Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tribes and the Lost Art of Discernment

Yancey Arrington:
Unfortunately for some, looking to leaders who don’t share your theological distinctives or church philosophy is anathema. I’ve been places where if you quote [a non-tribe leader's name] or say you like [said leader's] approach to dealing with a specific issue you run the risk of being regarded as some kind of sellout, pragmatist who’s a heartbeat away from purchasing a laser light show and circus clowns for your Sunday morning “event.” You definitely are in need of a strong rebuke…or better yet, a gossip session: “Did you hear who [leader in your tribe] has been influenced by? What’s he thinking? We started our tribe because we don’t want to be like those guys!” The sad result is that isolationism and insularity become shibboleths for who the real faithful are. Do they quote our guys, go to our conferences, read our books? Another unfortunate product is the fostering of an either/or mentality which tragically pits good things against each other, forcing a tribe’s faithful to embrace one at the loss of the other. For example, one person’s tribe is either into theology or leadership but it can’t be into both. Embrace theology and you’re regarded as too doctrinaire for your own good. Embrace leadership and risk being branded as guy who puts ends over means. It’s crazy, pick any tribe and often you’ll get subjected to all kinds of false dichotomies (attractional church vs. incarnational church, Sunday school vs. missional communities, etc.) forcing you to pick the “right” side. 
Whenever I see this either/or mentality I want to scream, “Whatever happened to discernment?”
Read the rest.  

Dunk of the Day

A Subtle, but Powerful Way to Love Your Spouse

Dan Darling:
There are all sorts of big and small ways to show love to your spouse. One of the easiest, but powerful ways to demonstrate this is to talk about them positively in public. This one reason I am so grateful for Angela. She has to live with my sinful tendencies, my human weaknesses, and my annoying quirks. There is a lot of material from which she could easily draw when talking with her girlfriends or other friends. And yet Angela has always talked well about me in public. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing to me. If she has a problem with me, she tells me. But never does she send a message through passive-aggressive shots delivered while in public. I appreciate and love her for that and I try very hard to return the favor. 
I’m amazed at how often I hear good, faithful Christian couples undermine each other in public. I hear wives degrade their husband’s character and worth, sometimes in the church parking lot. I cringe every time I hear this because in my mind I can see the strength and confidence of the husband shrink. I also hear husbands rail on their wives in a sort of “can you believe what my wife just did?” kind of manner that tells me how much they really value the wive God has given them. 
Angela and I are far from perfect. We have many flaws. But I’m grateful we’ve made this small commitment to each other. It’s hard for two people to walk together in mutual love if one or the other feels degraded. It’s crippling to the kind of long-lasting marital love that reflects the love Christ has for His Church. 
In fact, I would bet there is more value to not saying negative things about a spouse than the kind of over-the-top flattery we sometimes display in order to have others commend us. If my wife never said I was “the best husband alive” on Facebook, but committed to not criticizing me in public, I’d be a happy man. And I”m guessing she’d say the same about me. Not tearing her down in public is better than a thousand “smoking hot wife” references on Twitter. 
The reason this matters, I think, is because we often reveal our true selves when we’re trying to posture ourselves in front of other people, in a crowd. We reveal our true motivations. And for the other person to observe us sort of using them as fodder for a well-timed quip or cutting remark–this hurts more than we might realize. 


Check eBook Alert


The Church: The Gospel Made Visible
Mark Dever




Pastoral Leadership Is... 
Dave Earley




The Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Powerful Testimony In The Midst of Deep Suffering

David Murray:
This is one of the most moving and instructive testimonies I’ve ever heard, with some great advice here too about how to minister to and counsel suffering people.


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Accidental Pharisees
Larry Osborne




Center Church
Tim Keller




For The City
Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter




Innovations Dirty Little Secret
Larry Osborne





The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton

Loving The Black Letters of the Bible Too

Matt Smethurst:
With the way some Christians talk, you might be forgiven for wondering why the canon includes more than four books. Sure, the Old Testament is useful in tracing the development of human reflection on the divine, and the New Testament in conveying the thoughts of some of Jesus' earliest followers. But if you really want to know what God thinks about something, you hear today, you'll need consult the recorded thoughts of Jesus. And if you want to do that, you'll need to stick to the "red letters." In other words, flip to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John (or that less traversed terrain, Revelation 2-3) and stay put.

To be sure, I understand the impulse. It makes some sense in light of the differences between the sinless Son of God (on display in the Gospels) and the bona fide sinners who penned most of the rest of New Testament (unbelieving James and Jude, denying Peter, blaspheming Paul, and so on). Dubious résumés, to say the least.

Nevertheless, Christians have always recognized the God-breathed character of their words. The miracle of inspiration means the whole Bible is the voice of God. While central and foundational, the fourfold Gospel witness is no more true or reliable or relevant or binding than the black letters that precede and follow. Indeed, when we treat the red letters more seriously than the black ones, we muzzle the Son who speaks in all of them.
Read the rest.

Monday, April 21, 2014

"How dare you approach the mercy-seat of God on the basis of what kind of day you had..."


How dare you approach the mercy-seat of God on the basis of what kind of day you had, as if that were the basis for our entrance into the presence of the sovereign and holy God? No wonder we cannot beat the Devil. This is works theology. It has nothing to do with grace and the exclusive sufficiency of Christ. Nothing. 
Do you not understand that we overcome the accuser on the ground of the blood of Christ? Nothing more, nothing less. That is how we win. It is the only way we win. This is the only ground of our acceptance before God. If you drift far from the cross, you are done. You are defeated. 
We overcome the accuser of our brothers and sisters, we overcome our consciences, we overcome our bad tempers, we overcome our defeats, we overcome our lusts, we overcome our fears, we overcome our pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb.

The New Frontier of Christianity = China


Joe Carter:
In his book The Rise of Christianity, sociologist Rodney Stark estimates that during the first 350 years of Christianity, the religion grew at a rate of 40 percent per decade. During the 61 year period from 1949 to 2010, Christianity grew at a rate of 78.7 percent per year
Part of the reason for the exponential growth is attributable to the sheer size of the population of China. With 1.351 billion people in the country, Christians comprise only 5 percent of the country. If current trends hold, in 2030 Christians in China will make up almost 9 percent of the total population. While the ratio of Christians to population would still be small, the total numbers are astounding. By mid-century, China may have more citizens who identify as Christians than the United States has citizens
Christians in America often find reasons to be pessimistic about our religion's waning influence on our country. But we should remember that our land is not the last bastion of hope for the faith. The remarkable growth in global Christianity -- particularly in Asia and Africa -- should give us reason to be optimistic. The Holy Spirit is changing hearts and minds around the globe in a way that has not been seen since the first century after Christ's Ascension. For this we should be eternally grateful. 
Those of us in the West should continue to support our Chinese brothers and sisters with finances, missionaries, theological resources, and -- most importantly -- prayer. In the latter half of this century, assuming the Lord tarries, we may need them to do the same for the American church.
Read the rest.

Cheap eBook Alert


Thinking. Loving. Doing
John Piper and David Mathis




Baptism and the Lord's Supper
Thabiti and J. Ligon Duncan III




Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
William Lane Craig




Indescribable
Louie Giglio and Matt Redman





When Missions Shapes The Mission
David Horner

Friday, April 18, 2014

This is So Important To Remember on Good Friday

David Burnette:
It only makes sense on Good Friday to shine the spotlight on Jesus. 
Christ’s death is, after all, the climax of the Gospel accounts (along with the resurrection, of course). That the the Son of God willingly took our punishment is the foundation of our hope and it should be the object of our deepest gratitude. But if God’s wrath is what Christ shielded us from, then how can we rejoice in the Father’s intentions on Good Friday? 
The cross certainly reminds of God’s holiness and of his hatred of sin. However, unless we take a step back to consider what was going on at Calvary, our view of God the Father can become distorted. He can become a cold and angry Deity who in his quest for justice is just itching to wipe us out. Until, thankfully, Jesus intervenes. 
Gratefully, this is not how Scripture presents God the Father. 
In The Cross of Christ John Stott cautions us against characterizing the Father as Judge and the Son as Savior. It is one and the same God who saves us in Christ (140). This error may at first sound subtle, but it’s always a big deal when we have a wrong view of God. Just as we honor the Son by thanking him for his sacrifice on the cross, so too we should honor the Father by responding rightly to his role in our salvation. To this end, here are three things to remember about God the Father on this Good Friday …
Read the rest.  

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The Hole In our Holiness
Kevin DeYoung




The Unexpected Jesus
R.C. Sproul




A Call To Spiritual Reformation
D.A. Carson




Preaching to a Post-Everything World
Zack Eswine




The Work of Christ
R.C. Sproul

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Urban Dog Sledding

This is so cool, until you wipe out hard.

Resurrection = You Can Be Made New

Christianity Packs Its Office and Leaves the Building

Very interesting piece of writing here from Jonathan Leeman.

Does Christianity have anything to offer in the public square?

One of the Best Easter Quotes I Have Read

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.
- G. K. Chesterton,  The Everlasting Man

(HT:  Randy)

Terminally Casual Relationships

Paul Tripp:
If I were scroll through the contacts on my phone or search through my Facebook friends or look at the people I follow on Twitter, I could come up with a fairly long list of people I know. I could tell you where they lived, what they did for work, who they were married to, what their kids were doing, and even a few personal preferences or hobbies.

The opposite would also be true - there's a fairly long list of people who would know where I live, what I do, who my wife and kids are, and a few things that I enjoy in my free time. But here's the real question - how many people do I actually know, and how many people really know me?

I'm afraid that, in the body of Christ, we settle for terminally casual relationships all the time. Sure, we have acquired some superficial data on people we call friends, but we don't actually know them. We participate in weekly or monthly "church fellowship" but there's actually very little fellowship going on.
Read the rest.

Cheap eBook Alert


Captivated: Beholding The Mystery of Jesus' Death and Resurrection
Thabiti M. Anyabwile




An Approach To Extended Memorization of Scripture
Andrew M. Davis

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Prayer When It's Most Profound: Getting The Answer We Didn't Want

Powerful testimony here from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Makes Sense When You Put It That Way

Awesome.  Musicians and artists of all kinds can relate.