31 August 2010

Phil Douglass: Your Church Has a Personality

Dr. Douglass is Professor of Practical Theology (what theology isn't?) at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, where he has taught since 1986. In 2008 P&R published his book, What Is Your Church's Personality? Discovering and Developing the Ministry Style of Your Church. In some ways the book sums up the heart of what Dr. Douglass is contributing to Covenant Seminary, its students, the PCA, and the broader church.

You can view a 9-minute video interview with him about the book here.

One reason I'm eager for the new earth, aside from freshly stocked largemouth bass, is hearing from the Lord how strategic and far-ranging an impact Dr. Douglass made in the kingdom, far beyond what we can detect. He meets with every new student+wife for two hours (one hour if single) every fall semester, and does the same for outgoing students in the spring semester. That's a massive chunk of time. Time that could be spent reading, writing--'making a name for himself' (yuck). Instead he has determined to pour into the students in this critical way. When together they review that individual's spiritual gifting, personal wiring, ministry vision, core passions, and so on. Not an efficient use of his time. But invaluable to the students.

And with this book, Dr. Douglass is helping not only individuals but churches understand how they are wired, and how to wisely match up prospective staff with their church's personality.

On a personal note, it would be difficult to express how important Dr. Douglass was to me as a student at Covenant. From interaction with other students and pastors I know that my testimony is the norm. I will spend the rest of my life with two things drilled into me. One, godliness trumps everything. Two, awareness of specific personality wiring, while secondary to godliness, is wise, strategic, neglected, and will spare some (not all) heartache. Wish I could clone Phil Douglass and put one in each seminary.

Thanks for putting flesh and blood on Philippians 2:4, Dr. D. I love you.

A website has been set up around this book here.

Over at the P&R site you can view the table of contents, which shows the eight church personalities Dr. Douglass has diagnosed, or read chapter one online.

The Thrill of Heavenly Warfare

William Still, on the role of another's prayer in his call to pastoral ministry:
It was an old lady between 80 and 90 years of age who prayed me, all unknown, into my place and then prayed me into the forefront of the battle with me resisting, in terror, a good part of the way until I caught the thrill of heavenly warfare.
--The Work of the Pastor, 99

New Covenant Seminary Resources

Two excellent resources just made available by our friends at Covenant Seminary:

1. Kevin Vanhoozer's three talks for the 2010 David C. Jones Lectures in Theology and Ethics, 'Redramatizing Theology: Faith Seeking Practical Understanding.'

2. George Robertson's five lectures from a class he taught this past year at Covenant on 'Preaching through the Psalms.'

Free Audiobook: Ministries of Mercy

Today is the last day to download for free the audiobook of Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy over at christianaudio.com.

30 August 2010

Lloyd-Jones: I Am Only at the Beginning of It

During my 26 years in my Westminster pulpit there have been times when in my utter folly I have wondered, or the Devil has suggested to me, that there is nothing more for me to say, that I have preached it all.

I thank God that I can now say that I feel I am only at the beginning of it. There is no end to this glorious message of the cross, for there is always something new and fresh and entrancing and moving and uplifting that one has never seen before.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross: God's Way of Salvation (Crossway 1986), xiii

Pride Will Not Mind Reason

Reminded this morning of the elusiveness of humility and the subtlety of pride. In 'The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear' in Lectures to My Students, Spurgeon quotes a certain Mr. Payson as writing this remarkable statement to his mother in a letter:
You must not, certainly, my dear mother, say one word which even looks like an intimation that you think me advancing in grace. I cannot bear it. All the people here, whether friends or enemies, conspire to ruin me. Satan and my own heart, of course, will lend a hand; and if you join too, I fear all the cold water which Christ can throw upon my pride will not prevent its breaking out into a destructive flame. As certainly as anyone flatters and caresses me my heavenly Father has to whip me: and an unspeakable mercy it is that he condescends to do it. I can, it is true, easily muster a hundred reasons why I should not be proud, but pride will not mind reason, nor anything else but a good drubbing. Even at this moment I feel it tingling in my fingers' ends, and seeking to guide my pen. (331)
Spurgeon goes on to comment, 'A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it.'

A word in season. This is not all that needs to be said, of course. There is a place for encouragement. A crucial place. But how naturally the heart takes affirmation of an evidence of grace and turns it into self-congratulation.

27 August 2010

Gospel Community Conference

This looks like a helpful, inexpensive, and strategic event to consider attending.

Ceasar Kalinowski from Summit Crossing on Vimeo.

Why We Get Up Sunday Mornings

We did not walk into church today to airbrush our impressive appearances or to fine-tune our already established obedience. We walked into church today saying to Christ, 'We want newness of life, and we are coming to you for it.'
--Dad's wonderful sermon on humility last week

A Great Theologian


J. Gresham Machen:
What a great theologian is the Christian heart--the Christian heart that has been touched by redeeming grace!
--What Is Faith? (Hodder & Stoughton, 1925), 194

Halo 3 Doesn't Compare to Salvation History

Darrin Patrick:
The gospel is the most beautiful story in the history of the world. In fact, the reason that other stories are beautiful--the reason we love movies, novels, and biographies that are saturated with redemption themes--is that they are an echo of the story. All good stories follow the same basic plotline of the gospel. . . . The story of redemption captures the human heart, inviting and challenging us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This story is movie-ready and myth-like. C. S. Lewis was converted out of atheism as he was enraptured by the beautiful story of the gospel, calling it a 'true myth.' . . .

[T]he gospel is not just cold, dry historical facts--it is God's perennial speech to man. The gospel is history on fire. (Church Planter, 112)
Reminds me of something I read a few days ago in William Still, concluding an overview of salvation history, the great snowballing story of redemption rushing through the Bible and of which we today are a part:
How could any of us be put off balance in any day, whatever it held or threatened, if we knew that that was what we were engaged in furthering. Some ministers I know, for light relief from the burden of holy work, read complicated novels full of tangles and twists and intriguing and unexpected cleverness. But not in their wildest dreams (or their favorite authors' wildest dreams) have they come across anything so exciting, fabulous, fantastic as this that God has done and is doing. Truth is stranger than fiction. (The Work of the Pastor, 107)

26 August 2010

The Foundation-Graces

Jonathan Edwards, in the sermon 'Profitable Hearers of the Word':
Be most intent upon increasing the foundation-graces, such as the knowledge of God, the understanding of his Word, believing the truth of the gospel, a realizing sense of a future state of rewards and punishments. Labor to get your heart all enflamed with love to God and abased by humility and a sense of your own unworthiness. These are the foundation-graces, and as these are increased, all other graces will most certainly increase proportionably.

And all these things you must do with the utmost diligence and application of mind. The work of a Christian is compared to running, and wrestling, and fighting, and those exercises which require the greatest labor. (Works, Yale ed., 14:277)
The Christian life is earnest, strenuous effort. But it is effort flowing from 'the foundation-graces'--knowing God, understanding His Word, believing the gospel, knowing our unworthiness.

We wage warfare by knowing that the war is over. The main weapon is our peace.

Fight, fight with all your might, with the gospel.

As Paul told Timothy: '. . . wage the good warfare, having faith. . . .' (1 Tim 1:18-19)

Believing Prayer

God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.
--John Wesley, quoted in Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission (Crossway 2010), 61

25 August 2010

Men, Mules, and Stallions

We prefer the men in our church to be mules. A mule does not act like a jackass and they are able to carry larger loads and endure longer than a horse. They are tamer than a jackass but do not seem to want to run like a stallion. . . . Stallions are designed to run and not be penned up in a stable. . . . We value Steady Eddie instead of Daring Dan. Christianity is a radical following of Jesus.

The problem with being a mule is that it is almost always sterile.
--Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29, Ten Qualifications of a Church Planter
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, 'Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. . . .'
--1 Samuel 14:6

Dr. Gerald Hawthorne (1925-2010)

Gerald Hawthorne, New Testament and Greek prof at Wheaton for 42 years, has gone to be with the Lord. Better by far. The Chicago Tribune reports. John Ortberg gave the memorial service address.

These past three years as a grad student at Wheaton, I frequently popped in to Jerry Hawthorne's office on the second floor of the Wheaton College library. He always welcomed the interruption, and I was always happy to give it. He was a delightful man, filled with exuberant joy even as an 84-year-old getting pestered by meddlesome grad students.

We lived on the same street, so I often saw him and his big hat walking past my house. As recently as this summer he was still faithfully going to his office in the library, going about his work.

My dad graduated from Wheaton in 1971. Dr. Hawthorne was his Greek professor. Dad has always spoken of him with love and affection.

Dr. Hawthorne wrote a handful of books and articles, but his central passion was the students. SBL won't note that, but the Lord will.

Grateful for you, Jerry. See you soon.

Driscoll: The Peter Pan Syndrome

I.e., young men not wanting to grow up.

In the Washington Post here.

HT: Resurgence

Dead to All but the Mighty Purpose of God

William Still on fruitful ministry:
The only reason why a truly regenerate and divinely called servant of God fails to be fruitful in his own day, whatever secondary reasons he hides behind, must be that he is not living in instant, tensile experience of the death/resurrection of Christ, nor is dead to all but the mighty purpose of God.
--The Work of the Pastor (Christian Focus 2010), 76

24 August 2010

The Motivating Power of the Gospel

For many of us, our initial encounter with the gospel when we first trusted Christ occurred many years ago and is now a distant memory. . . . The Christian life may now be more of a duty than a joyous response to the gospel. Consequently we may not experience the motivating power of the gospel.

That's why we need to intentionally bathe our minds and hearts in the gospel every day. Remember, we need the gospel not only as a door into an initial saving relationship with Christ, but also . . . to keep our daily lives from becoming a performance treadmill. As we rely on Christ's righteousness in this manner, far from leading to a license to sin, it actually motivates us to deal with the sin we see in our lives.
--Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, The Bookends of the Christian Life (Crossway 2009), 39-40

23 August 2010

Let it go



This is what I want in my life in 2010-2011.

Album available here.

HT: Wade Urig

Biblical Interpretation 101

The first rule of biblical interpretation should be this: Do not reverse the miracle at Cana. That is, do not turn wine into water. No interpretation, exegesis, commentary, or reflection can replace the text it addresses.
--the opening lines of Gene Tucker's commentary on Isaiah in vol. 6 of the New Interpreter's Bible series (Abingdon 1994), p. 27

Jeremy Rose: Nashville Church Planter

Profiled today.

God be with you my friend!

Life is short and grace is big. Go for it dude.

Carl Trueman on Luther's Table Talk

Hilarious, human, off-the-cuff, outraged and outrageous, this is a collection without parallel in the history of the church. And beneath it all, there is a bedrock of sanctified common sense and biblical wisdom. I would suggest that, if you have never read Luther, this is the place to start. Cuts through much of the pompous hot-air, pious baloney, and snobbish windbaggery that surrounds great theologians.
More here.

With thanks to Tony Reinke for alerting us to it, this volume will be arriving on my desk soon.

21 August 2010

Scrupulously Honest Scholarship Matters

From Anne Rice's CT interview, when asked why she still reads D. A. Carson, Craig Keener, and N. T. Wright. Bear in mind that this is someone who 'quit being a Christian' this summer.
Sometimes the most conservative people are the most biblically and scholastically sound. They have studied Scripture and have studied skeptical scholarship. They make brilliant arguments for the way something in the Bible reads and how it's been interpreted. I don't go to them necessarily to know more about their personal beliefs. It's the brilliance they bring to bear on the text that appeals to me. Of all the people I've read over the years, it's their work that I keep on my desk. They're all non-Catholics, but they're believers, they document their books well, they write well, they're scrupulously honest as scholars, and they don't have a bias. Many of the skeptical non-believer biblical scholars have a terrible bias.

20 August 2010

Luther Defines the Gospel

In his 'Preface to the New Testament,' Luther writes:
This gospel of God or New Testament is
a good story and report,
sounded forth into all the world by the apostles,
telling of a true David
who strove with sin, death, and the devil,
and overcame them,
and thereby rescued all those who were
captive in sin,
afflicted with death,
and overpowered by the devil.

Without any merit of their own he
made them righteous,
gave them life,
and saved them,
so that they were given peace and brought back to God.

For this they sing,
and thank and praise God,
and are glad forever,
if only they believe firmly and remain steadfast in faith.
--Luther's Works 35:358

Dr. J. Richard Chase (1930-2010)

Phil Ryken just passed this along to the Wheaton College community.
Wheaton's sixth president, Dr. J. Richard Chase, entered the presence of the Lord he loved and served at 3:30 this morning, Friday, August 20, 2010. He died of natural causes at Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois. He was 79 years of age.

A widely-celebrated and beloved academician and administrator, Dr. Chase led Biola University for twelve years before assuming the presidency at Wheaton in 1982, leading both institutions to new levels of excellence.

Dr. Chase greatly influenced my own vision of what it means to be a college president during my student days at Wheaton from 1984 to 1988. I will always be grateful to God for his kindness to me - his warm smile, words of encouragement, and friendly competition on the basketball court. Dr. Chase inspired the students of Wheaton College to strive for the classical tradition he not only discussed, but also embodied.

The College has prepared a comprehensive biography on the life of our friend, Dick Chase, and a memorial website at wheaton.edu/chase.

Dr. Chase's family is planning a memorial service in the city of Wheaton which will be open to all. As we gain more information about that occasion, we will share it with you on the memorial website.

As we mourn Dr. Chase's death - and celebrate his life in Christ - please keep his family in your prayers.

Warmly,

Dr. Philip G. Ryken
President

'Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.' (Heb 13:7)

'Honor such men.' (Phil 2:29)

This Is Our God (Hillsong)



Freely you gave it all for us
Surrendered your life upon that cross
Great is your love
Poured out for all
This is our God
'Let this mind be in you . . .' (Phil 2:5f.)

I wonder what self-exalting dream is God calling you to abandon. And what real dream is he inviting you to take up.

Asking myself the same question.

How would my life look if I really abandoned myself to Christ's claim that the glory my heart craves can be sought in either this life or the next but cannot be had in both?

Come die with me. And therefore Live.

Sick with Desire

From the final chapter of Bunyan's remarkable book:
Now as they walked in this land, they rejoiced more than they had in any other part of the journey.

And as they came near the Celestial City, they could see that it was built of pearls and precious stones and that the streets were paved with gold. The natural glory of the City and the sunbeams' reflection on it made Christian feel sick with desire. Hopeful also had a few bouts of the same sickness. The sickness was so great that they had to rest from their journey while crying out because of the deep pangs of desire.

Finally they got some of their strength back and were able to bear their sickness.
--The Pilgrim's Progress (ed. C. J. Lovik; Crossway 2009), 212

Carl Trueman Interview

Conducted by Mike Ovey at Oak Hill College. Covers Scripture, justification and the New Perspective.

On Scripture:



On justification:



On the New Perspective:

19 August 2010

To Bend and Win Over the Heart

'What!' Ignorance exclaimed. 'Would you have us trust in what Christ alone has accomplished without adding our own accomplishments? Believing in Christ and His righteousness would give us complete abandon to live as we choose the moment we believed it. This way of thinking would loosen the reins of our lust and permit us to disobey God's commands to our heart's content.'

'Ignorance is your name, and as your name is, so are you,' Christian exclaimed. 'Your answer demonstrates what I say. You are ignorant of what justifying righteousness is, and you are ignorant of how to secure your soul through faith from the heavy wrath of God. Yes, and you are also ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in the righteousness of Christ, the effects of which are to bend and win over the heart to God in Christ. . . . Saving faith will not, as you ignorantly imagine, give license to do evil but will instead give the earnest desire and power to do good.'
--The Pilgrim's Progress (ed. C. J. Lovik; Crossway 2009), 204

Jesus: Clean + Unclean = Clean

Then Haggai said, 'If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?' The priests answered and said, 'It does become unclean.' Then Haggai answered and said, 'So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.'
--Haggai 2:13
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
--Mark 1:40-42

In the OT, clean + unclean = unclean. In the NT, clean + unclean = clean. In the OT, defilement is contagious. In the NT, holiness is contagious. Good title, Blomberg.

Jesus brought in his train a whole new way of thinking, a new mental universe in which we do not see ourselves as basically clean in danger of defilement, but basically defiled in need of cleansing.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, he brought a new world of grace, the grace of God that was always there and fully accessible but muted, fuzzy, hazy, opaque. Calvin rightly speaks of the OT as the 'shadows' and the NT as the 'substance.'

Jesus Christ brought concrete, sharply defined, clearly contoured lines to that real but foggy OT grace. There he stood, right there before us, a flesh-and-blood man, Emmanuel. The Word became flesh. Full of grace and truth. Solid, substantive. The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus.

The ultimate point?

The only clean man who ever lived became unclean on the cross so that you and I, unclean, can be freely cleansed by simply asking for it.

Hope for me.

The Most Disobeyed Command in the Bible

Our brother Drew Hunter, College and 20's pastor at Grace Church of Dupage, points us to this good reflection by Ray Ortlund on Isaiah 54:1 ('Break forth into singing and cry aloud'):
In other words, 'Let joyful song explode out of you!' We resist that. Isaiah 54:1 may be one of the most disobeyed commands in the Bible. Our exaggerated sense of decorum is the last bastion of pride holding out against the gospel. Some churches make it a virtue. But God doesn't. In his exuberance he's creating a new world of boisterous happiness through Christ. We must rejoice with him, or we risk making our hearts impervious to salvation, because that holy raucous joy is salvation.
--Ray Ortlund, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Crossway 2005), 363

Outstanding Pop!

Thanks Drew.

18 August 2010

Os Guinness: Courage in Engaging the World

Here, a video clip from the BioLogos Forum.

I am strengthened by the delightful optimism of this man.

Os quotes George Whitefield saying, 'I'm never better than when I'm on the full stretch for God.' Here's the full context of that statement, which comes from Whitefield's Journals (Jay Green, 2000), p. 81.
Expounded, in the evening, to above a thousand hearers of all denominations; supped with General Columbine; and went home betimes, full of unspeakable comfort. I am never better than when I'm on the full stretch for God. God grant that I may not, like Jehu, drive furiously at first, and afterwards fall back; but 'forgetting those things which are behind . . .' (Phil 3).
Mark Dever interviewed Os here.

Not Days for the Timorous

John Piper:
These are not days for the timorous to open their mouths. A thousand bloggers stand ready to echo or condemn your commendation of Christ to a Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or anyone else. . . . If you are going to stand, you will be shot at.
--Jesus: The Only Way to God (Baker 2010), 7-8

17 August 2010

Washed Pigs Still Love Mud

The swine may be washed, and appear clean for a little while, but yet, whithout a change of nature, he will still wallow in the mire. (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, Yale ed., 395)
The solution?

'You must be born again' (John 3:7).

Lloyd-Jones on History's 'Man Most Like the Apostle Paul'

I am tempted, perhaps foolishly, to compare the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas, and Jonathan Edwards to Mount Everest! He has always seemed to me to be the man most like the apostle Paul. . . .

There are so many approaches to this great summit; but not only so, the atmosphere is so spiritually rarified, and there is this blazing whiteness of the holiness of the man himself, and his great emphasis upon the holiness and the glory of God; and above all the weakness of the little climber as he faces this great peak pointing up to heaven.
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Banner of Truth 1987), 355

5 Reasons Books are Better than E-Books

From our brother Tim Challies. Number 4 especially hits home.

The Price of Power

William Still:
[T]he whole current of the divine has to pass through you, His servant, and little though you may know what is going on in the hearts of your people at first, there is a great price to be paid for being the 'conductor' of divine truth and power.
--The Work of the Pastor (rev. ed.; Christian Focus, 2010), 36

". . . so that the power of Christ may rest upon [episkenose: 'tabernacle upon'] me." --2 Cor 12:9

Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission

Darrin Patrick's book on church planting arrived on my desk yesterday and will be available to the public imminently (Aug 31). I've heard about this book for the past several years from my brother Gavin who, as as intern at The Journey while studying at Covenant Seminary, helped Darrin with research for the book. Crossway is publishing the book under the Resurgence's Re:Lit label.

In the foreword Driscoll tells us:
When it came time to write the first book on church planting by one of our Acts 29 church planters, it made sense for Darrin to write it because so many leaders from so many denominations and networks look to him for wise, gospel-centered, Bible-rooted, Jesus-focused counsel.
Darrin gives us a taste of the opening chapter in a post today on the Resurgence blog.

Thanks for your good work on our behalf, brother.

13 August 2010

Back Early Next Week

Off to Nashville to beat the gospel into the heads of a group of rising radicals.

12 August 2010

Henri Nouwen on Luke 15

For me, personally, the possible conversion of the elder son is of crucial importance.

There is much in me of that group of which Jesus is most critical: the Pharisees and the scribes. I have studied the books, learned about the laws, and often presented myself as an authority in religious matters. People have shown me a great deal of respect and even called me 'reverend.' I have been rewarded with compliments and praise. . . . I have been critical of many types of behavior and often passed judgment on others.

So when Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son, I have to listen with the awareness that I am closest to those who elicited the story from Jesus with the remark: 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'
--Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (Doubleday 1994), 79

Keller: Generous Justice

Available this November.

Bundles of 5 on sale for pre-order at WTS Books.

11 August 2010

How Could a God of Love Wipe out the Entire Earth Except Noah and His Family?

Our friend Zack Eswine thoughtfully answers.

The Only Question that Matters

My whole concern in my work of trying to make pastors (and I have 'made' too few, although I have had many men through my hands) is that they become men of God; then, the pastoral work will look after itself. It will still have to be done. But the man of God is made for that.

The question is: Are you on the way to becoming men of God?
--William Still, The Work of the Pastor (rev. ed.; Christian Focus, 2010), 26-27

10 August 2010

Packer: Spiritual Authority

Spiritual authority is hard to pin down in words, but we recognize it when we meet it.

It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness to the Bible; vivid perception of God's reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honour and please him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial; adoring intimacy with Christ; generous compassion manward; and forthright simplicity, God-taught and God-wrought, adult in its knowing-ness while child-like in its directness.

The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority.
--J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway 2010), 77

09 August 2010

Chaoskampferific

Glad to get a copy of this new monograph in the mail today!

ESV Online

Our friends at Resurgence draw attention to an outstanding resource for personal study of the Bible.

Give it a shot--extremely user-friendly.

'The Science of Living Blessedly Forever'

--Puritan William Perkins' definition of theology; quoted in J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway 2010 edition), 64

08 August 2010

Luther: Gentleness

In May 1528 Luther wrote to Duke John Frederick:
God has promised great mercy to those who seek peace and endure guile when he says: 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.' War does not gain much, but loses much and risks everything.

Gentleness, however, loses nothing, risks little, and gains everything.
--Luther's Works, 49:196

06 August 2010

Biting and Devouring the Good News

Is this guy great or what?

Pilgrim's Progress and Defeating Sin

Prudence asked further, 'Do you not still carry some of the baggage from the place you escaped?'

[Christian:] 'Yes, but against my will. I still have within me some of the carnal thoughts that all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted with. Now all those things cause me to grieve. If I could master my own heart, I would choose never to think of those things again, but when I try only to think about those things that are best, those things that are worst creep back into my mind and behavior.'
'Don't you find that sometimes you can defeat those evil things that at other times seem to defeat you?' Prudence suggested.

Christian answered, 'Yes, it happens occasionally. They are golden hours that I treasure.'

'Can you remember the means by which you're able occasionally to defeat the evil desires and thoughts that assail you?'

Christian said, 'Yes. When I think about what I experienced at the cross, that will do it.'
From pages 76-77 of the new edition of Pilgrim's Progress done by Crossway last year. Magnificent artwork joins an even more magnificent story. I look forward to going through this one with my son Zach in a few years.

Justin posted on the book a few times--here, here and here (including a needed assurance that the burden on Christian's back is not an ESV Study Bible).

05 August 2010

Eager to Criticize

This week someone asked my opinion about a Christian leader, and the response that leapt to the forefront of my mind was a deficiency I perceive in this guy. This is a godly, admirable man. The first thing, the crouching instinct, was criticism.

Hmm.

I made sure to say some nice things first in order to prevent being perceived as negative or proud. But the hors d'oeuvres of building up were my subtle way of setting up the main course of tearing down.

What is going on in the heart when we lick our lips at the prospect of diagnosing weakness in another?

I'll tell you: I don't believe the gospel. I really don't. I say I do. But I don't.

If I did (really did), the reflex level of my heart would be grace, not law. The reflex level. Instincts. I wouldn't find it emotionally intoxicating to background my own inadequacies by foregrounding someone else's.

For all the talk on this blog about the gospel, and the gospel as a daily resource, in the past few years I have moved from gospel infancy to gospel toddling, not from gospel infancy to gospel maturity. Two years ago I took a baby step (Dr. Marvin) into the ocean of grace that moved the water level from the soles of my feet up to: my ankles. Most of me is still pretty dry.

What would my heart and life look like if I totally submerged myself?

Let's go there.

The Real Thing Is Irresistible

How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once) it is irresistible. If even 10% of the world's population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year's end?
--C. S. Lewis in a 1953 letter to an American woman suffering both financial and physical hardships (Letters to an American Lady, 19)

04 August 2010

Thielicke: An Amazing Surprise

Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986), German pastor and author:
[The gospel] comes into our life as an amazing surprise. That there should be someone like Jesus, that he should gain the Father's heart for us, that he should rescue us, from the frustration of our personal lives and snatch us away from this horrible vegetating on the edge of the void--all this is indeed a tremendous surprise.
--The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus, 36

03 August 2010

I Have Been Wasting My Breath

Lloyd-Jones relates his response after he has just explained the gospel of justification by faith to a man who nevertheless hesitates when Lloyd-Jones asks if he would like to become a Christian, as this individual does not consider himself 'good enough.'

Lloyd-Jones comments--
At once I know that in a sense I have been wasting my breath. . . . It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil, it is a denial of the faith. You think that you are being humble. But you will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of Christian salvation is to say that He is good enough and that I am in Him!
--Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 34

Carson on the NSBT

Interesting couple of questions and answers on the outstanding New Studies in Biblical Theology series that Carson edits.

Helpful comprehensive survey of the series to date here.

Knowledge unto Love

A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue. It would be a strange God who could be loved better by being known less.
--Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1946), 28

02 August 2010

Adam, Eve, and SpongeBob

How do we preach to a thoughtful person who believes that Adam and Eve are no different than SpongeBob Squarepants?
Zack Eswine offers a thoughtful answer.

01 August 2010

One-Week Hibernation

Things will be a bit slow here as I spend the week with a few others over at Between Two Worlds. (That's right, it takes five men to do one man's job when Justin's away.)

Back on all cylinders next Monday, August 9.