Saturday, March 30, 2013

Watch John Piper's Farewell Sermon Here

Today, John Piper preaches his last and final sermon as the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church. You can watch the sermon live here starting at 7:10 Eastern.

Watch live streaming video from desiringgod at

All Around the Web - March 30, 2013

HT: Siri Funny

Thom Rainer - Eight Common Money Questions Asked by Pastors | Dr. Rainer always seems to hit it on the nail.
  1. How do I broach the subject of getting an increase in my pay? Pastors and other ministers are typically very sensitive about this issue. They fear asking the question lest they appear lacking in faith or money hungry. The pastor must first determine if his pay is indeed well short of standards for his area and position. We discussed this issue in my previous blog post about pastors’ salaries. I then recommend he find a trusted friend in the church, preferably a leader and a businessperson, who can be both his mentor and guide for broaching this subject. Someone other than the pastor himself should speak to this issue.
  2. Will I be okay for retirement? This question may soon move to number one as boomer pastors approach retirement. Sadly, a number of aging pastors are not prepared for this day. They had this naïve idea that things would just work out. They did not prepare for the inevitable. Often churches did not offer any retirement benefits. Many boomer pastors are getting some sad wake-up calls. I encourage pastors to seek a financial advisor as soon as possible to plan with the few years they have left in fulltime ministry.
  3. How much can I designate as housing allowance? First, I encourage pastors to make certain they meet the IRS requirements to have an allowance. If they do, the housing allowance can be no more than the lowest of these three items: 1. The housing allowance designated by the church; 2. Actual housing expense; and 3. Fair rental value of the home. Guidestone has an excellent FAQ on housing allowances.
  4. How much should I save for retirement? I really like this question, because it means that the pastor understands the nature of retirement. In the past in most vocations, we often depended on “the company” to provide our retirement income through pensions. That has all but disappeared. Today the employee is responsible for his or her own future. It’s great if an employer has a 401(k) or a 403(b) for employees to save toward retirement. It’s even better if the employer offers some type of matching funds. But ultimately, it’s up to the employee, in this case the pastor, to be prepared. Many times that means supplementing employer plans with savings or Individual Retirement Accounts. The question itself is difficult to answer because it involves so many variables. The best answer is “as much as you can as early as you can.” Sometimes the number of 10 to 15 percent of gross income is offered, but that too is a very rough guideline.
  5. Is it okay to accept a small stipend for weddings and funerals? Though there are always exceptions, the general answer is “yes.” The pastor typically has to spend work and time (especially for weddings) beyond his weekly responsibilities. Weddings, with Friday rehearsals and Saturday ceremonies, take a pastor from his family for the entire weekend. One year as a pastor I officiated 40 weekend weddings.
  6. Should a pastor’s salary be clearly shown on every church financial statement? Polity, policy, and tradition determine the response to this question. In most of the churches I served, my salary was not itemized on the financial statements; it was lumped with other salaries. We did, however, have an open book policy that allowed any member to see the salaries if he or she requested.
  7. I can’t pay my billsWhat do I do? Find a trusted advisor immediately. Find someone who understands personal finance well. The first thing you will need to do is determine if you have an income or expense problem. An income problem means that you simply do not have sufficient income for someone in your position. An expense problem means that you are managing your finances poorly. Don’t wait to get help. Your emotional health and reputation are at risk.
  8. Is it okay to leave a church for financial reasons? The Bible clearly teaches that we are to manage our household well (1 Timothy 3:4-5). That management includes the financial stewardship we have been entrusted. In that sense, if someone cannot provide for his family, it is likely okay to seek another church. The pastor, however, must first ask himself some tough questions. Am I struggling because of my own mismanagement of money? Am I demonstrating too little faith? Have I shared my plight with any trusted person in the church?

Parchment & Pen - Five Myths About Bible Translation |

Myth 1: The Bible has been translated so many times we can’t possibly get back to the original.
Myth 2: Words in red indicate the exact words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth.
Myth 3: Heretics have severely corrupted the text.
Myth 4: Orthodox scribes have severely corrupted the text.
Myth 5: The deity of Christ was invented by emperor Constantine

The Gospel Coalition - What does it mean to practice church discipline in our era when people are prone to sue?

Dan Wallace - Five Myths About Bible Translation

Myth 1: The Bible has been translated so many times we can’t possibly get back to the original.
Myth 2: Words in red indicate the exact words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth.
Myth 3: Heretics have severely corrupted the text.
Myth 4: Orthodox scribes have severely corrupted the text.
Myth 5: The deity of Christ was invented by emperor Constantine

The Gospel Coalition - 9 Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty | My favorite show on TV.

3. Although the family is often shown praying at the end of each episode, Phil Robertson says that the show's producers are frequently uncomfortable with the family's strong Christian faith. "They pretty much cut out most of the spiritual things," Robertson told The Christian Chronicle. "We say them, but they just don't run them on the show."

4. All of the members of the Robertson family, as well as series regulars John Godwin and Justin Martin, are active members of the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ. Phil and his oldest son Al (who doesn't appear on the show) serve as church elders.
5. Uncle Si says he always travels with three things: a gallon jug of iced tea, his plastic cup, and his Bible. (He probably also takes his wife. Although the show often gives the impression Si is single, he's married to Christine. They too are active members of the White's Ferry Road church.)
6. Friends and relatives estimate that Phil Robertson has baptized more than 300 people in the river near his home, the Ouachita River.

WORLD Magazine - Ducks, beards, and Jesus |

When A&E launched the reality TV show Duck Dynasty four years ago, it gave the program a catchy tagline: “Money. Family. Ducks.” But those who buy a show poster from the Robertson family’s Duck Commander store in West Monroe, La., will notice the slogan is slightly different. 

“We X-out ‘money’ and write in ‘faith,’” Alan Robertson, the eldest Robertson son, told The Christian Chronicle. 

Now in its third season, the docu-drama continues to draw millions of fans. During its most recent season premiere on Feb. 27, more than 8 million viewers tuned in and ratings skyrocketed. The show follows the Robertson family as it runs its multi-million dollar duck-hunting supply business.  Company founder Phil Robertson started carving duck callers from a rundown family shed in 1972 and started the business formally in 1973.

"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review

If the resurrection is proven to be a hoax, then Christianity falls.  Though liberals have tried to redefine the faith stripping it of any substance, the fundamental truth remains:  if Jesus did not die in our place for our sins and then was raised from the dead, our faith is in vain.  And Scripture affirms as much.  No other religion is really like this.  Christianity, then, is inherently a historical religion that is based on historical events.  If Jesus is still dead, then so is the religion named after Him.

One can see why modern debates over the historicity of the resurrection are so strong and frequent.  Books -  countless books - have been written on the subject covering virtually every aspect of the debate.  Non-Christians reject the resurrection.  All of them do.  Why?  Because of the resurrection happened, then Jesus is who He said He is.  And few are willing to pick up their cross and follow Christ.  On the other hand, orthodox Christians uphold that Jesus really did rise from the dead and thus call on everyone, everywhere to repent.

One helpful book that sorts through the debate is The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ by Charles Foster.  The author is not a theologian, but a trained barrister and approaches the subject from that perspective.  This is both a compliment and a critic as we will see.  The book is set up to present, without bias as much as possible, both sides of the argument.  Each chapter deals with a major issue of contention regarding the resurrection.  For example, the author presents the argument over the death of Jesus (He can't rise unless He first dies right?), the burial of Jesus (how do we know He was actually buried as the Gospels say He was, couldn't He have been thrown into a pit and eaten by wild animals?), and of course the empty tomb.  The author honestly seeks to present all of the major issues (there's no way he can be exhaustive here).

Each chapter begins with the non-Christian view labeled X.  X makes the case that the sources are tainted,  inaccurate, and contradictory, and that ultimately Jesus was not raised.  After their case is made, the author then presents the Christian case labeled Y.  Y then goes point by point made by X and defends the argument for the resurrection.

I liked this approach but it is fraught with danger.  For one, the book oftentimes reads as if X was on offense and Y was on defense.  This is simply the limits of a book like this.  Each chapter needs to go back and forth and that is simply not possible.  I say that the book oftentimes reads like this because it doesn't always read like this.  The tone of Y isn't always defensive, but is sometimes offensive.  The author writes in a way that doesn't make Y look timid or weak but can rather stand strongly behind their argument which is full of evidence itself.  However, rarely did Y raise new arguments.  They almost always had the same headings as X and made Y appear defensive.  I believe that X is forced to defend some of their unstantiated views as much as Y's claim that Jesus was raised from the dead.

That is what I found interesting about the book and what is helpful about this approach to this subject.  It is amazing the hypocrisy of X.  X frequently argues that the Bible is contradictory, the Gospel writers are bad historians with evil motives and intentions who freely doctor the facts to fit their agenda's, and that we simply can't trust them.  And then they turn around and use the Gospels as the launching pad to make some of the wildest claims which have less historical proof to them.

For example, X raises the possibility that Jesus survived the cross and eventually escaped to India, France, or where ever.  To make this case, X relies on both the Bible and wild conspiracy books (like DaVinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail Illustrated Edition: The Secret History of Jesus, the Shocking Legacy of the Grail) plus ancient documents that have less credibility than the Bible.  The Gnostic Gospels are more mythical than the canonical Gospels and yet many who reject Christianity on the grounds of the Gospel's historical problems run to these other writings which are clearly unhistorical.  X does this throughout the book.

Furthermore, X seems to make up wild conspiracy theories (leaning on "evidence" in the Gospels themselves).  For example, X makes the case that perhaps Pilate was in on the conspiracy to not have Jesus executed.  I'm not sure that is really worth the time that Y gives it in response, but Y does devastate the conspiracy.  X repeatedly raises these conspiracies and repeatedly suggest that they are well worth our time when they simply are not.  This goes to show that X has as much an agenda as Y and one ought to be aware of that agenda before sinking into the debate.

My biggest concern regards the author himself however.  This is a Christian book published by a Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson.  And yet the author seems non-committal to either side.  I can accept some of his criticisms of Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell, but it is a concern for me that an author of a Christian book to be sold in Christians stores would conclude with:

But even if all thsi is wrong and something of the kind was expected, one still has to ask, 'How did the disciples come to believe that the man Jesus was the first one to emerge so shockingly from the grave?'  For, rightly or wrongly, they certainly seem to have believed it.

Whether or not that belief was right is something about which you'll have to make up your own mind.

Really?  That's the best you can do?  If Jesus was really, historically, miraculously, and triumphantly raised from the dead, that's not something one can halfheartedly pick a side and run with it.  The consequences are too great.  If Jesus is a fraud then Christianity is dead.  But if Jesus conquered death, then we must submit to Him as Lord who offers either judgment or salvation.  To ignore the truth is to accept judgment deservingly.  To embrace the resurrection in repentance is to accept salvation and grace.  Though I know the author does not seek to make converts, as a Christian how can he not?  Isn't that exactly what the Gospel writers sought to do?

Overall, this is a book worth having especially if you are new to the debate and are willing to think.  With that said, I do have my concerns.  But at the end of the day, this book does show, at the very least, that the case for the resurrection of Christ (not to steal a Lee Strobel book title or anything) is very strong and the implications of that are intense.  We have no need to fear.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookSneeze

For more:
Reviews - "Raised With Christ"  
Reviews - "The Case for Easter
Reviews - "Slave" by John Macarthur
Reviews - "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado
Reviews - "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns 
Reviews - "Saint Patrick" by Jonathan Rogers
Reviews - "A Century Turns" by William Bennett
Reviews - "Sir Winston Churchill"
Reviews - "On this Day in Christian History"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mark Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is Not

Earlier today I posted a section of Mark Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are? regarding what forgiveness is. Now we must discuss what forgiveness is not and again Driscoll is helpful here. In my work as a pastor and Christian, it is this question that is rarely given but often asked. "You mean to tell me I have to act like nothing happened?" is one variation of the question that comes when I discuss the radical, gospel-centered notion of forgiveness. This is why I find Driscoll so helpful here.
  1. Forgiveness is not denying that sin occurred or diminishing its evil. In forgiving someone, we don't say, "Nothing happened," or that something was "no big deal." Instead, we say sin happened and that it was such a big deal that Jesus died for it.
  2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin. To forgive is not to allow offenders to remain stuck in their cycle of sin, thus being complicit and enabling their continued transgression. We can forgive while still being truthful about someone's behavior.
  3. Forgiveness is not necessarily a response to a repentant apology. Sometimes sinners will acknowledge their wrong and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes they don't. sometimes we don't even know who the offender is or how to locate him or her; other times the person is deceased. Either way, we're to forgive whether there is an admission of guilt or not. Christianity is unique in this way, as other major religions teach that you cannot forgive someone who hasn't apologized.
  4. Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us. in fact, if a crime is committed, we can simultaneously forgive someone and seek legal action.
  5. Forgiveness is not forgetting. It's commonly believed that we should "forgive and forget," which is impossible. When God said, "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more," he didn't mean he has no recollection, as that is impossible, because God is all-knowing. Instead, it means that God doesn't begrudgingly hold our sin against us and keep it as the basis of our identity and interaction with him. Furthermore, when we forgive someone, we're remembering the sin so that we can forgive it. To demand that someone completely forgive without remembering that he or she was beaten, raped, betrayed, or any other array of sinful actions is to demand the impossible and add burden.
  6. Forgiveness is not trust. Forgiveness takes a moment, but trust is built over time. And once trust is lost through sin, it can take much time to be rebuilt.
  7. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. It takes one sinner to repent and one victim to forgive, but it takes both to reconcile. Therefore, unless there is both repentance by the sinner and forgiveness by the victim, reconciliation can't occur, which means the relationship remains continually broken until reconciliation does occur. Your forgiveness is the beginning of potential reconciliation but not in and of itself reconciliation. (165-166)

For more:
Mark Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is
Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is Not
"Death By Love" by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears: A Review
Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
"Real Marriage" by Mark & Grace Driscoll
Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll
The Radical Reformation by Mark Driscoll
Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll 
"God's Hand in Our Suffering" by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is

I recently read and reviewed Mark Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. I highly recommend it to everybody. In it, Driscoll dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of forgiveness beginning with the truth I Am Forgiven! There he clarifies what forgiveness is and is not. First, what forgiveness is:
  1. Forgiveness is canceling a debt owed to you. When someone sins against you, a wrong is committed and a debt is accrued. In forgiving others, you relinquish your right to make them repay that debt.
  2. Forgiveness is removing the control your offender has over you. So long as your offenders remain unforgiven, they continue to loom large in your life by maintaining an emotional presence. through forgiveness, you not only free them from their debt to you but also emotionally free yourself form them.
  3. Forgiveness is giving a gift to your offender and yourself. Forgiveness includes the physical benefits of reduced anxiety, stress, and blood pressure; and the mental benefits of no longer obsessing over a person or act, freeing you up to move on with your life. Forgiveness also allows you to move from a life centered on pain to one centered on God and others as you regain emotional health, empathy, and perspective. This improves all of your relationships and is a gift to you, your friends, and your family.
  4. Forgiveness is forsaking revenge. Romans 12:19 says, "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." When we seek revenge, we place ourselves morally alongside our offenders. When we forgive, we rise above them by grace and leave them to a perfect and holy God. Revenge may temporarily placate our rage, but it can never undo a wrong. By feeding rage, we become like the person who hurt us - self-interested and dangerous. This is why one ancient Chinese proverb says, "He who seeks revenge should dig two graves."
  5. Forgiveness is leaving ultimate justice in God's hands. Sometimes forgiveness is difficult because it violates our sense of fairness and justice. But the Bible promises that god will deal with everyone's sins justly. For those who repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ, justice came at the cross of Jesus, when our Savior suffered and died in our place for our sins. those who don't repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ will have justice in the punishment of conscious eternal torments of hell. In forgiving, we don't neglect justice, but rather, we trust God for perfect justice and get out from between the sinner and God.
  6. Forgiveness is often an ongoing process. In Jesus's time, a rabbinic teaching said that you only had to forgive someone three times, and after that no more. In Matthew 18:21-22 we read, 'then Peter came to [Jesus] and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" A noted Bible commentator says of this, 'It is a way of saying that for Jesus' followers forgiveness is to be unlimited."*
  7.  Forgiveness is wanting good for your offender. In forgiving our offenders, we change from wanting them to suffer and pay to wanting them to repent and change by God's grace. (164-165)
In short, live the gospel that saved you. Freely forgiven. Freely forgive.

I would also add that forgiveness is a one way street. Reconciliation, another aspect of the gospel, is a two way street. We are called to forgive and work towards reconciliation.

* Leon Morris, Matthew, 472.

For more:
Driscoll on What Forgiveness Is Not
"Death By Love" by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears: A Review
Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
"Real Marriage" by Mark & Grace Driscoll
Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll
The Radical Reformation by Mark Driscoll
Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll 
"God's Hand in Our Suffering" by Mark Driscoll

Odd Thomas on the Reality of the Resurrection

From Odd Thomas from Beautiful Eulogy.

For more:
"The Cup & the Crucifixion" Spoken Word
Odd Thomas - The Incarnation (Spoken Word)
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
A Beautiful Eulogy  
Hip Hop Theology: I am a Robot
Hip-Hop Theology: Creation
"The Good Life" by Trip Lee: A Review 
Listen to & Download Trip Lee's "One Hundred Sixteens" For Free
Listen to & Download Propoganda's Album "Excellent"
"Be Present" by Propaganda  
Trip Lee - "War"
Listen To & Download Lecrae's "Church Clothes" For Free
Flame- The Great Deception
FLAME - Power [with Rap-Along lyrics]
Shai Linne: Triune Praise   
The Gospel Illustrated 
Some of Their Best: DC Talk 

All Around the Web - March 29, 2013

Tim Challies - The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Alexamenos Graffito |

Borrowed Light - |

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Albert Mohler’s election as president of Southern Seminary. (See this article by JT). It also marked day one of Russell Moore’s tenure as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC).
Moore’s election puts him on an increasingly long list of entity heads that served closely with Dr. Mohler directly before attaining their current position*:

  • SEBTS – Danny Akin, Mohler’s Dean of Theology
  • MBTS – Jason Allen, Mohler’s VP for Institutional Advancement
  • NAMB – Kevin Ezell, Mohler’s pastor
  • LifeWay – Thom Rainer, Mohler’s Dean of Missions, Evangelism, & Church Growth
  • ERLC – Russell Moore, Mohler’s Dean of Theology

BibleMesh - Why Is Christ’s Resurrection Important? |
  1. The resurrection makes salvation possible. First Peter 1:3 says that God “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” We are given new spiritual life because God treats those who believe in Christ as united to Him in His resurrection—we share in His life.
  2. Belief in the resurrection is required for salvation (Romans 10:9). It’s not just an afterthought to the cross.
  3. The resurrection confirms the reliability of the New Testament. If it didn’t happen, the apostles are unreliable and the entire New Testament should be questioned (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). Why should we believe the moral or religious teachings of a book if its authors were either lying or mistaken about one of their central claims? But the empty tomb and the risen Christ give us confidence that everything else written by the apostles in Scripture is true as well.
  4. The resurrection gives us hope of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:21-23). Like Adam’s sin caused all humans united with him to become sinners, Jesus’ resurrection caused all humans united with Him to gain eternal life. Because of the resurrection, death isn’t the last word for believers.
  5. The resurrection of Jesus previews what our heavenly bodies will be like (1 Corinthians 15:49). When Paul referred to Christ as the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20), he used a farming metaphor. Like the first taste of the ripening harvest indicates what the rest of the harvest will taste like, Jesus’ resurrection body indicates what the bodies of His followers will be like in the new heavens and new earth.
  6. The resurrection demonstrates that God the Father accepted Christ’s suffering as a full payment for sin (Romans 4:25). He didn’t remain dead because no more payment for sin was necessary. On the cross, Jesus satisfied fully the wrath of God toward the sins of His people.
  7. The resurrection displays the magnitude of power available to Christians in their struggle against sin (Romans 8:11). We have in us the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, and He offers His power to help us “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13).
  8. The resurrection motivates us to turn away from sin (Colossians 3:1). Because God regards Christians as united with Christ in His resurrection, we should act like people who are spiritually alive and “put to death therefore what is earthly in [us]: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” (Colossians 3:5).
  9. The resurrection proves the reliability of Old Testament prophecy. As Peter said after quoting a prophecy of David, “He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ” (Acts 2:31).
  10. The resurrection confirms that Jesus was the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Who else could have risen from the dead, never to die again?

Ben Witherington 3 - Mandatum Thursday |

If you are wondering where in the world the phrase Maundy Thursday comes from, wonder no more. It actually comes from the phrase Mandatum Thursday, or loosely translated ‘mandate’ or ‘commandment’ Thursday. It refers to the commandment from John 13 which you see in the picture above. Unfortunately, it was assumed that John 13 is about what transpired on Thursday of Holy Week, but historically this is probably incorrect. There is not footwashing episode on Thursday according to all three earlier Gospels, and furthermore, the time reference at the beginning of John 13 suggests this event transpired earlier in the week.

Be that as it may, Jesus is said in John 13 to have left his disciples with a ‘mandate’. ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’. This is no small order, but of course also in the Farewell Discourses of John 14-17 Jesus promises to leave them with help— a parakletos, or advocate aka– the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally, Maundy Thursday (the English garbled form of the Latin), has been a day to remember the Last Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal with a kiss, the taking captive of Jesus, and his abandonment by the male disciples— betrayal, desertion, and a threefold denial are the coup d’grace. It is on any showing a somber season.

USA Today - Each family dinner adds up to benefits for adolescents |

Parents have heard it for years: Family dinners help kids avoid risky behaviors and may even help them in school.

But new research shows that the more frequent these dinners, the better the adolescents fare emotionally, says new research published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"The effect doesn't plateau after three or four dinners a week," says co-author Frank Elgar, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montréal. "The more dinners a week the better."

With each additional dinner, researchers found fewer emotional and behavioral problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviors toward others and higher life satisfaction, regardless of gender, age or family economics. The study was based on a nationally representative sample of 26,069 Canadian adolescents ages 11 to 15 in 2010.

Comedian Brad Stine interviewed Eric Metaxas. Here is the first part.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"The Cup & the Crucifixion" Spoken Word

From Odd Thomas of Beautiful Eulogy.

Here's another version of it:

For more:
Odd Thomas - The Incarnation (Spoken Word)
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
A Beautiful Eulogy  
Hip Hop Theology: I am a Robot
Hip-Hop Theology: Creation
"The Good Life" by Trip Lee: A Review 
Listen to & Download Trip Lee's "One Hundred Sixteens" For Free
Listen to & Download Propoganda's Album "Excellent"
"Be Present" by Propaganda  
Trip Lee - "War"
Listen To & Download Lecrae's "Church Clothes" For Free
Flame- The Great Deception
FLAME - Power [with Rap-Along lyrics]
Shai Linne: Triune Praise   
The Gospel Illustrated 
Some of Their Best: DC Talk 

Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection

In his sermon He is Risen given at the 2013 Ligonier Conference (video below), Ravi Zacharias offers twelve arguments in favor of the historicity of the resurrection.

1. The disciples eye-witness experience where they saw and touched.
2. The early proclamation the resurrection.
3. The transformation from fear to martyrdom
4. The empty tomb
5. They proclaimed the resurrection in Jersulamen itself.
6. No one was able to produce the body.
7. The existence of the church founded by law-abiding Jews.
8. The change of the day of worship to Sunday
9. The conversion of James.
10. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
11. Why on earth would they have put the evidence in the mouths of women?
12. Why would Jesus claim He was going to rise bodily when He could have claimed He was going to raise spiritually?

For more:
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
Calvin on the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection
Repost | Saved By Justice: Kevin DeYoung on the Cross and Resurrection
Rival Eschatologies: NT Wright on Christianity and the Enlightenment 
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter
Theology, the Atonement, and Technology: Some Easter Videos  

All Around the Web - March 28, 2013

Denny Burk - The Gospel According to Duck Dynasty | This is great! That was a mighty fine thing to do for a scumbag like me.

John Stonestreet - What We Can Expect at Easter |

Every year it's the same. Whenever Easter rolls around, we can expect something from major media outlets, both on TV and in print, to inform us that we really don’t know anything about the historical Jesus, that the Gospel writers were not eyewitness and certainly not reliable, and that the idea that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead is nothing more than a blind leap of faith. What to say to this?

Don’t buy it.  Recent scholarship, especially from esteemed New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham, suggests that the Gospels indeed are eyewitness testimony, not legends written a couple hundred years later. Also, there is significant evidence for the historical resurrection, though ABC typically neglects interviewing those scholars that talk about it.

Chad Owen Brand - The Real Meaning of Easter |

Enter Jesus. On several occasions, especially late on his ministry, Jesus predicted his imminent death and subsequent resurrection (see esp. Mark 8-10). The disciples would have known about resurrection, but his words baffled them, since they had been taught that this would only happen at the end of the age. Jesus knew, and the NT writers would later make explicit, that in some sense Jesus was inaugurating a new age. His bodily resurrection bright about the age of the Kingdom of God as a possible reality in our lives. And his resurrection demonstrates what the eventual future is for all of the saved. Not an eternity in a bodiless existence in heaven, but an embodied existence in a resurrected body living forever in the presence of the Lord on a renewed earth (Revelation 21-22).
What is the meaning of Easter? It is that all of those who trust in Christ as Savior will one day rise from their graves, will receive glorified bodies no longer subject to sin or corruption, and they will dwell on the renewed earth, serving the Lord with gladness through all eternity. Think about that between now and March 31.

John Stonestreet - Get Thee to a Nunnery | The secular marginization of religion continues.

In response to concerns about the bill’s potential impact on religious freedom, he replied, “This bill does not reach into anyone’s church or mosque or synagogue. You can have all the free exercise there that you want.” He then added, “Don’t claim religion as a reason the law should discriminate.”

From there, he stopped pulling punches altogether. Anyone wanting a religious exemption, he said, should “get thee to a nunnery. . . Go live a monastic life, away from modern society . . . away from the people you can't see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you might have to serve them, or employ them, or rent banquet halls to them.  Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains, if you want. But don't claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens.”

By the way, in the same conversation, one of Steadman’s colleagues compared religious freedom advocates to the KKK, the Nazis, and the Taliban.

As Eric Metaxas recently told BreakPoint listeners, this kind of calumny is part of being a “sign of contradiction.”

Steadman’s comments represent, albeit in an extreme way, the kind of criticisms to which we must respond calmly and winsomely. The goal is not tit-for-tat, but instead, to clarify the record. . . . 

Besides being ahistorical, Steadman’s rhetoric is deeply ironic. If Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King had followed his advice to confine their faith within the walls of their churches, we might still have “separate water fountains” and the rest of Jim Crow.

At this point, we shouldn’t have to remind people that the Civil Rights Movement was led by Christian ministers, organized in churches, and was, in almost every respect, an explicit rejection of the idea that religion is purely a private matter.

C Michael Patton - Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ in a Nutshell |

Internal Evidence:
  • Honesty
  • Irrelevant Details
  • Harmony
  • Public Extraordinary Claims
  • Lack of Motivation for Fabrication

External Evidence
While the internal evidence looks to the evidence coming from within the primary witness documents, the external evidence seeks to find collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.
For the resurrection of Christ, I submit this line of external evidence:
  • Preservation of the Documents
  • Archeology
  • Extra-biblical Attestation
  • Survival in a Hostile Environment

The Blaze - Hilarious Kid Reactions to ‘Harlem Shake’ Video Goes Viral |  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hump Day Humor: Who's On First the Sequel

John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 4.3

An Introduction to the Life and Works of Scottish Reformer John Craig
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Introduction
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 1
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 2
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 3
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 4.1
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 4.2
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 4.3

4.  The First Part of God’s Honor is Faith and it is here that Belief and Faith Are Declared.

Read 4.1 here. 
Read 4.2 here 

    Of God's Providence

Q.    Who rules and keeps all things made?
A.    The same eternal God, that made them.

Q.    Who makes all these fearful alterations in nature?
A.    The hand of God who makes them either for our comfort or for our punishment.

Q.    Who rules Satan and all of his instruments?
A.    Our God by his almighty power and providence.

Q.    What comfort does this give us?
A.    Nothing can hurt us without our Father’s good will.

Q.    What if Satan did have freedom over us?
A.    We would be in the most miserable of states.

Q.    How should this Fatherly care work in us?
A.    Thanks for all things that come to us.

Q.    What other this should it work?
A.    Boldness in our fight against all impediments.

Q.    Who rules sin, which is not of God?
A.    He only rules all and actions and defections that come to past in heaven and Earth.

Q.    Why should we believe that?
A.    Because He is God almighty above His creatures.

Q.    But sin is not a Creature?
A.    Yet, if he did not rule it, He would not be the almighty.

Q.    Does God partake in sin as He rules over it?
A.    No, for He works his own good work by it.

Q.    Are the wicked excused through His good work?
A.    No, for they work their own evil work.

Q.    Why not, seeing God’s will concurs with them?
A.    They mean one thing and God means another.

Q.    What do they mean in their actions and sin?
A.    Contempt of God and hurt of His creatures.

Q.    What means God, using them and their sin?
A.    The trial of his own or punishment of sin.

Q.    What should we learn by this discourse?
A.    To fear only the LORD our GOD.

Q.    What shall we judge of them that conspire with Satan?
A.    They deny this first article of our belief.

Q.    May we not conjure Satan to reveal secrets?
A.    No, for he is the author of lies.

Q.    But he oftentimes speaks the truth.
A.    That is to get the greater credit in his lies.

Q.    May we not remove witchcraft with witchcraft?
A.    No, for that is to help from Satan.

For more on Craig, Scottish Theology, and Knox:
"The School of Faith" by Thomas F. Torrance: A Review
"Scottish Theology" by T. F. Torrance: A Review
"John Knox: An Introduction to His Life and Works" - A Review
"The Mighty Weakness of John Knox" by Douglas Bond: A Review
"John Knox & the Reformation" by M. Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray: A Review
"John Knox" by Rosalind K. Marshall
Douglas Bond on the Legacy of John Knox

For more on Calvin and Calvinism:
"Foundations of Grace" by Steven Lawson: A Review
Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In
Counterintuitive Calvinism: Tim Keller on Calvin's Institutes 

For more on the Reformation:
"The Reformation for Armchair Theologians" by Glenn S. Sunshine: A Review
The Theology of the Reformers  
The Unquenchable Flame  
"On the Necessity of Reforming the Church" by John Calvin
John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology 
Christianity's Dangerous Idea
"Five Leading Reformers"     
 Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In 
He Turned the Water Into Wine: MacArthur, Alcohol, & Christian Liberty
Theology Thursday | Calvin on the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection
Calvinist Baptists and the Many (False) Misconceptions
"Without the Gospel": A Gem From John Calvin
Calvin on God in Theology and the Christian Life
Calvin on Providence
Calvin on Treasures in Heaven
Calvin on Fasting
Calvin on Prayer: Why Bother?

All Around the Web - March 27, 2013

Christianity Today - Russell Moore Replaces Richard Land as Leader of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission | Congratulations to Dr. Moore.

The Southern Baptist Convention has elected Russell Moore as the next president of its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore, a well-known Southern Baptist leader who currently serves as dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Kentucky, will succeed Richard Land when he retires in October.

Associated Press - North Dakota governor approves 6-week abortion ban |

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed legislation Tuesday that that would make North Dakota the nation's most restrictive state on abortion rights, banning the procedure if a fetal heartbeat can be detected - something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The Republican governor also signed into law another measure that would makes North Dakota the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down syndrome, and a measure that requires a doctor who performs abortions to be a physician with hospital-admitting privileges.

The measures, which would take effect Aug. 1, are fueled in part by an attempt to close the state's sole abortion clinic in Fargo. Dalrymple, in a statement, said the so-called fetal heartbeat bill is a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Doug Wilson - With a Bit of Methenol | I loved this.

I was recently involved in an exchange with a South African friend, who had explained that, in his circles, as soon as he acknowledged that blacks should be able to come to the Lord's Table in an all-white church, he would be immediately tagged. "I am a liberal." To which another friend responded, "Be a liberal then." This is a sentiment with which I enthusiastically agree, provided we are also willing to say, in a liberal setting, that as soon as he expresses opposition to the ordination of practicing homosexuals, and the inevitable accusation comes that "he is a racist," the godly exhortation to him will be, "Be a racist then."

Of course, in the sight of God, we should be neither. But we are not talking about what we are willing to be, but rather what we are willing to be called. If we are seeking to be faithful to God and His Word, we should not give a rip about what arbitrary labels and values are attached to us by anybody else. As my father recently said at our Sabbath dinner, " No sense dying with a good reputation." My daughter asked him, "You think you have a good reputation, grandpa?" "Better than it ought to be," he said.

Denny Burk - The Supreme Court shows its on hand on gay marriage | Dr. Burk includes the oral arguments audio you can listen at the link.

As you no doubt have heard, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the question of gay marriage (audio above and transcript here). At issue is California’s 2008 law banning gay marriage, Proposition 8. A lower court has struck down this law duly enacted by California voters, and now the question is whether or not SCOTUS will uphold the lower court or overturn it.

There are a number of possible outcomes to this case. Probably the least likely outcome is that SCOTUS would overturn the lower court and uphold the will of California’s voters to ban gay marriage. More likely is that SCOTUS would take an action that would in one way or another overturn Proposition 8. If that happens, the question is whether SCOTUS will rule narrowly (which would only legalize gay marriage in California) or broadly (which could overturn all laws across the country that ban gay marriage).

WORLD Magazine - Feminists fight porn in liberal Iceland |

The liberal country of Iceland is taking on the seemingly conservative task of banning pornography—both in print and online—to protect the country’s children.  

The new proposal is the result of a female-majority parliament that also banned strip clubs in 2010 and views these activities as a denigration of women. Opponents call the porn ban a move to censor the Internet. Supporters of Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson’s proposal say it is needed to protect children from harm.  

"When a 12-year-old types ‘porn' into Google, he or she is not going to find photos of naked women out on a country field, but very hardcore and brutal violence," said Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to the interior minister.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

30 Years Ago Today: The Dream Game

I liked how this one that really started it all ended. Go CARDS!

HT: Card Chronicle

For more:
Dream Game #1: UK vs. UofL, 1983
UK vs. UofL: The Battle For the Bluegrass 2012
UK vs. UofL: 2012 Final Four
The Rivalry: UK vs. UofL - Part 1
Cardinals Win Over Arch Rival, Kentucky Wildcats 
The 2013 Big East Championship Game: Louisville vs. Syracuse
2013 Sugar Bowl Florida vs Louisville
Louisville Wins the 2012 Big East Tournament: Highlights
Louisville Basketball: A Decade of Highlights
Jr. on Sr.: Louisville Guard Opens Up About His Dad 

Update: Supreme Court hints it won't issue sweeping ruling on same-sex marriage

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

For more:
Breaking: Supreme Court Likely To Dismiss Prop 8 Case, Thus Overturning It in California
The Power of the Few Over the Many:  Proposition 8, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Fiat    
Deja Vu All Over Again: Prop 8 Goes To Trial and What That Could Mean For the Rest of America
Marriage & the Limits of Law and the Courts: Why Only the Gospel Regenerates & Changes Behavior
Breaking: 9th Circuit Court Rules Proposition 8 Unconstitutional
Our Strategy Must Change: Dreher's Word to Social Conservatives
A Tipping Point Or Another Exploited Voting Bloc?: Same-Sex Marriage and the DNC
Can It Happen Here? It Already Has: Metaxas on the Threat of Religious Liberty in a Pro-Gay Culture
Obama on Gay Marriage: The Full Interview
Evolution Must Be Circular: President Obama's Politically Expendient Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage
Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2
The Marriage Debate: A Debate About Rights or Definitions?

Breaking: Supreme Court Likely To Dismiss Prop 8 Case, Thus Overturning It in California

From the Blaze:

  • Oral arguments were held at the Supreme Court Tuesday regarding California’s anti-same-sex-marriage law, Proposition 8
  • Those present for the arguments suggest that the reaction of swing-justice Anthony Kennedy means the case is likely to be dismissed entirely
  • Dismissal would uphold a lower court ruling from the 9th circuit that invalidated the law, a major win for gay marriage proponents

This would be a major win for the proponents of gay marriage.

Read the rest here.

For more:
The Power of the Few Over the Many:  Proposition 8, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Fiat    
Deja Vu All Over Again: Prop 8 Goes To Trial and What That Could Mean For the Rest of America
Marriage & the Limits of Law and the Courts: Why Only the Gospel Regenerates & Changes Behavior
Breaking: 9th Circuit Court Rules Proposition 8 Unconstitutional
Our Strategy Must Change: Dreher's Word to Social Conservatives
A Tipping Point Or Another Exploited Voting Bloc?: Same-Sex Marriage and the DNC
Can It Happen Here? It Already Has: Metaxas on the Threat of Religious Liberty in a Pro-Gay Culture
Obama on Gay Marriage: The Full Interview
Evolution Must Be Circular: President Obama's Politically Expendient Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage
Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2
The Marriage Debate: A Debate About Rights or Definitions?

All Around the Web - March 27, 2013

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week |

8. In Medieval Europe, Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled to preserve them and were given as Easter gifts to children and servants. Some traditions claim the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus, with the shell of the egg representing the sealed Tomb and cracking the shell representing the Resurrection. Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
9. The Christian scholar Bede (673-735 AD, aka, the Venerable Bede) claimed in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre, a pagan goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Later scholars, however, claim that the term derives from the Anglo-Saxon word "oster", meaning "to rise" or for their term for the Spring equinox, "Eostre."

Credo House - The Resurrection of Christ in the Old Testament |

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, . . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:2, 3-5).

If you have been a Christian for a long time, then you, like me, have read these words a thousand times. But have you ever noticed that Paul, in explaining the gospel, not only says that Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, but that he was also raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures? While most of us can think of several passages in the Old Testament that point towards the atoning work of Christ on the cross, what passages come to mind from the OT concerning the resurrection of Christ?

Time is up. Do not be embarrassed. My guess is that most Christians have never thought about where the resurrection of Christ is foreshadowed in the OT. Furthermore, what makes this task difficult is that Paul does not list specific OT passages in 1 Corinthians 15, but rather assumes his readers are aware of them. That said, here are a few he may have had in mind.

WORLD Magazine - Marriage on trial |

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court will consider two cases this week that could have the biggest effect on the shape of the American family since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. 
On Tuesday the nine justices will hear one hour of arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. On Wednesday the justices will hear two hours of arguments in United States v. Windsor, the challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Together, the two cases could transform the definition of marriage at both the state and federal level, and determine whether homosexuality deserves the same heightened legal protection as race.

Albert Mohler - Marriage in the Dock — The Supreme Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage |

The next two days are destined to stand among the most significant days in our nation’s constitutional history, but the issues at stake reach far beyond the U.S. Constitution. Nothing less than marriage is in the dock, with the nation’s highest court set to consider two cases that deal with the question of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The first time the issue of same-sex marriage came before the Court, back in 1972, the Court dismissed the question succinctly: “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.”

But now the Supreme Court is faced with two cases that demand a more substantial response. One case deals with a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the other addresses Proposition 8, the amendment to the California constitution defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Ed Stetzer - New Research: 64% of Americans Believe Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Is Inevitable |

Findings released today in a new report by LifeWay Research show 64 percent of American adults agree it is inevitable same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States, and 58 percent see it as a civil rights issue.

Many have commented that public sentiment towards the inevitability of same-sex marriage has increased in recent years. This increase even has some conservative Republican leaders, such as Newt Gingrich, all but conceding a future where same-sex marriage is legalized throughout the nation. To be fair, I think it is worth remembering that the large majority of states have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, so the inevitability is certainly up for debate. Yet, things are clearly things are shifting.

Still, a sizable but declining minority of Americans see homosexual behavior as sinful, but society is not just increasingly accepting, but they see those who are not accepting as discriminatory and unfair. As I wrote on my blog and later in USAToday, this can have repercussions that go all the way to the White House, but the shift is obvious.

What Should I Read Next? | This is a cool website that allows you to put an author or a book title in and they make a suggestion of what you should read.

Three Themes of Scripture: Some Insight from Driscoll

I recently taught through the book of Esther at our church and used Mark Driscoll's sermon series on Esther as a resource in my study. His ninth sermon, titled "Jesus is a Better Missionary" begins with an interesting hermeneutical note that I found extremely helpful when understanding Scripture. Driscoll argues that in Scripture there are three basic themes: sin, suffering, and stewardship. Driscoll said:

Different books deal with different aspects of this three-fold narrative. Certain books like Romans are going to deal a lot with our sin, and certain books like Job are going to deal a lot with our suffering, and certain books like Proverbs are going to deal a lot with our stewardship. And what happens is if you’re a prophet, you read the Bible, you’re going to immediately see all the sin parts just jump up, and if you’re a priest, you’re going to see all the suffering parts jump up, and if you’re a king, you’re going to see all the stewardship parts jump up, and they all bring us to the Lord Jesus.

And I would say, as you’re studying, be consciously thinking, “Where am I weak? Do I tend to gravitate towards certain kinds of Scriptures, or as I study are certain things more obvious to me and I need to pay careful attention to those things that I’m more prone to overlook?” But they all bring us, invariably, to Jesus Christ. The whole Bible is ultimately about him, and he died on the cross, in our place, for our sins, and on the cross, he identified with our suffering, and on the cross, God so loved the world that he gave, and he was stewarding. So, it all brings us to Jesus.

He then applies this to the book of Esther which, he argues, includes all three themes.

As we open the book of Esther, I see these three themes working together. Early in the book, it’s a lot about sin. We see King Xerxes, the great Persian king, and Haman, his right-hand man, and they’re sinful men. I mean, Xerxes, we’ve seen he’s a drunken man, he’s a perverted man, he’s an irresponsible man, and then he delegates his authority to Haman, who’s a godless man, and a violent man, and a proud man. A lot of sin.

And then the storyline shifts to really focus a lot on suffering. Esther’s married to a horrible man that sometimes she doesn’t see for, in so far as we can tell, upwards of thirty days at a time because he’s got a harem, and a bunch of other wives, and he’s worshiped like a god, and he’s a drunken powermonger. So, she’s suffering, and Mordecai, her adoptive father, who, to some degree, is complicit because he didn’t fight her marriage to this godless king, he’s suffering as he’s trying to keep an eye on his daughter that he’s handed off to be in a dangerous situation. And Haman sends out a decree that he decides he’s going to murder all of God’s people, and the death sentence is set, and the date is put on the calendar, and the clock is ticking, and God’s people are emotionally suffering, and they are about ready to suffer physically through genocide of a whole people group.

And then today, in Esther 8:1–17, where we see that Jesus is a better missionary, a lot of the focus shifts to stewardship. What are Esther and Mordecai going to do with the power that they now have, with the money, and the influence, and the affluence that they now steward? What are they going to do? Because Haman, in a great reversal in chapter 7, he built an enormous gallows in his yard and he was going to hang Mordecai on it, seventy-five feet high in the air, and in a great reversal, Haman was crucified in his own yard, and he is put to death, the enemy of God’s people.

 This, I believe, deserves some exploration. Certainly it is a bit simplistic, but offers some helpful insight into understanding Scripture more clearly.

All Around the Web - March 26, 2013

Brian Croft - What is a Pastor |

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones draws clear distinctions with these words:

A pastor is a man who is given charge of souls. He is not merely a nice, pleasant man who visits people and has an afternoon cup of tea with them, or passes the time of day with them. He is the guardian, the custodian, the protector, the organizer, the director, the ruler of the flock.

Justin Taylor - The Joy and Heartache of International Adoption |

Gospel Coalition - Sex in the Sermon |

The first five books of Moses speak frequently about many topics, some of which we might label as adult material. But children weren't excluded from these discussions; in fact, the little ones were specifically invited. It seems the Lord in his wisdom gave his people a place within community to appropriately discuss sexuality. These topics were brought before the entire fellowship and dealt with honestly.

Could it be that we face so much sexual confusion in the church because we fail to preach faithfully through all of Scripture? Society shames sex by speaking of it too often in the wrong context, with smirks and innuendos. Conversely, we in the church often shame sex by failing to speak of it all, missing the opportunities the Word of God appropriates for our instruction.

Perhaps if the church discussed these biblical topics more, children would be drawn to false sources of information less. By shielding these passages from our children, we inadvertently communicate that God's Word and God's people have nothing to say about sexuality. This is an issue for which it's good to recall Paul's exhortation to Timothy: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Faithful preaching of all areas of Scripture produces faithful followers in all areas of life.

Fox News - Iran puts five Christians on trial for their faith |

Five Iranian Christian converts who were detained late last year will reportedly begin trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court this week, according to a human rights group following the case.

The five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session. They will be tried at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz’s Fars Province on charges of disturbing public order, evangelizing, threatening national security and engaging in Internet activity that threatens the government, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog group.

“Judging from recent cases, it is likely that, at the very least, those detained may face lengthy prison sentences,” said CSW spokesperson Kiri Kankhwende.

Thom Rainer - Ten Rules of Thumb for Healthy Churches in America |
  1. Number of acres needed for church site: one acre for every 125 in attendance. This ratio is based on useable acres. That number is affected by zoning requirements, water retention requirements, and property shape, to name a few.
  2. Parking Spaces: one space for every 2 people in attendance.
  3. Parking Area: 100 spaces for every acre used for parking.
  4. Evangelistic effectiveness: 12 conversions per year for every 100 in average attendance. Different congregations used different terminology: conversions, baptisms, professions of faith, salvations, etc. In this metric, the number refers to those in the past year who became Christians and became active in that specific congregation.
  5. Seating space per attendee: 27 inches. That number was 20 inches at one time. It has changed due to larger posteriors and greater cultural space desires.
  6. Maximum capacity of a facility: 80% full. This old tried and true ratio is still good. When a facility is 80% full architecturally, it feels 100% full.
  7. Retention effectiveness: For every 10 new members added per year, average worship attendance should increase by 7.
  8. Effective giving; For every person in average attendance, including children and preschool, $26.00 in budget receipts. For example, a church with an average worship attendance of 100 should average at least $2,600 in weekly budget giving. This ratio is obviously greatly impacted by demographics.
  9. Maximum debt payment budgeted: 33 percent of annual income for most churches. Up to 40 percent for fast-growing churches.
  10. Maximum debt owed: 2.5 times the annual income of the church for the previous year.

The Atlantic - Is the Lecture Dead? |

The nation's 80,000 medical, 20,000 dental, and 180,000 nursing school students might think that lectures are dead, or at least dying. Health professions curricula increasingly feature small-group, interactive teaching, and successive waves of enthusiasm have arisen for laptops, PDAs, and tablet computers as the new paradigms of learning. Commentators frequently single out the lecture as the prototypically old school, obsolete learning technology, in comparison to which newer educational techniques offer interactive, customized, and self-paced learning alternatives. 

This is no arcane academic matter. The LCME, the organization that accredits US medical schools, strictly limits the number of hours per week students may spend in lectures. So seriously does the organization take this mandate that, in October of 2011, it placed one of Texas's medical schools on probation, in part because its curriculum relied too heavily on "passive" approaches to learning -- foremost among them, lectures. In medical education circles, "lecture" is fast becoming a term of derision. 

And yet, recalling the words of Mark Twain, widespread reports of the lecture's demise are somewhat exaggerated. I believe that we should revisit this venerable educational method before we sign its death certificate. To be sure, some lectures seem to exert a narcotic effect on the attention and enthusiasm of learners, and there are more than a few lecturers in health professions schools whose impact can best be described as deadening. But there are boring small group sessions, too, and even some new, highly touted technologies have turned out not to enliven education.

I just love this song.