Archive - April, 2010

Kenny Stokes Named Interim Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem

I was happy to learn that Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Organizational Elders voted unanimously Tuesday, April 27, to name Kenny Stokes Interim Pastor for Preaching during Pastor John Piper’s leave. Piper explains the three-fold rationale:

First, the elders believe that consistency is more important for the church’s stability, strength, and health than a stream of different preachers.
Second, the elders believe that individual speakers feel a special burden of shepherding a weekend, but a “pastor for preaching” feels a special burden of shepherding the overarching effect of the pulpit. We believe that, if God should answer our prayers for a remarkable work of awakening, it would be shepherded better with a consistent preacher than with diverse speakers.
Third, we believe that Kenny brings to the pulpit an unusual gift of embracing all of Bethlehem and giving spiritual guidance to the whole flock. For these three reasons we were excited to affirm him as Pastor John’s main replacement in the pulpit.

Read the whole thing.
It was a privilege to get to know Kenny during my several years at Bethlehem. He is a clear thinker, a thoughtful, effective leader, and an excellent preacher. Blessings to you, Kenny, in this new role.

Chart of Government Spending in 2011

Here’s a pretty nifty chart of the federal budget for 2011. You can zoom in and move it around. At the lower left, there is a legend to help you calculate your contribution per program:

Boosting Academic Performance with Adderall and Ritalin

Interesting 60-minutes segment on the strong rise in academic enhancement-performance drug use by college students. They are popping pills like Adderall and Ritalin — ADHD prescription drugs, which they acquire from friends or by feigning symptoms to secure a doctor’s sympathy. It’s called neuroenhancement, and some say that 50-60% of undergraduate juniors and seniors are doing it (perhaps up to 80-90% for those in fraternities and sororities).
Apparently, college students believe there is a big pay-off from taking these products: they believe that the enhanced level of concentration and focus resulting from the meds leads to a 1-2 letter grade boost. However, some medical professionals say the products are addictive and are categorically not dissimilar from cocaine. (The pills can even be crushed and snorted for a faster response.) Even casual use without a proper prescription can lead to escalation and addiction.
My take? This is big-time dangerous stuff. These drugs are well beyond a cup of coffee or an energy drink. As a college professor, I fear that many students will graduate and carry this dependency into their professional life, where the competition to perform, excel, and climb the corporate ladder will replace the pressure of final exams, projects, and papers. And when will they learn to draw the line? When is enough enough?
God ordained that we are limited, finite creatures. Our bodies and brains can only do so much. Striving to develop our minds to God’s glory is biblical (I Cor. 10:31) and being productive in the work force is pleasing to God (and man). But receiving God’s gift of sleep after a well-spent day is both healthy and spiritual. In sleep we acknowledge that only God is God (Ps. 121:4). We, by contrast, are dependent on Him for everything (Ps. 121:5-8), even the fruit we seek from our labors (Ps. 127:1-2). The fact that others may be more endued by God for prodigious work should evoke gratitude, not an empty jealousy and endless desire to outperform.
Check out the 12-minute segment, or read the transcript.

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Why Study Ecclesiastes?

Phil Ryken lists 5 reasons:
1. Because it is honest about the troubles of life.
2. To learn what will happen to us if we choose what the world tries to offer instead of what God has to give.
3. Because it asks the biggest and hardest questions that people still have today.
4. It will help us worship the one true God.
5. It teaches us how to live for God and not just for ourselves.
Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book, and one that is not without controversy among commentators. On balance, I land with Ardel Canaday and Brian Borgman. Here’s how I’d put it:

The book of Ecclesiastes is not an expression of existentialism or a soulless, secular hedonism. On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we see a nuanced, realistic view of life in a fallen world. Quoheleth (the narrative voice in the book of Ecclesiastes) is a wise sage, instructing believers on how to exercise godly enjoyment in one’s work, family, and the created order–as well as find ultimate meaning in the relation of one’s activities to his Creator, even activities which (in and of themselves) may often appear frustratingly meaningless (if not, in addition, marred with natural and/or moral evil).

Trembling Joy in the Christian Life

Brian Borgman:

In the final chapter of Isaiah we are told that God looks with favor on those who are humble and contrite in spirit and who tremble at His Word (Isa. 66:2b). The one who knows he has nothing to offer, who sees his own sin and that he really needs help, this is the one God looks on with favor. The next description is he trembles at God’s Word. He who sees the awful majesty of God in the Word and his own sin in light of that majesty, the one who is cut deeply, wounded and humbled under the Word, this is the one to whom God says, “I am pleased with you.”
The Word comes to each of us and there is either pride that sits over the Word with a critical spirit, or there is humility and brokenness that responds with contrition and trembling. The broken, contrite trembler is described by Jesus as poor in spirit and mourning and hungering and thirsting for righteousness. What is his ultimate condition? Blessed! Truly happy.

Read the whole thing.
Brian Borgman is the author of Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life. I previously interviewed Brian about his book.

NCAA Seeks to Expand March Madness to 68 Teams

This past week the NCAA announced a new $10.8 billion, 14-year deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for the men’s, Division 1, post-season college basketball tournament affectionately called March Madness. Starting next year, all games will be shown live across four national networks – CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. And the number of teams permitted into the tournament will be expanded from 64 to 68.
The decision remains tentative, pending the April 29 meeting of the Division I Board of Directors.
I heard a rumor that at one time expanding it to 96 teams was being considered. What would that do to our productivity?

Tom Schreiner, N.T. Wright, Frank Thielman

Tom Schreiner will take John Piper’s place in an ETS panel this Fall in Atlanta. The other panelists will be N.T. Wright and Frank Thielman.

Runner Flips Over Catcher To Score Run

Check out this amazing head-up base running which led to a run: the runner actually flipped over the catcher to score!

Mark Dever in SBTS Chapel

Mark Dever recently gave a message on children from Mark 10:13-16:

HT: Denny Burk

Why a Reformed Bible College at Ligonier?

Fowler White explains why Ligonier Academy (which currently offers a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program and adult non-degree certificate programs) is starting an Undergraduate Studies division, with four-year and two-year undergraduate programs now accepting applications for Fall 2011. Undergraduate programs will be offered in the following three areas:
Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies
Associate of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies

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