Archive - February, 2010

Sam Storms, Christian Hedonism, and 2 Corinthians

Sam Storms recently gave a series of excellent messages at the Bethlehem Pastors Conference on the subject of Christian hedonism. You can find the audio for them here. John Piper says of Sam Storms:

“There are few people on the planet who embody in life and in teaching the radically biblical and Edwardsian message of Christian Hedonism better than Sam Storms.”

Storms has just published a two-volume devotional commentary on the book of 2 Corinthians. Each of the volumes has 50 meditations. Each meditation is a 4-5 page reflection on 4-5 verses from the book of 2 Corinthians. They look like great companions to reading through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth. I have always found Sam to be amazingly readable. His book Chosen For Life was a big influence for me 13 years ago as I came to embrace the doctrines of grace. I’ve been grateful for his ministry ever since.

Deep Church at Deep Discount

Until March 1, Christian Audio is offering Jim Belcher’s Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional as an audio book for $2.98. Enter the code “DEEPJUBILEE” (in honor of the Jubilee Conference this weekend in Pittsburgh, PA).
Tim Keller says of this book: “Jim Belcher shows that we don’t have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book.”
Check it out.
HT: Living Jubilee

New Baylor President: Kenneth Starr

Ted Olsen of Christianity Today is reporting that Ken Starr (yes, you remember him) is to become the new President of Baylor University. Starr has been one of the most prominent lawyers defending California’s Proposition 8 (which defines marriage as between one man and one woman).
Read the whole thing.

Thomas Sowell: Intellectuals and Society

Thomas Sowell’s most recent book is called Intellectuals and Society. It came out last month and is still running in the top 200 on Amazon. Jonah Goldberg calls this book “an instant classic” and with good reason. In it, Sowell explains how it is that intellectuals have come to dominate the political landscape (even among leaders who have disdain for them). Sowell also examines the track record of intellectuals, who have often been egregiously in the wrong (yet somehow frequently seem to escape any responsibility for their misjudgments). In this 37 minute interview, you’ll get a good sense of the flavor of the book. And if you like Sowell you’ll be happy that (in contrast to his last book), this one is quite meaty: 400 pages long.

Joni and Friends: Autism and The Church

Studies report that 1 out of every 150 children today is diagnosed with autism. I’ve read that the divorce rate among parents with autistic children is higher than the national norm (some say 70% or more), but firm sources are hard to find. Regardless, it is indisputable that parents of autistic children regularly live in the midst of high stress. In addition, many Christian parents of such children feel isolated, even in the church. That’s why I’m thankful for this two-part series from Joni and Friends on Autism and the Church. Episode 1 debunks some of the myths of autism (for example, that it is due to bad parenting, or that it is synonymous with mental retardation). Episode 2 talks about how churches can minister to families who have autistic children.
If you don’t know much about Autism, I suggest watching the first episode. It is a general description of the disorder given by doctors, specialists and the families themselves. The two full-legnth episodes can be viewed at no cost online: click the link “Episodes and Offers” at the bottom of this webpage. Note that you can also purchase the episodes on DVD and view additional special features, one of which is a segment with Laura Hendrickson.
HT: Brian Borgman

Michael Horton: Christ and The Workplace

I’m enjoying this message by Dr. Michael Horton on the significance of Christ in our every day work in the world:

Christ and the Workplace from Westminster Seminary California on Vimeo.


Ronald Reagan’s 99th Birthday Today

In memorial, here’s a 13-minute speech he gave at Normandy on June 6, 1984. President Reagan was commemorating the 40th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Invasion.

Jesus Christ and Mixed-Martial Arts

I agree with Michael Mckinley: “The New York Times seems to be on a mission to make Christians look stupid, and we keep giving them the stick with which to beat us about the head and neck.” McKinley is referring to a NY Times article on the emergence of mixed martial arts (MMA) ministries in evangelical churches. Often formed to attract young (18-34 year old) men, these groups seek to interject some testosterone into the Christian experience (sponsoring events like fight nights, where attendees and visitors can watch MMA events on large screen TVs).
For the sake of full disclosure: I agree that passivity in men today is a problem. But passivity and hyper-testosterone are (unfortunately) not incompatible. A man can be physically tough and athletically-oriented and yet be utterly passive in his faith or with his woman. Likewise, gentleness and tenderness are not emasculation. The mature man is tough and tender, strong but not violent, a leader who channels his strength for the service of others. Secondly, I enjoy Jack Bauer. But I don’t confuse him for a representation of Jesus. Jesus conquered through humiliation and surrender to torture. Yes, He’s coming back in part to carry out vengeance on His enemies, but that’s not our fight (Rom. 12:17-21), though there is a role for Christian police officers, soldiers, and CIA or FBI agents (as ministers of the state, Romans 13). Lastly, I don’t think it is necessarily sinful to watch (or participate) in an MMA fight.
But Mark Dever once said it well, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” (@Tim Bertolet) In sum, McKinley’s concerns are spot-on:

1. It’s derivative and unoriginal. It was lame when Billy Sunday was doing it 100 years ago.
2. It makes the gospel man-centered. Coming to Jesus isn’t a way for you to deal with your daddy issues. I get it, your dad didn’t hug you when you were little and you want to be a different kind of man. How about you go hug your kid then? Jesus didn’t come to help you get in touch with your inner MMA fighter.
3. Like it or not, the gospel is at least in part about weakness. It’s about the almighty becoming weak to save us. It’s about us being helpless and unable in our sins. There’s no way to Christ that doesn’t start with brokenness and an admission of impotence. Yes, Jesus is the strong man who binds the adversary, but he bound him by suffering, humiliation, and weakness.
4. It discourages and mocks godly men who aren’t macho. There is an undercurrent of disdain in all of this. Proponents of this testosterone Christianity can’t help but take shots at guys who wear pastels and drink cappuccino. You might not like guys with manicures, but there’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with it. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian. Believe it or not.

And pastor Eugene Cho (quoted in the NY Times piece) also says it well:

While there are clearly stories about Jesus’ “toughness” [Jesus topples tables and whips moneychangers in Mark 11, Matthew 21, and Luke 19/20], I also seem to remember that:
* Jesus washes the feet of his disciples
* shows compassion to the poor, lepers, and paralytics
* feeds the hungry and heals the blind and sick
* pursues justice and loves mercy
* embraces the women and children, marginalized, and scandalized
* demonstrates amazing grace to the prostitute woman in John 8
* enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna
…and eventually goes to the Cross to die for humanity.
Who do I live for? I live for this Jesus!

Amen and amen.

Tabletalk Issue on Justification

The February issue of Tabletalk is on the topic of justification and the “new perspective on Paul.” Contributors include R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton, Derek Thomas, Cornelis Venema, John Piper, D.A. Carson, J.V. Fesko, Guy Waters, Roger Nicole, Paul Helm, Sinclair Ferguson, Thomas Schreiner and Albert Mohler. Ligonier Ministries was kind enough to make several of these articles freely available on the Internet: “Justification for Everyone” by Burk Parsons, “Tilting at Scarecrows” by R.C. Sproul, “An Unpopular Vision” by George Grant, “The Missing Motive” by Eric Alexander, “On Controversy” by Keith Mathison, “Two Birds, One Stone” by R.C. Sproul Jr.

Josh and John Duggar Help Save Little Girl

A touching story. “I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in divine intervention. I believe God had us here at this time to help Maddye.”

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