Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card from Frugal Dad

Hey everybody, go to Frugal Dad to enter for a chance to win a $50 amazon gift card. While you're there, check out the excellent financial advice on the site. I've been encouraged and inspired to make better financial decisions through it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christianity and Liberalism: Chapter 1, Introduction

I'm following along with Tim Challies' Reading Classics Together. We are reading J. Gresham Machen's oft quoted book Christianity and Liberalism. I've been wanting to read this book for some time. Challies' read-a-long is just the excuse I needed.

Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end. The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from "controversial" matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.
~ J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 1-2

While we as Christians shouldn't look to start fights, we must realize that our faith is worth fighting for. Not fighting in the take-up-our-swords-and-hack-our-enemies-to-pieces sense of fighting, but in the sense that the Christian faith (Biblical Christianity) is worth standing for, (literally) dying for, defending, and disputing over. Christians are to be marked by peace, but there can be no real peace if Christians role over and abandon the essential doctrines that make Christianity unique.

Machen's concern in his book is the compromise between Liberal Christianity and scientific naturalism. Liberal Christianity has abandoned Biblical truth in the name of peace with science. In very blunt terms, Machen says that Liberal Christianity isn't Biblical Christianity at all because it has jettisoned the essential core of Biblical Christianity in an effort to reconcile faith and science. Machen writes:
...the liberal attempt at reconciling Christianity with modern science has really relinquished everything distinctive of Christianity, so that what remains is in essentials only that some indefinite type of religious aspiration which was in the world before Christianity come upon the scene. In trying to remove from Christianity everything that could possibly be objected to in the name of science, in trying to bribe off the enemy by those concessions which the enemy most desires, the apologist has really abandoned what he started out to defend. Here as in many other departments of life it appears that the things that are sometimes thought to be hardest to defend are also the things most worth defending. ~p. 6

Biblical Christianity cannot be abandoned. We must remain faithful to the Truth of God's Word.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Desiring God 25th Anniversary Edition

I'm a bit of a fan boy when it comes to John Piper. I genuinely appreciate just about everything he does. I listen to his sermons, I attend his conferences, I watch his videos, and I read his books. I'm not a blind fan boy. I know he is a sinner. At times he seems inconsistent. I don't always track with him on every minor point of theology. But in the main, I find much I agree with him about. He is a mentor from a distance and for that, I am thankful for him.

When Multnomah made the paperback copy of the 25th Anniversary Revised Edition of Desiring God available, I asked for it. On a purely superficial level, this edition has my favorite cover artwork. From a more substantive level, this book is a real treasure. Of all the books I have read outside the Bible, I think this is the most formative and instructive for me. Piper's vision of Christian Hedonism, the pursuit of true joy and pleasure in God himself, is truly life changing. Piper in provocative language tells us what we should already know as Christians-- our greatest joy and happiness in the world comes only from God. Furthermore, that pursuit of pleasure in God is not bad but ultimately good and even necessary. Desiring God is a must read for every Christian.

Piper's preface is new. It is interesting to read his perspective 25 years after the book originally was published. The new paperback edition leaves out several appendices and a poem written by Piper to his wife that earlier editions have. The paper is cheap and not as nice as other editions.

What this edition does have however makes it an excellent resource. A discussion guide is included at the end of the book. This makes it a great book for use in small group studies, book clubs, or Sunday School classes.

Desiring God is a must read. I'm glad to recommend this revised edition to you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Burroughs: Sin in the Wicked, Sin in the Saint

In wicked and ungodly men, sin is with them as their nature, as poison is in a toad; but though the saints have sin in them, yet it is in them as their sickness, and they have a contrary nature besides their sinful nature. They have a sinful nature, but they are partakers of the divine nature, and that opposes the sinful nature as fire does water. The saints have that principle contrary to sin as fire is to water, and it is impossible but that principle within them must be consuming their sin and so purity them.

Jeremiah Burroughs in Hope, pg. 45

Friday, January 21, 2011

Burroughs: Gospel Hope

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cause of true lively hope in the hearts of the saints. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the dead, God has declared that He is fully satisfied for the sins of man, and that the work of redemption is fully wrought out; otherwise Christ must have been held by the prison of the grave forever. But when Jesus Christ is let out of the prison of the grave, and the bonds of death are taken from Him, this declares to men and angels that the work of redemption is perfect; it holds this out to the soul upon which faith is grounded and hope is raised.

Jeremiah Burroughs in Hope, page 26

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Christian View of Abortion

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a 7 to 2 vote, declared that abortion was a right granted by the constitution. Since that time, more than 50 million unborn children have been legally aborted (murdered). This does not include illegal abortions that are unreported. An estimated 1.5 million babies are murdered while in the womb each year. Women who have abortions cite three main reasons for having abortions: 1) having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; 2) they cannot afford a child; and 3) they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.[1]

Despite hand-wringing by politicians, cries for the mother’s health by activists, and the insistence of abortion’s legality by jurists, the question is very simple. Is it right or wrong to kill an innocent person? The unborn child is scientifically and biologically a person. And that unborn person has done nothing to warrant execution. He or she has committed no crime against society. In a morally sane society the answer should be obvious. Abortion is murder and killing unborn children is ethically wrong. As Christians, we recognize that murder is sin and that God alone has the prerogative to give life and take life. Murdering children (or anyone else) is always wrong and sinful. As Christians we should stand against the immoral, wicked, and ungodly practice of abortion.

Abortion is legalized murder. It is protected and preserved in our society by greed and selfishness. The abortion industry is a billion dollar a year industry. It is fueled by Satan’s hatred of God and his attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God’s image.[2] Psalm 82:3-4 calls us to “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” The weakest, most oppressed, most needy, most in need of deliverance from the hands of the wicked in America today are the unborn. Let us work for their survival.

As Christians committed to life, we should pursue all legal avenues to eliminate abortion including voting, petitioning, and peacefully protesting. We should work to raise awareness of the realities of abortion by becoming educated ourselves and then talking with family, friends, and neighbors about abortion. We should support political candidates who are firmly committed to life and justice for the unborn. As Dr. R.C. Sproul has written, “If you care about the slaughter of the innocent, then for God’s sake, speak up. Speak to your family. Speak to your neighbor. Speak to your friend. Speak to your doctor. Speak to your minister. Speak to your congressman. Let your voice be heard in a chorus of protest. Yours is only one voice, but it is a voice. Use it.”[3] Promote a culture of life by supporting pro-life causes, adoption services, and agencies helping mothers and children in need like Peoria Rescue Ministries.

[2] Randy Alcorn, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Argument, Multnomah Press, p. 295.

[3] R.C. Sproul, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue, NavPress, p. 151.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Review of "If God is Good" by Randy Alcorn

Three traits make Randy Alcorn a helpful writer. First he is exhaustive. Second he is readable. Third he writes is a warm pastoral way. Like his previous book Heaven, If God is Good is exhaustive, readable and pastoral. This book may be the best book dealing with the very complex problem of Theodicy (the question of evil and suffering in relation to God's sovereignty) available to the lay-person. Unafraid to address skeptics' and critics' charges and questions, Alcorn lays out a Biblical explanation of suffering.

45 chapters are divided into 11 sections. This makes the book easily accessible for those who want to zero in on a particular question or topic. The Scripture and Topical Indexes are helpful in this regard as well.

One feature (perhaps as an appendix) I would have appreciated is some extended discussion on God's commands to wipe out the Canaanite inhabitants in Joshua.

Young and first time pastors my find the last section of the book, Living Meaningful in Suffering very helpful during counseling situations.

All in all, I highly recommend this excellent book.

Disclaimer: Multnomah provided a review copy to me free of charge.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Burroughs: Hope Higher

The men of the world have their hopes. One man hopes to increase his estate and grow rich; he has a fair way of trading; he hope for a good voyage, and makes account that if such things return safely home, he must be thus enriched. Another hopes to get a good place; another hopes that upon the death of such a friend he shall get thus and thus. There are a great many hopes in the world, but "he who has this hope," says the apostle. The hopes of the saints are pitched higher than the hopes of the men of the world. They are raised up to high and glorious things, even to the appearing of Jesus Christ, to seeing Him as He is, and being made like unto Him-- he who has this hope.
Jeremiah Burroughs, Hope, page 4

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Introducing Jeremiah Burroughs

The Puritans have been my teachers for several years now. It was through the ministries of John Piper (from a distance) and my seminary president Charley Holmes (in the classroom) that I first became interested in the Puritans. But it was blogger Tony Reinke and his series The Puritan Study in 2006 that really fueled and guided my interest in the Puritans.

One Puritan was mentioned repeatedly as I perused Puritan works and read what others said about the Puritans- Jeremiah Burroughs.

Burroughs was one of the Westminster Divines- a member of the group that wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Longer and Shorter Catechisms. Even for a Baptist like me, the Westminster documents are breath taking. The depth, scope and weightiness of the Confess and two Catechisms cannot be overstated. I have turned to them over and over again over the last 5 years or so to help me think through the implications of doctrine in Christian living.

Burroughs was born in 1599 and faithfully served the Lord in England and Holland. He was known for his winsome and gentle spirit. Burroughs was not only a theologian capable of helping draft some of the most important theological documents in church history, he was a pastor. This makes him of great interest to me. He was no ivory tower thinker, detached from every day life. He was a deep thinker in the daily trenches of average life. He was Gospel rooted, theologically robust, deeply spiritual, and incredibly helpful.

I look forward to spending time learning from Mr. Burroughs this year. I intend to read at least twelve of his books, including the Gospel Life series. Each week I will post a quotation or two from my previous reading.

For more information about Burroughs, visit A Puritan's Mind.

10 Questions for a New Year (and my answers)

Don Whitney has for quite some time been a helper and coach (through his books and web site) in my quest for Godliness. He offers 10 questions to begin the New Year. His questions are in bold and my answers are in italics.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
Read the Bible daily with the purpose of hearing from God and not merely to accomplish a reading goal or writing a sermon or lesson.

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
Give our church 5 young families.

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
Take time and energy to build my relationship with Sarah... to serve her more this year.

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
Family worship... Be more consistent with it.

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
Surfing the net and chasing down links to time wasters... I am going to stop.

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
By doing more personal evangelism.

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
Lose weight and exercise daily... While bodily exercise profits some (1 Timothy 4:8), I think it does make a significant impact on all areas of my life.

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
Use the Valley of Vision to help guide my prayer life.

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Disciple 3 guys. I'm working with 1... I hope to start discipling 2 more this year.