September 2009


Let’s talk about idolatry a bit.  The kind that is all-too-accepted in the church.

A recent post on the blog (The Nameless One) from Carl Trueman discussed the current popularity of Reformed Christianity among so many believers today.  Trueman stepped on more than a few toes, I imagine, when he pointed out how celebrity-oriented our society is, and how the Church too often mirrors and exhibits the same behaviors as the world.

The point of application here, for me, is a very subtle (more…)

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[From the Pyromaniacs blog…gotta love the poster at the end.]

by Dan Phillips and homeboys

[Note: I am using “doubt” as a kind word. There are others that would fit.]

The meta of the post I discuss here led me to a few thoughts about doubt. I shared those thoughts with my betters here, and Phil and Frank added some of their own. It’s collaborative, it’s an ensemble! Like Seinfeld… only with a point.

Have you ever noticed…

  1. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as heroic?
  2. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as tragic?
  3. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints his doubt as different doubt from every other doubter who has ever doubted and come to a bad end from it?
  4. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine insists that his path won’t end up where every other doubter’s path ended? Which is to say…
  5. …everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine hates it when the historical and logical progression of doubt is pointed out?
  6. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as smarter, deeper, less lazy, and more honest than people who don’t share his doubt?
  7. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as humble, while those who point him back to the Word are arrogant?
  8. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as nice, while those who point him back to the Word are mean?
  9. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as academically sophisticated, carefully nuanced, and wonderfully insightful, while those who point him back to the Word are unenlightened hacks and drooling theological troglodytes?
  10. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as courageous, while those who point him back to the Word are bullies and ruffians?

[From Tim Challes blog]

I have (slowly) been reading Bruce Gordon’s new biography of Calvin (titled simply Calvin) and recently came to a chapter describing the situation in France during Calvin’s ministry in Geneva. As a Frenchman, Calvin’s influence spread beyond Geneva and into his native land. There Protestants, some connected to Calvin and others not, were being killed as part of a systematic effort to root out the seditious faith. Many were hunted down, tortured and executed.

This short description of such an occasion comes from the pen of Eustache Knobelsdorf, a Catholic German who was studying in Paris. He witnessed the execution of a Protestant in 1542 and wrote out an account. I reproduce it here because it stands as a testimony of God’s truthfulness when he says that he will care for his own, not necessarily by avoiding the fire, but sometimes through the fire.

*****

I saw two burnt there. Their death inspired in me differing sentiments. If you had been there, you would have hoped for a less severe punishment for these poor unfortunates. … The first was a very young man, not yet with a beard, he was the son of a cobbler. He was brought in front of the judges and condemned to have his tongue cut out and burned straight afterward. Without changing the expression of his face, the young man presented his tongue to the executioner’s knife, sticking it out as far as he could. The executioner pulled it out even further with pinchers, cut it off, and hit the sufferer several times on the tongue and threw it in the young man’s face. Then he was put into a tipcart, which was driven to the place of execution, but, to see him, one would think that he was going to a feast. … When the chain had been placed around his body, I could not describe to you with what equanimity of soul and with what expression in his features he endured the cries of elation and the insults of the crowd that were directed towards him. He did not make a sound, but from time to time he spat out the blood that was filling his mouth, and he lifted his eyes to heaven, as if he was waiting for some miraculous rescue. When his head was covered in sulphur, the executioner showed him the fire with a menacing air; but the young man, without being scared, let it be known, by a movement of his body, that he was giving himself willingly to be burned.

[John Piper posted this on the DG website.  It is a nice summary of the five points of Calvinism, also known as the doctrines of grace.]

We believe that these 5 truths are biblical and therefore true. We believe that they magnify God’s precious grace and give unspeakable joy to sinners who have despaired of saving themselves.

Total Depravity

Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. (more…)

Not everyone knows all the words to the national anthem.  And it becomes a real problem when you win a contest to sing it at a professional basketball game.

Check out this amazing video.  The young lady singing is joined by Maurice Cheeks, the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, and then by the thousands in attendance.  Tragedy becomes a moment of inspiration.

In the moment when you falter, your heavenly Father is there, putting His arm around you too.

[From Between Two Worlds]

Ray Ortlund responds to those who says, “My passion isn’t to build up my church. My passion is for God’s Kingdom.” He thinks such a sentiment sounds large-hearted, but is wrong–and can even be destructive:

Suppose I said, “My passion isn’t to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I’ll work for that. I’ll pray for that. I’ll sacrifice for that. But don’t expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I’m aiming at something grander.”

If I said that, would you think, “Wow, Ray is so committed”? Or would you wonder if I had lost my mind?

If you care about the Kingdom, be the kind of person who can be counted on in your own church. Join your church, pray for your church, tithe to your church, participate in your church every Sunday with wholehearted passion.

We build great churches the same way we build great marriages — real commitment that makes a positive difference every day.

See also Derek Thomas’s recent meditation on why it’s wrong not to love the church and to love being a part of her.

[From Between Two Worlds]

Today is the 250th birthday of the great preacher Charles Simeon, and I’m happy to have David Helm pen a guest post briefly recounting Simeon’s life, ministry, preaching, and legacy. Rev. Helm is a TGC Council member, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago’s Hyde Park, author of The Big Picture Story Bible, and Executive Director of the Charles Simeon Trust. Note at the end of Helm’s post an excellent new course being launched online to train Bible expositors. For more on Simeon, you can read or listen to John Piper’s biographical address from 1989 entitled, Brothers, We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering.

Simeon’s Life and Ministry

Born on September 24, 1759, Charles Simeon’s only distinction in childhood was that he was considered to be the ugliest boy in his school. After completing his education at Cambridge and being ordained, he accepted an appointment to Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge in 1782. The response to Simeon’s selection was (more…)

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