Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

At conception?

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Friday, June 27, 2008

The George Carlin Post I Wish I'd Written

Earlier this week comedian George Carlin died of a massive heart failure. This news is profoundly sad in that Carlin was known for blasphemous humor, and the Bible is clear that "the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Pyromaniacs blogger Dan Phillips has wrote an excellent post reflecting on how Carlin will be remembered (found HERE). At the end of this post, Phillips also makes some comments pertinent to the recent discussion on this blog concerning Mark Driscoll.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Biblical View of Government

From the book Understanding the Times by David A. Noebel:

The Bible portrays the proper rule of good government as one of administering justice (Jeremiah 23:5; Amos 5:15), protecting the weak from the bully, the poor from the rich and powerful (Isaiah 3:13-14; Amos 2:6; 5:12), the innocent from the guilty (Romans 13:3); promoting equality before the law (Acts 10:34; Exodus 23:6); working diligently to restrain evil; protecting the body politic from hostile invasion (2 Chronicles 26:9-15)... human government was instituted by God to protect man's unalienable rights from mankind's sinful tendencies (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:1-7). Human nature being what it is, man will attempt to infringe on his fellow man's rights in an effort to improve his own life, therefore a political system must exist to protect rights and keep these evil tendencies at bay... Most everyone believes that furthering justice is an important task of the state, but the Christian sees justice as the principal reason for the state's very existence.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

RBA: "In Dialogue with Bearing the Image"

At the Together for the Gospel Conference a few months ago, while listening to Thabiti Anyabwile's session talk titled, "Bearing the Image," in which it was argued that "race" is an unbiblical category, one question that came to my mind was, "I wonder what my friends at Reformed Blacks of America will think about this."

Well, due to yesterday's blogpost by RBA founder Michael Mewborn, we now have access at least to some questions that RBA has concerning the talk. Mewborn raises some good issues, and I would encourage anyone reading this post to both listen to Anyabwile's talk (linked above) and to interact with Mewborn's post found HERE.


Monday, June 23, 2008

"Andrew and Albert Mohler are now friends." [!]

And now I'm finally on Facebook.

See my profile HERE.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

John MacArthur's Critique of Mark Driscoll (Part 2)

One response from my last post on this subject was, "this is very old news," which is true. MacArthur's critique of Driscoll in the December 11, 2006 edition of Pulpit Magazine is ancient history (in terms of how time is reckoned in the blogosphere) and is very well known. Somewhat more recent and less well-known is the following from Dr. MacArthur, spoken during an interview by Todd Friel on the April 7, 2008 edition of Way of the Master Radio. [The entire interview can be heard HERE, the statements concerning Driscoll start about 3/4 of the way through.]

Well, I have a great concern about [Mark Driscoll]. The book that he wrote, Confessions of a Missional Pastor [sic]: there are statements in that book that are so sexually explicit and unnecessary and purely gratuitous humor at the basest kind of level: I saw a video from a service in the church in January in which comments were made from his pulpit, which were then put on the video- the DVD [sic]– on the website, which again, were sexually explicit in a gratuitous and unnecessary way in which he referred to a certain sin and actually twisted out-of-context a Bible verse as a kind of way to mock that sin. You know, Todd, look, I said this at the [Shepherds'] Conference, there was a time when we were worried about the church adjusting itself to accommodate the peoples' social expectations, and then their psychological expectations, and now the latest wave of this is let's identify with them at their sensual level. And I think that baser approach- that's something I've never heard of in my life- I've never, ever, in the name of ministry heard anyone who would speak at that level of explicit language with regard to things sexual, which the Bible always treats with euphemistic language. I just think it's a sad thing when we have to appeal to people at that basest level, which, of course, is at the level at which our culture exists, and if you want to "contextualize," you end up crawling down to that level.
Friel questioned MacArthur about reports that pastors John Piper and C.J. Mahaney have been mentoring Driscoll, to which MacArthur responded:

I hope that's the case. I just think that there's a dignity, there's a maturity, there's a holiness, a virtue, a fear of God that belongs with the pastorate, with spiritual ministry. That is a sine qua non- it's an absolute- it's not negotiable- no matter how funny, clever, glib you might be. There's a dignity, there's a refinement, that belongs in the ministry. The Bible talks about that: being "sober-minded"- the pursuit of godliness, holiness, virtue, the fear of God- all those things seem to me to be obvious. Speech that comes out of your mouth, no filthy communication, only that which ministers grace to the hearer: you just can't move people from the sensual to the spiritual; you can't put one thought in their mind and then try to transition them to something holy. So, yeah, it's a new kind of thing that I never, ever, imagined would happen, when you can use sensuality as a ploy to draw people into things holy. I think it's the opposite of the right approach.
For me, the most interesting statement from the above is: "there was a time when we were worried about the church adjusting itself to accommodate the people's social expectations, and then their psychological expectations, and now the latest wave of this is let's identify with them at their sensual level." I think that it is obvious that in post-Enlightenment times into the early 20th century (and even, to some extent, today) the church in America accommodated to social expectations in the sense of seeking to impress high culture and to become academically credible- something which led to compromise with higher criticism, leading to skepticism concerning the authority of Scripture and a loss of the message of who Jesus is and what He has done under liberal theology. In the late 20th century and now into the 21st, evangelicalism, which sought to recover the good news of Jesus from liberal theology, became prone to accommodating to people's psychological expectations in the sense of incorporating secular psychology into Christian counseling and utilizing psychological terms in defining biblical concepts, which led to skepticism concerning the sufficiency of Scripture, and then a loss of clarity regarding the message of who Jesus is (rather than being omniscient and sovereign, He became viewed as a "risk-taker") and what He has done (rather than redeeming sinners from God's wrath, He died to allow us to have a purpose in life). MacArthur's assertion is that as the 21st century progresses, the church is now in danger of identifying with people on their sensual level, and he seems to have a point. Where this is true, the holiness of Scripture is in danger of being lost. MacArthur is right to point out that, though the Bible does use common- and even, as C.S. Lewis said- "earthy" language- the Bible is not vulgar, and it does utilize euphemism in regard to sex in particular. Even the Song of Solomon treats sex in a poetic fashion and throughout the Bible sex retains a dignity that is unknown in popular American culture and, one fears, in churches that seek to accommodate culture. In all, we must retain an aversion to corrupt speech to glorify a holy God and to honor Christ as holy.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Book Recommendation: Facing Tyson

Of the books on my "wish list" for my birthday, only one was given to me- Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul (thank you, mother-in-law!). I did get some other nice presents, including enough money from my MeMa and my aunt Vickie to buy several books.

While at Borders, thinking of what I would buy, I decided that for once I would not purchase a book on theology, and I picked up the book Facing Tyson by Ted Kluck. Having read Kluck's book Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) [written with Kevin DeYoung] earlier this summer, I knew that Kluck is a Christian, and was interested to see if his faith made any difference in how he wrote a sports book. I was pleasantly surprised to see that trusting in God's grace through Jesus Christ did seem to impact how Kluck wrote this book, even though Tyson and the majority of the other boxers about whom Kluck writes are not Christians.

Kluck's faith is evident in his evaluation of Tyson, which neither excuses Tyson's bad behavior, nor demonizes the former heavyweight champ. Kluck seems to demonstrate a real understanding that we could all be in Tyson's position apart from God's grace. Some specific statements in the book also seem to indicate a concern on Kluck's part for Tyson's salvation. [For example: "Tyson seems comfortable with the doctrine of sin at least, and seems to understand his own desire for redemption."] Especially interesting to the Christian reader is the chapter in which Kluck interviews former boxer Marvis Frazier, who now ministers with Prison Fellowship.

I would not recommend this book for youth, as the statements by various boxers often contain a good deal of cursing. (We should, perhaps, say, "Cussing like a boxer," rather than, "Cussing like a sailor.") I do wish that Kluck had edited the language a bit more in order to make this book accessible to younger boxing fans, but this is my only negative critique.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Looking At All of Life in Light of Scripture

In my last two posts, I gave some quotes in regards to a biblical view of homosexual behavior and I urged readers to contribute to disaster relief due to flooding.

Within much of American Christianity, the current mood would support the second post (in regards to disaster relief), but would deem the first impolitic in some way. With so many other sins and problems in our culture, why should we make issue out of homosexual behavior?

Other Christians may be comfortable with teaching against homosexual behavior, but be uncomfortable with being urged to help others in a sacrificial way.

But I would point out that I did not raise either issue about which I've been recently blogging. Two of the top stories on the news yesterday were the flooding in the Midwest and homosexual marriage in California. Christians must be ready to minister to people, responding to the events of today with teaching from God's Word and action based upon this teaching. We must look at all events in light of God's Word so that our own thoughts will be challenged and we may grow in godliness, both receiving forgiveness from Christ and becoming more like Him.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Indiana Disaster Relief

During the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting last week in Indianapolis, one messenger to the Convention, impacted by the sight of destruction across Indiana caused by flooding that many of us had seen while traveling to the Convention- and by the knowledge that President Bush had declared almost three dozen counties federal disaster areas due to flooding- offered a motion that an offering be taken up at the Convention annual meeting in order to help flood victims. As no mechanism was in place at the meeting to collect, account for, and distribute such funds, messengers were instead asked to donate disaster relief through the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and led in giving through the State Convention by SBC President Frank Page. Donations to help with disaster relief in Indiana can be sent to the following address [found on THIS WEBPAGE]:

Indiana Disaster Relief
State Convention of Baptists in Indiana
900 N High School Road
Indianapolis, IN. 46214

Many readers of this blog may think, "Well, I don't have much money right now, so I cannot afford to give." I want to encourage you- my wife and I do not have much money either. A couple of weeks ago, my lunch was a ham sandwich on only one slice of bread, because that's all we had in the house and we were out of grocery money (we did get paychecks the next day and were able to buy more groceries, but the budget was tight). Yet today I am sending a check for $25 to help with this disaster relief. I write this, not out of a desire for any kind of sympathy, and in spite of an aversion to telling about our giving, but it is my hope that others reading this will sincerely pray about what God may have you to give to this cause and to give sacrificially.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Danger of Ambiguity: Homosexuality As a Test Case

[The following are a excerpts from the book Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.]

On one level, emerging church leaders offer a wise warning: Don't demonize homosexuals, and don't speak without thinking first. McLaren writes, "I hesitate in answering 'the homosexual question' not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I'm a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be pastoral." That makes sense to me. Like McLaren, I get people asking me where our church stands on homosexuality. When the question arises, I try to be sensitive and cautious, because I don't know where the question is coming from.

But I eventually answer the question, something McLaren does not seem to do. McLaren's article, which has been understandably controversial, would be fine if he just said somewhere, "I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong, but that's not all we have to know as pastors. We have to find the question behind the question. But he never says that. Because he doesn't know if it's wrong.

Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say 'it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.' [Written by McLaren HERE.]
New Testament scholar Ben Witherington believes Rob Bell has also been evasive (at best) when asked about homosexuality. Witherington is largely positive toward Bell, but critical when it comes to his ethics. Without coming out and affirming homosexual behavior, Bell, speaking to a packed-out auditorium on his Sex God book tour, made all the usual arguments for acceptance of homosexuality. The arguments went something like this (with Witherington's response summarized in parentheses): We shouldn't speak on this issue unless we have gay friends (but didn't Paul speak to the issue?). Jesus never said anything about homosexuality (but didn't Jesus talk about God's design for marriage and celibacy for single persons?). [My additional comment: Jesus also never taught against slavery, but I hope emergents would be quick to assert that antebellum Christians would have honored Christ by speaking out against the practice of chattel slavery.] We are hypocritical to ignore heterosexual sin (agreed, so let's stop ignoring it). The Bible says nothing about orientation (but it forbids homosexual behavior regardless).
I believe many emergent leaders are truly torn up inside over homosexuality. They don't want to hurt anyone. But their refusal to take a stance (and sometimes their decision to take an unbiblical stance) also hurts people- it hurts those struggling to overcome sexual temptation, it hurts those gently calling homosexuals (along with other sinners) to repentance, and it hurts those who dare to speak with certainty on this issue. After years and sometimes decades in pastoral ministry, is it too much to ask that emergent pastors have at least a working conviction on the issue? Maybe an opinion that is based on evidence, but open to reason?
... There are people in my congregation who struggle with same-gender attraction. To ostracize them for struggling with these desires would be pastorally damaging, but so would an unwillingness to encourage them to fight against these desires.
To all pastors who read this... who will encounter questions about homosexuality, please be sensitive and ask good questions, but do not be silent and do not be uncertain.


Monday, June 09, 2008

The Ten Commandments on This American Life

Each Saturday, while keeping my baby son, I listen to This American Life, which airs in Louisville at 1PM on 89.3FM. On this radio show, there is always a different theme and several stories around that theme. Occasionally, I'll admit, the stories are lousy- I remember one particularly pointless and disgusting (though not explicit in description) story of a man having an affair with an older, married woman. Usually, however, the stories are quite good- they are always well-produced and are entertaining and informative. Some that I have particularly enjoyed are: 1. A story in which sappy break-up songs were discussed, and then the producer of the show actually composed a song about her break-up with her boyfriend, with the help of Phil Collins; 2. A story recounting the political career of Jerry Springer (yes, a true story- he was a politician before hosting his infamous TV program); 3. A story of one of the pioneers in cryogenic preservation of corpses (this, I think, was illustrative of how people have a basic longing for life after death); 4. A report in conjunction with MoneyMarket, which explained the housing mortgage crisis, which has so drastically impacted our economy- the details of which I had been very much ignorant before this show.

This past Saturday, This American Life re-broadcast an episode originally aired on May 4, 2007. The theme of the show was "The Ten Commandments." [The episode may be heard HERE.]

Each segment of the show focused on one or more of the Commandments. The first three were addressed by the author of a book titled Beware of God. As might be expected from a non-Christian show, open contempt was displayed for these commandments- contempt predicated upon a rabbi's outrageous interpretation of them. The fourth commandment was treated by a montage of sounds from congregations- Jewish, Christian, and Muslim- observing the Sabbath: a kind of sociological footnote.

What was interesting about the rest of the show was the contempt poured upon two of the commandments in particular: the tenth commandment (against covetousness) and the seventh commandment (against adultery). The seventh commandment was addressed by a former evangelical, who had tried to abstain from lust (and had felt that he was constantly frustrated) until his early twenties, when a "Christian counselor" told him, basically, that lust is not that big a deal, and the guy immediately went out and bought a Playboy- going AWOL from war against sin. The tenth commandment was entirely dismissed as, 'everyone covets, you just can't help it.'

For one who believes the Bible's presentation of God- that He is the Sovereign Creator of all things- it follows that He has the absolute right to order His creation according to His good will. Creation is ordered by His Law, summarized in the Ten Commandments. We have all broken these commandments, and our hearts are even bent against the commands, seeking to serve self rather than God, so that we are truly powerless against sin. We cannot abstain from covetousness or lust, but the answer is not just to give up or to say, 'Well, everyone does it,' but to cry out for God's mercy- to cry out for a Savior.

Jesus Christ is this Savior. Jesus, the Son of God, was born into this world and lived as a human being just like us in every way, except that He kept all of God's commandments perfectly. He died on the Cross, taking the penalty for our commandment-breaking (our sin) and rose from the grave, showing Himself to be victorious over sin and death. Jesus is now at the right hand of God and offers eternal life to everyone who turns from their sins and trusts in Him.

Dear reader, if you have felt the weight of sin- if you have realized that you cannot stop breaking God's commandments, I urge you: look to Christ for salvation.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

John MacArthur's Critique of Mark Driscoll (Part 1)

Though I appreciate many statements made by Mark Driscoll (as seen, for example in my recent post concerning his critique of prayer labyrinths), I do think that there are some legitimate areas of concern in regards to how he practices ministry. In this post and (hopefully) in a post at the beginning of next week, I will recount John MacArthur's most important critiques of Driscoll's ministry.

MacArthur wrote the following in the December 11, 2006 edition of Pulpit Magazine:

[Driscoll's] defense of substitutionary atonement might help his disciples gain a good grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith; but the lifestyle he models- especially his easygoing familiarity with all this world's filthy fads- practically guarantees that they will make little progress toward authentic sanctification.

What I appreciate about the above critique is that MacArthur does not overlook the major legitimate positive aspect of Driscoll's ministry. Driscoll does consistently defend substitutionary atonement. I would strengthen MacArthur's statement by saying that Driscoll's defense of substitutionary atonement and other aspects of his gospel teaching will help his disciples gain a good grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith; in several audio files and YouTube clips, I've been very much impressed with how Driscoll gives clear summaries of core gospel truths.

However, if MacArthur is correct, then there is a serious reform that needs to take place in Driscoll's ministry. First Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that God's will for His people is our sanctification: our being made holy as He is holy, set apart from this sinful world. If Driscoll is not leading his congregation to increase in sanctification, then he is not truly leading them into God's will for their lives.

Driscoll responds to MacArthur's critique in the book Young, Restless, Reformed, in which he tells author Collin Hansen, "If John MacArthur would have called me or e-mailed me, I would have got on an airplane, flown to Los Angeles, and welcomed his counsel, because I want to do a good job serving Jesus honestly" (145). This is a humble response from Driscoll; though I do not believe that MacArthur was under obligation to contact Driscoll privately concerning public aspects of ministry, and I think that if MacArthur were to personally meet with Driscoll, it could appear that he was less concerned with the objections he has raised. I do hope that Driscoll will have the further humility to receive any correction that may be needed from MacArthur, with or without a personal meeting.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Joel Osteen?!

Three Sundays ago (I believe), my Sunday school teacher, Josh Pinnick (pictured below) walked into the sanctuary of our church building. I think he was wearing a suit that day, which prompted one of the older ladies of the church to ask, "What's he doing here?!" You see, Joel Osteen had been in Louisville that weekend (from what I've been told) and this dear lady thought that he had walked into our small rather doctrinaire Southern Baptist church (not, I think, a typical locale for Osteen to visit). Anyway, readers can rest assured that my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church has not been hijacked by Joel "Your Best Life Now" Osteen.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Of Celebrity and Gospel Proclamation

In yesterday's post, I featured a picture of my friend Chris with Chuck Norris. While it's fun to joke about how a meeting with Norris makes Chris the coolest person I know, this got me thinking on how we evaluate others. In particular, I was thinking about how much regard I tend to give other people in my conversations versus how much regard I give to Christ. Because here's the deal: If I were to meet a celebrity (say Christian Bale, Harrison Ford, Bono, or Jack Johnson), everyone I talk to would know about it. But often I fail to tell others about when I met Jesus Christ or my current friendship with my Lord.

Think of this: meeting a celebrity seems so newsworthy to me; meeting the God of the universe seems mundane.

Why is this the case?

1. Because my faith is often weak: I fail to recognize God for who He is: omnipresent- God is with me when I am at work or with my friends; just- God will bring all sins against Him into account and cares about how we live toward one another; merciful- God extends grace through Jesus and would have me to introduce others to Him.

2. Because others have a high regard for the celebrities of this world, but have no regard (or even disdain) for Christ. People would be impressed if I were to talk about having met a celebrity- people are even interested when I give a second-hand account of my friend Chris meeting Chuck Norris (which is, admittedly, interesting). When I speak about Christ, however, people are uncomfortable. They cannot see Him, and thinking about them brings conviction- for if one acknowledges that Christ was tortured to death for sins and rose from the grave, conquering sins, this means that one cannot continue living in sin. And so when I speak of Christ, my non-Christian friends become very uncomfortable with the fact that they go to strip clubs, smoke pot, or get drunk on the weekends- even if I don't say anything accusatory about these activities, but simply focus on Christ, I can tell there is some tension.

My prayer is for an increase in faith, in wisdom, and in boldness for myself and for all Christians reading this post, that we would be consistent in speaking to others of our God and Savior, Jesus.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Cool Picture

Below is a picture of my friend Chris West as a child hanging out with Chuck Norris:

This picture proves that Chris West is the coolest person I've ever met.

Unknown to him, this encounter with the Chuckinator has also given Chris special powers; just when he needs it most, Chris will find himself suddenly able to execute a perfect flying reverse roundhouse kick to the head!