Christian Liberty, Church Wear, and Voting

I have a pet peeve. That peeve is when Christians demand other brothers and sisters in Christ to do something that is not mandated by Scripture. I am a firm believer of Christian liberty and I rejoice that the writers of the Westminster Confession included an entire chapter to this subject. I know a few people who would say that drinking is a damnable action, I know others who will say that if you don't dress up for church you are not showing God respect. I personally wonder where that thought ultimately leads... would you say you are a better Christian than they for dressing up? is there pride? Those are things for me to talk about with my dear friends who tell me to dress up more for church.

But here is the idea I ponder, does the Bible tell us how to vote? Does Christian liberty apply to how believers vote?

I have read an account by Anne Rice, a Catholic and a novelist who is a pro lifer, yet is supporting Hillary Clinton. Rice believes that abortion will be overcome through the democratic party, she also affirms that she finds the Democratic party to coincide with Gospel teaching. My experience this summer at Light of Life, working with Christian democrats, makes me understand this. Though I ultimately disagree. (If I need to explain this more, I will do my best to share how I comprehend an idea in the comments.)

Another professing Christian, a PCA minister, Lee Irons, makes an argument for Barak Obama because he does not see abortion as the pivotal issue for elections. Instead it is foreign policy. I get that, but I ultimately disagree.

Some men and women who blur the distinction between being a republican and being a Christian. Recently Franky Schaeffer alluded to the fact that his father fought against such an idea, but when others shout Francis' name in their approval. (think A Christian's Manifesto)

I am going to leave it there. I know saints exist who disagree with me in saying that voting is a gray area. I have loved ones who are not single issue voters, but I am. Yet, I must focus on is who the person is before the creator of this universe. I must recognize that they are a child of Grace, called by God, the father himself, and clothed in Christ's blood. That is how I must see them, and speak to them, and love them. We must also ask what is God's agenda for this relationship?

Our testimony to a hurting world depends on such love and grace. As DA Carson winsomely puts it,

We must not stand on our rights. As long as defending our rights remains the lodestar that orders our priorities, we cannot follow the way of the cross. This sort of self denial is easy enough to admire in other believers. One can formulate all sorts of interesting theological lessons deriving from Paul's treatment of what to do about meat that has been offered to idols. But the power of this position of principle becomes obvious only when we are called upon to abandon our rights. (The Cross and Christian Ministry, pg. 129)
Please leave a thought.


Iain Duguid Resources

One of the most gifted preachers I have heard is my Hebrew professor Iain Duguid. This page contains all of his sermons that I can find on the web, books he has written, and other things of the Duguid name. A brief biography can be found here.


Christmas sermons (2007) at First Reformed Presbyterian, Pittsburgh (PCA)
Christmas Present for the World (Is. 9)
Promise of Emmanuel (Is. 7)

Easter Sermons
Is this your King?

Sermons on the entirety of Esther, the entirety of Ruth, Numbers, and Genesis (here)

The Following were preached at Grace Fallbrook (PCA)
Malachi - When Good things happen to Bad people
Malachi - Do you Really Love me?
Luke - Justifying Ourselves (Good Samaritan)
Judges - Othniel: the perfect judge
Job - The Lord's Final Answer to Suffering
Joshua - Whom will you Serve
Zechariah - No Condemnation

A Whole New World (ch. 4)
Cleaning up your life (ch. 3)
the Best is yet to come (ch. 2)
Consider Your Ways (ch. 1)

How Long will I be Broken
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Prepared for Battle
Hope in the Darkness
Praying in the Darkness
How to Wait for God
Living in the Valley of Darkness
The Triumph of the Son of Man
In the Angel's Den
Weighed and Found Wanting
The Rise and Fall of Nebuchadnezzar
Through the Fire
Gone with the Wind
Interesting Times
When the World Does it's Worst, God is faithful


Ezekiel - New International Version Application Commentary

Reformed Expository Commentaries
Esther and Ruth
Judges (forthcoming in 2011)

Evangelical Press Commentaries
Obadiah and Jonah (forthcoming)
Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi (forthcoming)

Preaching the Word Commentaries
Numbers: God's Presence in the Wilderness

The Major Prophets (forthcoming)

The Gospel According to Series
Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel According to the lives of Issac and Jacob
Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to the Life of Abraham
Hero of Heros: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes

Contributed to Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Theology: Essays by the faculty of Westminster, California


Books on Godliness (pt. 1)

A few books that have made a huge impact on my spiritual life and growth are When I Don't Desire God, The Enemy Within, Living the Cross Centered Life, The Pursuit of Holiness, and Overcoming the World. Each one of these books takes a strong stance on the Holiness of God and his great mercy and grace. Each author, Piper, Lundgaard, Bridges, and Beeke, all admire the Puritans and adopt their teaching and methods in personal godliness. Piper states as much in his plethora of writings, Lundgaard's work essentially is a modern rewrite of Owen's Mortification of Sin, Bridges accomplishes the same but in regards to Ryle's Holiness, and finally Beeke, but his work is steeped in Calvin's theology of Union with Christ. A gem... just read Romans 8.

Piper noted that,

God defines evil this way when he says, "My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13) God pictures himself as a mountain spring of clean, cool, life-giving water. They way to glorify a fountain like this is to enjoy the water, and praise the water, and keep coming back to the water, and point other people to the water, and get strength for love from the water, and never, never, never prefer any drink in the world over this water. That makes the spring look valuable. That is how we glorify God, the fountain of loving water.... So preferring the pleasures of money or power or fame or sex over the "pleasures.... at God's right hand" is not like preferring caramel to hot fudge. It is a great evil. Indeed it is the ultimate meaning of evil. Esteeming God less than anything is the essence of evil."
Lundgaard wrote on the tactics of sin,
You know the flesh has made a breach in your defenses when your heart is hardened by its deceitfulness (Heb 3:13) so that you are careless about sin. You will look at your life and think about how often you need God's forgiveness, and so think of it as something common, nothing to worry over or take pains about. You'll know you are hardened when you begin to extend the boundaries of Christian freedom to include indulgences that in the past would have shocked you. Your flesh will whisper to you that strictness and anxious care about obedience are legalism -the gospel came to deliver you form such things! And besides, if you really do commit a sin, you cna be forgiven later.
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

(I'll come back to Overcoming the World, Living the Cross Centered Life, and the Pursuit of Holiness.)


A World Christian

To be a world Christian, then, it is important to grow in your grasp of Scripture and in your exposure to other cultures, so that you do not tie your cultural preferences to the gospel and invest the former with the authority of the latter. This is not to say that all cultural elements are morally neutral. Far from it. Every culture has good and bad elements in it. Wicked people can manipulate the appeal to culture to persecute Christians. Yet in every culture it is important for the evangelist, church planter, and witnessing Christian to flex as far as possible, so that the gospel will not be made to appear unnecessarily alien at the merely cultural level. But it is also important to recognize evil elements in culture when they appear and to understand how biblical norms assess them. There will be times when it is necessary to confront culture. After all, simply to appeal to current cultural norms, all the while demanding more flexibility from the Christian, is simply a way of saying that the gospel does not have the right to stand in judgment over culture - and that will not do


"Basically I am convinced that men who do not make praying their first priority in life and ministry should not preach or pastor. As preachers they will be confusing models of a Christian man, and as shepherds they will not show willingness to die for the sheep...As we seek faith and pray together, the power will be in the preaching, and other matters such as style will begin to take their own course."

-Jack Miller

[HT: Buzzard Blog]


Insight into the message of the cross cannot be gained apart from the work of the Spirit.

In that sense, the sense that one can summarize Christian beliefs, they 'understood' the message of the cross. But what does anyone truly understand the message of the cross, apart from brokenness, contrition, repentance, and faith? To repeat, rather mechanically, the nature of the transaction that Christians think took place at Golgotha is one think; to look at God and his holiness, and people and their sin, from the perspective of the cross, is life-changing.

Do not think that you can adopt the philosophies and values of the world as if such choices do not have a profoundly detrimental impact on the church. Do not think you can get away with it. Do not kid yourself that you are with it, an avant-garde Christian, when in fact you are leaving the gospel behind and doing damage to God's church.


Finals are over! Now onto Christmas vacation which means I get to catch up on reading. But a little tidbit from DA Carson's The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians.

A cross centered ministry is characterized by the Spirit's power and is vindicated in transformed lives.


I've watched Anthony Bradley since I heard his talk from the Reform and Resurge Conference (Driscoll). Since then Anthony has continued to impress me. He writes, rather frequently, at the World Emagazine. His latest contribution covers the Omaha shooting, noting that Murray was raised in an evangelical church and homeschooled.

He writes:

What, if anything, is happening in evangelical sub-culture that seems to be producing a generation of angry, vengeful young men (and angry middle-aged blogging men)? As the story of Murray’s life unfolds, I’m sure we will learn more about whether or not his perceptions were actually true. For now, it seems that evangelicals may need to start paying more attention to what’s happening to young men. Over the years I’ve seen this more and more in youth and college culture: In order to be loved by the masses one needs to look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, be extremely outgoing, and publicly sinless. There are even some ministries and churches over the years that targeted “popular” kids in high schools and colleges to draw others. Many young people perceive this to be the case in the church and harbor anger.
May we build the church that Christ calls us to build, may we preach the message that He calls us to preach, understanding our woeful inadequacy in doing so.


Stats on the state of the church in America and Poverty in the global economy

Church Planting. (see here)
1.) 195,000,000 unchurched people in American today. Making it one of the top four unchurched nations in the world.
2.) No county in America has a greater church population than it did 10 years ago
3.) combined communicant membership declined 10%
4.) each year up to 4,000 churches close their doors, with 1500 being planted
5.) of 350,000 churches, 4 out of 5 are plateaued or declining
6.) one denomination found that 80% of her membership came from these churches
7.) the single most effective evangelistic method is planting new churches

World Poverty
1.) 1.5 billion people live on less than a $1 a day
2.) same don't have access to clean water
3.) 6 million children die due to malnutrition before their 5th birthday
4.) 8 million people go to bed hungry everyday, 3 million are children
5.) only 10% of this number hunger due due to famines
6.) food production has decreased due to soil quality


Around the web

.:. New issue of Reformation 21 is up!
.:. Darrin Patrick (Acts 29 VP) on the Emerging Church
.:. Carl Trueman on various and sundry things, and The Person and Work of Christ
.:. New Sovereign Grace Music Website
.:. Christ Saturated Quotes

Biblical Womanhood
.:. At Resurgence a four part series on the Ideal Women by Wendy Alsup

Gospel Living
.:. Pray at every inclination - Martin Lloyd Jones at the Irish Calvinist
.:. Get back to the Gospel - Justin Buzzard

Christian Maturity
.:. John Piper on young adults not acting their age.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

“The paradox is amazing. The Creator assumed the human frailty of his creatures. The Eternal One entered time. The all-powerful made himself vulnerable. The all-holy exposed himself to temptation. And in the end the immortal died.”

- John Stott


Westminster Theological Seminary is really growing on me over these past few months. For starters they have Carl Trueman there - very good writer and discerning historian. I greatly appreciate his perceptive writing. Also they have professors following in the footsteps of Harvie Conn, Van Til, all the while emphasizing the eternal word and redemptive history. And to top it off, WTS finally redid their website. And it looks good.

Specifically I admire their Biblical Counseling (Christian Counseling Education Foundation) and their new Gospel and Culture Project.


Driscoll on Regeneration

For those who think Driscoll is a preaching comedian. This video clip is for you, and is a good example of his preaching. Notice his nouthetic tone and language, along with solid and clear explanation of a weighty subject in traditional reformed tongue.


Jet Li, Wushu, and the Dali Lama: more thoughts on eastern religions

Last night I watched the movie fearless, starring Jet li. It is an account of the modern martial arts father in China and takes place circa early 20th century. One might be sad to know that this is Li's last martial arts film. I too was shocked and displeased, for I think he is better than Bruce Lee. I know one person who would hurt me for that statement but, ces la vie.

A week ago i just finished studying the eastern religions, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism (more of a morality) and Shintoism. Early on in the movie Li's father tells him to write Confucius' sayings ten times. This movie brings in all the various elements of Buddhism (as Li is a Buddhist - he studied under the Dali Lama. In on scene a man slits his throat instead of allowing Li to kill him - honor and ancestor veneration coming into play there.

If you would watch the commentary Li explains the purpose of martial arts, or wushu in Chinese. He notes that the aim is not to hurt the other person, or to be victorious over others, instead it is of self. Buddhism is often known as the warriors religion, utilizing swords. It is to conquer self, for when you fight you truly know who you are. You see your worst come onto the stage and only there do you have the opportunity to actualize your potential of goodness.

The same was said for yoga. I am not against using yoga or martial arts as a sport or exercise, but I would condemn the spiritual component of it. Yoga is Hindi for "to yoke." Abstractly speaking it is to bind oneself with the Brahman, impersonal god fluff that is transcendent. When you practice yoga, a distinct form of Buddhist meditation, Buddhists claim that whatever comes to your thoughts are what matters to you most and what you should pursue. In the end hope lies within yourself, as mankind have great potential for good.

More thoughts on Buddhism.. see here.

Ancestor Veneration is key in Confucian thought - think of Disney's Mulan, or another Jet Li movie Hero. Li visited his parents grave after losing everything, and all the followed was in respect to them. For Confucius taught that there are 5 key relationships in all of life, chiefly being filial ties.

Shintoism is all about the honor and glory of a nation. What is best for China or Japan. It is very easily syncretistic with Confucian thought - how can I properly live, to be the best I can be, for the nation.

In the end this is a great movie to show one how all the eastern religions, minus Hinduism, match up in a similar vein (there are differences in the intensity and focus, but thats another story).


Triperspectivalism and it’s application to Epistemology

This summer I was introduced to the idea of Triperspectivalism, a theory popularized by John Frame, but originated by Cornelius Van Til. Triperspectivalism is not a final conclusion by any definition; on the contrary it is a means, a way of thinking. It stresses the idea that different perspectives are essential in finding the truth, indifference and relativism are not options for us as we learn, think and know. This framework emphasizes absolutes. From these perspectives comes the fullest understanding that we can have as finite beings.

Frame writes: Often, however, God's revelation to us of his own perspective is itself multiperspectival in structure. He has, for example, given us four gospels, rather than one. It is important for us to hear the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. God's perspective, in this case, embraces those of the four gospel writers. His infinite perspective validates those four human perspectives and commends them to all of us. Similarly, God has given us both Kings and Chronicles, though these books overlap in many ways. He has also given us both a prose account (Ex. 12-14) and a poetic account (Ex. 15:1-18) of his deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Many of the Psalms, too, give us poetic accounts of what other Scriptures present in prose narrative. There are two givings of the law (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:1-21). Paul often repeats his ideas (as Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12), adding and subtracting matters of interest, varying their contexts.

We can see such perspectives teaching the fullness of truth in: The three offices of Christ. If one does not know Christ as King or Prophet, will one really know Him as Priest? It is the same with Divine Lordship, the Ten Commandments, salvation and finally human knowledge.

At the middle of this paradigm is human knowledge. We know things by experiencing them, which we can only do through our senses, and in order to remember, God gave us reason to discern such moments. In any epistemology, when you separate any of these you come with a theory of knowing that is lacking. Once understood in this way, by God's common grace, it is realized that Descartes was right, in part, when he said, "I think, therefore I am." And Rousseau when he stated, "I feel, therefore I am."

Others have used such a paradigm and applied it to church offices, ministry and church growth. I have not thought about it applying to such areas yet, but I think it is a useful idea, especially when one remembers that it is a means, not an end. (Frame's Primer is found here.)


My Night at a (reformed) Synagogue

Tonight 11 folks from my world religions class ventured to Sharon, PA in order to visit a Jewish Synagogue. A few things about the area of Sharon and Hermitage. It is the place of 5 major roads and the biggest interstate in Pennsylvania, making it a place for shopping malls and other things.

In the Judaic tradition there are three major camps: Orthodox, Conservative and lastly Reformed. Orthodox Jews are traditionalists, they are the ones who follow the Mosaic law to a T, Conservative Jews are the moderates theologically and politically, finally Reformed Jews are the United Church of Christ of Judaism. (So says my professor.) There are two common elements to all of these traditions - veneration of the Torah as the word of God (the five books of Moses), and the cultural identity factor.

Our guide led us through a worship service, what one would pray, chant, etc. and took us around the Synagogue, and elaborated on the Jewish calender (a trait of a cultural religion).

Our guide gave a very informal session of Q and A, and he found out that I knew Hebrew and allowed me to read a few words from the Torah. He chose the words, and I did the unforgivable sin, I spoke the name of God. He corrected me and moved on, not stoning me. (*whew)

Apparently the focus for Reformed Judaism is redemption here and now, not for eternity. It is to be a better person, to apply the Mosaic law to today. This results in a very moralistic, proud piety. Which was exactly what Christ preached against, as the pharisees embodied such lies. One student asked, what do you mean by redemption? Our guide politely answered that we are to reconcile and forgive our neighbors. We are not to ask for such things from God, as we did not offend him, but our fellow man.

The same student asked him about the messianic passages, to which our guide quickly replied I am not equipped to handle such questions. It is sad to see those who are of the nation of Israel, not seeing the truths in their Scriptures that point to the redeemer of Israel, making them true Israelites.

Sex is the sign of the marriage covenant itself. And to engage in sex is to call God as witness to hold us accountable for our covenantal commitment. So regardless of whether it makes sense to our culture or to our bodies to reserve sex for marriage, and regardless of whatever lesser commitments we have made to a women, as Christians we must realize that having sex outside of marriage makes a mockery of the covenant God instituted and to which he is a witness.”
Michael Lawrence from Sex and the Single Man in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, ed. by John Piper and Justin Taylor


Is gathering together for the gospel a bad thing?

DG Hart, over on De Regno Chrsti, wrote that Tim Keller has left the PCA. (who did no such thing.) Hart writes:

How else should we interpret his involvement in the Gospel Coalition. Co-founded by such evangelical heavyweights as D. A. Carson and John Piper, GC is a fellowship of churches that have come together for the purpose of “renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures.” GC plans to execute its promotion of the gospel through the ordained means of word and sacrament. “We intend to [serve the church] through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the fellowship of the saints.”
The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel are a very good things and blessings. Both proclaim the majestic sovereign God that we have and the precious gospel of grace, all the while recognizing that some who come together are baptists and others are paedo's. But that does not get in the way of celebrating the catholicity of the church. These organizations are a symbol of a movement to gather together for the sake of the gospel (not as structured as Acts 29, which has a PCA congregation in it). This goes against the grain of our natures, which is to go as reclusive and isolated as possible, lacking fellowship, community and accountability. This movement is to be encouraged and prayed for... that it would be a conduit for an evangelical and reformed reunion that we might be one, "as we are one." And the Gospel Coalition encourages that.

PS. You can read the article here
PSS. Keller was not the only PCA minister to participate - Phil Ryken, Ray Ortlund, Bryan Chapell, Harry Reeder, Scotty Smith, and several others went to participate. [All seen here]


Robertson endorses Rudy, "America's Mayor"

Robertson is seriously off his rocker... He is right on the first need in a president: The defense of the American people against Terrorists and other foreign enemies. But the second need is not to reduce the deficit, it is abortion. And when we have leading evangelicals saying otherwise, it is no wonder that this country takes no ear to Christians regarding abortion.

Which he is wishy washy on to say the least.


Learning to read well

Reading is underrated by many. In many circles the idea of being a bookworm is similar to being a goth in emo circles. As a discipline reading is almost never done right. You have several literary genres that an author can invest in, fiction or non. The reading I am talking about here, is when one reads non fiction, whether it be history, theology, philosophy or any number of subjects. Often I read, and others, just to get the assignment done, or when it is for the occasion of pleasure and fun – that's all it is. Instead we should read and constantly ask… is this true? Does this make sense? If the answer is yes to both questions, the next is… If I don't believe this- how should it change my life?

I lament the church who does not teach people to read well, by not asking the text intelligent questions. (Which exposes the logic and themes of the narrative.)

When we share the gospel, whether it is in person or from the pulpit? Do we ask unbelievers to read Scripture and to read it well? To ask the question… is this true? Then, by that fact, the logic demands the next be answered… how does this impact my life? And do we do it as well? Do we ask ourselves the hard question – How does the truth of Scripture change my life?

The beautiful truth is that God gives us that grace to do so. (grace is awesome)


November is crunch time

Just to warn my avid readers, this month is going to be insane.

Just a rundown. This week I am leading a discussion for my world religions class on Daoism and Confucianism. On Thursday I, along with my group, have to lead a presentation on these two religions. (They are moral philosophies instead of a faith.) Next week I have two papers due, which are simple book reports for my ministry class. Over Thanksgiving break I am hoping to go to Light of Life to serve there. Once I get back to school I have to write a paper on Augustine's epistemology and one on Messianic thought in Contemporary Judaism. Along with paper season there is always the need for editing – and I will read some sweet thoughts on media ecology. Somewhere in there I might venture out to Westminster in Philadelphia and see what they have to offer for a seminary education. Their prospective student date is Nov. 27. I personally really want to meet Dr. Carl Trueman. (Sweet author over at Reformation 21)

But around the web this weekend was a great article at the Desiring God Blog.

Piper writes: "If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he's a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women."


Why I am not a (Capital C) Catholic

I am a catholic because the church is universal. The Reformed Protestants are not the only believers professing Christ, which is the only basis for salvation. I am not a Catholic for the Vatican teaches salvation by works. Luther, Calvin, and the myriad of reformers correctly saw the need for gospel revival and reformation within Rome. Christ did not preach that he came to give grace infused with the keys of the kingdom (which Rome teaches are given to the church), nor is salvation given through the sacraments. Christ builds the church, not us. The bride grows in grace by Christ’s grace alone.

M. Horton offers advice to those who would consider leaving the protestant realm (traditionally evangelical) to Rome (traditionally not evangelical)
Here’s how I would counsel such a person: Start with the gospel. The gospel creates and sustains the church, not the other way around. If the Evangelicalism familiar to you has been a constant stream of imperatives—moral exhortation, whether in rigid and legalistic or warm and friendly versions—the antidote is not to follow different rules for attaining justification, but a constant, life-long, unremitting immersion in the good news that Jesus Christ’s obedient life, death, and resurrection are sufficient even to save miserable Christians.

That is what the Reformation was all about, and it is why we need another one, even in Protestantism as much as in any other tradition. If our salvation depends on anything done by us or even within us by the Spirit, then our situation is hopeless.

[Between Two Worlds]


Around the web this weekend.

-- the new edition of Reformation21 is now up
(Phil Ryken on justification and our union with Christ; Trueman on the priorities in ministry; and sweet book reviews.)

-- watching sports for the glory of God
[Irish Calvinist]

-- the value of hanging out
[Between 2 Worlds]

-- Tim Keller being at the Evangelist Conference in Britain

-- John Frame on Christ and Culture


We watched this in World Religions this week to explain some random Daoism concept. And it has nothing to do with Daoism, but everything to do with communication and critique of today's culture.


Books, devotions, epistemology, and God speaking

Yesterday I received a box of books from Amazon. Due to Sam's recommendation awhile back I bought Missionary Methods: Pauls or Ours?, I also got a book for leadership development, and finally Let's Study Hebrews by Hywel Jones.

I am currently reading Hebrews for my devotions and I do better, well I learn more about the message and text when I have an older saint next to me, who I can listen to at my own pace. Hebrews is a great book and I look forward to delving into the the message of how Christ is my apostle, my high priest, and the one who I must continue to put my trust in. (think endurance).
Recently the subject of epistemology is on my mind. Scattered throughout the days the question of, "How do I know this?" springs to my mind. And in the introduction of Hebrews is a beginning of an answer, and it is awesome.

"In these last days, He has spoken to us by his son...."

The idea that God has spoken to us, and still speaks to us through Christ is awesome and daunting. The Scriptures are where God put forth His word to be written down for our edification and growth to be more like Him. It is awesome, because in one sense we still think in enlightenment categories and terms. That God, who is up there (transcendent) speaks to us down here. While God is transcendent, He is also immanent. Scripture conveys the teaching that He is omnipresent and is among us. It is a beautiful truth that needs more thought and consideration.

if anyone has thoughts on epistemology let me know or sermons and lectures that I can listen to


A student at Grove City, Nate Mucha, will have his art on display now till November 10th. He is the author of Four Seasons and the Seven Deadly Sins (of which I am a fan). If you are unfamiliar with his work, you can check out his website here.

He studied under Dr. Joshua Drake, who is married to a native of Scotland. Has a sweet dog named Hector, and loves theology over a cup of tea. He is my kind of guy.

Hope you enjoy the show


Sons of Korah

For years I have been a fan of a few Aussie Brothers, The Sons of Korah.

PS they sing psalms


Unity vs. Uniformity, and the Question of a Rich Heritage

Many weeks ago I stumbled upon an article arguing that the rp church is losing her identity as she becomes more and more diverse. The author's basic premise preaches that because new people are coming into the fold, she is losing her heritage. Because former baptists realize the truth of psalmody, they come to our churches and bring with them their unique perspectives that they gained while at 'First Baptist.'

I beg your patience as I comment. O the beauty of this! (unique people bringing their unique perspective to a unique congregation) The author, Bill Chellis clearly argues that unity and uniformity are not the same. But he longs for uniformity. He says that, one could travel to such and such an rp church and find a very different environment than one wishes to find. We do not know what to expect. We are losing our rp culture. I must say, thank goodness.

Churches are to reflect the culture of the city they are in, if not the city then the little bureau or township in rural Kansas. Pittsburgh is immensely different than Grove City, or Seattle for that matter. Unless one has a missional focus and approach for a certain city, there will be minimal impact.

Chellis argues that one loses their heritage once you renig on your ancestor's practices and dogma. I say this, and only this. I am a child of God and I have a great family. Yes, Samuel Rutherford and Richard Cameron were and are my brothers, but so was Polycarp and Jerome, Paul and Calvin, Luther and Brother Andrew, Zwingli and Spurgeon... need the list go on? But is the qualification for familial ties doctrinal belief?

The Bible says and offers a "no" shouted through a megaphone.


Precious Remedies

Every Sunday Night Hillcrest PCA sponsors a bible study for the GCC college students... Well a book study. This year Pastor Hughes is reading through the Puritan work Precious Remdies Against Satan's Devices. We are over 1/2 through (as he started it last year) and tonight's topic was How Satan causes Christians to doubt their salvation, caused by meditating on our sins more than Christ and His beautiful person and work.

The puritan Thomas Brooks offers help:

//1) consider that Jesus has not freed me from the presence of sin, but instead He freed me from the damnatory power of sin.
//2) That though Christ has not freed me from the vexing power of sin, He has freed me from her reign.
//3) Keep on eye on the promises of remission of sin, and the other eye on the inward operations of sin
//4) to look upon my sins as charged upon the account of Christ, as debts which the Lord Jesus has fully satisfied
//5) of the reasons why the Lord is pleased to have his people troubled, exercised, and vexed with sins operations (to be humble, to seek Christ, to long for Christ, to rely on God through the disciplines)
//6) that believers must repent of their discouraged by their sins. For this springs from one's ignorance of the person and work of Christ


That the world may know

Francis Schaeffer is one of the most solid writers I have ever read. While his pieces are pithy and quick, they hammer home and convict the soul. This past Sabbath I spent the time reading The Mark of the Christian. The entire book is a sermon on John 13:33-35 and John 17:21. Christ answering the question what is the greatest commandment, takes a turn and replies, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Schaeffer comments:

The Church is to be a loving church to a dying culture. How then, is the dying culture to consider us? In the midst of the world, in the midst of a dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the culture. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born again Christians on the basis of this observable love toward all Christians.
Later there is a final apologetic on Christ's high priestly prayer, "that they may be one, just as you, father are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me."

he notes:
Now comes the sobering part. Jesus goes on in this 21st verse to say something that always causes me to cringe. If as Christians we do not cringe, it seems to me we are not very sensitive or very honest, because Jesus here gives us the final apologetic. What is the final apologetic? "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." This is the final apologetic.

In John 13 the point was that, if an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he is not a Christian. Here Jesus is stating something else which is much more cutting, much more profound: We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus' claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.


T4G Road Trip (Youtube Wednesday)

April 15th-17th, 2008
Louisville, Kentucky
Speakers: John Piper, Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, RC Sproul, CJ Mahaney, Thabiti Anyabwile

with some really sweet guys and a hip prof from Grove City College

yes i am drooling


Schaeffer on Community and Hospitality

I must confess that it is a great irritant to my person when the church does not fulfill her mission, her calling. We, as the bride of Christ are called to be the salt in the world, the city on a hill, the light amongst darkness. But there aren't many denominations merely proclaim a Jesus that mimics culture, not transformation or counter-cultural. It is a sad fact that many reformed congregations do not apply irresistible grace to our everyday living, we are not hospitable or transforming culture.

One of my favorite writers (who i need to read a lot more) Francis Schaeffer deals rather harshly with this, and offers excellent counsel to me as I deal with this.

Don't start with a big program. Don't suddenly think you can add to your church budget and begin. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community…

How many times in the past year have you risked having a drunk vomit on your carpeted floor? How in the world, then, can you talk about compassion and about community - about the church's job in the inner city?

L'Abri is costly. If you think what God has done here is easy, you don't understand. It's a costly business to have a sense of community. L'Abri cannot be explained merely by the clear doctrine that is preached; it cannot be explained by the fact that God has here been giving intellectual answers to intellectual questions. I think those two things are important, but L'Abri cannot be explained if you remove the third. And that is there has been some community here. And it has been costly.

In about the first three years of L'Abri all our wedding presents were wiped out. Our sheets were torn. Holes were burned in our rugs. Indeed once a whole curtain almost burned up from somebody smoking in our living room. Blacks came to our table. Orientals came to our table. Everybody came to our table. It couldn't happen any other way. Drugs came to our place. People vomited in our rooms, in the rooms of Chalet Les Melezes which was our home, and now in the rest of the chalets of L'Abri.

How many times has this happened to you? You see, you don't need a big program. You don't have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin. And there is no place in God's world where there are no people who will come and share a home as long as it is a real home." [quote from here]

All you have to do is open your home and begin. Schaeffer takes Christ's counsel of our plank before other's speck literally here. We need to focus on ourselves, not others.


marks of an unhealthy church?

6 Marks of an unhealthy church (play on 9 marks)

1) Little or no adult baptisms. That tells you A LOT about who the church is NOT engaging. (Acts 18:10) Fellas, did you know that there are actually Christians who don't think it is odd that their church hardly ever has adult baptisms. Some don't even bat at an eye at that. Shouldn't that be kind'a embarrassing? The most I've ever personally been involved with, as a church employee, was when I worked at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philly). It was an amazing number.

(2) It's mono-ethnic( except for rural churches). If the church is in or near a major city and the church represents a segregated mono-culture (by race and/or class) in leadership and membership you are right to think that is kind'a odd. It's 2007 not 1907. And, sadly, church leaders and members avoid living in the epicenter of major cities. (Rev. 5:8-14; Eph. 4)

(3) The church has no social witness. Members and regular attenders are not personally involved in local, state, or national social issues (wherever the curse is found) at any level. It's not a regular part of their family life. (James 1:27)

(4) Infrequent practice of the sacraments.

(5) Non-Christians are not involved in the life of the church, the personal lives of church goers, or attending worship (Lev. 19:33-34).

(6) The preaching, teaching, programs, aesthetics, music, etc. primarily appeal to 40-something women and their children. The men may be physically present but are bored and/or dead.

[Anthony Bradley]


My night with the Buddhists (in Pittsburgh)

This eve was interesting to say the least. West met the East, Grove City encountered the Buddha. Several members of my World Religions class went on a field trip to the Zen Center of Pittsburgh tonight. (it was Zen Buddhist) The priestess taught us how to and the purpose of meditation. It was honestly an attempt to try to convert us, and some students tried to convert them. Or at the least reveal their foolishness.

I spent the 10 minutes in meditation reciting Psalm 22, and focusing on the beauty of Christ. It was a great exercise in the Spiritual discipline of renewing our minds. At the conclusion, the priestess led in asking people what they got out of it. One girl remarked that she was at peace, and boy did the priestess latch on and following up, seeking to led this girl and others to a lie. Afterwards there was a short Q and A and here are the top questions.

What is the purpose of this [meditation]? To become more human.
What do they mean by this? Buddhists believe that every person has part of god within us, and to be human is to fully realize this. It is a skewed view of God and mankind all in one dose. It even effects their epistemology - how does one know things. But that is the next question.

Skewing #1 God: God is not within everyone or everything, this is pantheism. It makes no sense and does not and cannot answer the problem of good vs. evil.

Skewing #2 Man: Umm.. we are not God nor will we ever be. To claim so is robbing God of His glory and rebellion vs. the true king.

Is there ultimate truth or is truth up to the individual? Yes. That is all I will say.
Epistemology - How one is able to know things. Truth is whatever means to you. When you meditate you consider the things that matter most to you, and those things are different for every person. Priests and priestesses won't tell you what you need to learn - because your experience is different than theirs. Instead they are there to guide you. One knows truth by searching within oneself, emptying your mind and focusing on the. (purposefully ended with the.)

in their own words:
Dharma refers to the absolute truth or reality (as opposed to our ideas or beliefs about truth or reality) or to the teachings of those who have awakened to this. Buddhism is not a system of religious dogmas. Rather, it presents a way by which all can awaken to their own Buddha-nature. Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching states that the outstanding characteristic of the human situation is frustration, which arises because of our difficulty in accepting the basic fact of life that everything around us is impermanent and transitory. Our wish to divide the perceived world into fixed, individual, and separate things does not fit with the fluid and indefinable nature of reality. In manifesting enlightenment, one is freed from these notions.
Do you notice how self centered this is? Emptying ones mind to focus on the, to focus on you, to focus on whatever matters to you. There is not hope, there is no grace. How can one find freedom by looking to oneself? I know myself, I am a sinner and apart from Christ I would revel in that fact. Christianity offers love, grace, hope, joy, forgiveness, righteousness, justification, all that we might know and taste eternal life with the Creator. He is personal, not some impersonal force scattered throughout all of the creation - pantheism. No, Christ came to die for sinful mankind, He came to redeem us, to restore ourselves to God. We cannot do that by searching our hearts and minds, only discover a need for a savior.


Wednesday on Youtube

[HT Irish Calvinist]


Jesus Christ promised His disciples three things:
to know no fear,
to be absurdly happy,
and to be in constant trouble.

- GK Chesterson


This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness;
not health, but healing;
not being but becoming;
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.

- Martin Luther


Weekend prayers and happenings

John Piper's granddaughter died as she came into this world this weekend. He writes about Felicity here. I love this man as he continually offers hope no matter in what situation. To quote one of my friends, "he is a pastor who truly lives up to his calling."

Had a good weekend with Jen, spent some time at Light of Life taping for my project this summer. Lord Willing it will be done in a few weeks. (yay)


There is a book coming out in about a month and a half that I have been anticipating for the past year. John Piper's conference last year, the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern world is coming to a bookstore near you (or amazon.) I have all the promotional interviews on my computer and refer to Driscoll's and Keller's often.

here are two quotes.

I know this heading [“Gospel Humiliation”] sounds pretty strong, but I want to get your attention. In Jonah 3:1–2 we read, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’” In Sinclair Ferguson’s little book on Jonah [Man Overboard] he comments on the broken, humbled prophet who hears the second call to Nineveh and answers it. He says:

God intends to bring life out of death. We may well think of this as the principle behind all evangelism. Indeed we may even call it the Jonah principle, as Jesus seems to have done. . . . [I]t is out of Christ’s weakness that the sufficiency of his saving power will be born. . . . [So] fruitful evangelism is a result of this death-producing principle. It is when we come to share spiritually—and on occasions physically—in Christ’s death (cf. Phil. 3:10) that his power is demonstrated in our weakness and others are drawn to him. This is exactly what was happening to Jonah.

What does this mean? A man recently shared with me how he was trying to talk about his faith with his neighbors, to little avail. But then some major difficulties came into his life, and he began to let his neighbors know how Christ was helping him face them. They were quite interested and moved by this. It was the Jonah principle! As we experience weakness, as we are brought low, Christ’s power is more evident in us.

Lloyd-Jones once gave a sermon on Jacob’s wrestling with God. In the talk he told a story of a time when he was living in Wales. He was in a gathering of older ministers who were discussing a young minister with remarkable preaching gifts. This man was being acclaimed, and there was real hope that God could use him to renew and revive his church. The ministers were hopeful. But then one of them said to the others: “Well, all well and good, but you know, I don’t think he’s been humbled yet.” And the other ministers looked very grave. And it hit Lloyd-Jones hard (and it hit me hard) that unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may say you believe the gospel of grace but, as we said above, the penny hasn’t dropped. You aren’t a sign of the gospel yourself. You don’t have the Jonah principle working in you. You aren’t a strength-out-of-weakness person. God will have to bring you low if he is going to use you in evangelism.

(Tim Keller - Desiring God Blog)
To create a contemporary analogy: If I’m called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotallers, I’ll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, “You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol,” I’ll reply, “Pass the port” or “I’ll think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal.” Paul is flexible and therefore prepared to circumcise Timothy when the exclusive sufficiency of Christ is not at stake and when a little cultural accommodation will advance the gospel; he is rigidly inflexible and therefore refuses to circumcise Titus when people are saying that Gentiles must be circumcised and become Jews to accept the Jewish Messiah.
(DA Carson to Mark Driscoll - Between Two Worlds)


The Great Mission

"You cannot understand the church unless you understand the mission of the church." (Taken from the Acts 29 Network blog.) Continuing that thought... We cannot understand what God has called us to do unless we understand how God called us. He called us before time began to be His children, which was accomplished upon the cross by His Son, Jesus Christ. His Birth, life, death and resurrection were all for us. How he lived - is for us. Christ poured out His love and life for those who were spiritually sick, He came to help sinners with the message of eternal life. I can elaborate on this more, but to sum up, God called us through the Good News. (We deserve Hell, yet God sent His Son to heal those who believe in Him)

What is the Mission of the Church?
Christ states it plainly with the great commission, "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." The purpose of the church first and foremost is to win souls, to preach the gospel wherever and whenever to all people. Secondly the goal of the church is to disciple (teach and train) all who are baptized, that they may be like Jesus.

Every man and woman who professes Jesus Christ as their Lord (Romans 10:9) is part of the family of God, the Bride of Christ, the church. This commission, Jesus gave to every person in the church. No one is excluded from the gentle demands Christ made on our lives. While the world yells, You Hypocrites! Christ will hold all his people accountable to the mission that He laid before us. Which is daunting, yet His 'grace is sufficient for you.' It is a joy to carry the message of Christ - that He died, lived and ascended that we would have eternity with the Father. To tell the world that Christ loves us because He loves us, even when we rebelled against Him.

"We are more sinful than we could have ever realized, but we are more loved than we could have ever imagined." Tim Keller (paraphrase)


In Cyberspace today...

I discovered some really sweet things.  

RTS offers a myriad of their courses online, and are of extreme value (i.e. John Frame's Apologetics class).  As does Covenant Theological Seminary with Covenant Worldwide - they only offer 20 courses but it is fantastic.  You can get them through iTunes University.  Combine both seminary's apologetics class lectures and you have a great class. 

Mark Driscoll is writing more books.  

I'm wrestling with Piper's statement, "The greatest sin that was ever committed in the history of the world... was planned by God, namely the death of His Son." [HT: Pure Church] 

On the Desiring God Blog... 
If it's our inclination to deny church membership to genuine believers, we should put ourselves in the shoes of the one being rejected, and make our decision from that perspective. If we feel loved and accepted in our church, we are hardly the ones who have the right to say that being shunned is no big deal because we can still be united in Christ. You will not feel "united" with other believers when you live your life trying to be in fellowship with them and they continue to refuse to accept you as a member.  [read the whole thing]


Salvation: To live is Christ

It is a lovely and blustery Irish day here at Grove City, and colds to go around if you are interested.

Lately one thing caught my attention, it is a subject that I ignored months ago when reading Beeke's Overcoming the World, it is our union with Christ. it is an awesome thought. The truth that our identity is found in Christ, and that Christ's identity was found in us is awesome. God loved us, His people, so much that He sent His son to become the God-Man just to pay the price for our sins to ensure our salvation. The redemption from our sins. God, the Father, saw the Son, Jesus Christ as a sinner. His identity was ours. My sins were beaten on that cross, God's holiness demands that. Romans 6 is clear that by our baptism we are united to Christ's death and resurrection. But our salvation does not stop at the cross, God moves on to the resurrection. And this is where our salvation becomes even more awesome. It pleased God to give His people new life. I tell you, I am one of the greatest sinners I know, and Scripture refers to me as a harlot. (Hosea) Christ, God the Son died for my sins, and in his resurrection I have new life. I can say NO! to sin, temptation and Satan, because I am dead to them.

the Psalmist declared, "As far as east from west is distant, He has put away our sins." When God looked at Christ upon that cross - He saw my sins. Now, when He looks at me - He sees Christ. "To live is Christ, to die is Gain."


One Way.

In a world of idolatry, and when people do whatever is right in their eyes, the gospel of Christ faces extreme pressure to relax the message of Christ. Often we Christians are told to tolerate other people, to love people and their sins. We are called to coexist, as a popular bumper sticker puts it. But that is not the message of the gospel. The good news is when the holy God shows grace, forgiveness, compassion to His creation that is in rebellion against Him.

This relaxation in proclaiming the gospel manifests itself in two unbiblical ways: pluralism (all roads lead to heaven), and inclusivism: (that people are saved by Christ figures whether it be in Hinduism, Islam or Aslan). Pluralism is easily dismissed as unbiblical. Yet, some popular Christians advocate an inclusivist gospel. Particularly my favorite writer, CS Lewis.

But neither of this is the good news. Christ tells His disciples that the way to eternal life and joy is narrow, an exclusive and particular word. Not everybody walks down this narrow path. Christ came to die for my sins, to give me new life, restore meaning and purpose to life. I am not working for the money, instead I live for the purpose of the gospel, I serve other people for the gospel. “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Him.” Romans 10 lays it out quite clearly that no one is saved outside the preaching of the good news. The tone of the passage is desperate and urgent out of a passion for Christ’s love.

To close, JI Packer responds to the question, "Might it not be true of the follower of some other religion that the God of all mercy had worked in his heart by His Spirit, bringing Him in some measure to realize his sin and need for forgiveness, and enabling him, in his twilight as it were, to throw himself on God's mercy?" (he answers yes.)

"If we are wise we shall not spend much time mulling over this notion. Our job, after all is to spread the gospel, not to guess what might happen to those whom it never reaches. Dealing with them is God's business... In the meantime, let us keep befoer our minds humanity's universal need of forgiveness and new birth, and the graciousness of the whosoever will invitations of the gospel. And let us redouble our efforts to make known the Christ who saves all who come to God by Him." pg 54 of JI Packer Answers Questions for Today.


The reason that postmoderns end up with a purely individualized sense of truth is, "that the fascination with what is changing is proving more compelling than considerations about what is not changing, and what is in flux seems to offer a more immediate access to the postmodern soul than what is stable. The problem, of course, is that so many in the postmodern world have become addicts to change and their appetite for it is no panacea for the gospel. It is in the soil of our bored lives that fads and fashions sprout, each one suggesting something new, something different , something that is riding the crest of a wave of what is "in," or some new potential for us just coming into sight. This is true, not only of cars and clothes, music and hangouts, but of belief and behavior too. The adaptions which so many evangelicals are willing to make to this mood, I believe, are adaptions, not to what is innocent and inevitable, but to what is sick and deformed. These postmoderns proclivities should be challenges, not weakly accepted."

- David Wells in Only One Way?


why are there so many gods?

"Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you." St. Augustine quipped in his Confessions centuries ago. He unearthed a jewel that Paul and Christ both preached. In Romans 1 Paul notes that every man, woman, and child are created with the innate sense of God. Which John Calvin called the "divine sense." Mankind has this massive God-shaped hole in our hearts and we will look anywhere for something to fill it. Our hearts are idol factories, producing new and old substitutes for trusting in Christ. We can learn many lessons from Christ's encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, the firstmost being that: we will look anywhere for a shepherd other than the true shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Man, naturally, need god, they need fulfillment and purpose (which they will turn everywhere for - money, sports, lust, etc.) That is one of the most pressing questions of this and every age. But only Christ can satisfy any longing, lack of purpose or fulfillment. It is only in Christ that meaning, purpose and salvation from our sins and this world is found. And everyday that He gives us is a gift from God where we have another day to preach His gospel of redemption, not only of man but also of a new heavens and a new earth.


the beginning of school and the world religions

The past few days and weeks have been crazy as school is now back into full swing. Dr. Duguid gave us a quiz the first class session this past Wednesday - we are now into Biblical Hebrew Readings, aka lots of translating. (lots). By the end of the semester I'll have all the psalms of Ascent, 1 Kings 16-19, and Esther translated. I love it! There is only three of us in the class.

Other classes I am taking:
- Courtship and Marriage
- Volleyball
- Intro to Ministry
- Augustine and Aquinas
- World Religions

In the coming week I hope to be posting some reflections from Augustine and Aquinas, and World Religions. I am really enjoying that class and will have to do a presentation on Taoism and the Chinese religions. I am not stopping my study on church government, so if you have thoughts please let me know, instead I am focusing on my studies right now. Beginning with a theological examination of why there are religions (aka idolatry), how that impacts our evangelism, then moving on to consider how sad and lost the other 'world religions' are (vs. Christianity.) This will lay the groundwork for apologetics. (which along with Evangelism is where my heart is at.)


Christian Self Help pt. 2

An addendum to my last post.

I was thinking of the very exclusive nature of self help these days. You read a book to fix your marriage, deal with grief, figure out your troubled teenager, etc. And voila, apply it on your own time, pace, whatever you are comfortable with. This is trouble and forgets the importance of relationships. Our non Christian friends realize this when they go to Dr. Phil or Oprah - they seek someone else's counsel and assistance. I would be lost without my parents, sisters or girlfriend when it comes to my life. I would be a lot more selfish and arrogant than not when I have loved ones telling me in love of my sin. As 'iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen friends.' This is the role of the church - to love each other and assist in helping our growth as little Christs. We are in need of change (we are sinners) and the chief way God brings about change is through believers preaching His word.

its really a beautiful portrait.


Christian Self Help

From my friend Nate Day...

i have extracurricular study to suggest: christian "self-help".

it's a combination of using philosophy and psychology to solve the problems we face like a death in the family or a mid-life crisis, specifically from a christian standpoint, rather than the drugs or paid professionals that people are much more readily willing to utilize in this day and age. you could even call it "self-counseling". i just ran into this book called "Plato, not Prozac" that gives a wonderful argument for using philosophy on a practical level like self-help and avoidance of creating your own problems, but it glosses too quickly over any specific philosophy. "very stimulating," as Dr Campbell might say.
Christian "self help" is a marvelous concept, but when Christians want to talk about self help these days it always seems to be getting away from Scripture. I assert and believe that the Bible is sufficient for living a life that is pleasing unto God. That I can relate 100% to the Christ and other characters in Scripture. However, I believe that psychology is a 'useful adjunct' - to quote Jay Adams. It is a question of how does Christianity and Psychology relate or integrate. (very minimally). there are over 200 thearapeutic systems out there offering support and help to anyone who would hear their message. Scripture can tell me more about humanity than Carl Jung, BF Skinner, Darwin, Freud or anyone. 2 years ago I did a paper on Freud's view of anthropology and human sexuality, talk about twisted. What he and other psychologists proclaim is proven historically and biblically. Rich Ganz proves this well in his book, psychobabble. (this gentleman taught counseling for years, and before his conversion was a psychologist.)

As a useful adjunct, however, psychology assists in determining outward consequences of sin on the mind, life and family. If a person is arrogant and proud that will reveal itself in one's life. Lust can tear apart one's family and relationships.

Philosophy is rather useless in comforting people who are grieving. When philosophy (proper) comes into the discussion of theology and what the bible says, the gospel goes through the shredder. That is because over all philosophy starts with the wrong questions. Descartes noted, "I think therefore I am." Rouseau commented, "I feel therefore I am." It is clear that the major philosophies of today all start with.... me (very narcisttic).

On the issue of grief - scripture speaks profoundly to that reality. Most likely Jesus lost his father, how did He handle it? David lost his son, and after his death how did he handle it? Same with Jacob over Joseph, Abraham over Isaac - though Isaac was not killed (almost). How does God relate to these men? What message did the prophets have for them? David rejoiced that his son was with God. Jer. 19:11 and Romans 8:28 are huge in developing a theology for the hurting and grieving. God is sovereign and we are sinnners. As we sin, we bring havoc to this world, yet all the while God works out His plans for the good of His people - His kingdom. That is the answer to the question of evil.

Ultimately the quesiton is, "How does God relate to you?" This must be examined by finding out how Scripture can relate to me, you, and everyone who is on planet earth. How did God relate to the sailors, Assyrians and Jonah in that OT book? Or in the NT, How did Christ act toward the 12 disciples?


When I consider the NT passages pertaining to church leaders, two offices emerge, the elders and deacons.  It is clear that there are other words for elders (bishop, overseer), which give a certain vision of that position.  On the other hand the deaconate is only described as the deacons.  

Overseers must be men.  Scripture is clear that women are not to have authority over men in church matters and affairs.  There are many people who want to challenge this notion today by calling it archaic and old fashioned, but they would rather hold to the worldly ideal of progression instead of honoring God's word by obeying it.  The Bible takes a mallet and slams the feminist portrait of their eldership.  It is that clear.  Men are to be the leaders in the home and in the church, as they lead their spouses and families to Christ they are to be like Christ to the Church.  

Men are to be the overseers of the church, utilizing their gifts to advance the kingdom of God.  Leading their people to be more like Christ, curing their souls with the tonic of the gospel.  Preaching Christ and Him crucified at everyone, anywhere and everywhere they go.  That is their primary role.  It is the mission of the church to go into all nations making disciples of Jesus Christ.   The fact is that the elders must lead, not in a trustee sense of the word figuring budget needs and what not.  Instead, whether it is in prayer meeting, preaching, evangelism, Gospel Classes or Sunday School, small groups, etc, they must make Christ the focus of the church.

I have the greatest girlfriend in the world. (I am very biased). This past weekend I was at her house and we played tennis and rock climbed. It was so cool and lots of fun.

School begins in one week exactly and am looking forward to it with much delight. My man Seth is already here for RA training and other students who worship at Rose Point are here for various reasons. As the school year dawns on us, we are searching for ideas on what to do for the college ministry and wondering how are we going to do our Bible study - i know it sounds simple but it really is not :-) But a great opportunity is that GCC invited Rose Point this year to come to their church fair on August 31. that is going to be fun


Beer, Piercings, Smoking, and Tattoos...

I've been thinking about this topic all summer. The area of Pittsburgh where I lived was a location where everyone had tattoos. (Yes everyone). Bars where literally every other building on Liberty Avenue, and a friend of mine has his very own brewery. Are tattoos appropriate for Christians? Should believers drink? Is it right for the faithful to smoke? Very often those who profess Christ think that because they don't have a sip of alcohol they will see the pearl gates.

I would like to suggest that it is ok for believers to do any and all of the above with the following conditions and questions. First with piercings. It is necessary to utilize cultural wisdom on this issue as in many African nations an ear piercing means that you are a slave. But in America and Britain, it is the norm for ladies and a good number of men as well. Especially in the inner city culture. Most Christians affirm that it is A-OK to get ears pierced, but don't say anything is ok beyond that. To be consistent, if it is ok to get your ears done, then why not anything else? I would argue it is because they are not comfortable allowing those because they are outside their culture. (Again use Cultural Wisdom)

Smoking and Beer are on the same silver platter in this discussion. A lot of theologians and pastors make an excellent argument for moderation, and that is the biblical standard that I see as most valid and biblical. (Check out Mark Driscoll on this in his book The Radical Reformission.)

Finally is an issue much more tricky, yet I say that getting a tattoo is an issue of Christian liberty, just like the previous three issues. In the very same verse that Christians use against tattoos, Moses outlaws piercings... so why the inconsistency? I would argue it stems because it is outside their culture and lacks history within the church, though some ascetic groups burned marks into their skin.

It is imperative that one uses cultural wisdom, but it is also important to discern biblically your heart and motives. Cultural wisdom is necessary is necessary because often tattoos can stigmatize you from your family, friends, community, essentially your culture. But it is more important to ask questions of the heart.
(1) What are your motives?
---is it rebellion against God, family, your culture?
---is it to express your individuality?
---do you believe that it is how you can best glorify God?
(2) Would it become a barrier to sharing the Gospel to your surrounding culture? or help?

As you search your heart to see if any of the four issues would cause you to fall into sin, or lead others to sin, then don't smoke, drink, pierce or get inked. But if it is the other case entirely then figure out if your culture permits it, then why not?

But in my jet, just get a Henna redone every month :-p But I am looking forward to the next Ask John Podcast from Desiring God, as it deals with this very issue.

Here is something on my mind: If we are fascinated or excited about anything more than the fact that the Son of God voluntarily suffered in our place, bearing the guilt our sins deserved, then we are in big trouble. I get the impression that many today -- both in the broadly evangelical world and in the Reformed world -- are rather bored with the cross of Christ and the justification of sinners through faith alone. But there is no greater mystery and no more glorious theme than this. Do we get bored hearing the "same old gospel?" If so, our ministries and our lives are heading for big trouble. In my opinion, there would be no more powerful influence in our lives and our churches than for us sincerely to exclaim with Paul: May I never boast except in the cross of Christ Jesus my Lord.
- Richard Phillips

[HT] Shepherd's Scrapbook

The only way to rescue our world. (is the gospel)

if you have some thoughts on church leadership, check out my previous post.
Words from Mark Driscoll, Radical Reformission (pp. 108)

St. Paul calls sin the mystery of iniquity, and human history has proven him right. The problem with every culture is not ultimately out there in the culture, but is within the people of the culture. This mystery of the crookedness of the human nature has puzzled lost people in the culture so fully that we now have a veritable army of counselors and psycologists armed with some two hundred different therapeutic systems trying to straighten people out. These systems speculate that the causes of our imperfection range from an unconscious mind filled with primal urges (Sigmund Freud), to a collective unconsciousness from our racial history (Carl Jung), to our environmental (emotional and physical) conditioning (BF Skinner), to the lack of awareness of our inner goodness (Carl Rogers). All we are missing is a theory in which a magic bunny - hidden deep in the drink cooler of a Provo, Utah, convenience store - is the center of an invisible web of mind control causing human beings to do terrible things to one another. Reformission requires that God's people address sin theologically.

First to change a culture, we must change the people in that culture. The question that arises is whether people do what they are, or if they are what they do. The answer to this is imperative, because if we are what we do then all we need to do is train people to act differently and they will change themselves. ... The unredeemed heart is a glutton for sin and death. Only God can give a person a new heart, one with new desires for a redeemed life that contributes to a transformed culture

We must begin by bringing the gospel to people so that they can be given a new heart out of which a Christian life flows. As more people live out of their new heart, new families, churches, businesses, and governments will result that together will transform culture.


questions on church leadership

Recently I started a personal study on "what does the Bible say about church leaders." I was born and raised a presbyterian, and believe in ordination. My driving question is, "are there multiple levels of the eldership or deaconate?" Along with this I have other questions in mine - such as, "What is the role of the Old Testament models of leadership (King, Prophet, Priest) for the New Administration of Grace?" "How do the leaders relate to one another?" "What is the role and need of denominations?" Considering the rise of such movements as Together for the Gospel, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Gospel Coalition, Acts 29, etc.

This study was sparked by a few comments my friend Sam DeSocio made regarding the differences between the OPC, RPCNA and the PCA. Now, I am not a theonomist by any stretch of the imagination as I see a fulfillment in the civil and ceremonial laws with Christ's atoning death, yet I believe in a covenantal understanding of the scriptures. Therefore the Old Testament has some value and is needed in any discussion of leaders.

thoughts? any questions to add? Scripture passages or books to refer to?

Francis Schaeffer

Two beauties from Francis Schaeffer

"Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting."

"Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world"


Why so many Calvinists?

Mark Dever from Church Matters finished a 10 part series today on why there are so many Calvinists in the church. It is an excellent list though it is hard to just choosing 10.... Dever did an excellent job. Especially when one considers that Calvinists are growing in the Southern Baptist Convention and also the Calvinists are seizing many national conferences. (Sproul, MacArthur, Piper, Zacharias, Mahaney, Driscoll, Keller, Mohler)

1. Charles Spurgeon
2. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
3. Banner of Truth Trust - Which was started as a publisher for Lloyd-Jones's works and sermons, along with other Puritan works.
4. Evangelism Explosion (D. James Kennedy)
5. Defense of Inerrancy (RC Sproul had a huge role in this)
6. The Presbyterian Church of America
7. Packer's Knowing God
8. John MacArthur and RC Sproul
9. John Piper (!!)
10. The Rise of Secularism and the Decline of Christian Nominalism

Here are the short essays.