Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturate: The Present Need

I opened this blog in December with a post concerning the Sr. High Conference entitled Saturate that will be held in Wichita, Kansas at Friends University this summer. The original post listed the statement of faith provided by the camp director and can be found here. The following posts entitled Saturate...will be random musings and thoughts regarding the small group material and main session talks. Please pray for us as we pray for discernment as to what God would have us say to his people this summer. Any insights and/or resources would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

The Gospel will shine with new brilliance during Sr. High Conference 2007. The name of Jesus Christ will be proclaimed. The glory of God will be the centerpiece and framework for all that we do.

Brothers and Sisters, the doctrines of grace articulated in the pages of Scripture have taken a hold of us and will not let go. We wrestle with them all night long, as Jacob with the angel, and in the morning we are changed. Our very lives are being reoriented by the blessing of seeing anew what it means that God has come to us in Jesus Christ. Our very lives have become saturated with the treasure that Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, has revealed himself to us and we have all we need in him!

The Present Need

The Church in the West is drowning. The tidal rush of secular culture has long ago washed away the fortress that was Christendom. We no longer speak with authority, nor anything like a unified voice, and what whispers we do utter to our age are lost in the roar of its media sea. Prosperity unimaginable in earlier years has come to the west and to its Christians. But the very mass of our wealth threatens to push us under. We have all the resources for a vigorous Church: books, buildings, education, and enormous technology for communication. But like the culture, we are swept along by the power of a consumerist age. We can’t seem to find our feet.

If we could brace ourselves against the Rock, of course, the Church could rise against the tide, speaking with words of truth and shining the light of Christ’s love to those who are adrift. But far too often, we have built our ministries upon shifting sand. We have allowed the issues of the moment to undermine us.

Jesus’ question remains the supreme concern of the Church in every age, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter’s answer is the word we must speak, freshly and vitally to each generation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Such bedrock, deceptively simple truth eludes us, however, if we are to recover our vision and voice for the new century, we must treasure these words and live lives saturated in the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.

Word of the Day

globfrag: Coined word from [globalization] and [fragmentation]; as the world becomes more globalized with increasing technology and knowledge, more fragmentation occurs among individuals and societies.

You only need to look into a person's bedroom to realize the seriousness of globfrag. He is stuck on his computer 24/7 with instant knowledge from all over the globe at his fingertips, yet does not know what his family is up to. Thank you facebook, MySpace, xanga, YouTube, and Al Gore for inventing the internet.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Bible-believing, truth-driven, soul-winning, hard-working, Calvinistic Baptist preacher who changed the world one sermon at a time.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon died on January 31st 115 years ago at the age of 57 after preaching for 38 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. My life has been greatly impacted by the sermons of C.H. Spurgeon and my soul has been deeply inspired by the strength he displayed during the course of his tumultuous life. It is a fortunate thing that I have the oppurtunity to study godly men like Spurgeon.

If there were anything to know about Charles Spurgeon, it was that he was a preacher. He preached over 600 times before he was 20 years old! His sermons sold about 20,000 copies a week and were translated into 20 languages. The collected sermons fill 63 volumes equivalent to the 27 volume ninth edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, and stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

There is no preacher this side of the Reformation I would more highly recommend you read.

Here are some select quotes from the pen of Charles Spurgeon:

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.

We are all at times unconscious prophets.

The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.

I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

As sure as God puts His children in the furnace he will be in the furnace with them.

The anvil is not afraid of the hammer.

He that deserves nothing should be content with anything.

God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod.

Our misery is that we thirst so little for these sublime things, and so much for the mocking trifles of time and space.

A lie travels round the world, while Truth is putting on her boots.

If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.

Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk

Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it; there it stands.

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart.

No man ever made himself to live. No preacher, however earnest, can make one hearer to live. No parent, however prayerful, no teacher, however tearful, can make a child live unto God. “You hath HE quickened,” is true of all who are quickened.

I may be called a Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it.

I take it that the highest proof of Christ’s power is not that he offers salvation, not that he bids you take it if you will, but that when you reject it, when you hate it, when you despise it, he has a power whereby he can change your mind, make you think differently from your former thoughts, and turn you from the error of your ways.

Final perseverance is the necessary evidence of genuine conversion.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rob Bell and Hell

I just watched Rob Bell's Nooma video, "Bullhorn." In the video Rob is speaking out against Christians who stand on the street corner and use a bullhorn to tell people that they need to repent or they are going to burn in hell. Rob seems very concerned because people like this are misrepresenting God. He says Jesus never talked that way and that he would never do that. Rob talks about the centrality of love in Christianity. Loving those who are different than us and who don't believe the same thing as us. He says that when we do so, we are actually loving God. Agreed.

It seems to me that Rob is largely reacting to bad Christianity by presenting a half gospel. He's right about the centrality of love. He's right about the fact that some people on street corners don't seem to be loving. But it seems that Jesus really did believe in hell.

Jesus did warn people about hell. In Matthew 5:29-30, he said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away, it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell."

I don't think our whole message should be hell-centered, or that we should use the bullhorn in an unloving way. But if hell is real, it seems like its incredibly important that we help people avoid it, in a loving way. I wish that we got to pick the doctrines of the Bible that were the most attractive to us and then those would be the ones that were true for us. Unfortunately, we didn't create the universe, we don't make the rules, and we can't be more loving than Jesus.

I came across this video response to Rob Bell's Bullhorn video. It was created by The Way of The Master Radio. I guess Kirk Cameron and friends have a different understanding of the gospel than Rob Bell and friends.

cc: post-methodist

Jesus, Jack & Karl

Today is 24day.

Also known as the “Jack Bauer Power Hour”, or Monday, 24day is a national holiday and generally the best day in any self-respecting person’s week. For both of you reading this from some backwoods fundamentalist church who have not watched 24, there is still time for you to repent. The first 5 seasons are on DVD and you have time to catch up by the season’s end. But, be warned, you will be up all night like a crack addict wanting another fix and the odds are good that your entire April/May will be spent in your jammies staring at your television to finish up in time for the dramatic conclusion of season six.

All this adrenaline and excitement from 24 got me thinking about Karl Barth. Weird, I know. Just hear me out. Barth makes it explicit from the beginning that God is the unknowable and indescribable God. The hidden God remains hidden. Even when we say we know him our knowledge is of an imcomprehensible Reality. Consider, for instance, the personality of God. Barth writes: "God is personal, but personal in an incomprehensible way, in so far as the conception of his personality surpasses all our views of personality."
----24 is a television show, but a show in an incomprehensible way, in so far as the conception of its script surpasses all our views on television itself.

Barth also contends that even when God reveals himself to the man of faith, or, more accurately, to the man to whom he gives faith, still that man with faith "will confess God as the God of majesty and therefore as the God unknown to us. Man as man can never know God: His wishing, seeking, and striving are all in vain.
----24 is a show of majesty, known, yet utterly unknown. Man as man can never know 24: His wishing, seeking, and striving are all in vain. (WARNING: Patient endurance is necessary in watching 24 for any extended period of time)

On Romans 1:19, 20, Barth says: “We know that God is He whom we do not know, and that our ignorance is precisely the problem and the source of our knowledge. The Epistle to the Romans is a revelation of the unknown God; God chooses to come to man, not man to God. Even after the revelation man cannot know God, for he is ever the unknown God. In manifesting himself to man he is farther away than before.”
----Yes. You heard it right. 24 came to you. You did not choose to come to 24. Even after the first five seasons have been released on DVD and sixteen hours have passed by in season six, man cannot know 24. 24 is ever the unknowable show. In manifesting itself to man, it is farther away than before.

“The more we know of God the more he is yet to be known.”
----The more we know of 24, the more there is yet to be known.

“When attempts were later made to speak systematically about God and to describe His nature, men became more talkative. They spoke of God's aseity, His being grounded in Himself; they spoke of God's infinity in space and time, and therefore of God's eternity. And men spoke on the other hand of God's holiness and righteousness, mercifulness and patience. We must be clear that whatever we say of God in such human concepts can never be more than an indication of Him; no such concept can really conceive the nature of God. God is inconceivable.”
----No mortal can really conceive the nature of 24.

Below are some of my favorite Karl Barth quotes for your reading pleasure:

“The finite has no capacity for the Infinite.”

“There is no way from us to God. The god who stood at the end of some human way--even of this way--would not be God."

Expository Combustion

John Piper, known for describing preaching as expository exultation, has developed a new homiletic technique called expository combustion. Check it out at the DesiringGod weblog.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Word of the Day

march sadness: As opposed to [March Madness], March Sadness is the deep, depressing feeling that comes when your brackets are completely jacked and your favorite team lost.

We here in Kansas look forward to the month of April, it seems to help with the severe case of march sadness that befalls this state year after year.

Does Luck Exist?

“Do you believe in luck?”

No, there is only the sovereign providence of the living and personal God.

How often do you here people attribute the source of averted accidents, healing, blessing, or other prosperous occurrences to luck? On the flip side how often do you hear “bad things” attributed to being unlucky? Perhaps even as a professing Christian you may say things like, “Man, he is lucky” or “It is not my lucky day”.

Is this thinking biblical?

The Bible presents a God who is absolutely sovereign over all of the affairs of the world (Ps. 115.3). He is in complete control and he has ordained all things to come to pass. There is absolutely nothing that escapes his notice. He is not only sovereign over your salvation (Eph. 1) but he also is sovereign bird feeder (Matt. 6.26). He is sovereign over the weather, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (Matt. 5.45; Job 38). For we even learn in Scripture that God is sovereign over the outcome of a role of the dice (Prov. 16.33). There is nothing that comes to pass by chance, but rather all things come to pass through the sovereign providence of God.

I am not trying to be nit-picky here. But I do want to challenge you if you talk like a pagan and deny God of his glory through providence. Think about it. How ugly is it for you receive the blessed artwork of divine providence, which God works together for his glory, and then you turn around and smudge out God’s name from the authorship only to inscribe the nebulous, impersonal and fictional name “luck” at the bottom right corner of the artwork? Since God does all things for his glory and causes all things to work together for good for those who love him (Rom. 8.28) how dare we insult God through our careless speech?!

Let’s use this as an exhortation to recognize and ascribe the personal hand of God to our understanding of the universe and all things in it. Let’s delete the words fate, luck, happenstance, and the like from our vocabulary and use words that reflect truth such as providence, sovereignty and God. In this understanding and application of the doctrine of divine providence we will no doubt become keenly attuned to the work of God in and around our lives and more inclined to give him praise for his good providence.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Porn Shops Don't Have Windows

Have you ever wondered why there are no windows on adult bookstores and certain types of night clubs?

I don't think that it is because they don't want people looking in and getting a free look-see. It's not about dollars and sense. I believe that porn shops don't have windows because they don't want people looking out and getting a look at the sky. The sky is the enemy of lust and a great power against it. Pure, lovely, wholesome, beautiful, powerful, large-hearted things cannot abide the soul of a sexual fantasy at the same time.

Get out of the dark places. Get out of the lonely rooms. Get out of the boxed in places. Get out of the places where it is just small you and your mind and your imagination and what you can do with it and get out where you are just surrounded by color and beauty and bigness and loveliness. Get out into the sun. Get out into the light. Get out under the sky. There is something about bigness--something about beauty--that helps battle against the puny, small, cruddy use of the mind to fantasize about sexual things.

I know from experience that when you give way to sexual fantasies and yield to lusts and dwelling on unwholesome things that your capacities to see and experience the sky are cut in half, and cut in half again, and again, and again, until you are just a little worm on the ground and your language and your mind is nothing but smut. It can happen to anybody. We are all vulnerable. I commend you to battle lust with the upward glance at the magnificient blue and the thunder and the lightning and the sunrises and sunsets and the glory of God.

cc: desiringgod

Monday, April 2, 2007

Fancy Londontown

Here are a few of the pictures I will be uploading from my spring break trip to London. I hope you enjoy.

(Jess and I feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Daily Quote

"At any rate, I am convinced that he [God] does not play dice." - Albert Einstein