job on the dunghill was a conqueror.


No More Abortions In Nicaragua?

Ban on ALL abortions possible.

Interest Meeting #8

Our eighth, and final, interest Meeting for Grace Church will focus on The Church and God's Glory. Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wedding Bells

It's official, gays can marry in N.J.

"Meeting" #4

Pages 49-68 are our treat for the fourth "meeting" for the SC Reading Group.

Therein Charnock covers "Part I" of his discourse on Christ Is Our Passover. Though our reading schedule has divided this section into the doctrinal category, the last portion (63-69) deals with "Practical Applications."

Just when I didn't think it could possibly get any better than chapter one, I continued reading, and, well, it did!

Groupies, comment away....

To Be Decided Today

If gays will be permitted to wed in N.J.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Innate Sense of Wrongness...

...to burn the dead...but what about killing the living?

One local woman, who asked not to be named, said after the heartache of deciding to have an abortion she was mortified to find the hospital had used the same furnace they burn rubbish in to incinerate her terminated baby.

She said: "I am furious and very hurt. Imagine my horror when I discovered that my baby was incinerated in the same furnace as the hospital rubbish."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Marc Is At It Again

Make sure you read some of the comments too.

The Word of the LORD & A Covenant Among His People

And the king (Josiah) went up to the house of the LORD and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant, which as found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes will all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this book. And all the people entered into the covenant (II Kings 23:2-3).

God Did That?


Something terrible happened to God's people, and God is the One Who did it. Thousands, if not millions, of God's chosen people were taken into captivity (586 BC). That means people died, others were tortured, some were forever separated from their family. And God did that? Yes. God did that.
and Jehozadak went along when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar (I Chron. 6:13).
Who "carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile?" "The LORD!" You mean God was the One who carried His own people into exile? Yes. God. Granted, He performed His purposes through Nebuchadnezzar, but God was thoroughly in control of the entire situation.

Sin is a serious crime and God will not tolerate the continual rebellion of His people against His covenant. Let us live in the light!
And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God (John 319-21).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

God deserves praise, glory and obedience from all peoples.

That's the heading on the United States Center for World Mission website.

But 10,000 people groups do not yet have a community of disciples among them who can witness to His true nature.

The U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM) is a community dedicated to making the glory of God fully known, and to bringing all the people groups on the earth to worship and obey God (as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ).

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation."
Revelation 5:9

White Horse Inn

* * * *
Launched in 1990, The White Horse Inn (named after the pub in Cambridge, England, where the Reformation came to the English-speaking world), is a nationally syndicated radio broadcast featuring regular round-table discussions on faith, culture and apologetics. Hosted by Michael Horton, Ken Jones, Kim Riddlebarger, and Rod Rosenbladt, the White Horse Inn aims each week to equip Christians to "know what they believe and why they believe it."
* * * *

Upcoming topics on the program include:

October 29, 2006
A Christian View of Government
How should Christians relate to the State? From a Christian perspective, what is the proper and legitimate function of government? Join the hosts this week as they discuss Romans 13 in the continuing series through the Book of Romans!

November 5, 2006
The Weaker Brother
In this edition of the White Horse Inn, the hosts discuss the relationship between liberty and license as they interact with Paul's admonition to be mindful of our weaker brothers in Christ.

November 12, 2006
The God of Promise
Why does God make an apparent switch from working with the Jewish nation throughout the Old Testament, to working with Gentiles in the New Testament? Tune in to this edition of the White Horse Inn as the hosts discuss Romans 15, where Paul reminds us that the inclusion of the Gentiles was always part of God’s messianic promise.

November 19, 2006
Smooth Talk & Flattery
In Romans 16, Paul warns that by the use of "smooth talk and flattery" some false teachers will "deceive the minds of naive people." In this edition of the White Horse Inn the hosts evaluate some ways in which the contemporary church is being affected by this "smooth-talker syndrome" as they begin to conclude the Romans Revolution.


bookfinder4u.com searches over 130 stores to find great deals on new and used books.

A Verse Changed A Guy Who Changed The World

Snippet here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Grace Church Update - October 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk… (Revelation 21:22-24a).

A day is coming when church planting will no longer be needed. A day when the meeting place of the people of God will no longer be buildings made with human hands, for the Lord Himself will be the temple! Neither sun nor moon will be needed in this place because Christ----the radiance of the glory of God----gives it light (Heb. 1:1-3). This divine place will house a redeemed people----a mosaic from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation---who will walk harmoniously in His light (Rev. 5:9). Maranatha! Amen, come Lord Jesus! Until that glorious day, would you join us in praying for Grace Church to be a catalyst in the hand of the Almighty to speed the second coming of His Christ as we proclaim the gospel of Christ’s kingdom to the whole world as a testimony to all peoples (Matt. 24:14). This is our calling, this is our purpose, and this is our joy!

God is calling Grace Church into existence to follow Him and be a light for the gospel of Jesus Christ to sin-darkened downtown Memphis. Beginning seven weeks ago (Sept. 10) our pastoral team has been leading a series of Interest Meetings as we are seeking to unfold the vision, values and distinctives of this new church. Our scope has been both wide and narrow beginning with the big picture of overall vision then focusing in on the theological foundation. Jesus Christ has been put forth as the Head, central focal point, and chief end of Grace Church. May God grant to us the joy of finding our souls satisfied, and the grace to minister effectively to a needy city, in Christ alone! Please pray with us to that end.

Lord willing, Grace Church will host two more Interest Meetings. One will be spent praying together for the Lord’s direction, and the other given to worshiping God as we consider how He alone is to be glorified in His church (Eph. 3:20-21). Then, if the Lord wills, we will begin worship services on November 5th. Until the end of the year the services will remain on Sunday evenings at 5:00 PM. Beginning January 7 we eagerly anticipate transitioning to Sunday morning worship services as we will be drawing ever closer to the first Grace Church Covenant Affirmation Sunday on February 18. Pray that the Lord will incline the hearts of the right people to covenant with Grace Church. Unless He builds the house, it is all vain.

Several helpful developments are currently underway such as our website, a longer rental agreement with Bridges, a new job for Nathan, a potential job change for Bryan, and many new ministry relationships in the city. Most importantly we are praying for the salvation of 15 specific individuals. Please join us in praying for them! Please pray also for the more than 70 adults and 20 children who have attended the Interest Meetings. Thank you all for your prayers and support!

In Christ, John 3:30
Jordan (for Bryan & Nathan)

IM #7 - Visible Engine

Spurgeon said, "We want prayer to be the visible engine of this church."

We know that many people are praying for Grace Church. Thank you, and please continue! This Sunday evening, Lord willing, we will host the 7th Interest Meeting for Grace Church. Though much still remains to talk about, this week is devoted to prayer. May God be pleased to set this new work in motion by injecting the engine of our prayers with the fuel of Himself!

Marriage or Messiah?

I'm rereading the Song of Solomon these days. Wow!? I'm curious to know whether or not you take the book literally or figuratively? Is the Song a picture of a steamy marriage relationship between a man and woman, or a picture of a believer's relationship with Christ? Or, both?

Tommy Nelson & Mark Driscoll have both testified of the church growth tool the Song of Solomon can be when you preach it as a picture of a human marriage.
  • Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me - SOS 2:6
  • You are alotogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you - SOS 4:7
  • His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved.. - SOS 5:16
  • Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle - SOS 7:3

Thursday, October 19, 2006

50 Crucial Questions

When thinking biblically about gender complimentarity there will inevitably be sensitive issues. John Piper and Wayne Grudem have done the church a great service by asking and answering these 50 questions.

GC "Weak Sauce" Church Covenant

Last Sunday evening the Lord allowed us the joy of thinking through our church covenant, and what those covenant commitments might look like. In essence the covenant calls individuals to live an accoutable Christian life. According to the following text we are not in danger of being too serious...
And they entered into the covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and soul; and whoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. Moreover, they made an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets, and with horns. And all Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. (II Chron. 15:12-15 NASB)

Downtown Gospel

Please list any and all downtown Memphis churches &/or ministries that you know are preaching the gospel. Contact information is appreciated if you have it. Thank you all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Begg On The Centrality Christ In the Scriptures

Today's radio broadcast of Alistair Begg's preaching was excellent. In particular, this quote stood out to me:
  • In the Old Testament, Christ is predicted.
  • In the Gospels, Christ is exposed.
  • In the Acts, Christ is preached.
  • In the Epistles, Christ is explained.
  • In the Revelation, Christ is expected.

Meeting #3 - Ways In Which We May Apply This Teaching

Charnock immediately preceeds this week's portion by writing, "I might mention more, such as, the establishment of the covenant, access to God, perseverance, and the conquest of the world." Oh, that he would have written those sections! But, like his Puritan colleagues, Charnock must move on to application, for it is never enough to know right doctrine without experientially living upon the sufficiency of Christ Who purchased for us sinners - by His cross - the grace to obey. May we each, when looking back on this season, notice our sanctification both subjectively and objectively advanced. As McCheyne oft prayed, "Oh to be as holy as a saved sinner can be!"

The application section of the first chapter begins with one word: Uses (42).

- I've included a number of quotes from our section in hopes of allowing you to copy and paste a quote (If I've included the one(s) you want to use), thus maximizing your commenting time:

Let us be thankful to God for a crucified Redeemer.
There is nothing in heaven or earth such an amazing wonder as this; nothing can vie with it for excellence. All love and thankfulness is due to God, who hath given us his Son, not only to live but to die for us a death so shameful, as death so accursed, a death so sharp, that we might be repossessed of the happiness we had lost (43).

By this alone was God pleased and our souls for ever made happy (43).

Let us delight in the knowledge of Christ crucified and be often in the thought and study of him.
Christ crucified is the great object of faith (44).
Without this, we should for ever have had God for our enemy and Satan for our executioner; without this, we had laid groaning under the punishment of our transgressions and despaired of any smile from Heaven (44)

If we study it well, we shall be sensible how God hated sin and loved a world; how much he would part with to restore a fallen creature. He showed an irresistible love to us, not to be overcome by a love to his own dear Son (45)
  • This will keep up life in our repentance.
A strong meditation on Christ will not only excite compassion for his sufferings, but a detestation of our sins and selves as the cause of them. It is a look upon Christ pierced that pierceth the soul (Zechariah 12:10) (45).

And should we be unmelted if we considered the cross, the punishment of our crimes, not his? (45).
  • It will inspire our faith
When we behold a Christ crucifed, how can we distrust God that hath in that, as a plain tablet, written this language 'that he will spare nothing for us, since he hath not spared the best he had'? What greater assurance can he give? Where is there any thing in heaven or earth that can be a greater judge of his affection? (46)
  • This will animate our approaches to God
  • This will be a means to further us in progress towards holiness
An affection to sin, which cost the Redeemer of the world so dear, would be inconsistent with a sound knowledge and serious study of a crucified Saviour. We should see no charms in sin that may not be overcome by that ravishing love which bubbles up in every drop of the Redeemer's blood (46).

Can we, with lively thoughts of this, sin against so much tenderness, compassion, grace and the other perfections of God with sound so loud in our ears from the cross of Jesus? Shall we consider him hanging there to deliver us from hell and yet retain any spirit to walk in the way which leads thereto [hell]? Shall we consider him upon the cross, unlocking the gates of heaven, and yet turn our backs upon that place he was so desirous to purchase for us and give us the possession of? Shall we see him groaning in our place and stead and dare to tell him, by our unworthy carriage, that we regard him not and that he might have spared his pains? (46-47).

Can we take any pleasure in that wich procured so much pain to our best Friend? (47).

For want [lack] of study of Christ crucified we walk on in sin, as if he suffered to purchase a licence fo it rather than the destruction of it. (47).
  • This will be the foundation of all comfort.
It was not an angel which was crucified for us, but the Son of God; one of an equal dignity with the Father; one who shede blood enough to blot our the demerit of our crimes, were they more than could be numbered by all the angels of heaven, if all were made known to them (47).

What a horror is it for a condemned man to see the preparation of gibbets [gallows], halters [nooses] and executions? But when he shall see a propitiation made for him, the anger of the prince atoned, the law satisfied, and his condemnation changed into remission; all his former terrors vanish and a sweet and pleasing calm possesses him. (47-8).

The blood of Christ is as a balsam dropped upon the points of the arrows of death (48).

This death is the destruction of our enemies, the spring of our happiness, the eternal testimony of divine love. We hav egood reason, as well as the apostle, to determine which ourselves 'to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and especially him crucified' (48).

Read & Weep


Monday, October 16, 2006

Sports Post #2

Again, skip past this one unless you care something about sports.
  1. A miracle: Woo Pig! Itz...NOT...ooo...vuur as I suggested earlier. Somehow the kid played in the very first game of the season, and has been punishing defenses ever since. The hogs are for real! Watch out BCS.
  2. A potential miracle: This might mean that my small bears from the windy city will win the series for the second time in LESS than a century! Two years to go...and counting!!! Please let it work out! Pretty please! Especially since Sawyer is a Yanks fan and Bryan and I are Cubbies!


I've been thinking lately....(Don't worry, I'm ok)...

God is glorious:

I've been thinking about the glorious God of the Bible. Think on Him. There are several ways Psalm 145:5 can be translated, though the 'golden rule' of hermenutics - Scripture can't mean what it never meant - tells us that only one is correct. Since Hebrew scholars don't agree on which translation is best, and each is wonderful, I'd like to think with you about two of the options.
  1. On the glorious splendor of Thy majesty and on Thy wonderful works I will meditate.
  2. On the majestic splendor of Thy glory and on Thy wonderful works I will meditate.
Before you read on, notice the different emphases. Stephen F. Olford once told me, "When good, conservative, Bible-believing scholars disagree on the translation of a verse, both are true. God is just trying to say a lot of stuff in a little space." Not sure that would pass in a seminary class, but I like it.

Option #1: The emphasis is on the glorious splendor of the majesty of God. Meditate! Think, think, think hard, about what you've sung many times. "Majesty! Worship His majesty. Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise." How majestic is He? Think about the verse. His majesty is glorious. But there's more! His majesty is more than glorious. His majesty is so glorious that it is splendoriously glorious (No, that's not a word, but our God is indescribable with human vocab - which is precisely the reason the Apostle Paul made up words too). "How majestic is Your name in all the earth!"

Option #2: The emphasis is on the majestic splendor of the glory of God. Meditate! Think again, think hard, think now. How glorious is God? Majestically glorious (not a new word). But more than majestically glorious! Splendoriously majestically glorious! How glorious is that? At least worth thinking about! Join the Psalmist and vow, by the grace God supplies, to think on the majestic splendor of His glory.

Additional Emphasis: The Psalmist vows to meditate on two things: (1) Who God is; and (2) What God does. Suffice it to say that eternity will be just about enough time to exhaust those two categories. Start now.

Charnock is helpful:

I've been thinking about the gift that Charnock has been to my life. He came at just the right time. I'd be delighted if our SC Reading Group tripled in size. I believe as many as will take the time to read his Christ Crucified (with or without us) will be the same number of people better for it. Charnock helped right a wrong in my journey toward Christlikeness. The 'wrong,' you ask? I can't remember the last time the beauties of my crucified Savior caused my eyes to well with tears because my heart was filled with joy. That's wrong. Thanks to Charnock, I can now easily remember the last time; it was the last time I was reading his book. Oh to know nothing save Christ and Him crucified!

Church Planting is life-giving:

I've been thinking about God's work in calling forth life out of nothing. That's what He did in creation and in Ezekiel's vision, what His Spirit continues to do in regeneration, and what God is now doing with Grace Church. I do not mean by the title of this sub-section that we are giving life to Grace Church, but that God is giving life to Grace Church, and subsequently the calling on our lives is being confirmed in that He is also giving life - a opposed to zapping life - to Bryan, Nathan, and myself. May God receive His well deserved glory from this new church start.

My family is a gift from the Lord:

I've been thinking about the joy with which I rejoice before God on account of my family (See I Thess. 3:9). I love them all very much! To all who are married, love your spouse. To all who have kids, love your spouse and your kids. To all who are single, use your freedom for the glory of God alone as you love God vigorously and trust His kind and wise bestowment.

Thinking is good:

Just because we happen to live in a day when thinking is not in vogue, think anyway. You never know, it might not hurt after all.

On the glorious splendor of Thy majesty and on Thy wonderful works I will meditate!


I'd like to read your thoughts on TV. Driscoll says watch more to be more in tune with lost culture we're called to reach. Piper hasn't seen an episode since Little House on the Prarie went off the air. Your take?

If you have one of these, I guess we already know your answer.


Watch this trailer, then go to the conference.

(HT: Jim Suggs)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Second Hand Knowledge of Christ is NOT Sufficient to Save

We must have personal experience with Jesus Christ. Have you "heard for yourself?"
And they were saying to the woman ["at the well"], "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world." (John 4:42 NASB)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pray The Lord Of The Harvest Will Send Laborers

Here's an easy way to pray for the peoples of the world every day. (Click the "Pray Today" link when you visit the site).

The Bible Has One Message

[I have] the conviction that learning to grasp the unity of the Bible, of its one overall message from Genesis to Revelation, is necessary for a right understanding of the meaning of any individual text.
That quote is from Grame Goldsworthy in his Preface to According To Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible.

How important is it that we grasp the ONE message of the Bible? Let's imagine a scenario:

A mean person is about to throw a rock at your head that is going to end your life. In that moment, just before the stone connects with your cranium, would you be able to give a brief overview of the history of God's revelation of Himself in Scripture and His saving purposes in Christ? Stephen could.
It is my deep conviction that every part of the Bible is given its fullest meaning by the saving work of Christ, who restores a sinful, fallen creation and makes all things new (Preface, According to Plan).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No One Will Be Concerned About Himself Until He Learns About God

* * * *

Only in the light of the moral perfections of God - his infinite excellence and goodness - can man learn his true condition. For God's character is the opposite of our own. He created us in his moral image, to be like him, to live for him as the centre of our being, and to love him with heart and soul and mind and strength. But sin has reversed the purpose of creation and man has become the contradiction of what he ought to be. Withholding from God what belongs to him, men serve themselves and love themselves: 'They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, wo is blessed forever' (Rom. 1:25). The charge brought against Belshazzar applies to the whole human race: 'You have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven...And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honoured' (Dan. 5:23)....

Lloyd-Jones was not going beyond the scriptural evidence when he said, 'The sinner is an abomination, he is a monstrosity in God's universe, he is altogether hateful and vile."

The knowledge of God does not therefore first come to sinners with comfort, rather it is intensely disturbing. Mouths are shut, or if they speak at all it is to say such words as: 'Against you, you only, have I sinned' (Psa. 51:4). 'Woe is me, for I am lost' (Isa. 6:5); 'You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence' (Psa. 90:8). 'I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes' (Job 42:5).

* * * *

Quotations taken from The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths For a New Awakening, 8-9.

"Benefits For Christ Himself"

That is the wording of one of the sub-titles in the Christology section of Robert Culver's Systematic Theology. The chapter is titled, Further Benefits and Accomplishments of the Death of Christ in our Place.

In light of Charnock's stimulating introductory chapter, I thought one of Culver's thoughts from this sub-section was a fitting quote to share with you all.
For Christ Himself the crucifixion was the last stage of the humiliation and the vestibule of the first stage of exaltation (if one accepts the burial as the first stage, see earlier discussion). When He committed His spirit into the hands of the Father we may be sure the 'joy that was set before Him' (Heb. 12:2) began. There were many reasons for joy (Heb. 12:2), not least that His part of an 'eternal covenant' had been completed (Heb. 13:20). He had gained a prophetic vision of a numerous seed (Isa. 53:10; Ps. 72:15-17) - 'many sons' whom He would bring 'to glory' (Beb. 2:10). By the cross He earned a crown (Phil. 2:9; Isa. 53:11, 12; I Peter 1:10, 11).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nuh Uh, My Mom Is Older Than Yours!

"She is the second oldest woman in the world to have given birth," reported Breitbart.com when making reference to this 64 year-old Turkish woman. The oldest lady to have given birth, they report, was a 67 year old Romanian lady in 2005.

Apparently they overlooked this ninety-something youngun'.

For I Determined Not To Know Anything Among You, Save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucifed

The SC Reading Group can either supply comments to this post,
or can click the "meeting" #2 link on the sidebar.

I Corinthians 2:2 is in Charnock's view throughout his book, and it is the governing theme of his first chapter.
It would be pride to think that [the Corinthian's] fancies could be more prevalent than evangelical reason; and therefore the apostle would do nothing but endeavor to set out Christ in his own colours, as he hung upon the cross, that their souls might be captivated to the obedience of a crucified Lord. (26)
The first chapter is divided as follows:


  1. All human wisdom must be denied, when it comes in competition with the doctrine of Christ.
  2. Christ and his death is the choicest subject for the wisest ear.
  3. As all Christ, so especially his death, is the object of faith.
  4. As all Christ, so more especially his death in all the mysteries of it, ought to be the main subject of a Christian's study and knowledge.
I. In the first spring [origin]. His death was ordered by God
  • An act of his sovereignty
  • An act of the choicest love
II. Consider the person suffering
  • In regard of his dignity
  • The willingness of his suffering
  • The greatness of his suffering
III. Consider the fruits of his death, which will render it worth our study
  • The appeasing of the wrath of God for us
  • Silencing the law
  • Upon this must follow the removal of guilt
  • The conquest of Satan
  • Sanctification is another fruit of the cross of Christ
  • Opening heaven for us

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New "Meeting Room" For the SC Reading Group

The SC Reading Group will be meeting in Room SC-SB4. That is, Room Solus Christus-Side Bar 4.

A new link (4th from top) has been added to the side-bar for our group. Each Wednesday I plan to add a new "meeting" link to the list. To join the weekly discussion, simply click the appropriate link and share away (great comments last week!). These links will remain on the sidebar until we finish Charnock. Hopefully this will be easier for everyone to attend and revisit our "meetings." (Need I remind anyone of the rack?).

Reminder: This week's portion is pp. 25-42. Enjoy!

Blessings to you all in Christ, John 3:30


A prayer from The Valley of Vision (p 256).
O God, Thou art very great,

My lot is to approach thee with godly fear and humble confidence, for thy condescension equals thy grandeur, and thy goodness is thy glory.

I am unworthy, but thou dost welcome; guilty, but thou are merciful; indigent, but thy riches are unsearchable.

Thou has shown boundless compassion towards me by not sparing thy Son, and by giving me freely all things in him;

This is the foundation of my hope, the refuge for my safety, the new and living way to thee, the means of that conviction of sin, brokenness of heart, and self-despair, which will endear to me the gospel.

Happy are they who are Christ's, in him at peace with thee, justified from all things, delivered from coming wrath, made heirs of future glory;

Give me such deadness to the world, such love to the Saviour, such attachment to his house, such devotedness to his service, as proves me a subject of his salvation.

May every part o my character and conduct make a serious and amiable impression on others, and impel them to ask the way to the Master.

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful, injure the prosperity of my soul, but rather increase it.

Send me thy help, for thine appointments are not meant to make me independent of thee, and the best means will be in vain without super-added blessings.

Your Best Life Now

9 Marks reviews Your Best Life Now.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fo' All My Brotha's In Da' Hood

Oh my! Relevant Revolution has done something that is both culturally relevant (to a particular sub-set of culture) and unique without compromizing the message of the gospel...and I like it! Alot. More than not compromizing the message of the gospel, they actually quote God word-for-word for 66 entire books! Check this out...
  1. The Bible on Beat
  2. Sermon Jams
(Strangely enough, I think these sermons might be even easier to listen to in this format?!? Maybe I need a funky beat ambiance while I'm preaching at Grace Church?)

Example Sermon Jam Sessions:
(HT: Ben Clark)

Easy Believism

Good study on easy-believism. Here's a quote from the article by B.H. Carroll.
"To leave out or minimize repentance, no matter what sort of a faith you preach, is to prepare a generation of professors who are such in name only. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on 25 years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can't put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by 1/2 and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart... . Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate."

- B.H. Carroll, in Repentance and Remission of Sins
(HT: Cam Fondren)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Interest Meeting #5 - Vision & Mission of Grace Church

We praise the Lord the favor He has shown in the first four Interest Meetings for Grace Church. Thank you all for your prayers.

With great anticipation we are looking forward to being together again on Sunday evening to consider how doctrine and practice will be wed in the life of this new church. We plan to discuss covenant membership, corporate worship, grace groups, children's ministries, double-talk, and more. Again, thank you all for your prayers.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Reading Group #1 Notes


Thursday, October 05, 2006

WWJD...When He Is About To Die?

Tell folks not to weep for Me, but weep for you!

"Tiny" Bit Of Legalism

Maltreatment by rack will be the punishment for three unexcused absences from the SC Reading Group. No pressure. Ghmm Ghmm. We won't mention names (unless you have 20/20...look closely).

Brad, Brandon, Brienne, Bryan, Clif, Cody, Jake, Jonathan, Kevin, Nathan, Ron, Shaun, and Todd

Share Away

Do not comment on this post. Click the link below...

Since I've posted a few things since our "meeting," I wanted to make sure our groupies had an obvious place to share their thoughts today. Go here to chime in.

Edwards On Evil

Everone battles with the problem of evil. Where did evil come from? Why? Who's to blame?

Today being the anniversary of Jonathan Edward's 303 birthday, Sam Storms invites him to try to answer this perplexing question. Worship now:

Edwards on Evil at 303
Sam Storms
Oct 05, 2006

There’s nothing particularly special about the number 303, but those of you who know me probably figured out that I couldn’t let October 5th go by without saying something about Jonathan Edwards. For those of you who didn’t know, Edwards was born on this day 303 years ago. It seems appropriate, then, at least for me anyway, that we take note of his immense contribution to our understanding of God.

One of Edwards’ more intriguing and controversial suggestions concerns the problem of evil. He addressed the subject on numerous occasions, but nowhere with greater clarity than in Miscellany 348 (see the Yale edition of Edwards’ works, The Miscellanies, edited by Thomas A. Schafer [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994], pp. 419-20).

I’d like to cite his comments together with a few observations of my own in an attempt to bring clarity to this massively difficult subject. I’ve taken the liberty of smoothing out Edwards’ prose in order to facilitate our grasp of his argument. Here is what he said:

“It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested and another not at all, for then the effulgence would not answer the reality.”

Edwards argues elsewhere that it is more than “proper” and “excellent” that God’s glory shine forth in its fullness, it is essential. This isn’t because something other than and outside God requires it of him. Rather, it is the very nature of divine glory that it tends toward self-expression and expansion, not in the sense of growth or quantitative increase, but manifestation and display for the sake of the joy of God’s creatures in it. Not only that, but it is “proper” that all of God’s glory be seen that we may know God as he truly is and not simply in part. If one or several divine attributes were disproporti onately dominant in their display (and others barely noted at all), an imbalanced and inaccurate view of God would emerge (this is what Edwards meant when he said that otherwise “the effulgence would not answer the reality”). He continues:

“Thus it is necessary that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

In using the word “necessary” he is not suggesting that sin, considered in and of itself, has a right or inherent claim on existence. Rather, sin was “necessary” in the sense that in its absence there would be no occasion for the display of his righteous wrath, justice, and holiness as that in God which requires punishment (or at least no display sufficient for a “complete” or true knowledge of what God is like and why he is glorious). And without a revelation (or “shining forth”) of the wrath that sin deserves there would scarcely be a revelation of the true and majestic depths of goodness, love, and grace that deliver us from it.

“If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s justice in hatred of sin or in punishing it, . . . or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. No matter how much happiness he might bestow, his goodness would not be nearly as highly prized and admired. . . . and the sense of his goodness heightened.

So evil is necessary if the glory of God is to be perfectly and completely displayed. It is also necessary for the highest happiness of humanity, because our happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of God is imperfect (because of a disproportionate display of his attributes), the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.”

This point is directly related to the question: Why didn’t God elect all unto eternal life? Paul addressed this point in Romans 9:22-23 by reminding us that God desired to show his wrath and make known his power in order that his mercy and grace might be seen in unmistakable clarity and his glory displayed to his everlasting praise. Were he to have elected all, rather than some, to eternal life this goal would not have been attained nor would the plenitude of God’s glory been sufficiently seen.

Such was Edwards’ attempt to account for the existence of evil. I don’t expect everyone to applaud his efforts, but there is one thing on which we can, indeed must, agree: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36).

Show And Tell

According to Kairos Journal, modern evangelicals are having a not-so-showy tell-all session about what's most important to us. Below is a recent article in the Journal:

What Do the Christian Bestsellers Say about Christians?

Christians have always supplemented their reading of Scripture with helpful books. The earliest believers, for example, read Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp; authors who wrote about the importance of the gospel, the value of piety, and the danger of heresy. They presented, according to one historian, the “great saving truths of the Faith . . . as vital realities, urgent in their relevance to life, and not as an academic exercise.”1 However imperfect, their writings provide a window into the values of a young Church. If the Church fathers could read contemporary Christian literature, what would they learn? An examination of Christian bestsellers2 leads one to several, disturbing, conclusions.

Theology has nothing to teach us.
Looking, for example, at the fifty top bestsellers in June of 2005, it is easy to infer that Christianity is a mile wide but only an inch deep. Christians are interested in marriage, depression, politics, and pornography but are not inclined to read about the character of God or explore the contours of theology. Simply put, believers do not buy works that plumb the depths of doctrine. Only Randy Alcorn’s Heaven (13) is a purely theological work. As it stands, the evangelical world is anxious to read The Purpose Driven Life (1) by Rick Warren. His book introduces Christians to the most basic elements of the faith: worship, discipleship, fellowship, etc. These elements are more than important, they are essential. But they are only a start. The Christian should seek more than to understand the Christian life; he ought to pursue the Christian God! Unfortunately, millions of believers are content to drink spiritual milk—unaware of the feasts that will probably never make the bestseller lists.

Self-denial has nothing to teach us.
Ignatius wrote, “I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”3 How foreign this statement is in today’s Church. The bestseller lists promote self-reference not self-denial. In Approval Addiction (9), Joyce Meyer wants to help readers accept their faults. In Come Thirsty (10), Max Lucado writes to believers feeling ineffective. In Your Best Life Now (4), Osteen teaches the masses how to have daily satisfaction and victory.4 “It’s all about ‘me’” is the unspoken mantra of evangelicalism. Personal growth is a worthy goal; every believer ought to strive for sanctification. Still, these bestsellers (and their readers) are missing the main point. Jesus called His disciples to deny themselves, carry their cross, and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). Where is self-denial today? Absent without leave.

The past has nothing to teach us.
One looks in vain for a word from Christian history on the bestseller list. There is more interest in a fictionalized future like The Rising (14) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins than knowing how the Spirit has grown the Church in the past. The only biography (a great way to learn history) on the bestseller list is Broken on the Back Row (31), Sandi Patty’s account of her divorce. There is no virtue in romanticizing the past. Still, there is no wisdom in ignoring it either. A Church that forgets the past runs the risk of forgetting the Lord (Judges 3:7).

Much more could be said.5 Thankfully, the bestseller list is not without its bright spots. Three apologetics works, for example, made the list, proving that readers are anxious to defend the faith.6 Nonetheless, overall, the books Christians read indicate that they believe the Bible is there to teach us how to live well-ordered, peaceful, meaningful lives. This is a shallow half-truth. The pious mind knows that every Christian ought to have a higher priority: “to observe His authority in all things, reverence His majesty, take care to advance His glory, and obey His commandments.”7 Books that carry these weighty themes and promote these worthy goals are out there,8 but one has to walk to the back of the bookstore to find them.

Footnotes :

Maxwell Staniforth, trans. Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers (Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1968), 11.


The following analysis is based upon the top fifty books of June 2005, in retail sales, as compiled by the Christian Booksellers Association and found on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Website, http://www.ecpa.org/ECPA/bestsell.html (accessed October 5, 2005). The number in parentheses following each title indicates its place on the June 2005 bestseller list.


Ignatius, “The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library), 75, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.v.iv.html (accessed July 1, 2005).


Other works that may fit into the “self-help” category include: Your Best Life Now Journal (49), Joel Osteen, Warner Faith; Beyond Jabez (19), Bruce Wilkinson & Brian Smith, Multnomah; Battlefield of the Mind (39), Joyce Meyer, Warner Faith; Waking the Dead (50), John Eldredge, Nelson Books; God Is Closer than You Think (33), John Ortberg, Zondervan.


For example, a look at any Christian bestseller list would easily lead one to conclude that Christians are obsessed with issues of manhood, womanhood, marriage, and parenting. Manhood: Wild at Heart (6), John Eldredge, Nelson Books; Every Man’s Battle (30), Stephen Arterburn & Fred Stoeker, WaterBrook. Womanhood: Captivating (3), John & Stasi Eldredge, Nelson Books; For Women Only (12), Shaunti Feldhahn, Multnomah; The Power of a Praying Wife (15), Stormie Omartian, Harvest House; Every Young Woman’s Battle (16), Shannon Ethridge & Stephen Arterburn, WaterBrook; Pathway to Purpose for Women (28), Katie Brazelton, Zondervan; Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (42-tie), Joanna Weaver, WaterBrook; Believing God (45), Beth Moore, Broadman & Holman. Marriage: The Five Love Languages (8), Gary Chapman, Northfield (Moody); Love and Respect (37), Emerson Eggerichs, Integrity Publishers; What Every Man Wants in a Woman, What Every Woman Wants in a Man (40), John & Diana Hagee, Charisma (Strang). Parenthood: Bringing Up Boys (46), James Dobson, Tyndale; The Power of a Praying Parent (32), Stormie Omartian, Harvest House; Jesus Wants All of Me (22), Phil A. Smouse, Barbour Publishing. It seems as if believers are looking for a sanctified version of Vogue or O, The Oprah Magazine. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals purchasing the bestsellers are women. In June, 2005, twenty-two percent of the bestsellers are targeted directly to women, compared with 4 percent written directly for men. In addition to the womanhood and parenthood books, most likely being purchased by women, four Christian romance titles appeared on the bestseller list: Moonlight on the Millpond (7), Lori Wick, Harvest House; A Thousand Tomorrows (21), Karen Kingsbury, Center Street (Warner Faith); Whence Came a Prince (24), Liz Curtis Higgs, WaterBrook; and Beyond Tuesday Morning (47), Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan.


This is evidenced by Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ (35), The Case for a Creator (41), Zondervan, and Hank Hanegraaffs’ The Bible Answer Book (38), J. Countryman. Another encouraging aspect is the popularity of devotional literature. There is a hunger for spirituality which is why Oswald Chambers continues to be popular: My Utmost for His Highest (updated) (17), Oswald Chambers & Jim Reimann, ed.; Discovery House (Barbour); My Utmost for His Highest (26), Oswald Chambers, Barbour; and The Bible Promise Book (NIV) (34), Toni Sortor, ed.; Barbour.


John Calvin, Writings on Pastoral Piety, ed. Elsie Anne Mckee (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001), 72. Calvin continued, “Here indeed is pure and real religion: faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence, and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed in the law. And we ought to note this fact even more diligently: all people have a vague general veneration for God, but very few really reverence Him; and wherever there is great ostentation in ceremonies, sincerity of heart is rare indeed.” Ibid., 72-73.


See Kairos Journal article, "Wanted: A Few Good Books."

Kairos Journal is primarily for pastors. To become a member of the Journal someone else has to verify that you are a pastor. I've been helped by their resources and would encourage other pastors to take part.

Congratulations! You've Just Won A Nobel Prize For Being Wrong!

About the "Big-Bang."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meeting #1 - SC Reading Group

Let's worship the Lamb Who was slain from the foundation of the earth...

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
P. 23 - Whoso wants to climb Jacob's ladder, to see angels, to touch the stars, to become intoxicated with heavenly emotions, to stand near the Gate of Gethsemane and to have his heart wrung with feelings of adoration at the goodness of God - let him read on.

And when he is finished let him not see Charnock or any man. But let him gaze on the face of Jesus and cry out through choking tears: 'I have seen the God-Man in his agonies. Surely this suffering was damnation taken lovingly for me. To Thee, O blessed Christ, I give my heart promptly and sincerely'.
As Packer shows, there is a Godwardness about this book to which our day may be unaccustomed. But, may we be better acquainted with our God - through His Christ - because of our time in this book! Welcome to our first meeting, please share your thoughts about this week's reading.

Conference Audio Online

For those who couldn't make it (and for those who did!) all of the audio is now online from the Desiring God National Conference.

Why Do You Avail Yourself To Others Who Promote Their Superiority Over You?

John Piper had some fun with his lack of cultural relevance (a thing, he speculated, that Driscoll wouldn't lack) when he gave this answer.

(HT: JT)

Bible Church of Little Rock - Guest Speakers

Only two hours from Memphis, these events would be well worth the travel.

Enjoyment Without God?

For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? - Ecclesiastes 2:25

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

8 Word Apologetic

At least one of the guys who contributes to the Pyromaniacs blog is on staff with John MacArthur. They have a great blog, and I like this simple 8 word apologetic argument.