Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
I am leading off with a book today, an old one, by Horatius Bonar entitled Words to Winners of Souls. Don’t let the title mislead you. This book was written well before “soul winning” became a sales term. It is actually a book about pastoral theology. I highly recommend it. You can get a PDF here or an audio version here. In this book, Bonar builds on this theme:
The lukewarm ministry of one who is theoretically orthodox is often more extensively and fatally ruinous to souls than that of one grossly inconsistent or flagrantly heretical.
One day I will blog more about it, for my own sake mostly. I urge you strongly to avail yourself of this book and be challenged by it.
Second, on a bit of a related note, Tim Keller gives five things that “keep his ministry strong.” They are worth considering as pastors who should be taking stock of our own souls.
Third, my friend Marty comments on the problems created by premarital cohabitation.
And finally, related to that, is this article at CT about churches and recommending birth control to singles. At the recent Q Conference, 70% of leaders there said they would recommend BC to singles to prevent abortions.
The seed article for the Out of Ur article says,
In encouraging our single people who are sexually active to pursue contraception, we offer them a technological remedy to what is functionally a discipleship and community shortcoming. At its heart, this is little more than a tacit rejection of the power of the gospel to transform lives and bring people to a repentance that is genuine and genuinely holistic. Rather than building them up to maturity in Christ, the decision to pursue contraception so as to continue to be sexually active only reinforces their infantile faith.
I recently read Lauren Winner’s book Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity and found it to be very good. She deals much with the idea that sexuality is, at least to some degree, a community issue.
What in the world is going on in churches when we give up the biblical commands out of pragmatism?
As I have said before, the problem with pragmatism is that it usually works.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Here’s an interesting interview with a father and son representing two fairly distinct approaches to gospel, church, and ministry issues. As you read it, ask which side resonates with you, and ask what the blind spots are that you are missing. The younger participant wisely remarks that the younger generation is probably missing their blind spots. And that should give some pause before dogmatism.
My friend Mark Snoeberger has some good thoughts here on the Detroit Baptist Seminary blog (which you should be reading regularly) about the leadership of God and our decisions. It is something Dan Philips (I think) once called the GTM card—God Told Me. It is hard to argue with God, so when someone says, “God told me” or “God led me,” it automatically puts them in the driver’s seat. While this occasionally (though not often enough) gets a little critique from the area of cessationism, it even less often gets critique from the third commandment regarding not using God’s name in vain. I think the GTM card is a violation of the third commandment, at least potentially, because you are using God’s name in vain by using it for something God wouldn’t use it for. Mark apparently felt led (or maybe it was just an act of wisdom) to follow up here, so read that too.
Closing out with a two-fer, here are two articles on urban ministry in two different kinds of places. The first is about a brief trip to McKeesport, PA and “The Land that Time Forgot.” It highlights urban areas of blight and devolution. The second is about church planting in NYC. Both are areas of need, and both require a heart of sacrifice.
My friends at Inter-City Baptist Church are hosting a few college students this weekend for an urban ministry emphasis on the topic of church planting in Detroit. Detroit is perhaps the most well-known of the cities facing huge problems, perhaps virtually insurmountable problems. But I am grateful for those who are living in the city and taking some risks for the sake of the gospel.
There are a number of people I know who have moved in and daily face danger both to property and their family for the sake of the gospel. It may not be for everyone, but I have long desired to see a gospel church planting effort in the city.
Some years ago I dreamed of a “Ten in Ten,” that is ten church plants in ten years in various strategic areas around Detroit. Maybe God will raise up some young people with the heart and energy, who are willing to take solid theology and boundless compassion to areas hit hard by urban blight.
Here’s one of my core beliefs though: You can’t plant a church from the outside. So if your goal is a nice home in a safe neighborhood with a white picket fence, then live there and pray for people in the city.Maybe send some money to these under-resourced ministries. But realize that if you are a “drive-in” pastor or church attender, you will always be viewed as an outsider who is too good for the neighborhood. You will always be viewed with skepticism. Your ministry will be limited.
So if you are going to plant a church or work in a church in the city, then do what my friends Mike and Clete, or Jay, or Jon or others have done and move into the city, and live, shop, exercise, eat, associate, and hangout in the neighborhood you want to reach with the gospel. And then preach the gospel to them, both in and out of church.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Let us all awake to a sense of the perilous state of many professing Christians. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” without sanctification there is no salvation. (Heb. 12:14.) Then what an enormous amount of so-called religion there is which is perfectly useless! What an immense proportion of church-goers and chapel-goers are in the broad road that leadeth to destruction! The thought is awful, crushing, and overwhelming. Oh, that preachers and teachers would open their eyes and realize the condition of souls around them! Oh, that men could be persuaded to “flee from the wrath to come!” If unsanctified souls can be saved and go to heaven, the Bible is not true. Yet the Bible is true and cannot lie! What must the end be!
J. C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889). 46.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
When Sunday dawned at the Master’s Tournament at Augusta National, I thought the tournament was Phil Mickelson’s to lose.
Yes, Phil was Phil. And as he has done so often, he played great golf with a bonehead move.
In fact, he committed the cardinal sin of golf (and life): Don’t make it worse. Get it back in play no matter what.
And that triple bogey was too much to overcome.
Turns out it was Bubba Watson’s turn. And he seems like a great guy. There’s something touching about the raw emotion that he showed.
Bubba was Phil and anti-Phil, all at the same time.
Off in the woods on the second playoff hole, he got it back in play, ironically, by playing like Phil. He was in trouble and did what you have to do—get it back in play. And he did it through a huge gamble.
He took a chance on an unlikely shot, and hit a forty yard hook with a pitching wedge off pine needles.
Now, for those who aren’t golfers, that’s a little like … well … okay, it’s not like anything I can think of.
It’s not the kind of shot you practice. It’s the shot you try on the range when you are goofing around with a couple of friends trying the impossible.
I have hit that forty yard hook before. But not intentionally. Not with a wedge. Not off of pine needles. And not for $1.5 million.
And Bubba ended up with two putts to win. And he did.
Back to Phil, I like Phil. I wish he would have won. One thing I like about Phil is that he isn’t a jerk when he doesn’t win. He doesn’t kick clubs, treat fans poorly, and act like he owns the world.
He has a blast, and he isn’t afraid the lose. Which means sometimes he loses when he could have won by playing a little smarter. He has taken a little heat for it, but mostly from people with no wins on the PGA Tour.
My favorite Phil moment was on the first tee at the PGA Tour Championship a few years ago when he was paired with Tiger in the final round (Number 7 here). Phil was introduced with a recitation of his wins. The Tiger was introduced with the same recitation, only it was quite a bit longer. A few tournaments into the recitation, Phil broke in laughing saying, “Alright alright.” And everyone laughed.
But congrats to Bubba. And remember, men, if you are going to play with a pink driver, you better win the Master’s.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (1993 ed.) and Leland Ryken’s Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible (1992 ed.) both address Proverbs beginning on p. 313.
Kind of makes me want to search other hermeneutics books to see if there is some hidden meaning that we have been missing.