Relentless Grace has moved!

I am terrible sorry for the inconvenience, but I switched to wordpress- its a beautiful thing.  The address is similar for you - www.relentlessgrace.wordpress.com 

it still works through RSS feeds and in the google feeder.  I do not have to mess with a third party to know stats and many other things.  Plus I can upload audio and post articles easier as well.  

I will delete this site in a few weeks to ensure everyone has the new link.   


A grand ol' time with Tim Keller

keller_web.jpgWhen: Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.
Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Open to the public and free of charge

Why does God allow suffering in the world? How could a loving God send people to Hell? Why isn't Christianity more inclusive? How can one religion be "right" and the others "wrong"? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God?

If you or your friends ever struggled with any of these questions, you won't want to miss this event.

As the founding pastor of
Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Timothy Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced doubts skeptics bring to his church as well as the most important reasons for faith. His book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, peaked at #6 on the New York Times Bestseller List. In his book, Dr. Keller "addresses each doubt and explains each reason, using literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and reasoning to explain how faith in a Christian God is a soundly rational belief, held by thoughtful people of intellectual integrity with a deep compassion for those who truly want to know the truth."

Join the CCO in welcoming Dr. Timothy Keller to the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, situated between the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2008. The event is free of charge, so bring your friends-skeptics, believers
, cynics, and doubters alike!

For more information about this event,
click here, or contact Scott Calgaro, Director of Conferences & Events, CCO (scalgaro@ccojubilee.org or 412.363.3303 x109).


Iain Campbell on Psalmody (Reformation 21)

It leaves us a bit eccentric in the eyes of some, but that all depends on where the centre is. A lifetime of worshipping with the words of the Psalms certainly embeds the sentiments of Scripture on one's mind and memory. The Psalter represents the Songs of Zion, which celebrate the both the history and the application of redemption.

I realize there is a theological issue here - how can we sing songs in worship which do not praise Jesus? My response is simply that if Jesus is not the God of the psalms, I don't know who is. I also note that the early Pentecostal preaching on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is grounded in the sentiments of the Psalms. So I do not accept that the Psalms are inadequate for New Covenant worship, and I enjoy speaking on the redemptive, Christological and even Trinitarian strands of our hymnody.


T4G reflections and Day 2

We stayed at the Holiday Inn 5 blocks from the Convention Center. Marvelous walk in the morning with 60 degrees and cool air. Breakfast was at the McDonald's, nothing marvelous. We discovered that one had to be there early in order to get good seats. It did not happen that morning, but I committed to doing so for the rest of the day.

John MacArthhur kicked off the day with a sermon on the Doctrine of Inability (total depravity). It was excellent and humbling, a biblical recognition that we are unable to do anything good, and even our best actions are worthy of damnation. (John Bunyan quote).

Next up was Mark Dever pleading with pastor to not seek an improved or kinder gospel as one does not exist and is mean. Excellent message. He examined what many try to do with the gospel (think Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and Rob Bell), showed their fallacies and presented a robust biblical gospel.

Sproul dominated the afternoon speaking on the "Curse Motif of the Atonement." Sproul explained that Jesus was forsaken that I might be blessed. God fulfilled the Maladiction (curses) on Jesus, whose work, that action brought the benediction to be spoken and fulfilled on me, the true sinner. This was the best and most convicting out of all of these.

In the afternoon was a survey of the debate in evangelical circles over penal substitution by Al Mohler. Good lecture, the most academic so its not enthralling. But a must to listen to, to be aware of what is happening in the church today.

Throughout the whole day (and the night before) the attendees were given 10 books, by the end of the conference I had 15 free books. The most meaningful was Dr. Schaefer's gift to each one of us Redemption Accomplished and Applied, by John Murray.


T4G Refections and Day 1

at 6:30am, Tuesday, April 15th, myself, two good friends and my adviser departed for the together for the gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky. It was my first time to a major conference of any nature and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I walked away with over 15 free books, courtesy of many publishers and the T4G speakers, and encouragement from the fabulous sessions. The first talk was Ligon Duncan, who spoke on the importance of systematic theology in pastoral ministry. His talk, in my mind, set the tone for the whole conference. Each in its own way dealt with aspects of the emergent church movement and criticized it heavily. To this end Lig's focused on how systematic theology is above, not equal to, biblical theology. Rather pertinent at this time with the happenings at Westminster East with Enns.

Next up was Thabiti on "bearing the image." His was the most intriguing and I am still thinking about what was said. His general thesis was that we view this world with a misconception that hinders ministry - the idea of race. Race is unbiblical, he said, and suggested a new framework for looking at people - ethnicity. In my mind his gave the foundation for not ministering to a select group of "racial" people, as we are all united in Adam with the image of God and sin. Instead we should view people in terms of ethnicity which is much broader and can include whites with black.

more posts to follow.
If you want to check out the liveblogging see Tim Challies
Also the sessions are free here



In 19 hours I, Tim Hopper, Griff Price, and Dr. Paul Schaefer, depart for the Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky (otherwise known as Southern Baptist Mecca). 3 days jampacked with solid teaching, biblical preaching, and fellowship. I am not planning on blogging in my time there, but pictures, notes, and stories will dominate this blog until my wedding (less than 3 weeks away).


reading brochure

Here is the recommended reading brochure for Christ Presbyterian Church (The ARP church plant here in Grove City) that I worked on a few weeks ago. It will be on the CPC website, along with sermons and other goodies.




just had to share... taken from inphotos


"In the MTV generation truth and honor means nothing, money and noise means
everything... Parents relive their childhood through their child."
Charles Whiley in my Family class today speaking on modern youth culture.

Books I want to read

Thinking about creating a home and gearing up to do that in just under 5 weeks is very daunting and I am inadequate - a sure sign that I need (desperately) God's grace.

A few books I want to read are:
"When Sinner's Say 'I Do'" [Jen currently is reading it, I'll go at it once she is done]

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition [a review of which can be found at Drew Goodmanson's blog]

to reread - Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change, Helping People in Need of Change (have not touched this since biblical counseling 101 2 years ago)

And just for kicks - The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship

[First I have to finish others first]


Life and Links

The past few weeks have been intense, with wedding planning and all the little details that go with my senior year. Tomorrow I get the pleasure of hearing the Beggster at Harbison Chapel in the morning and evening for our Christian Life Conference. I know many friends who are coming from around the area and some peers parents are coming as well. A grand time indeed.

City Journal - good academic perspective on urban living

Wired Magazine - fun and odd columns on our perpetual culture

instructables - you have to see it to know what I mean

Sam Desocio is the new assistant pastor at City Reformed (PCA) in Pittsburgh

Smalltime presbyterian confessionalism annoys me

Joe Thorn's ministry paradigm on 1 page of paper

Abraham Piper on why pastors should blog

Tim Keller interview with ByFaith (PCA Mag) and with Monergism
[personal note: I am reading his the reason for God and it is excellent, highly recommend it]


Over the years several men shown love and care to me through giving me various books. Anthony Selvaggio gave me both of his (The Prophets Speak of Him and What does the Bible say about Marriage), Nathan Eshelman gave me Beeke's Meet the Puritans (with a John Hancock in it), Kent Butterfield gave me Keller's Ministries of Mercy. Yesterday another was added to this list. Matt Filbert gave me the Redeemer Church Planter Manual (by Keller) and Coaching Urban Church Planters. (by the Redeemer Church Planting Center). As I was perusing them today, I saw my lack of gratitude towards these men for their kindness. Selvaggio's Marriage book and Keller's book on Mercy Ministry are milk and meat for my reading diet.

I am sure Filbert's kind gifts will be too.


Abandoning or Transforming Culture: Do we have a choice? Notes from Jerram Barrs

7 days ago Jerram Barrs came to speak here at the Grove. I sat down and enjoyed a lovely conversation with him over lunch. I greatly appreciated the time he took to answer every question deliberately. He spoke on three occasions; I made it to two of them. The most invigorating lecture/talk however was entitled Abandoning or Transforming Culture: Do we have a choice?

After outlining the various ideas of Christ and Culture, he laid down an argument for culture transformation. Three Principles and three "how to" guidelines for each.

1.) Affirmation - activities of culture is to respond to the Creation Mandate (reaffirmed in the Noahic Covenant) and the fact that mankind is made in the image of God (Psalm 8)

  • Appreciation - delight what is good in culture (Philippians 4:8). John Calvin, "It is not blasphmey of the Holy Spirit that Pagans speak good and give good gifts."
  • Incarnation - incarnate the gospel in every culture, adopt whatever you can from, and of, every culture. This is to live as fully human as you can. Love the culture and love the people of that culture.
  • Bridges into Culture [Common Grace] - recognize all kinds of truth, justice, and beauty to communicate the gospel of Christ.

2.) Sober Realism of Reality

  • Nonidentification - there is no such things as a Christian culture. What grows from transformed hearts are the firstfruits of what is yet to come.
  • Christian Identity - in relationship to Christ and place in the kingdom of God
  • called to humility and to challenge the culture we live in and within ourselves - transformation occurs by bringing Scripture to bear on reality and life. To do this read scripture and whenever you find a passage you do not like or want to reinterpret, you are dealing with sin, or you have given in too much to the culture you live in

3.) Solemn Warning - culture expresses the religious elements of the human heart. In the words of TS Eliot, "Culture is the incarnation of her religion."

  • count the cost - there are things that are off limits
  • cultural embodiment - encourage new believers to put on and live in the cutlure
  • the transformation of Culture - salt and light in every aspect you can and your work

---- [Robbie's thoughts] ----

A lot of what Barrs said would throw Christendom in an uproar. Which is sad. How can I incarnate the Gospel? By admiring the creation around me to start. Look and enjoy the arts, music and movies. Incorporate the creativity of the community in which I live into my life. (I am drawing the line at The Scream.) Hang outs such as coffee houses, java cafes, internet cafes, some small restaurants, and many others are excellent examples to start. At the Crazy Mocha this summer the art on display was by those who lived in the community. Why can't the church do that? Why can't I do that?


Driscoll preached on the Regulative Principle

In my tiny world there is a little discussion going on. Steve Steele and Sam Desocio are in that ring. I need to get out more. And it is about the regulative principle sermon Mark Driscoll gave 8 days ago. I find this funny as this is my 200th post.

I love Mark Driscoll. God is blessing the preaching of the gospel there and many people are coming to know Christ. Mars Hill knows more about God's saving grace than most churches do in their lifetime. Awesome truth and fact. I love Mars Hill and Driscoll because they love Jesus in all his glory- fully incarnate and fully divine. They are Christians and they are brothers and sisters.

I appreciated the sermon because I heard the gospel, I saw Mark humble himself before thousands of people (potentially many more as it is posted online). His words can now be stones hurled at him, I hope it is not so. I appreciated the sermon as he explain worship in a trinitarian way - Glorifying God the Father, through the mediation of God the Son, by the indwelling presence of God the Spirit.

As a brother I disagree with Mark's take on the regulative principle.
The fundamental disagreement is the idea that all of life is worship, and that there is little difference between scattered worship and gathered worship. Many theologians hold this position, John Frame and DA Carson are two of them. (And I love John Frame!)

Hywel Jones in his commentary on Hebrews says "to glorify God" means to reveal Him. 1 Corinthians 10:31 is then read as "
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to reveal God." The verse is then read in a clearer and lucid way in the how to glorify God. Our prayer should be to reveal the creator in all things. Gathered, corporate worship owns a different purpose. Yes it is to reveal God in all his splendor (Tim Keller notes that this is how worship is evangelistic), it is further as worship motivates Christians to please Him. It is in worship that you encounter God in His glory- you dont do that while drinking coffee.

At one point in his sermon he quoted Deuteronomy for the biblical reference for the regulative principle, but did not give scripture to support the Normative principle - only alluded to the typical freedom Scripture gives in other areas. (Biblical support vs. none?)

At one point he mentioned acappela worship (which I dont agree with), and psalm singing (which I do find biblical). In this instance Driscoll made sweeping statements that I would like him to unpack and explain more. I agree with Sam, why profile micro-norities, but if you are going to do so, explain and unpack what you say.

I made a comment on Steele's blog on other thoughts pertaining to this.


redeeming more than our souls

For one of my classes my professor requires us to read several chapters and one full book of agrarian thought. Agrarianism is a practical philosophy (how to live life) that is centered around agriculture as the basic mainstay of work and occupation. They are excellent critics of modernity and their educational polemics are invaluable.

Wendell Berry, an agrarian, suggests that the Amish are the most technologically intelligent people because they are incredibly discerning with regards to the technology they incorporate into their lifestyle. Very provacative stuff.

I hold a dear appreciation for these guys as they genuinely are counter cultural. That is something we Christians sturggle with. But at the same time, I wish the agrarians would offer a transforming element pertaining to culture in their criticisms.

Counter cultural Chrsitianity would say no to a lot of baggage in this messy world (premarital sex, adultery, consumerism, selfishness and self-love, many more), yet the gospel redeems various elements of creation (sex is good not bad, marriage and family governed as a ministry and reflecting Christ and the church, moderation with alcohol and smoking, the arts and music - do our churches reflect this?, work - it is effective and enjoyable). Christians should celebrate such a gospel, it redeems more than our souls.

One may start by asking God to redeem our days, time and activities in whatever we may be doing.

[this thursday Jerram Barrs is speaking on this very subject up here at 4pm]


A Keller quote from Kemeny's brief devotion yesterday, (I asked him for the text)

“If the distance between the earth and sun, 92 million miles, was reduced to the thickness of one sheet of paper, then the distance between the earth and the nearest star would be a stack of paper nearly 70 feet high. The diameter of the galaxy would be a stack of paper 310 miles high. That’s how big the galaxy is. Yet the galaxy is nothing but a speck of dust in the whole universe. And the Bible says that Jesus Christ holds this universe together with the Word and with His power, with his pinky, as it were. And then ask this question: Is this the kind of person who you ask into your life to be your personal assistant? Think about the implications of this for your life."


Reason for God #18 on the NY Times

Tim Keller's book is number 18 on the New York Times Bestsellers list! (Score) I cannot wait till Easter till I get my hands on a copy. (Oh the sheer delight).

Here is an interview that Keller did with First Things. [HT - Between Two Worlds]

I journeyed to Barnes and Noble and Borders - Both places had it. I have read that a few coffee joints have them next to "The God Delusion" and Keller's book is being picked up more than Dawkins.

two quotes grabbed from elsewhere

Biblical texts such as Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21-22 depict a renewed,
perfect, future world in which we retain our cultural differences (”every
tongue, tribe, people, nation”). This means every human culture has (from God)
distinct goods and strengths for the enrichment of the human race. As Walls
indicates, while every culture has distortions and elements that will be
critiqued and revised by the Christian message, each culture will also have good
and unique elements to which Christianity connects and adapts. [Sets'n'Service]

“The death of Jesus was qualitatively different from any other death. The physical pain was nothing compared to the spiritual experiences of cosmic abandonment. Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment. On the cross he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power excels ours. In his death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken. Why did he do it? The Bible says that Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation. He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us. … If we again ask the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself. … So, if we embrace the Christian teaching that Jesus is God and that he went to the Cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth.” [Shepherd's Scrapbook]


I'm Engaged

A week and a few days ago Jennifer agreed to be my wife. It happened on Valentine's Day (what a sap) at Olive Garden in Pittsburgh. If you want more details than that I will tell ya. Yesterday, while visiting my best bud family in Cleveland, I was told that Jen is too good for me. So true, God is very gracious.


the gospel attacking social problems?

(Keller's new book was released today!!!)

The ideology of the left believes big government and social reform will solve social ills, while the right believes big business and economic growth will do it. The left expects a citizen to be held legally accountable for the use of his wealth, but totally autonomous in other areas, such as sexual morality. The right expects a citizen to be held legally accountable in areas of personal morality, but totally autonomous in the use of wealth. The North American 'idol' - radical individualism- lies beneath both ideologies. A Christian sees either "solution" as fundamentally humanistic and simplistic.

The causes of our worsening social problems are far more complex than either the secularists of the right or left understand. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities! We have seen with the greatest wealth in the country (and sadly within the evangelical church itself). At the same time, there is a general breakdown of order- of the famiily and the morals of the nation. There is more premarital sex (and thus there are mroe unwed mothers), more divorce, child neglect, and abuse, more crime. Neither a simple redistribution of wealth nor simple economic growth and prosperity can mend broken families; nor can they turn low skilled mothers into engineers or technicians

Only the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, and the millions of mini churches (Christian Homes) throughout the country can attack the roots of social problems. Only the church can minister to the whole person. Only the gospel understands that sin has ruined us both individually and socially. We cannot be viewed individualistically (as the capitalists do) or collectively (as the communists do) but as related to God. Only Christians, armed with the word and Spirit, planning and working to spread the kingdom and righteousness of Christ, can transform a nation as well as a neighborhood as well as a broken heart.


Is it right to plant a church in an area where there are other healthy, reformed churches? I was asked this question earlier today, when a friend approached me, asking for my counsel and thoughts on the matter. I want to throw my thoughts out there and ask for criticism.

Assuming that the church planted was presbyterian in nature and the others in the area were as well, of differing denominations, I would have no problem with that. For the following reasons: It is proven that the best way to reach the lost is by planting churches, they are the most active in evangelism and building community. No church is perfect, the idea that one church got it right is wrong and sinful. People have different needs, and can every church reach and minister to every situation. No, of course not. We must remember, that while we are little popes with prideful hearts that want everything to be our way, Christ is King and pastors are only his stewards of flocks. Some flocks are in the same area, some are not. Elders must remember that other churches in the area have the same king, and not compete for turf.

In the end. If the goal is to "win souls" I vote yes. If the focus is to intrude on another persons ministry just because they have one. Thats wrong and sinful.


WTS Pictures

This here is the Westminster Bookstore. I should have taken pictures of the massive stockpile that they have, but I failed.

Here is Machen Hall- which houses the administrative offices. And where my friend Leah works.

The periodical section of the Library... very nice collection.


Why should there be a separation of church and state?

If there is confusion between the two spheres, the first being the church, the second being the state, then there will be confusion about the role of the church in the world. Our sinful hearts want to distort the church's mission in this world. God actively calls the church to save sinners and showing the world Christ Jesus in deed and word. However, the state is not defined in the enormous detail or length like the church is. God gives liberty for men to organize themselves in democracies, monarchies or confederations, just not theocracies. To think that the church's mission is to govern the land, is to think that it is our duty to spread the ideals of our country to the rest of the world. Sound familiar?

[thoughts provoked from The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State]


My day at Westminster, Philadelphia

Yesterday Jen and I made the trek from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to visit Westminster Theological Seminary, where our good friend Andy Stapleton goes, and his wife, Leah, works. I spent 5 hours basking in the teaching of Poythress, Trueman and Tipton. I sat in their classes, Hermeneutics, Medieval Church, and Doctrine of Salvation 2 (Applied), respectively. With a brief tour of the campus, pictures will be posted on Monday, along with visiting the growing Westminster Bookstore. (I got In Christ Alone by Ferguson, Christian Apologetics by Van Til, and Making the Lord's Prayer Your Own, by Philip Ryken; Jen got How People Change). It was a good visit, since it was the first day of the semester I got a glance of the academic rigor of the seminary from the various syllabi and readings contained therein.

A good quote from Poythress,
"The Bible is a dangerous book. Look at the hardening of Pharoah's heart. Later Joshua calls the people to choose this day who they will serve. They chose the course of sin and idolatry. We choose everyday when he decide to pick up the Word, or leave it on the shelf. All of our study must be based on the Word and reliance of the Spirit."

More to come as I reflect on my time here.


The best conference on the planet.... T minus 73 days

It is official. Today I booked my room and in 73 days myself, and 3 lovely cohorts of mine, are venturing to Louisville, Kentucky. A lovely 7 hour drive from Pittsburgh. In order to attend the Together for the Gospel Conference, featuring: John Piper, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, CJ Mahaney, and Mark Dever. The topic is the Cross and Christian Ministry.

It will be a blast.
Can you feel the excitement?
3 days with marvelous teaching, 2 nights with 3 sweet dudes (including my advisor- Schaefer), 14 hours worth of driving, listening to Sons of Korah/indelible grace, missing classes for a good cause.

the sessions are:

Ligon Duncan: Sound Doctrine – Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry: A Joyful Defense and Declaration of the Necessity and Practicality of Systematic Theology for the Life of the Church

Thabiti Anyabwile: Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church

John MacArthur: The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability

Mark Dever: Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology

R.C. Sproul
: The Curse Motif of the Atonement

Albert Mohler: Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution

John Piper: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice

C.J. Mahaney: Sustaining a Pastor's Soul


The only thing we bring to our salvation is our sin.
- Iain Duguid


Studying Scripture with Dale Ralph Davis

(Taken from the first chapter of The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts)

Deep into our study time the thought occurs to us that we have not looked - not did we think of looking - to the God who breathed out this Scripture to give us an understanding of the Scripture. He will likely give that understanding through the tools we use, but when we use tools while neglecting him the tools have become idols.

in facing Scripture one must take account of two realities: Spirit and Text. This fact forces me to one of my operating presuppositions: God has given his word in the form of literature, part of which is narrative; I should therefore use all available tools for understanding such literature. So I seek the Spirit's aid and use an approach suited to the form of his word. Hence, at the very least, I ask questions of the text.

It is safe to say that usually the writer's purpose is theocentric - he intends to communicate something about God.

Whenever we are at a loss as to what we should preach on a passage, we will never go wrong if we focus on God, his actions and his requirements.

I especially focus on what may be puzzling - it may be a word or phrase or idea which I feel I must understand in order to grasp the passage properly. I want to isolate the conundrums that keep me from understanding the text - and solve as many as possible.


You can be sure of one thing, though: when you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness. (the Discipline of Grace, pg 60)


books on godliness for 2008

Ever since I read Living the Cross Centered Life, it has been my goal to live a gracious life. But boy is it easy to be distracted from that "holy task." With the aid of my trusty Moleskine journal this year, I am setting out on a venture to study from seasoned saints to learn, and by God's grace, to live a grace-filled life. This is going to be my reading focus for 2008. The first read will be and currently is, The discipline of grace by Jerry Bridges.

I find Bridges to be a solid author who has written much over his life on Christian spirituality. For this reason I am also going to read:
The Practice of Godliness
Transforming Grace
Trusting God
Growing Your Faith

Sinclair Ferguson's In Christ Alone (Reformation Trust, 2007). It looks amazing.
JI Packer's Knowing God (A classic that I am told that I must read every year) and Praying
John Piper's Desiring God, Battling Unbelief, God is the Gospel, and 50 reasons why Jesus Came to Die
Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp's How people Change and Relationships a Mess Worth Making
The Transforming Community: How the Gospel informs Church Discipline
by Mark Lauterbach

C. John Miller's The Heart of a Servant Leader and A Faith Worth Sharing

I hope to get several of these books from the WTS Bookstore when I am out there in 2 weeks (I am looking forward to this visit). The list is purposefully short as I will have to finish my last semester at Grove City.


John Frame is a spectacular author. Last week I completed his book, Evangelical Reunion. Since then I have had the opportunity to share several thoughts from that book with several people. And it struck a cord with them. Thankfully you do not have to buy this book as Frame puts a number of articles, and several of his books online for universal consumption.

I believe this book matured my thoughts on denominations and the church, particularly the reformed wing of the body of Christ.

Here is the link (scroll down to Evangelical Reunion)


The Discipline of Grace.

God is no longer our judge. Through Christ He is now our Heavenly Father who disciplines us only out of love and only for our good...

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace...

God looks to see if we are trusting in the merit of His Son as our only hope for securing His blessing.

If the love of Christ for us is to be the motivating force for a life of discipleship (2 Cor. 5:14), how then can we come to the place where we are acutely conscious of His love? The answer is, through the gospel. It is, of course, the Holy Spirit who pours out His love into our hearts, but He does this through the message of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross and that we are thereby forgiven. As we continually reflect upon that gospel, the Holy Spirit floods our hearts with a sense of God's love to us in Christ. And that sense of His love motivates us in a compelling way to live for Him.


Around the Web

Anthony Bradley on "why men leave the church?" (Quotes Driscoll a lot.)
Tim Keller on "Prayer and the Gospel"
Jerram Barrs, of Covenant Theological Seminary, is coming to Grove City in March

This movie looks good...


Frame on the Importance of Doctrine

We cannot brush doctrine aside as a mere impediment to unity, as many users of that slogan (Doctrine divides, Experience unites) would like to do. A doctrinally indifferent church is a church that does not care about the gospel message for the gospel is precisely a doctrine, a teaching, a narrative of what God has done for our salvation. Certainly any church worthy of the name must be doctrinally united, in the sense of being fully committed to one message, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is doctrine that unites us in our love for Christ and it is our foolish trust in our own experience that leads us to compromise that message. Doctrine unites, experience divides! (pg. 84)


Frame on the difference of church and denominations

The difference between the church and the denominations is indicated by this fact: that the birth of a denomination is always attended by sin, but the birth of the church was attended by rejoicing among the angels of heaven. (Evangelical Reunion, pg. 38)


Frame on Unity

Frame comments on Christ's high priestly prayer, "that they may be one, as Christ and the Father are one."

Some exegetes understand Christ here to be referring to spiritual unity rather than organizational unity. Certainly organizational matters are not the emphasis of this prayer. The emphasis is on the vital union of the believers with Christ in the Spirit. However, that union is not wholly invisible; it is visible in the conduct of Christians in their relationships to one another as well as to God himself. Therefore the spiritual and the organizational cannot in fact be sharply separated. Our lack of organizational unity is caused by, and in turn causes, the lack of fellowship, harmony, and cooperation that are certainly aspects of, or manifestations of, spiritual unity. (Evangelical Reunion, pg. 28-29)