Monday, February 28, 2011

Sorry I had a fight in the middle of your Black Panther party.

My offering for Black History Month: Examining Black Loyalty to Democrats.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't yell at me; we're only pretending to be married!

One of the common arguments in favor of couples living together prior to marriage is a practical one, namely that it minimizes the probability of divorce.

However ...
"If it were really true that living together is a trial of marriage, then divorces would be more common among couples who hadn’t first lived together than among couples who had. Actually, just the opposite is true: Divorces are more common among couples who have lived together first than among couples who haven’t. The reason isn’t hard to find. The very essence of marriage is having a binding commitment. The very essence of living together is having no binding commitment. That’s why living together can’t be a trial for marriage, because in everything that matters, the two conditions are opposites. And that’s why not having a binding commitment is less like training for marriage than like training for divorce."
- J. Budziszewski, How to Stay Christian in College

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Monday, February 21, 2011

No smoke, no lights, just me and my guitar. Think anybody would buy that?

BONUS: Check out this video clip of those less persuaded of the truth expressed in the song I shared recently, especially "Real Preachers of Genius."

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

With a few other Providence Church lads, I got to see/hear Tim Keller recently. He spoke to the "Character & Marks of Revival (or Spiritual Renewal)".

For your edification and spiritual renewal, I share some of my notes.

Definition: Revival - an intensification of the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit in the life of our people; ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit greatly intensified in a church

What happens practically in revival?
  1. Sleepy Christians wake up (repentance)
  2. Nominal Christians get converted
  3. Secular/skeptical people get attracted to the church (as the hypocrisy departs)
Means of inducing/promoting revival:
(Prepare for fire of God, but don't presume it. These things don't necessarily cause revival, but accompany it and it's manifestation is accompanied by the following.)
  1. Extraordinary prayer (kingdom centered, corporate, prevailing, for city & selves, repenting, and seeking His anointing & renewal)
  2. Recovery of the Gospel (cf. Phil 3:9)
  3. Formal and informal spiritual leaders, changed/transformed by the Spirit of God and visibly so (e.g., Fruit of the Spirit)
  4. Places where people can discuss and process their experiences, "experience meetings"
  5. Creativity - getting the Gospel out to people in a new way (some unique factor, like George Whitefield preaching outdoors, but what works in one revival probably doesn't in another)
Keller contends that normally a church will prioritize and do well in one of the following areas, with other churches doing well in the neglected ones. But, in times of revival, a church will prioritize and highly function in each of these five areas.

Per Dr. Richard Lovelace, a church in the midst of revival will have the following:
  • Theological Depth
  • Vibrant Worship
  • Intimate Community & Fellowship
  • Aggressive, Assertive Evangelism
  • Compassion Social Concern & Social Justice
When revival is not in a town, different churches/denominations might have one of the above "vitamins" (to the neglect of the others), "and we throw bricks at the other denominations because they don't have our vitamin." When revival comes, those churches tend to look more alike because they combine those things and more are present. (That church will probably now look different than others in that denomination in some ways.)

John Newton: "Thou art coming to a king, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much."

"You're not asking for enough. I can tell you, you're not asking for enough. He is both rich and generous and you will show Him [you regard Him as such] by being bold in prayer."

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Friday, February 11, 2011

You're breaking up with me, because I'm too ... blonde?

The veterinarian told the blonde that her dog needed some exercise.

Try playing fetch," the doctor said.

"I can't play fetch with my dog," the blonde said.

"Why not?" the doctor asked.

"Duh," she replied, "Because he can't throw."

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force.

In the comments of a previous post, the question arose of God's grace as something active, or powerful. I thought the topic important enough to merit its own post.

When I was in seminary I encountered many who equated grace with leniency. For example, "I know our papers were due today, but how about a little grace, prof?"

God being gracious to us only meant letting things slide with regard to our behavior.

But, God's unmerited favor is something far beyond that. It's the manner in which He works in us, both to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13) unto our sanctification. We are confident that He will complete the good work in us (Phil 1:6), but not because we deserve it, but because of His grace ... which is efficacious.
"I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace, by which I'm saved."
-Keith Green, "Grace by which I Stand"
Though not known as a theologian, and we are not lockstep in agreement across the board, I think Keith gets it. God's saving grace is a preserving grace, a sanctifying grace.

Two texts immediately come to mind, where you see God's grace equated with His power.
  • 1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
  • 2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
When we say something has happened by His grace, we are not only attributing to God a recognition that we didn't deserve it, but also that it was something He actively did, not merely something He passively allowed.
"Grace doesn’t free a man to live as he will; instead, it empowers a man to live as he ought!" -Robert Lewis

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Monday, February 07, 2011

No smoke, no lights, just me and my guitar. Think anybody would buy that?

For your edification and sola Scriptura solidification, the following are two verses from the hymn, "We Have an All-Sufficient Word."
6
Yes, help us preach Your Word alone,
For it alone is true;
We need not clowns or luring games
To draw men unto You!

7
We have an all-sufficient Word,
God-breathed in every part;
A piercing Power to penetrate
Depraved, cold human hearts.

(Words: Kenneth A. Puls; Music: William Croft)

BONUS: Check out this video action of those less persuaded of the truth expressed in the above song, especially "Real Preachers of Genius."

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate.

My most recent book acquisition is When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search: Biblical Principles and Practices to Guide Your Search, by Chris Brauns. (N.B. The title says "Word," not "World." Nuff said.)

Ideally, a church wouldn't need this book for many years, as the pastor puts down roots and commits, enjoying decades of service to Christ & His people. But, we keeps it real, so ... a book like this is more than necessary since longevity is rare.

In fact, if the search process is successful (i.e., a good fit is found), then the church will have little to no experience on which to lean for the next pastor, since the pastor stayed awhile. Conversely, the churches that might get proficient at the pastoral search due to frequency, may be suffering from not doing it well (i.e., a good fit is not found).

I intend to post a review of When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search upon completion, but to increase awareness of such a resource in the Church and to whet your appetite ...

10 Common Mistakes Churches Make Looking for a Pastor, each of which contains elaboration in the book:
  1. Not choosing the right people for the pastoral search committee.
  2. Prayerlessness.
  3. Being people-centered rather than Word-centered.
  4. Lack of follow-through and due-diligence by the pastoral search committee.
  5. Impatience that leads to the wrong decision.
  6. Failure to properly administrate the pastoral search.
  7. Inadequate communication.
  8. Failure to adequately budget for the pastoral search.
  9. Allowing the experience with the previous pastor to direct the calling of the next pastor.
  10. Spending too much time trying to call pastors who are not "reasonably gettable."
  • Learn more about When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search, including where to purchase.
  • Read endorsements.
  • Buy Brauns' Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds.

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