Monday, December 28, 2009

Lloyd-Jones (and more) on Fighting Spiritual Depression:

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 35:

Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression?

The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past.
Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ.
Never look back at your sins again.
Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’.
That is your first step.
Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you.
What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying.
No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone.

(HT: David Mathis)

Here’s the “one thing” Paul wanted to do: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

Also remember this rule from Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

For one look at yourself,
take ten looks at Christ!

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Did Christmas Happen, what does it mean? The Scriptures vs culture:

Check out this short film by St. Helen's Bishopgate in London. It has cliips from NT Scholar Paul Barnett describing the solid foundation laid by the gospels. And it contrasts the gospel account against street interviews about the meaning of Christmas.

That's Christmas (Short Film) HD from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, November 30, 2009

Scriptures: God's Self-disclosure >

Great article from the

Interpretation Matters

John Calvin was not only concerned about the authority of Scripture, but also with true interpretation of Scripture and its proper use in the church. To be sure, one must begin with the authority and inspiration of Scripture: “Hence the Scriptures obtain full authority among believers only when men regard them as having sprung from heaven, as if there the living words of God were heard” (Institutes). However, according to Calvin, asserting the authority and inspiration of Scripture is not enough unless interpreters of Scripture, according to their ability, supply weapons to fight against false teachings.

Doctrine and Biblical Languages

Calvin dedicated his life to the restoration of the teaching of Scripture to the church and to the training of future interpreters of Scripture, so that all Christians might be brought to the true knowledge of God and Christ. Therefore, in his pastoral training he insisted that pastors be well grounded in both doctrine and biblical languages. In parallel with the training of pastors, he saw the two key responsibilities of pastors as teaching doctrine through the catechisms and preaching through books of the bible.

Accessibility to the Uneducated

In all of this, Calvin’s aim was to help make the Scriptures accessible to all people. He combined his conviction regarding the divine authority of Scripture with the claim that God’s teaching in Scripture is accommodated to the capacity of the most unlearned of people. He wrote, “All I have had in mind with this is to facilitate the reading of holy Scripture for those who are humble and uneducated” (Preface to Chrysostom’s Homiletics).

The Illumination of the Spirit

However, one cannot accept the Scripture’s author nor interpret it correctly without the illumination of the Holy Spirit: “For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted” (Institutes).
Calvin argues that humans can have knowledge of God only because God first condescends and accommodates to human capacity to reveal to humans the truth about God. God takes on human nature and reveals through human words. According to Calvin, the self-disclosure of God is founded in the self-manifestation of God in the person of Jesus Christ and Scripture.

Scriptures Testify to Christ

According to Calvin, once Scripture sets forth the self-disclosure of the Creator, in the works God does in the universe, it passes on to the knowledge of God the Redeemer revealed in the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Christ is visible in both the symbols and shadows in the Law and the clear manifestation of the gospel. While one must avoid the dangers of over-spiritualizing the Old Testament and overemphasizing the differences between Israel and the church, when rightly understood, all the Scriptures testify to the one God and his Mediator, Christ Jesus.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It is well...

Horatio Spafford penned the hymn, It Is Well with My Soul, after his four daughters were killed in a boating accident. Here's the penmanship of a broken man with a profound sense of hope in Jesus:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The purpose of parables

D. A. Carson preached on “The Purpose of the Parables” from Matthew 13:10-17, 34-35 in chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on October 29, 2009. Here are some notes:

Why did Jesus tell stories and use parables? Three answers are common.

1. Jesus told stories because he used them as illustrations. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense of Matthew 13:11–12.

2. Jesus told stories because he favored the enigmatic, thought-provoking, and open-ended rather than truths, propositions, and narrow-minded, modernist, foundationalist stuff like that. But it doesn’t take much reading of the Gospels to realize how many different genres Jesus actually preached in. For example, he preached using wisdom literature, apocalyptic, laments, exposition of OT texts, extended discourses, proverbs, beatitudes, one-liners, non-narratival extended metaphors, dialogue, and provocative questions. Further, Matthew 13:34–35 suggests that Jesus is trying to disclose something to them.

3. Jesus used parables in order to hide things from the non-elect, to mask the truth. Yes, there is an element of that, but Matthew 13:34–35 suggests that Jesus is trying to disclose something to them.

So why did Jesus use parables? The text suggests two reasons.

1. Jesus tells parables because in line with Scripture his message blinds, deafens, and hardens (Matthew 13:11–15). Matthew 13:14–15 quotes Isaiah 6:9–10 because Isaiah’s commission points forward and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus himself. There are some audiences to whom you preach where the preaching of the word guarantees that they will not hear. Cf. John 8:45: “Because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” Sometimes the truth itself elicits unbelief because people are so corrupt that the truth is repulsive. Cf. Acts 5:41. When people insult you, don’t get defensive. Don’t get angry. Don’t get even. Rejoice! You’re in! You’re in this long line, this trajectory, that culminates in Jesus himself. There are some people who will not believe, and if you speak the truth, you will cause them not to believe.

2. Jesus tells parables because in line with Scripture his message reveals things hidden in Scripture (Matthew 13:34–35). Matthew 13:35 quotes Psalm 78:2. The Jews of Jesus’ day did not have a category for a crucified Messiah, but those categories are in the OT. Jesus refers to “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11). A “mystery” in the NT does not refer to a “Whodunit?” It occurs 27 or 28 times in the NT and almost always is bound up with things hidden in the past in Scripture but now disclosed in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. “They’re there, but I’m going to reveal to you what has been hidden. The pieces are already there.” Hence, Matthew 13:16–17, 52.

Three Pastoral Reflections
1. We should gain wonder in worship where there is a fresh grasp of how God has put the Bible together. The Bible is not a collection of arbitrary proof-texts. The more you dig into it, the more you unpack its simplicity and profundity.

2. We should gain gratitude and humility for the gift of seeing the truth about Jesus and his gospel. We are just as perverse as others. We should never tire of being overwhelmed by the sheer privilege of grace in our lives.

3. We should gain discretion in witness where there is a hostile environment.

HT:Andy Naselli

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tomorrow's Less celebrated Holiday

Reformation Day

A day where we should remember a time when the church power of the time was shaken by the proclaimed Word of God against it's doctrines of justification. Dr. Martin Luther (left) set off this reformation of the church by nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.

Dr. Luther proclaimed a gospel of grace to the broken-hearted sinners: "God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead. He does not give saintliness to any but sinners, nor wisdom to any but fools. In short: He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace. Therefore no arrogant saint, or just or wise man can be material for God, neither can he do the work of God, but he remains confined within his own work and makes of himself a fictitious, ostensible, false, and deceitful saint, that is, a hypocrite" (Luther W.A. 1.183ff).

I'll be taking some time in my prayers to thank God for His gospel of grace, one that cause Dr. Luther to say, “The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God” (Thesis 62).

If you'd like to read all 95 Theses, you can here.

Thanks to Resurgence for a great article.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

He works, we respond, He blesses

From DG's Blog, written by Piper:

Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.

That is not right.

There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive.

Here is one example to show what I mean.

In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.


But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?


Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

So the people will meet the condition of returning to God with their whole heart. God will respond by being their God in the fullest blessing. But the reason they returned with their whole heart is that God gave them a heart to know him. His action was first and decisive.

So now connect that with Jeremiah 29:13. The condition there was that they seek the Lord with their whole heart. Then God will be found by them. But now we see that the promise in Jeremiah 24:7 is that God himself will give them such a heart so that they will return to him with their whole heart.

This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray.

Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Gospel and Biblical Storyline

As said by Don Carson, edit by Justin Taylor:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers.

Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell.

What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

This story-line, and its connection with the gospel, could be fleshed out in a number of ways. But the point is simply this: the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ makes sense in the context of this story-line and in no other.

If, instead of this world-view, this storyline, some other is adopted, the good news of Jesus Christ no longer makes sense or is so badly distorted it is no longer the same thing.

For instance, if one adopts a pantheistic world-view, then ‘sin’ takes on an entirely different configuration and there is no transcendent God to whom to be reconciled. In that case, the ‘good news’ cannot be the announcement of God’s reconciling act in the death and resurrection of his Son, by which he bore his people’s penalty.

If one adopts some naturalistic world-view, something similar could be said.

If one holds that history is going nowhere or in circles determined by impersonal fate, then the notion of final judgement and ultimate division between bliss and the abyss is incoherent—and so too the good news that Christ reconciles rebels to their Maker, prepares them for glory, enabling them even now to enjoy foretastes of the kingdom still to be consummated.

source: Evangel

Monday, October 12, 2009

God Equips and Effects

From DG's blog:

What does the blood of the eternal covenant secure for us? It secures both God’s equipping of us and the successful use of that equipment to make our lives pleasing to God.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

- equip you with everything good that you may do his will,
- working in us that which is pleasing in his sight,

through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Christ shed the blood of the eternal covenant. By this successful redemption, he obtained the blessing of resurrection from the dead. He is now our living Lord and Shepherd.

And because of all that, God does two things:

1. He equips us with everything good that we may do his will.
2. He works in us that which is pleasing in his sight.

The “eternal covenant,” secured by the blood of Christ, is the new covenant. And the new covenant promise is this: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Therefore, the blood of this covenant not only secures God’s equipping us to do his will, but also secures God working in us to make that equipment successful. The will of God is not just written on stone or paper as a means of grace. It is worked in us. And the effect is: We feel and think and act in ways more pleasing to God.

We are still commanded to use the equipment he gives: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” But more importantly we are told why: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

If we are able to please God—if we do his good pleasure—it is because the blood-bought grace of God has moved from mere equipping, to omnipotent transforming.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Beauty of Harpagmos

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (or harpagmos in Greek), but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Phillipians 2. 4-7

I've sometimes had trouble with this passage since I didn't understand exactly what was meant by the translated word "grasped". It almost sounds like Christ didn't consider being God as something that he should or could do or be.

Upon reviewing the Greek word "harpagmos", I found that this grasping was not a reaching toward divinity with the hopes that it might be grasped. On the contrary, it conveys that Christ considered his eternal divinity (already possessed) not something to be hoarded for his own good, but was willing, for a time, to humble himself that he might redeem us. In doing this, Jesus magnifies his name among his creation while at the same time sanctifying them.

Who knew such an ugly word could convey such a beautiful meaning.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Best, The Best, The Best

One of the best blues guitar solos I've ever heard - and I've heard a lot of them. Listen right around 2 minutes 45 seconds.

Do enjoy, peoples:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Providence Doesn't Excuse Our Wickedness

And whence, I ask you, comes the stench of a corpse, which is both putrefied and laid open by the heat of the sun? All men see that it is stirred up by the sun's rays; yet no one for this reason says that rays stink. Thus, since the matter and guilt of evil lie inherent in a wicked man, what reason is there to think that God contracts any defilement, if he uses the wicked man's service for His own purpose? Away, therefore, with this doglike impudence, which can indeed bark at God's justice afar off but cannot touch it.

- John Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Book 1, Chapter 17, Section 5

Thursday, September 24, 2009

27, meet 20. You guys got a lot to talk about..

I wish Niles-age-20 could meet Niles-age-27. 27 would have a lot to say to 20.

That's it. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Might Get Loud

A docu-movie featuring the Edge, Jack White, and Jimmy Page... I've gotta see this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From, the top facts pick by Chuck himself:

· When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
· Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
· There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.
· Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.
· Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
· Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
· Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
· Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.
· There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.
· When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.
· Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
· Chuck Norris’ hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.
· Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.
· Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
· Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
· Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost
· Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.
· Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.

If none of these make you crack a smile, Chuck will crack you. Ok, ok I got nothing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Battling for the Unborn and Unborn-again

An eye opening post from John Piper's blog at DesiringGod:

In the most recent Christianity Today (“Sex, Lies, and Abortion,” Sept. 2009, p. 78) Dinesh D’Souza explains why pro-life arguments for the humanity of the unborn don’t carry the day:

Why then, in the face of its bad arguments, does the pro-choice movement continue to prevail legally and politically?

I think it's because abortion is the debris of the sexual revolution. . . .

In order to have a sexual revolution, women must have the same sexual autonomy as man. But the laws of biology contradict this ideology, so feminists who have championed the sexual revolution . . . have found it necessary to denounce pregnancy as an invasion of the female body. . .

No one in the pro-choice camp, of course, wants to admit any of this. It's not only politically embarrassing, it's also painful to one's self-image to acknowledge a willingness to sustain permissive sexual values by killing the unborn.

If I'm on the right track, pro-life arguments are not likely to succeed by simply continuing to stress the humanity of the fetus. The opposition already knows this, as probably do most women who have an abortion. Rather, the pro-life movement must take into account the larger cultural context of the sexual revolution that invisibly but surely sustains the triumphant advocates of abortion.

It won't be easy but somehow the case against abortion must include a case against sexual libertinism.

Two further observations.

Somebody with my view would call the abortion position “fornication management”—like “damage control.” Jesus (Matthew 15:19) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:18) forbid fornication. But from the other side it’s called “justice.” If a man can have free sex with no pregnancy consequences, then justice demands that the woman have the same “right.” So as long as sexual intercourse is perceived as a given—a kind of visceral “right” (part of what it means to be a sexual being)—then abortion will be a demanded “right” to give parity to male and female.

The other observation is that the upshot of D’Souza’s article is that a “case against sexual libertinism” is good, but by itself powerless. “Cases” don’t affect hormones and passions very much. But there is a power to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). His name is the Holy Spirit. And he moves through faith by making Jesus Christ the supreme treasure of life—including sexual life.

So, at bottom, the battle for the life of the unborn is the same as the battle for the life of the un-born-again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To really own a book:

I read this quotation from this morning. It's from Moritmer Adler's How To Read a Book. I think I fit into book owner #2, but I'm working on it.


There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.

Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers — unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books — a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many — every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) …

But the soul of a book “can” be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini’s score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores — marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them—is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Auto-tune Isn't All Bad

Well, while I won't divulge if any kind of auto-tune was used on Eternal Worship's upcoming release, I think we can safely assume it is all over this hilariousness:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Theodicy and Optimism

To defend the theological perspective of this blog which has been recently, colloquially reproached, I'd like to blog about Gottfried Leibniz's (1646-1716) view on theodicy and optimism.

Honestly, these are new terms to me, but I found Leibniz's ideas on these topics to be interesting. His view could be succinctly put as:

Theodicy tries to justify the apparent imperfections of the world by claiming that it is optimal among all possible worlds. It must be the best possible and most balanced world because it was created by a perfect God.

{I would insert God's observation from Genesis 1, it was "towb" or good, right or appropriate}

While his views on a perfect and good God were ridiculed by what surely would have been a convincing 18th century blogger, Voltaire, Leibniz's optimism lead to certain scientific principles that two centuries later would be thoroughly established: the principle of least action, the conservation of mass, and the conservation of energy.

So, theodicy and optimism. There you go.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I don't care who you are...

This thing is scary...

It's from a WSJ article on a new discovery of a new drug that prohibits bacteria from communicating with each other. Apparently this angler fish uses bacteria to shine. A colony of bacteria glow on the tip of an appendage on the fish's head, enabling the fish to lure prey in the deep ocean darkness.

See the article and description here.

Remind me to stay away from deep ocean darkness.

Update, cause I know you want to see more. Found another picture of an angler fish.

Pic by charminbayurr from Flickr

Live free or die, or not.

So, I read a Wall Street Journal article this morning about a girl in New Hampshire, age 10, who was home-schooled. There was a court order issued to make her attend public school, saying that her faith could use some shaking-up. Here's a bit of the article:

"Amanda's mother has had primary custody over her daughter since she and Amanda's father divorced 10 years ago. The father has had long-standing complaints about the effect of home-schooling on his daughter's "socialization," even though Amanda has already taken classes at the school and participated in extracurricular activities. But the order appears to be based on the guardian ad litem's worry about Amanda's "rigidity on faith." The order also accepts the same guardian's conclusion that Amanda belongs in a public school because she "would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.'"

New Hampshire's state motto: "Live free or die."

Ironic, no?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Jesus wuz here:

Here's a quick video from Mars Hill Church's trip to Israel where Mark is telling a bit about Peter's home. It would be pretty awesome to experience, in person, a place were Jesus actually walked while he was still with us on Earth. For now, this will have to do.

Peters House in Capernaum from Mars Hill Church on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

No frets? No problem.

You can just build your own guitar, but you might want to practice your slide technique first.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Biblical view of Free Will

Andy Naselli helped his church understand a bit clearer the nature of free will and what the Bible has to say about it. It really helped me get a grasp on some terms I wasn't familar with and think through some issues regarding this topic. If you're looking for a Biblical response on this subject, and not just a philosophical one, Andy's talk with help.

Here's the mp3 of the talk.
Here's the 7-page handout. (it helps)
Finally, a condensed essay. (4-page pdf)

A basic outline goes like this:
1.What is "free will"?
2.What have noteworthy theologians thought about "free will"?
3.What are biblical and theological reasons for compatibilisim and against incompatibilism?
4.How does "free will" relate to the origin of sin and conversion?
5.Concluding applications on the Free-Will debate.
6.Recommended Reading.

Just a bit about Andy, if you're interested in who it is that is speaking:
* Andy is currently working on a Ph.D. in Theological Studies with a concentration in New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he serves as research assistant to D. A. Carson and administrator of Themelios.

*He earned a Ph.D. in theology from BJU (2006), an M.A. in Bible from BJU (2003), and a B.A. in Bible from BCM (2002).

Ever get tired...

...of Christ-centered preaching? Check this guy out. The ultimate youth "pastor", Ignatius.

...and no, this guy is not for real. You're welcome, kids.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Lungs. New Records. And Keith Richards.

I ran today. My lungs were on fire, but the good kind. The kind that don't take nicely to sinus infections.

Used iTunes money to buy the new Needtobreathe record, The Outsiders. Don't think there's a track I don't like. Needtolistentoitmore.

For Jimmy and Lauren, John Mayer's latest album's coming out Nov. 17th. Single's to come soon. You're welcome.

Oh, and here's Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones showing his guitar chops to a clearly overeager fan:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Textual Confidence

Just read a 12 page pdf entitled, How Did We Get Our Bible and Has It Been Changed? by Dr. Matthew S. Harmon.

While the report is brief, it is very informative and persuasive. Here's his conclusion that the paper fleshes out in more detail:

"In closing I want to leave you with two bottom-line conclusions to walk away with today.

First, the Bible that we holding our hands contains the books that God intends for us to recognize as authoritative for faith and practice. You have no need to fear that some vast conspiracy has managed to prevent us from having documents that are inspired by God for the benefit of his people the church. The reason books like the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas are not included in the Bible is because there was widespread recognition in the church from a very early period that documents such as these did not conform to the rule of faith, were not apostolic in origin and were not widely accepted by Christians through the world.

Second, you can be confident that what we read in the New Testament is exactly what God inspired the human authors to write. They are the most carefully transmitted and preserved documents from the ancient world. Even in those rare places where we cannot be 100% sure what the original said, we are always able to determine what it is likely to have said. And there are no places where a central doctrine or belief of the Christian faith is at stake.

So when you open your Bible to read about the good news of who Jesus Christ is and what he was done for us, you can rest your eternal destiny on what you read there. "

If you've thought about how looking into how we arrived at our New Testament cannon of Scripture, this should help.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pride of Humility

From CS Lewis less than a year after his conversion, circa 1928:
During my afternoon “meditations,”—which I at least attempt quite regularly now—I have found out ludicrous and terrible things about my own character. Sitting by, watching the rising thoughts to break their necks as they pop up, one learns to know the sort of thoughts that do come.
And, will you believe it, one out of every three is the thought of self-admiration: when everything else fails, having had its neck broken, up comes the thought “what an admirable fellow I am to have broken their necks!” I catch myself posturing before the mirror, so to speak, all day long. I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly realize I am really thinking how frightfully clever I'm going to be and how he will admire me...
And then when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that. It is like fighting the hydra... There seems to be no end to it. Depth under depths of self-love and self-admiration. (quoted in The Narnian by Alan Jacobs, 133)

From Jonathan Edwards in Religious Affections, circa 1740's:
If on the proposal of the question [Are you humble?], you answer, “No, it seems to me, none are so bad as I.” Don't let the matter pass off so; but examine again, whether or no you don't think yourself better than others on this very account, because you imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Haven't you a high opinion of this humility? And if you answer again, “No; I have not a high opinion of my humility; it seems to me I am as proud as the devil”; yet examine again, whether self-conceit don't rise up under this cover; whether on this very account, that you think yourself as proud as the devil, you don't think yourself to be very humble. (quoted from the online works of Jonathan Edwards)

HT:DG Blog

Monday, August 17, 2009

For Whom did Christ taste death?

If you've ever struggled with this question - in essense, dealing with how the Scriptures talk about the Atonement - then this sermon will help.

I've had to listen to it multiple times. Still praying, reading and working through it, but this really helped me.

For Whom Did Christ Taste Death?
Read it here.
Listen to it here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mr. Les Paul (1915-2009)

Mr. Les Paul died today at age 94. As far as men that were important to music, especially guitar playing, this man was it. He basically invented the electric guitar and multi-track recording. He was an accomplish jazz, country and blues player even with severe arthritis. I hope he put his trust in the Lord, because I'd love to meet him some day.

You can read more than you ever wanted to about him here.

If you're rolling with Chet, you got to bring the chops. This man had it. Brilliant.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dutch Maritime Paintings

Just wanted to share a couple of brilliant Dutch paintings I ran across while reading a WSJ article. Its hard to see the minute details of the ships in Velde's piece, so click the title of the piece's name for higher resolution. What grabbed my attention in these paintings is the realism of the lighting on the clouds, waves, and ships.

Here they are:

The first is a piece by Ludolf Bakhuizen entitled The Merchant Shipping Anchorage in the Texel with Texel Island and Oude Schild to the North West. From 1665, an oil on canvas.

The second is a piece by Willem van de Velde the Younger titled, Ships on the Roadstead. 1658.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cleaving to Christ rather than them

Here's a quotation from Parker's Portrait of Calvin [see earlier blog post for link] that rang loudly with me - I hope that if I draw a line in the sand theologically, that doing so would put me closer to Him than to any branch of thinking. In Calvin's case below, he's writing to the Holy Roman Emperor with regard to Reformation doctrines.

THL Parker writes,

"The glory of Christ is the theme that runs through the treatise on [Calvin's]
The Necessity for Reforming the Church which Calvin addressed to the Emperor
Charles V
: 'Let our opponents, then, first of all draw near to Christ and
afterwards let them accuse us of schism in daring to dissent from them in
doctrine. But, since I have made it plain that Christ is banished from their
society and the teaching of His gospel exterminated, their charge against
us simply amounts to this, that we cleave to Christ rather than to them

Monday, August 10, 2009

CliffsNotes biography of Calvin

I posted about this on John Calvin's birthday in July, but here's the complete 9-part [severely abridged, yet helpful] biography of John Calvin. It's written by David Mathis of DesiringGod. He draws, in some part, from a book I'm currently reading: Portrait of Calvin, by T.H.L. Parker (written in 1954). I'm almost done with Parker's book, which is also quite abreviated (only 120 pages), but would be an insightful next step in exploring the life of a man used by God to bring Glory to Himself all over the world.

Part 1: Born to Gerard (1509-1523)
Part 2: Off to Paris (1523-1532)
Part 3: De Clementia, Conversion, and Cop (1532-33)
Part 4: Institutes (1535-1536)
Part 5: A Night’s Stay in Geneva (1536-1538)
Part 6: The Golden Years (1538-1541)
Part 7: Return to Geneva (1541-1553)
Part 8: The Fateful Years (1553-1554)
Part 9: An Unmarked Grave (1554-1564)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Irrefutably, irrefragably, irreducibly...

... are just some of the words D.A. Carson uses in this video from the Gospel Coalition to speak about biblical inerrancy. Ok well, he was describing how Christ is bound-up with salvation.

But, if you've wondered what "inerrancy" is, you'll benefit from this video. I thought I knew all of what it meant, and again I've found that I'm not half as smart as I think I am.

What does inerrancy mean? Is it essential to Christian belief?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Innkeeper

Just read this Advent poem Piper wrote for his congregation.

Here's the official description: In this poem, John Piper imagines Jesus, two weeks before his death, returning to Bethlehem and visiting the inn where he was born. He meets Jacob, the old innkeeper, who years before had made a place for Joseph and Mary to stay. As they converse, Jesus hears what it cost Jacob to house the Son of God.

The Innkeeper is a moving story that has us look into the face of tragedy, as experienced in Herod's brutal slaughter of little boys. Then it turns us toward the shining face of hope. If we have the eyes of faith to see it, the sting of futility will be forever removed from death.

You can read the Pdf here.

Or listen to Pastor John read it here.

I hope it moves your heart as it did mine.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prayer and Predestination

Ok, put on your thinking-caps. I'll be reading through this a couple more times this morning: A conversation between the Prayerful and the Prayerless by John Piper from Feb 1996:

Prayerless: I understand that you believe in the providence of God. Is that right?
Prayerful: Yes.
Prayerless: Does that mean you believe, like the Heidelberg Catechism says, that nothing comes about by chance but only by God's design and plan?
Prayerful: Yes, I believe that's what the Bible teaches.
Prayerless: Then why do you pray?
Prayerful: I don't see the problem. Why shouldn't we pray?
Prayerless: Well, if God ordains and controls everything, then what he plans from of old will come to pass, right?
Prayerful: Yes.
Prayerless: So it's going to come to pass whether you pray or not, right.
Prayerful: That depends on whether God ordained for it to come to pass in answer to prayer. If God predestined that something happen in answer to prayer, it won't happen without prayer.
Prayerless: Wait a minute, this is confusing. Are you saying that every answer to prayer is predestined or not?
Prayerful: Yes, it is. It's predestined as an answer to prayer.
Prayerless: So if the prayer doesn't happen, the answer doesn't happen?
Prayerful: That's right.
Prayerless: So the event is contingent on our praying for it to happen?
Prayerful: Yes. I take it that by contingent you mean prayer is a real reason that the event happens, and without the prayer the event would not happen.
Prayerless: Yes that's what I mean. But how can an event be contingent on my prayer and still be eternally fixed and predestined by God?
Prayerful: Because your prayer is as fixed as the predestined answer.
Prayerless: Explain.
Prayerful: It's not complicated. God providentially ordains all events. God never ordains an event without a cause. The cause is also an event. Therefore, the cause is also foreordained. So you cannot say that the event will happen if the cause doesn't because God has ordained otherwise. The event will happen if the cause happens.
Prayerless: So what you are saying is that answers to prayer are always ordained as effects of prayer which is one of the causes, and that God predestined the answer only as an effect of the cause.
Prayerful: That's right. And since both the cause and the effect are ordained together you can't say that the effect will happen even if the cause doesn't because God doesn't ordain effects without causes.
Prayerless: Can you give some illustrations?
Prayerful: Sure. If God predestines that I die of a bullet wound, then I will not die if no bullet is fired. If God predestines that I be healed by surgery, then if there is no surgery, I will not be healed. If God predestines heat to fill my home by fire in the furnace, then if there is no fire, there will be no heat. Would you say, "Since God predestines that the sun be bright, it will be bright whether there is fire in the sun or not"?
Prayerless: No.
Prayerful: I agree. Why not?
Prayerless: Because the brightness of the sun comes from the fire.
Prayerful: Right. That's the way I think about the answers to prayer. They are the brightness, and prayer is the fire. God has established the universe so that in larger measure it runs by prayer, the same way he has established brightness so that in larger measure it happens by fire. Doesn't that make sense?
Prayerless: I think it does.
Prayerful: Then let's stop thinking up problems and go with what the Scriptures say. Ask and you will receive. You have not because you ask not.

Again gleaned from B2W

Anitpsalm 23

David Powlson wrote this in his article regarding a life void of the redeeming reality of the Lord Jesus. But after reading the antipsalm below, scroll back up and read the true Psalm 23 for a picture of a life redeemed from sin and loneliness.

Antipsalm 23

I'm on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing's quite right.
I'm always restless. I'm easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It's a jungle — I feel overwhelmed. It's a desert — I'm thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing. Why don't things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone ... facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can't really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I'm left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It's a living death,
and then I die.

Thanks to JT for the link.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why I Thank God for John Calvin

Today, 500 years ago in Noyon, Frace, Jean Cauvin was born. I'd like to share why I thank God for John Calvin.

It is kind of strange to be writing this post. The Niles of 2005 would be quite taken aback, frankly. He would posit several philosophical arguments to discount Calvin altogether. He would lean on various conversational dynamics, sarcasm and strawmen to seemingly win so-called debates regarding predestination. I was pretty decent with whipping out CS Lewis quotes and witty retorts of Scripture without a whole lot of thought as to how those verse fit the rest of the Scriptures, or how they make God look.

It has been humbling to know that it was indeed Calvin, whom God used to clearly display His glory in my life.

First, John Calvin's pursuit of the truth in the Scriptures built in me a deep respect and love for studying the Word of God. As I heard about and read about his life I was struck by his profound view of the Scriptures coupled with a passionate work-ethic.

Calvin said, "Whoever, therefore, would desire to persevere in uprightness and in integrity of life, let them learn to exercise themselves daily in the study of the word of God; for, whenever a man despises or neglects instruction, he easily falls into carelessness and stupidity, and all fear of God vanishes from his mind" (Commentary on the Psalms, on Ps. 18:22)

Secondly, my view of God was exploded into a majestic understanding of His ultimate sovereignty. This encompassed blessing, suffering, redemption, damnation; it changed the way I saw everything - it still does.

Calvin said in one of his commentaries on the Psalms, "We renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose our life according to his will, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest and most severe to our nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed from him." This was said by a man who suffered from terrible headaches, fevers and kidney stones among other illnesses.

I'll save the rest of your time to perhaps peruse the following link to learn more about John Calvin.

John Calvin on Faith by the

John Calvin, Founding Father from the Washington Post by constitutional attorney, Doug Phillips. This explores Calvin's affect on free-market economy/capitalism and our founding fathers' choice for form of government. Thanks Steven for the link.

Calvin: Why He Still Matters by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey of Westminster Seminary California. This piece is long, but very informative. This is where I pulled the above quotes.

DesiringGod Blog There will be various posts about Calvin from the Desiring God blog over the next couple of days.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

If we are bound to sin, are we acting freely?

Here's a great, albeit mind-boggling, post from Piper regarding the title's question. The thought is based on, among others, this passage:

Romans 8:7-9
The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (See also 1Corinthians 2:14).

Read the conclusion below or the full post here:

But it sometimes helps to answer objections. One common objection is that, if we “cannot” do what is right, and “can only” do what is sin, then we are not acting voluntarily and cannot be praised or blamed.

Here is part of John Calvin’s answer to this objection:

The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil.

Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, “It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?”

Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning? (Institutes, II.3.5)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Judgment sustantiates the Gospel

Some thoughts from a recent discussion board conversation with one of my best friends, a fellow brother in Christ. We have these conversations to hammer out issues. His post is in bold, my response is not. If this is helpful, I'm glad - it's long. If not, feel free to skip over to the updated Born Without Bones post.

Why would God make judgments? We are the ones that choose...God remains the same, therefore there is no judgment only existence.

To set the groundwork, we must accept that God indeed does make judgments. One only needs to read Exodus or any of the Gospels to see that God pronounces judgments, temporally and eternally. If we can agree on that then the why becomes even more important. It should be noted that so-called temporal judgments for Christians and Non would be different and for different purposes.

The fact of the matter is twofold: 1-We do choose. 2-God does hold us accountable for these choices, thus judgment is due and just. The connection is difficult, admittedly so, especially for me - as I would affirm God's sovereignty. However, it is exactly because we are the ones that choose that bears us the responsibility of consequence. I don't understand it fully, but I accept it because it is what is clearly taught in the Scriptures. (I'm still working on it.) It would be quite foolish to discard an idea as not true simply because I don't fully understand it.

I'll leave it at that for brevity's sake.

Main idea: Because there is a standard set (that God has in place for our good and his glory) there is the possibility of judgment. These standards are what bring God the most glory and us the most joy. When we break the covenant or ignore it, there is righteous judgment. For the Christian, Jesus absorbed it; for those who reject Christ they must take it on themselves. Hence the gospel is indeed good news for the sinner.

I suppose I was speaking of a peculiar transcendence...perhaps a bit of enlightenment that necessarily flows from the teachings of Christ; that in the end, the babble of our moralistic reasoning is inconsequential. Christ taught of love as if it had nothing to do with our judgments. It seems when we give up thinking about what is right or wrong, which in the end is perhaps impossible to know; and, begin to look at love as the expression of the will of God, we find ourselves always looking beyond.

Our moralistic reasoning should be, but not always is, based on the commanded will of God that has been explicitly revealed to us in the Scriptures. It doesn't include wearing ties and not having Mohawks and being a republican, but it does include loving God and loving people.

I would argue that this love that Christ speaks about is only possible because of the presence of judgment. The gospel throughout the entire Bible is that God wants to be our God and us to be his people. This is amazing because he also tells us that we're a sinful bunch. But even while we were still such, Christ died for us. Even though we deserve wrath (righteous judgment) we can still be adopted as His sons. Thus, this love for God and People is only possible with a correct view of the Gospel.

[Quick aside] Christ's so-called enlightened teachings are only a fraction of his ministry. The Muslims and Buddhists speak of Christ's teachings as enlightened, because they don't believe or understand the full picture. That doesn't make me any better than them morally. We're on the same field in that category, but I boast in the Cross above their teachings as salvation based on the reality of sin and redemption.

Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, love thy neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, give to all that ask. All these things are nonsense or require vast amounts of human reasoning to justify. I suppose the key piece to this enlightenment is to give up all holds on a world stuck in the division between God and man. Let our judgments fade and our living begin.

Well, it's not as bad as you think. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, and give to all that ask, etc. have a pretty basic rationale. While I wouldn't consider this an exhaustive list of whys, I would submit:

We love because God first loved us. With such perspective we can, by his grace, love him back. In so doing we love people for many reasons: God tells us to, they bear the image of God, they are fellow sinners who need compassion, etc. When we love in this way, we make God look great and deserving of our life and love.

The reality is that we live in a world where we MUST distinguish between God and Man. But that distinction is not the problem. People are already pretty good at making themselves god. There's no need to philosophically "let go of" anything. We must hold fast to the whole truth that Jesus taught if we're going to do anything that counts.

Lastly - sorry about the long post - let's acknowledge that ultimately God is on the only being with the right to judge us. It is commanded that we not let our hearts be judgmental towards other sinners - in other words, suffering from plank/spec syndrome. This heart puts the "sinner" below you in pride. In contrast, it is commanded of us by Jesus to love others by spreading the Gospel message. If we do not, I would submit to you that we are not loving, but rather are being selfish and/or have a diluted view of the reality that Christ paints.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Les Paul struck by lightning

No, Mr. Paul is in relatively good health for 94.

But this Les Paul Guitar was literally struck by lightning.

Read the story for yourself here. Or bid for it on ebay here.

1958 Fender Stratocaster

Real or Replica? Any guesses? Either way, me likey.

There is one thing that would give away the answer here, but I'll keep that to myself.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Since He's faithful, so can we be.

A post from Matt Rogers, my friend and pastor of Renewal Church (please pray for Matt and the families of Renewal as they begin the work that God has for them in the upstate of SC):

Jeremiah’s task was a bit daunting. Writing just before the destruction of Judah, Jeremiah warns the people that unless they repent and turn to God they will be destroyed. And to make matters worse, he knew the outcome of his message. People would not respond, the nation would be destroyed, and God’s people would remain in their desolation.

And yet Jeremiah speaks, and speaks passionately, challenging the people to turn to God. As I picked up the book again this week, I was intrigued by what would motivate a prophet of God to be faithful to God even when he knew the outcome would not be favorable.

You don’t have to look hard to find out the answer. In the first chapter of the book, I found God telling Jeremiah the following things:

...I consecrated you
...I send you
...I command you
...I deliver you
...I have put my word in your mouth
...I am watching over my word to perform it
...I am with you
...I deliver you

I am not brilliant with pronouns, but when I read this text it seems clear that the basis of Jeremiah’s faithfulness is not in Jeremiah. Instead, it is all based on the character of God.

In life, the pronouns make all the difference. Truly believing that life is about Him – His character, His faithfulness, His love, His grace – changes everything.

Since He is faithful, we can be faithful.

Even when the outcome is unsure.

Even when the road seems challenging.

I am encouraged in the midst of a season of life that seems overwhelming that the ground for God’s work in the world is not in my ability, creativity, or leadership ability, but rather in the overwhelming faithfulness of God.

I pray that today God’s overwhelming faithfulness to you would motivate your faithfulness to Him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

America's Debt to John Calvin

A post from Pastor John's blog:

In this year of John Calvin’s 500th birthday, I don’t know of a better place to read about his impact on America than Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism given at Princeton Seminary in October 1898. Kuyper was a pastor, a journalist, the founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

John Calvin and Martin Luther were the twin pillars of the Protestant Reformation. Why do fewer people speak of Luther’s culture-shaping impact on America, but for centuries Calvin has been seen in this light? Kuyper argues,

Luther’s starting-point was the . . . principle of justifying faith; while Calvin’s . . . lay in the general cosmological principle of the sovereignty of God. . . . [Hence] Lutheranism restricted itself to an exclusively ecclesiastical and theological character, while Calvinism put its impress in and outside the Church upon every department of human life.

It is the personal pervasiveness of God’s sovereignty that makes all the difference. This means that “the whole of a man’s life is to be lived as in the Divine Presence.” This “fundamental thought of Calvinism” shaped all of life. “It is from this mother-thought that the all-embracing life system of Calvinism sprang.”

For example, Calvin’s doctrine of “vocation” follows from the fact that every person, great and small, lives “in the Divine Presence.” God’s sovereign purposes govern the simplest occupation. He attends to everyone’s work. This yielded the Protestant work ethic. Huge benefits flow from a cultural shift in which all work is done earnestly and honestly with an eye to God.
Or consider how Calvinism breathed an impulse of freedom into modern history. The decisive principle was:

the sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. A primordial Sovereignty which eradicates in mankind . . . a threefold . . . supremacy, viz., (1) the sovereignty of the State; (2) the sovereignty in Society; and (3) the sovereignty in the Church.

God’s sovereign claim on every person and every sphere of society relativized all other claims. It began with the churches.

The sovereignty of Christ remains absolutely monarchical, but the government of the Church on earth becomes democratic to its bones and marrow. . . No church may exercise any dominion over another, but . . . all local churches are of equal rank.

This impulse of freedom spread to the political sphere. Calvin and his heirs had a strong predilection for republican government—and an aversion to monarchy. A benevolent dictatorship would be ideal in a sinless world. But in a sinful world, it brings the horrors of tyranny. “Call to mind . . . that Calvinism has captured and guaranteed to us our constitutional civil rights.”

We ask: Why then did Calvin endorse the death of Servetus for heresy? How was this part of his liberating impulse? Kuyper’s answer is helpful.

I not only deplore that . . . I unconditionally disapprove of it; yet not as if it were the expression of a special characteristic of Calvinism, but on the contrary as the fatal after-effect of a system, grey with age, which Calvinism found in existence, under which it had grown up, and from which it had not yet been able entirely to liberate itself.

A thousand years of abuses are not thrown off overnight. But the impulses of liberty, flowing from the decisive principle of the all-embracing sovereignty of God, proved to be unstoppable. “Calvinism has liberated Switzerland, the Netherlands, and England, and in the Pilgrim Fathers has provided the impulse to the prosperity of the United States.”

Kuyper closed his lectures with a claim that for many today sounds preposterous. Do not write him off. Get the book Lectures on Calvinism, and test these words, spoken to Americans in 1898.
In the rise of your university education . . .; in the decentralized . . . character of your local governments; . . . in your championship of free speech, and in your unlimited regard for freedom of conscience; in all this . . . it is demonstrable that you owe this to Calvinism and to Calvinism alone. (Originally published in World Magazine)

Thriller and the Truth

Oddly enough, when I was young I used to listen to Thriller over and over while waiting to get my hair cut at the barber. It was a first come, first served deal; used to take like an hour to two to get a seat. Six songs and then flip the tape. And repeat. I won't lie; I also gave a go at his dance moves. I was pretty awesome - by awesome I mean a good laugh. Anyway, God used MJ to grow my love for music. Now being a fairly proficient musician, I appreciate MJ's genius. In some part, I'm the musician I am today because of him.

I mourn his loss and shudder to think that he is meeting Jesus with an unregenerate soul. The Enemy used the Jehovah Witnesses to distort his family's view of Jesus (from what I understand) and now he'll know the truth. That is the most painful part for me. I pray that the Lord would give his family new hearts to love the real Jesus. I hope you guys might pray the same.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I was born without bones.

Can you carry me?

With guitar...(if I only had that kinda time)

Born Without Bones Remix

Newest addition to the Bw/oB family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Confusing Language of "Calling"

a helpful post from the

It is common Christian parlance to say, "I feel called to do so and so." What we're usually trying to communicate is that we feel God has given us a specific "missional" assignment in his kingdom. I wonder, however, if that language is misleading and harmful.

Our Call Has Already Been Issued

Christians don't need to be specially "called" to live missionally; it is inherent in being a disciple. To become a disciple of Jesus means that you evaluate your passions and talents in terms of how they can best be used to spread God's kingdom. The call has already been issued: "Glorify me in all that you do. Love and serve your neighbor. Go into the world and preach the gospel to every person." That's it.

Each person must evaluate how they have best been suited to fulfill that call, but the call is clear. If you are a businessman, you are to do excellent work to the glory of God, to the benefit of humanity, and to the testimony of Christ in your community. You don't have to wait on a special call to begin to do so—you've already received that call as a Christian. We talk about finding God's will; it's not lost.

Specific Directions in Active Participation

I know that sometimes God gives specific directions. God tells Paul in Acts 16:8 to go specifically to Macedonia, but those "course corrections" were given in the context of Paul's active participation in God's mission. The Holy Spirit tells the church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a church planting mission (Acts 13), but both Barnabas and Saul were already active in preaching and serving.

I say this because we have so many people sitting around waiting on a warm, fuzzy, and goose-bump-inducing vision from God before they embark on some ministry. Maybe we've invented the whole language of calling to mask the fact that most Christians don't want to live missionally.

To be continued.

I knew I liked vests...

See below, on the left, my Great-Great Grandfather, George Ferguson.

Apparently a man who could swing a hammer in style.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tozer Quote

I ran across this AW Tozer quote from Josh Harris's blog and found it both convicting and encouraging:

"The kingdom of God, has suffered a great deal of harm from fighters--men who would rather fight than pray; but the kingdom of God has also been done great harm by men who would rather be nice than right."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

to put ground under your feet

"Praise the Lord that he micromanages your life. Not just big picture details - micromanages. He knows the smallest sparrow, the greyest hair, none of them fall to the ground apart from him willing it. "

- Kevin DeYoung

from his message from the NEXT Conference entitled Just Do Something.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Nature and Frame

A very helpful post from Dr. Piper:

In the Religious Affections Jonathan Edwards ventures this explanation of why there is song and poetry.

"And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections."

For this to have the weight it does for Edwards we need to remember that 1) “true religion consists very much in the affections,” and 2) there is no true Christian faith without the affections being awakened, and 3) God is most glorified when he is affecting us and not just known by us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A giant leap for mankind

On the Resurrection, a thought from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson:

In that he mentioned that he is old enough to remember the famous words, he had another thought on their application. Dr. Ferguson was referring to what is implicated by the resurrection from our justification to the hope of our own resurrection bodies.

"That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind. I don't think [Neil Armstrong] was the first one ever to say these words. I think Jesus probably thought them as he stepped out of the tomb and said, 'That's one small step for the King and a giant step for all the citizens of his Kingdom."

Listen to the whole message here: Christ's Resurrection.

Thanks again to Stephen for the great link.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ralph D. Winter [1925-2009]

I had read of the change in the missional perspective in the 70's from unreached "fields" to unreached "peoples", but I didn't know about the man whom the Lord used to bring it about. I also didn't know the impact he, Dr. Winter, had on one of my heroes in the faith, John Piper. Jesus called him home on May 20th. Here's what Pastor John had to say on his blog about this man of God:

At 9:05 PM, May 20, 2009 Ralph Winter, the founder of the U. S. Center for World Missions died.

Nobody in the area of missions had a greater impact on me. Others had a greater impact on me in the area of missions, like Jonathan Edwards, but no one actually in missions affected me more than Ralph Winter.

First, he was a professor of mine at Fuller Seminary and introduced me to the stunning works of God in missions in the last two hundred years. His vision of the advance of the gospel was breathtaking.

He wore a bow tie in those days, iconoclast that he was, and was fined by the seminary for not returning our papers on time. None of us begrudged him his scattered approach to life. It was thrilling in those days.

Second, in 1974 at the Lausanne Missions Congress Winter reached up and pulled the unseen rope called “unreached peoples” that rang a bell that reverberates to this day.

This concept, and the subsequent emphasis on unreached peoples (as opposed to unreached “fields”) has been globally seismic in the transformation of missions. It gripped me and shaped all we have done in missions at Bethlehem ever since the mid 1980s.

Third, in the 1980s he bought a 15 million dollar college campus with virtually nothing in his hand to start the U. S. Center for World Missions; and he paid for it by persuading enough of us (thousands) to give “the last thousand.” Brilliant! I think I sent $2,000. Couldn’t resist the vision.

The point of the U. S. Center was to trumpet the vision that there are unreached peoples in the world, and then equip the church to reach them.

Fourth, Ralph Winter was probably the most creative thinker I have ever known. I mean, on any topic that you brought up, he would come at it in a way you have never dreamed of. He saw all things in relationship to other things that you would never think of relating them to.

This meant that stalemates often became fresh starting points. If you were struggling with a tension in your church, he might say: “Well, think about the Navy.” Or if you were having a marriage problem, he might say, “Did you notice how that bridge was built?”

Fifth, Ralph Winter befriended me. He encouraged me. In my most restless early days, he would tell me to stay at Bethlehem because I could do more by sending than by going.

Finally, he did not waste his life, not even the last hours of it. He was busy dictating into the last days. He taught me long ago that the concept of “retirement” was not in the Bible.

What a gift he was to the church. To the world. Thank you, Father, for the legacy of this visionary, risk-taking, creative, encouraging lover of unreached peoples who lived unstoppably for the glory of God.

Here's a great word from Dr. Winter that would be vital for all my friends going to Guatemala in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

why is new birth so necessary?

From Tim Challies' blog as he's blogging the reFocus Conference:

[John] Piper offered ten biblical descriptions of man apart from the new birth, ten reasons we need to be born again. As bad as the news is, it’s glorious to get it right because there is a glorious remedy. When we properly understand our own badness, we see Christ more gloriously.

Apart from the new birth we are dead
Apart from the new birth we are by nature children of wrath
Apart from the new birth we love darkness and hate light
Apart from the new birth we have hearts that are hard like stone
Apart from the new birth we are unable to submit to God
Apart from the new birth we are unable to except the gospel
Apart from the new birth we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord
Apart from the new birth we are slaves to sin
Apart from the new birth we are slaves of Satan
Apart from the new birth no good thing dwells in me

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Word from Dr. Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson on acceptable speach.

You're welcome.

Thanks to Stephen for the link.

Copy of a Copy

No, this post is not about the NIV.

Its about guitars, which in the grand scheme of things are fairly unimportant. But sometimes, it's the little things:

The bottom guitar is a Fender Custom Shop One-off for John Mayer. It's become his #1 go-to guitar. The above is the production line reproduction of his reproduction.

Pretty cool.

This is why I have 3.234 people read my blog per year, huh?

The sacrifices I make...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bad Hair, Good Theology

Dr. Sproul explaining imputed righteousness:

I've never really thought about it this way before. Innocence and righteousness bifurcated and correlated for God's glory.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Old Love and Badge in Hyde Park

Just so I know you know what's up.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


And people say I have too many pedals...

If you can do this, please contact Jesse Schlicher @ There is currently an opening for DJ in the band.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Reforming

From a discussion board to my blog:

The Reformers (e.g. Luther, Calvin, etc) looked to the Scriptures and saw that the way the church was practicing, living, worshiping was bent not to the Scriptures, but to culture and tradition. And sometimes even contrary to the Scriptures. They revolutionized, by the power of the Word, the Church in Europe. They reformed the Christian life in view of sacred Scriptures instead of accepted tradition and philosophy. The interesting part is that God has been doing this throughout the history of the world. No less in our day.

We must see what the Scriptures say about wealth and consumption. It is almost universally guaranteed that it will be in conflict with where the world stands. The end goal of Corporate American, wealth, prosperity. The end goal of the American Dream, self improvement through material things, unlimited consumption. What are we willing to give up to gain these things? Our family, born and unborn. Our spouses, if they somehow disrupt our personal self-actualization. Our souls, if it means wealth and prosperity. This is no different from the Enemy's schemes throughout history. Its just on a wider scale. No longer are only the kings of the society rich, these snares are available to everyone.

Here's the deal. Christ's life and death was for the Glory of the God of creation. Our lives are for the same. This is important: Our joy is tied directly to God's glory. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with him. When Christ is our highest love and source of satifaction we are no longer consumers, but servants. Because he is. When we find our wealth in his grace, we're no longer proud. Because He is our righteousness. We have to, hear this, have to lift up Jesus as the most satisfying source of joy because that's how we're made. Sin will work its way into our lives by lying to us. It says things like: If you just had this, worked this job, made a bigger impact, drove this car, then finally you'll be happier. You deserve to be happy.

The truth is that we deserve hell, the tomb is empty and by the grace that is the gospel we get Jesus. Love, generosity, servanthood, satisfaction, deep joy is found nowhere else. This is worship.

Its why we're here.