Monday, June 30, 2008

Is Jesus a Genie?

If you follow Jesus only because he makes life easy now, it will look to the world as though you really love what they love, and Jesus just happens to provide it for you. But if you suffer with Jesus in the pathway of love because he is your supreme treasure, then it will be apparent to the world that your heart is set on a different fortune than theirs. This is why Jesus demands that we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him.

John Piper, What Jesus Demands From the World, p. 71.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Switch-Pitcher in Action

This is interesting. It is a video of a minor league pitcher who can pitch with either arm facing off against a switch-hitter. They both switch back and forth several times. Eventually, they settle it.

What's the rule? There is some confusion it seems. The rules allow both to switch sides once, but it apparently does not say who has to choose first.

Personally, I think the pitcher should choose first and then the batter. Of course, I also think they should limit the armor that batters wear (no arm guards or shin guards), and limit the amount of time between pitches. And I think they should return to the strike zone in the rule book.

It is unfortunate that MLB is not calling me.

The kind of stuff in this video makes a joke out of the grand old game. The umps seemed totally confused about what to do, and in the end, it seems that the batter just gave up and batted from the right side.

He looked pretty bad on the last pitch too ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God Is Blessing

"God is really blessing our ministry."

What does that mean? Well, when pastors get together, it usually means that numbers are increasing, baptisms are taking place, and the church is relatively problem-free.

Why is it that no one ever says "God is blessing" when attendance is going down faster than the Lions' Super Bowl hopes in September and problems are increasing faster than the price of a barrel of oil?

My recent ruminations on the goodness of affliction has reminded me that blessings sometimes look like something else. In the end, the greatest blessing must be the increased knowledge of God and will, regardless of the circumstances that God uses to bring that knowledge into our life.

So while I reject the Bob Knight theory of bad things, I am reminded that afflictions are blessings because they remind us of our hopelessness and helplessness alongside of God's great grace.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Is Suffering Good?

Someone recently asked me, "Why does God do this to me?" He was inquiring into God's design in a current state of suffering in his life. He followed it up quickly with, "I can't worship a God who does this."

My first thought was, "You don't have any choice ... He is the only God there is except for you, and you haven't done so well for yourself." But I trusted my pastoral instinct and refrained.

Instead I challenged him to give it some thought biblically as to what God is up to. I told him I could not give him any easy answers. He needed to struggle through this with the goal of seeing God.

Today I was reminded of this conversation by seeing John Piper's little article about "How God Teaches the Deep Things of His Word."

In it, he is discussing Psalm 119:65-72, and his comments on v. 71 are instructive. The verse says:

It is good for me that I was afflicted,
so that I might learn your statutes.

Piper says,

How can he call affliction good? It’s because in his value-scheme, penetrating insight into God’s word is more valuable that thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Suffering should drive us to learn the Word. It too often drives us elsewhere.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

TBNN Strikes Again

Today I'm rededicating my life to Golf.


Well, I feel that I need to rededicate my life to Golf because I’ve never really done anything with my original commitment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m truly a golfer at heart. I know for certain that if I were to die today, I would be remembered as a golfer. There is a certificate that says so hanging over there on the wall.


Read the rest ... Pretty good stuff.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Stanley Cup

There's something ironic about the ice hockey's championship being celebrated on a 90-degree day.

There's something funny about the mayor of the champion's city being booed at the victory parade.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Books that Will Be Read

In the publishing* and purchasing of many books, we would do well to remember this:

What a lot of big dull books have been written about "the Sources of the Gospels," the "Synoptic Problem," the "lesser historical value of the Fourth Gospel," and all the rest! Those books are learned no doubt—they probably have enough of learning in them to sink a ship. But everyone knows that a hundred years from now those books will not be read. They will all be forgotten. And everyone knows that a hundred years from now the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, will be read. They will not be forgotten. They were written nearly nineteen hundred years ago, yet they still hold their own. They are interesting, arresting, vital, as those other books are not.

C. R. Brown, former Dean, Yale Divinity School, in Fondren Lectures for 1936, published in The Master's Influence (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1936), 17-18, cited in Reading the Gospels Today, edited by Stanley F. Porter, p. 27.

I am trying not to fill my library with "one-time readers" or with fluff. I have the advantage of living near a decent theological library that allows me to read books on someone else's dime (Thanks to DBTS). But in the reading of books, we would do well to remember what will last, and what has been promised to have the life-changing power.

Of course, while I am here, Al Mohler has been giving out some books lists that have some interesting looking reads on them. This last list for fathers had a number of WWII and 20th century history books on it that look fascinating. If only I had time to read them. Perhaps after I am done with Porter and the twenty or so other books I have started.

*Publisher's Weekly says that 3000 books are published a day.

Riddlebarger on Dispensationalism

Kim Riddlebarger says,

The problem with the dispensational interpretation of the millennium has to do with how we are to understand the general flow of redemptive history.

I think herein lies one of the major issues of dispute. Amills, like Riddlebarger, largely depend on the unspoken "general flow of redemptive history" while dispensationalists rather rest on the words of the text. That's not to say that amillennialists deny the words of the text. It is to say that I do not believe that their system is driven by the words of the text. I think the words of the text too often become things that must be explained in light of a system. Of course, there is a tension there that we all must be aware of and cautious about.

Many of you will reject this out of hand, but you really should consider how much of your view is dependent on the text itself, and how much is dependent on what you have concluded about certain ideas.

I would change Riddlebarger's comment to say,

The problem with the amillennial interpretation of the millennium has to do with how we are to understand the words of the text.

Riddlebarger goes on to say,

For example, when Israel’s prophets speak of the restoration of Israel, the New Testament contends that this promise of restoration is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the true Israel.  When Israel’s prophets speak of the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem and the mountain of the Lord, the authors of the New Testament, in turn, point out that these themes are fulfilled in Christ and his church.

The problem is that the NT does no such thing clearly. This conclusion is not one driven by the text, but rather by conclusions about the text. Every NT use of the OT is explainable by a premillennial view of the kingdom. Yet there are many OT passages that cannot be explained by an amillennial view of the kingdom. The NT holds out these promises and so should we.

So what must we do? I think we should spend more time wrestling with the text itself.

Side note: Dispensationalists aren't the only ones to disagree with Riddlebarger on this. All premillennialists would. Surely he knows that, which makes me wonder why he doesn't address it that way.

Stetzer on Multi-Site Churches

Ed Stetzer, of the NAMB of the SBC, has an article on multi-site churches. Among other things, he says,

The multi-site argument goes something like this:

If I open a new coffee shop on your side of town, it may take years before people figure out I'm there. Even then, they may never check out my lattes because they already get their coffee at a place called Buckstops.

On the other hand, if Buckstops opens a new shop, almost immediately hundreds of people will become regulars. Why? They already know the Buckstops brand.

Many congregations are moving to a multi-site strategy for this exact reason: a church plant may take years to get a footing, but an extension site of an established church will grow immediately. Instead of starting with 20 attendees, they may start with hundreds. (When Andy Stanley started the Browns Bridge Campus of North Point, thousands showed up the first day!)

And then later ...

Perhaps my biggest concern is that the multi-site paradigm is that, without intentionality, it will limit reproduction. Let's face it-- it's easier to create another extension site than it is to create another Andy Stanley.

Worthy of thought ...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Piper on Separation

I sure respect that view, that if there is official denominational affirmation of biblical faith that one can have integrity in staying unless staying communicates endorsement and support through maybe too many inofficial ways that would compromise the testimony and I suppose the problem for many that you couldn’t say for sure when that happens.

John Piper on Separation from the Pastor’s Conference address on J. Gresham Machen (starting about 1:22.00).

I find this interesting since I think it tracks alongside of the concerns of (at least some) fundamentalists about the "inofficial ways" that "communicate endorsement and support" for people or views.

It seems to me that at least sometimes separation is about more than the gospel itself (or some other doctrine). It is also about the messages we send by association.

That needs some more thought and fleshing out by people smarter than me, but I think it is worth considering.



PS - Sorry about my three almost identical posts this morning. Blogger was having problems. The last version is the fully redacted version. You can use it as a model for source and redaction criticism if you like.

Christianity has Finally Arrived

Christianity has finally made the cover of Billboard. Surely the the world will listen now. Now Jesus can really do his thing.

It is little wonder that the church has been so anemic for so long.

Fortunately, those days are over. Let the Kingdom begin. 

HT: Tim Challies