Wednesday, November 30, 2016

From Lewis's Pen: We Are Mere Adjectives

From the Problem of Pain:
As a young man wants a regular allowance from his father which he can count on as his own, within which he makes his own plans (and rightly, for his father is after all a fellow creature), so they desired to be on their own, to take care for their own future, to plan for pleasure and for security, to have a meum from which, no doubt, they would pay some reasonable tribute to God in the way of time, attention, and love, but which, nevertheless, was theirs not His. They wanted, as we say, to "call their souls their own." But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner of the universe of which they could say to God, "This is our business, not yours." But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. (80)

All Around the Web - November 30, 2016

The Wardrobe Door - Screwtape on Our Celebrity Obsessed Culture  | "The world is not trying to empower you to be yourself. It’s trying to enslave you to be like everyone else."

Erik Raymond - How do you Reconcile God’s Justice with his Mercy?

The Resurgence - Moral Clarity on Fidel Castro

Preachers and Preachings - Jesus’ Deity and the Early Church

The Gospel Coalition - The Southern City that Lies Forgotten

The Gospel Coalition - How to Read the Major Prophets Devotionally

NAMB - Navigating dark days: Dark places

The Cripplegate - Hunting Blind: Christians and Online Dating

The Resurgent - In a Terrific Irony, Income Inquality Helped Defeat Hillary Clinton

Euangelion - Highlights from the 2016 ETS and SBL

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Erick Erickson on the Left's Shameful Blindness

Last week, the Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro, who has thumbed his nose at the United States for decades, met his Maker. The reaction to his passing has been, to say the least, shocking from the American and international left. Castro was no friend of humanity or the innocent, but was a violent man with gallons of blood on his hands.

The hypocrisy of their praise of Castro should be immediately felt when you consider the left's disdain for the President-elect. While lecturing the soon-to-be vice-president and threatening to flea the country because the Trump administration promises to be a period of severe misogyny and racism, the left is actually praising a man who murdered in the name of homophobia and racism.

This is the point Erick Erickson makes brilliantly in an article at his site The Resurgent. He writes:
It is impossible to take seriously any person who thinks Donald Trump is a threat to freedom and democracy when that same person mourns the loss of Fidel Castro. But that is what we are seeing from the American left.

Many are hailing him as a hero of the poor, though he kept people in poverty. They hail his success at universal healthcare, though the Cuban healthcare system is in shambles. They hail him as a hero for equality despite his implementation of racist policies that kept black Cubans out of government and in the shadows. They turn a blind eye to how he treated gays and AIDS patients.

They ignore the many people tortured and killed by Fidel Castro.
Again, I am no fan of Donald Trump and voted for neither major party candidate. Yet the ease in which the secular left can praise brutal dictators who murder detractors while loathing conservatives from their own country is unfathomable and reveals just how far gone the American left truly is.

The solution to America will not be a political one, but clearly a spiritual one. Such confused depravity cannot be resolved by fiat or a stroke of a pen, but only by the gospel of Christ.

Read the rest of the article here.

All Around the Web - November 29, 2016

Trevin Wax - Don’t Settle for the Gospel of Self-Fulfillment

Evangelical History - ‘Ideas Have Consequences': The Common Ingredients of Growing Churches

Sam Storms - 10 Things You should Know about the Virgin Birth of Jesus

Practical Shepherding - What are some books on preaching you recommend?

Thom Rainer - Five Personal Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

Chuck Lawless - 10 Guest Parking Problems

WORLD - Report: Biblical theology a predictor of church growth

Tim Challies - 3 Reasons Children Need to Obey Their Parents

LifeWay Pastors - Four Questions Before You Move Across The Country To Start A Church

Ligonier - Crucial Questions eBooks

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Life on Mission" by Dustin Willis & Aaron Coe: A Review

Our role as everyday missionaries is to introduce people to Jesus, actively be part of their journey to become like Christ, and teach them to repeat the process with others. (33)

As Christians each and everyone of us are called to be missionaries. Somehow, most believers, for whatever reasons, have missed this. We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and let others do most of the heavy lifting for us anymore. In their book Life on Mission: Joining the Everyday Mission of God, authors Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe both challenge and shepherd the reader to become everyday missionaries wherever they are.

I first came across Willis and Coe's work through their simple 3 Circle's gospel presentation which can be viewed below:

(For another presentation of the above, click here)

Though the authors walk the reader through the above presentation, it is a small part of this volume. The authors primarily challenge us to see ourselves as missionaries and to walk us through how to actively engage our neighbors and immediate community.

As a pastor who cares deeply about theology, I am grateful for their careful discussion of how our theology ought to drive us to missions. Our understanding of creation, God, discipleship, the church, and other key doctrines deeply shape our understanding and drive to missions.

The most practical section is saved for the end. The authors walk the reader through how to (through the 4 I's) Identify who to engage, how to Invest in them for gospel ministry, how to Invite to repentance, and how to Increase in ministry by leading others to see themselves as missionaries. This is a great model for everyday Christians to follow.

As a pastor who desperately wants his flock to understand this, I highly recommend this work. This work is accessible and intended to be understood by the average Christian. The key to church growth is not updating the style of music, but the equipping of saints for the purpose of ministry. Life on Mission is a helpful resource to accomplish that.

This book was given to me for free for the purpose of this review.

All Around the Web - November 28, 2016

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Fidel Castro (1926–2016)

Russell Moore - Signposts: A Conversation With Rosaria Butterfield

Washington Post - Farewell to Cuba’s brutal Big Brother

Chuck Lawless - 7 Great Commission Reflections on the Death of Fidel Castro

ProPreacher - 40 Reasons to Be Thankful for Pastors

Tim Challies - 10 Books Every Christian Teenager Should Read

Desiring God - Top 16 Books of 2016

Google Maps - Interactive Map of Lewis and Clark Expedition

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From Lewis's Pen: Bad Philosophy Needs to Be Answered

From his essay Learning in War-Time as published in the book "The Weight of Glory":
That is the essential nature of the learned life as I see it. But it has indirect values which are especially important today. If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now — not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground — would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. (58)

All Around the Web - November 23, 2016

Kevin DeYoung - A Case for Christian Magnanimity

John Stonestreet - No, We Can’t ‘Agree to Disagree’ on Marriage

George Will - College kids are proving Trump’s point

Denny Burk - A Note on the Trinity Debate at ETS

Mike Pence - America Desperately Needs Real Tolerance: A Lesson from Mike Pence

The Blaze - Tony Perkins: Liberal ‘tolerance is a one-way street’

Tim Challies - Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith

Sam Storms - 10 Things You should Know about the Kingdom of God

Chuck Lawless - 10 Days of Simple and Strategic Prayer in Preparation for the Holiday Season

Thom Rainer - “I Want My Old Church Back!”—Five Responses

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Doug Wilson on the Election Aftermath

I did not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and thus I have no real dog in this fight. That is to say, I am not interested in defending "my candidate." Regardless, the civil unrest in progressive safe spaces is precisely why Trump is the President-elect.

In a recent piece, Doug Wilson explores both the election and its aftermath and what it says about political correctness and the progressive left. Here are two key portions:
Now it is not irrational to be concerned about possible unrest and rioting after an election, and it is not irrational to be concerned about that kind of thing after this election. What is irrational is to expect it from small town Republicans. There were riots in fact, there were smashed windows, there were cars set on fire, but they were all in progressive monkey houses like California.

And herein lies one of the central lessons of the election, for those willing to read it. Political correctness has been a device for the empowerment of crybullies, a gas-lighting trick that enables persecutors to wear the camo-gear of anointed victims. Given the fact that all public dissent on certain issues is routinely and savagely shut down, and this is done by tarring the dissenter as “racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.” it was not surprising that progressives, having created by means of overreach their very own cultural echo chamber, were then persuaded by it. They clubbed everyone into silence and then pretended to themselves that such silence must indicate agreement.

Now I don’t want to ignore the other issues at play in this election—of course there were other issues, big ones. There was the disaster on stilts that is Obamacare. There was an out-of-control immigration system. There were the EPA enviro-crats using climate lies in order to club baby coal miners. But a player in its own right, as well as a player in all these other issues, was political correctness.
Think of it this way. If you don’t want to shut down the coal mines, you are not someone who is opposed to closing the mines, you are a climate-denier. What is a denier? Why, that rhymes with Holocaust denier. If you point out, however mildly, that Obamacare can’t work Because Math, you hate the uninsured, and you clearly hate the black man who has proposed helping the uninsured. It is plain racism to think that goods and services cannot be delivered at a cost lower than the cost of producing those goods and services. And so on.

When everything is racist, I hope you can now see how nothing is. If racial micro-aggressions are to be treated as the equivalent of overt racism, I trust that you can see how overt racism has just been made the equivalent of acting like everyday folks. If everything is sexist, then nothing is. If simply being male is the equivalent of being a rapist, then I would encourage you to contemplate how you have just made rapists into ordinary, decent people. If you skew the scales of justice, which is precisely what political correctness has done, at some point you will break the scales. We are well past that point now. And when you are the one who busted the scales, don’t come complaining when you have to weigh something important.
Brilliant. On the one hand, as Wilson argues above, the left has decried bullying and fought tooth and nail against aggression and what we used to call masculinity yet when one of the most corrupt politicians loses the presidency there is violence and rioting in the streets. Such behavior is exactly what bullying and intimidation looks like.

Furthermore, those who enthusiastically voted for Trump largely did so for two reasons. First, Trump was not Hillary who embodies everything wrong with Washington, the elite establishment, and the left. Secondly, such supporters are tired of making a substantive argument only for it to be decried as being motivated by hate - racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

CS Lewis wrote an essay in this regard entitled "Bulverism" which explored this very tendency. You can watch a presentation of it below.

In a nutshell, Lewis criticizes the habits of some (now common on the left) of criticizing the motivation of an argument rather than the substance of the argument. After all, only racist white men voted for Trump right? Don't bother looking at the facts, their motivated by hatred as well.

The problem with such Bulverism, a term Lewis coined himself, is that it does not take seriously genuine examples of hate or, as Wilson articulates it, "When everything is racist, I hope you can now see how nothing is." Likewise, "If everything is sexist, then nothing is."

Wilson goes on to add:
Keep in mind that heartland evangelicals have jobs, and those jobs include things like coal mining, farming, logging, and so on—vocations that their fathers once thought honorable. Usher in the global managerial elites who want to impose their version of free trade, and who follow that devastation up by mocking and abusing the heartland folks who are now a lot poorer than they were a couple decades ago—making fun of their music, religion, guns, politics, loyalties, heritage, and so on. What could go wrong? The shot was that progressives transformed America into a seething cauldron of identity politics, and the chaser was taunting white middle America into behaving like an identity group. Yes, you, you out-of-work coal miner. We want you to go back to your two-bedroom clapboard house and contemplate something edifying, like your white privilege. 

And if you were offended by that illustration, or by the picture of the three coal miners above, I want to be the first to congratulate you on your successful campaign for Donald J. Trump.

Political correctness has been a toxin in our political discourse, and this has affected everything because discourse is how we talk about anything we need to talk about. Meanwhile the progressive calls for a “national conversation about ________” and you say “okay,” and so then he says “shut up.”

Not only is all this the case, but the behavior of progressives in the aftermath of this particular electoral slap down reminds me of Tallyrand’s comment about the Bourbons. “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

In the wreckage of progressive hopes for this election, the law school at the University of Michigan scheduled a therapeutic session where traumatized students could come and work out their post-election anxieties by working with Play-Doh. “And what are you working on, cupcake?” “I am not sure yet, but I am thinking of calling it ‘Trump’s second term.’”
It is unlikely that the progressive left will repent, but rather double down. They succeed by dividing Americans as opposed to uniting them. I, for one, can think of nearly three hundred million Americans who might be better qualified to be president than Mr. Trump, but Trump's ascension to the Oval Office is not largely due to turn out or his vision for America; it is the result of overreach from the American left. Those who win with identity politics will lose by it all the while your own cities burn.

So deep down inside I do hope that someone, almost anyone, will be sworn in as the next President. Misogyny just is not my thing. The sexual harassment drama of the nineties from the White House was enough for me. Yet, in the end, Trump is as much Berkley's Frankenstein as he is NASCAR's.

Read the rest of Wilson's article here.

All Around the Web - November 22, 2016

Russell Moore - Don’t Protect Yourself From Adoption

Pew Research Center - If the U.S. had 100 people: Charting Americans’ religious affiliations

Steve Weaver - A Picture of a True Minister (from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress)

Springer Link - Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy

The Resurgent - Searches for These Bible Terms Skyrocketed After Donald Trump’s Presidential Victory

Western Recorder - Where were they then? Luther, Calvin & Menno in 1516

Rod Dreher - Why The ‘Hamilton’ Dust-Up Matters

RNS - Church in northern Iraq reopened after two years under ISIS control

Denny Burk - The Doctrine of the Trinity and Complementarianism in Recent Discussions

The Resurgent - Here’s How Bad the Situation in North Korea Really Is for Christians and Other Religious People

The Blaze - See the letter Richard Nixon wrote to Donald Trump urging him to run for political office

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Mere Theology" by Will Vaus: A Review

Although Lewis was not a professional theologian, he did consider himself, and every Christian, to be an amateur theologian. (15)

There is no one I enjoy reading more than Clive Staples Lewis - the 20th century Christian apologists. One of the books that has been on my list to read for some time has been Will Vaus work Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of CS Lewis.

From the beginning, as the author is quick to point out, an exploration of Lewis's theology is fraught with problems. Lewis was no theologian and as his most widely read non-fictional work, Mere Christianity, suggests, Lewis was more interested in exploring and discussing theology that was held among all Christians. Nevertheless, to suggest that Lewis was not a theologian does not mean that he was incompetent at theology. Lewis clearly had a strong understanding of theology, church history, and his church's tradition. Furthermore, Lewis continued to address theological topics from creation (think of the Magician's Nephew) to the atonement (think of Aslan on the stone table) to prayer (think of Letters to Malcomb) to love (think of The Four Loves) to the Trinity (explored in Mere Christianity in some detail) and a host of other key doctrinal issues.

Lewis may not have been a professional theologian but certainly he had a developed theology. Vaus, if he accomplishes anything, it is proving this one point.

One thing is clear in this volume; the author has done his homework. His primary goal seems to be to explore the various loci and topics of theology by exploring the multiple times Lewis addresses them in his writings. Often Vaus divides each chapter by the sources where Lewis addresses the topic. As such, the book often reads as a resource for future Lewis scholars more than just an exploration of Lewis's thought. Nonetheless, Vaus offers an invaluable tool for Lewis fans.

There are two conclusions I have drawn from the book worth exploring here. First, I am in greater disagreement with Lewis than I thought I was prior to reading Vaus. I have always known that Lewis was off on a number of important theological issues like inclusivism and the atonement. But Vaus shows that Lewis held other unfortunate conclusions that I was not aware of. One surprising example regards purgatory. Though Lewis did not hold to a Catholic view of purgatory - where one is "purged" of sin thus granting justification - he held to a more Protestant view of it. Vaus describes Lewis's view as:
Lewis believes that the right view returns magnificently in Newman's Dream, where the saved soul upon entering Heaven begs to be taken away and cleansed before approaching the throne. Lewis believes that in this sense our souls demand Purgatory. he assumes that purification in Purgatory will involve suffering. He bases this partly on tradition and partly on life experience. Most of the good he has experienced in life, he insists, has come from suffering. But the suffering of Purgatory will have nothing to do with earning merit before God. Purification will be the only purpose of any suffering we will have to endure. (207)
There are other examples of Lewis's weak theology and this book highlighted them. Thus I return to what I say often of Lewis: when Lewis is right, he says it better than anyone, but unfortunately, he wasn't always right..

Secondly, Vaus addresses the question of the Trinity in Narnia. This may sound like a mute point, but I had previously argued that it is a major weakness of the great Chronicles. Vaus writes:
In The Chronicles of Narnia we see Aslan (the Christ figure), and we hear of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea (God the Father), of whom Aslan is the son. Finally, there is the breath of Aslan, which brings back to life again the creatures turned to stone by the White Witch, similar to Jesus breathing on the disciples and saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22). (46-47)
So, apparently, there is three persons of the Godhead of Narnia. The problem, however, is that this theme is not prominent. Aslan is a common theme in each narrative, yet the other two Persons remain distant and rarely mentioned.

Vaus is aware that the Trinity is a weakness of Narnia. He reasons it is because the Trinity cannot be portrayed (I'm looking at you The Shack) and there is an element of truth to it. Nevertheless, Narnia still lacks a developed Trinity.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it especially to those familiar with Lewis's writings. Vaus often assumes the reader is familiar with Lewis's biography and writings. No doubt Vaus has offered an invaluable tool for future Lewis scholars and fans alike.

All Around the Web - November 21, 2016

Carl Trueman - Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

The Federalists - Refusing To Serve Customers You Don’t Agree With Is Suddenly Cool Again

RNS - Evangelical Left admits it doesn’t really exist

Russell Moore - Signposts: A Conversation With Andrew Peterson

Ligonier - Martin Luther’s 7 Characteristics of the Church

Joe Carter - Why We Should be Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Gentle Reformation - The Common Sin of Middle Age Believers

Carey Nieuwhof - How To Make Christmas Your Best Outreach of the Year

Chuck Lawless - The 8 Most Common Requests for Church Staff Recommendations

The Resurgent - The Decline of Marriage May Be Over

Denny Burk - Senator Ben Sasses casts his vision for America

Friday, November 18, 2016

Tocqueville on Religion in America

From chapter 17 of his book Democracy In America, published in 1835:
Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion--for who can search the human heart?--but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
It is no surprise, then, that as we lose this religious foundation we are, at the same time, losing the liberties that have made America unique.

All Around the Web - November 18, 2016

NAMB - Nine reasons we must connect our churches with cities

Jason Allen - Are You Ready to Defend the Faith?

Justin Taylor - Cliff Barrows (1923-2016)

Trevin Wax - 2 Reminders from the Korean Church about Prayer

Christianity Today - Ministry after the Massacre

Kevin DeYoung - Book Briefs

John Stonestreet - Lattes and Light Shows

Erik Raymond - Motivations to Hate Sin

Belfast Telegraph - Why adoption is now mother of all debates about Christianity

Atlas Obscura - Why is Inauguration Day on January 20?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

4 Predictions for the Trump Presidency

Not since incumbent President Harry S. Truman upset Thomas Dewey in the 1948 Presidential election has the American people, let alone the American press and pundits, been shocked by an election's results. Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton is nothing short of astounding. From the beginning, the former Secretary of State was expected to waltz into the White House especially after the GOP chose a loose canon for their candidate. Yet it was not to be.

Donald J. Trump is the President-elect.

I have already offered a few initial thoughts on the election (you can read those here). I now want to consider a few predictions regarding the Trump administration. I confess I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but I am confident some of these will come true.

1. The First 100 Days Could Be an Exciting Time for Conservatives Thanks to Obama

I have little confidence in politicians or elected officials - even outsiders like Donald Trump. The reason is rather simple. First, politics is a swamp (to use the term Trump used widely during the campaign). Secondly, the system is built to prevent change. Our founders developed a political system of checks and balances where one branch, theoretically at least, does not have more power than other, as a means to delay the increase of government. The problem with this is that it works against downsizing government. It has taken progressives a century to lead us where we are today, conservatives are foolish to believe Trump can clean out the swamp in 100 days. Thirdly, politicians and those in power are corrupt and there is, frankly, nothing in Trump's character or past that suggests to me he is a man of integrity or humility.

Nevertheless, there is one major advantage Trump has on day 1. Much of Obama's progressive agenda he implemented, especially after 2010 when Republicans won the House of Representatives, via executive order. Obama, one may remember, famously told Congress he didn't need them because he had a pen in one hand and a phone in another. As a result, President Obama achieve very little legislatively. Beyond Obamacare, which will be extremely difficult to dismantle, what really passed? Thus on day 1 Trump can override a number of key Obama agenda items from immigration, to health care, to foreign policy, to national security, etc. This could make the first day exciting for conservatives.

Beyond that Trump may have some leeway during the first 100 days. Some, though not much. It is very likely he will appoint a new Supreme Court justice during that time. It is very possible he can take the first steps in initiating some of his key campaign promises. If he does these things, these first hundred days could be magical for conservatives much in the same way the first one hundred days of the Obama administration where wonderful for progressives eight years ago.

2. Trump Derangement Syndrome Will Be Far Worse Than Bush Derangement Syndrome

The eight years of the Bush administration were frustrating as a conservative American for the simple reason that the left, and their supporters in a liberal press, were on edge constantly. They loathed Bush and blamed him, literally for everything. Furthermore, they demonized Bush in unpatriotic ways. I will never forget how the left praised a movie about the assassination of the sitting president.

If the "fallout" of the 2016 election has shown us everything, from outlandish headlines to riots in the streets from snowflake college students, it is that Trump Derangement Syndrome will be far worse than it was during the Bush administration. The reaction has been so outlandish that many #NeverTrumpers, I are one mind you, are beginning to become more sympathetic to Trump and are more excited about the possibilities in a Trump presidency. Once again the left is overplaying its hand.

The difference between Bush and Trump in this regard should be obvious. Bush refuse to sully the office of the president - a position I continue to respect him for. Even his post-presidency is one that is admirable. Trump, however, is not wired that way. He is combative and values loyalty over everything. He will be constantly waging war against the American press and any detractors including those in his own party. Remember that Trump won, he believes, largely without the support of many in the Republican party. He also knows that the press did all that it could to stop him (after he got the nomination mind you).

I anticipate that the next four years will be an ugly four years on both sides and after a promising first few days and weeks, little will actually get accomplished domestically.

3. The Return of the Body Counts

Daily life during the Bush administration was the press's daily updating of deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not entirely against this though clearly it these reports had an agenda. However, once President Obama was elected, these reports, though still readily available, are not are prominent as they once were. When was the last time the press pressed the President on foreign policy in general and Afghanistan in particular? Iraq is a mess largely due to his decision to pull troops prematurely.

From my research Afghanistan was far bloodier for American troops during the Obama administration than the Bush administration. Between 2001 and 2008, 464 soldiers died with 2008 being the bloodiest with 153 American military lives lost (the least bloodiest was 2001 with 7 and 2007 with 11). During the Obama administration, from 2009-2014, 1,679 American military lives were lost. The bloodiest year was 2010 with 496 which is more than the entire Bush campaign and yet the American people were not inundated with these numbers the way they were during President George W. Bush's administration.

Expect a return to the deluge of body counts the second President Trump decides to mobilize American troops overseas.

4. Trump Will Be Trump and this Will Hurt Republicans in the Midterms

Traditionally the party in power suffers in the midterm elections. Clinton suffered greatly in 2014 and Obama was "shellacked" (his word) in 2010. President Bush faired well in 2002 but was destroyed in 2006 when the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. Expect the same to happen to Republicans in 2018.

Even more than that though, Trump's temperament will likely hurt him. If he spends more time warring against his own citizens and other politicians rather than moving the country forward, he will be decimated in the midterms and Republicans will blame him for it.

While now may be a glorious time to be a Republican, I believe it will quickly fade. That is the way of politics especially when you choose a man like Trump as your party's standard bearer.

All Around the Web - November 17, 2016

Doug Wilson - Viewing the Game Film

Evangelical History - An Oral History with Cliff Barrows (1923–2016)

NAMB - A simple and highly effective strategy to get church guests to return

The Gospel Coalition - Why We Adopted a Child with Special Needs

Eric Metaxas - Opening Darwin’s Black Box

Tim Challies - 18 Prayers to Pray for Unbelievers

The Gospel Coalition - 3 Reasons to Have a Post-Election Prayer Meeting

Thom Rainer - Four Reasons Sunday Attire Is Important to Christian Millennials

Chuck Lawless - 7 Ways to Help a Musically Challenged, Older Believer Worship

Mirror - Lost Vincent van Gogh sketchbook contains 65 drawings from artist's 'most important years'

The Babylon Bee - God Apologizes For Gendered Language In Bible |

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sent From God: A Missiological Word Study From John's Gospel

I was recently contemplating how the incarnation serves as a model for missions. As such, I came across the suggestion to do a word study of "sent" in John's Gospel and what I found was intriguing and insightful. Jesus repeatedly emphasizes throughout John's Gospel that he was "sent" by the Father. Below is the results of my word study.
  • John 4:34 – Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
  • John 5:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
  • John 5:30 – “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 5:36 – But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.
  • John 5:38 – You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
  • John 6:29 – Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
  • John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
  • John 6:39 – This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
  • John 6:44 – No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
  • John 6:57 – As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
  • John 7:16 – So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
  • John 7:18 – He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
  • John 7:28 – Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.
  • John 7:29 – I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.
  • John 7:33 – Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.
  • John 8:16 – But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.
  • John 8:18 – I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”
  • John 8:26 – I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”
  • John 8:29 – And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
  • John 8:42 – Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.
  • John 9:4 – We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
  • John 10:36 – do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
  • John 11:42 – I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
  • John 12:44 – And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.
  • John 12:45 – He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.
  • John 12:49 – For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.
  • John 13:16 – Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.
  • John 13:20 – Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
  • John 14:24 – He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
  • John 15:21 – But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
  • John 16:5 –“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’
  • John 17:3 – This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
  • John 17:8 – for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
  • John 17:18 – As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
  • John 17:21 – that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
  • John 17:23 – I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
  • John 17:25 – “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;
  • John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

The point should be clear. As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so now Christ sends us into the world.

All Around the Web - November 15, 2016

John Stonestreet - Orientation over Speech and Religion

Denny Burk - Trump is not with social conservatives on gay marriage, but we already knew that.

Sam Storms - 10 Things You Should Know about Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

Chuck Lawless - 10 Things Effective Churches Do Well

Thom Rainer (NAMB) - Seven internal barriers to growth in a church

LifeWay Pastors - Seven Ways to Equip Your Church to Give Generously

John Stonestreet - Down on Dawkins

Independent - British scientists don't like Richard Dawkins, finds study that didn't even ask questions about Richard Dawkins

the Blaze - President-elect Trump pledges to forgo his presidential salary during his time in the White House

Business Insider - The average Netflix subscriber watches almost twice as much Netflix as they did 5 years ago

The Washington Post - The decimation of the Democratic Party, visualized

Monday, November 14, 2016

"You Will Be Made to Care" by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen: A Review

Call it postmodernism, secularism, or jut crazying - whatever you call it, it's raging through our culture like a wildfire. Right now we're in a time of sifting and testing of our culture that will reveal what we really believe to be true. The pace at which the transformation is taking place is breathtaking. Just ten years ago, same-sex marriage was unthinkable. Today we're talking about taking tax-exempt status from churches because they don't approve it? And what's next? Let's have polygamy, throuples, group marriage, or any other combination you can dream up - all of these have already been called for since the disaster of Obergefell, and not from fringe groups but from mainstream media source.s This is where we're headed.

For many of us, it feels as if society has lost its mind in an adolescent effort to try something new and bold. Anything for progress! . . . But it will get better. God always wins. (193-194)

The sexual revolution has proven to be, perhaps more than anything, hostile to religion and its free exercise. The totalitarian left, now in ascendancy fueled by a new sexual revolution, is going out of its way to attack people of faith. Their end game is not merely the normalization of sexual lifestyles like, but not limited to, homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality, and open relationships, nor their legalization (as Obergefell proved), but approval. Or, as Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen describe it in their book You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe.

Erickson and Blankschaen offer yet another book published recently warning Americans that our first freedom - the freedom of conscience and religion - is under assault and quickly eroding. Erotic liberty is quickly replacing religious liberty. It is not enough that one's sexual and gender choices are tolerated, they must be celebrated. You will be made to care.

In this vein, the authors offer some of the same warnings available in other equally helpful books recently published. It was evident prior to its decree, but the legalization of same-sex marriage opened Pandora's box to undermine one's right to descent against the left both privately and publicly. Yet the authors offer more than that. First, the authors walk the reader through the worldview of totalitarian left who are working overtime to undermine the American Constitution. Secularists views the world differently and thus struggle to understand the mind of the faithful.

Perhaps the most helpful portion of the book, at least to me, is found in this portion of the book. The left presumes that given enough time and emotional appeal (history is on their side after all right?) even people of faith will discard millennia of tradition and conviction in favor of the new sexual revolution. Thus when people of faith refuse to recant and worship Eros, they presume believers have ulterior and questionable motives. You know the terms: bigotry, racism, sexism, homphobia, transphobia. People of faith are boxed into their "basket of deplorables."

Related to this is the secular faith in progress. The authors trace this to the Hegelian "Geist" where progress is good - divine even. The authors calls this secular dogma "The Gospel of Societal Evolution" and it lies at the core of their erotic religion. History is, by definition and faith, on their side. To stand against societal progress is to stand against their divine.

Grasp this, I believe, and you will understand the core difference between people of faith and the sexualized left.

The final section of the book focuses on what conservatives in general and people of faith in particular must do moving forward. The authors are not "bitter clingers" but happy warriors. No doubt we have work to do, but the reader needs to know the gospel of Christ has overcome greater enemies than a movement that involves rainbow bumper stickers.

But there is good news: Christianity is growing worldwide, even in places like China and Saudi Arabia. And the religion that withstood Nero and Hitler, and even now withstands ISIS, can withstand a bunch of angry people in comfortable shoes who need rainbow stickers on their cars to tell us who they are.

The resurgence is already underway. And it is led by the One who cannot fail. (32)

In the end, Erickson and Blankschaen offer a well-written and insightful book that both prophetically warns and refocuses our efforts on what matters moving forward. Unless America recovers its tradition of faith, it will lose its tradition of liberty. But we are not there yet.

All Around the Web - November 14, 2016

Joe Carter - The FAQs: What You Should Know About Recent Ballot Initiatives

Trevin Wax - The 2016 Election and The American Church

Thom Rainer - Seven Core Productivity Apps for Pastors and Church Leaders

Baptist Press - Death penalty affirmed by Calif., Neb., Okla. voters

Tim Challies - Keep a Close Watch on Yourself!

Ross Douthat - The Post-Familial Election

Thabiti Anyabwile - 4 Problems Associated with White Evangelical Support of Donald Trump

David French - The Great Progressive Repudiation 

New York Times - Yes, He Thought Trump Would Win. No, He Didn’t Use Hard Data.

Babylon Bee - Police Calm Millennial Protesters By Handing Out Participation Trophies | Satire at its best

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Defending Inerrancy

From Kevin DeYoung's book Taking God at His Word:
Defending the doctrine of inerrancy may seem like a fool's errand to some and a divisive shibboleth to others, but, in truth, the doctrine is at the heart of our faith. To deny, disregard, edit, alter, reject, or rule out anything in God's word is to commit the sin of unbelief. "Let God be true through every one were a liar" must be our rallying cry (Rom. 3:4). Finding a halfway house where some things in the Bible are true and other things (as we have judged them) are not is an impossibility. This kind of compromised Christianity, besides flying int he face of the Bible's own self-understanding, does not satisfy the soul or present to the lost the sort of God they need to meet. how are we to believe in a God who can do the unimaginable and forgive our trespasses, conquer our sins, and give us hope in a dark world if we cannot believe that this God created the world out of nothing, gave the virgin a child, and raised his Son on the third day? "One cannot doubt the Bible," J. I. Packer warns, "without far-reaching loss, both of fullness of truth and of fullness of life. If therefore we have at heart spiritual renewal for society, for churches and for our own lives, we shall make much of the entire trustworthiness - that is, the inerrancy - of Holy Scripture as the inspired and liberating Word of God." (39-40)

All Around the Web - November 10, 2016

Trevin Wax - What If Our Bibles Rose Up and Judged Us?

John Stonestreet - Religious Liberty Bestowed by God or Government?

The Gospel Coalition - How Churches in America’s Least Religious Region Talk About Sexuality

Evangelical History - C. S. Lewis, Christian Non-Partisanship, and Election 2016

The Gospel Coalition - Marriage Isn’t Meant to Meet Your Needs

Tim Challies - 6 Marks of a Faithful Ministry

Chuck Lawless - Why the Way You Leave a Church is More Important than How You Came

Thom Rainer - Six Surprises about Church Staff Salaries and Budgets

Tim Keller - 5 Ways to Doubt Your Doubts

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Erik Raymond

Babylon Bee - Half Of Congregation Dies Of Starvation As Sermon Goes 15 Minutes Over Time

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Few Thoughts on the Election of Donald Trump

I was among the many Americans who stayed up until late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning watching the election returns stunned by what I was seeing. I knew that Trump had a small chance especially if he won Ohio (which the polling showed he more than likely was) and if he was competitive in Florida and North Carolina. Even then the likelihood of a victory would be difficult. He'd have to win most of the other swing states like Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and, if possible, Pennsylvania (a state that tempts every Republican candidate yet disappoints every one of them).

In the end, outside of Nevada, Trump won every one of them and added to that list, to the shock of everyone, Wisconsin and Michigan. Trump did not just win, he won big. He has reshaped the electoral college map forcing Democrats to rethink their entire election strategy and given their dwindling local and state numbers, Democrats have not been in worse shape.

It is no secret that I was a proud member of both team #NeverHillary and team #NeverTrump. Both are unqualified for the office of the Presidency so regardless of who won, I was not going to be jubilant about the future of our nation. Nevertheless, after waking up after a brief post-election nap, a few thoughts comes to mind in response to last night's election in no particular order.

1. Anger wins elections but does not govern well.

Donald J. Trump won because the electorate is angry and to quote the great theologian Bruce Banner (aka "the Hulk") you won't like the American electorate when she's angry. There are a number of ways to drive voters to the polls: vision, fear, and anger. Perhaps Ronald Reagan captured the former the best with his vision of "Morning in America" motif. Even President Obama's Hope and Change bumperstickers fits in that category. Trump, however, though casting a vision of making America great, did so through the lens of fear and anger.

Watch his rally's and listen to his supporters and it is clear that to them enough is enough and although I am in no way a supporter of Trump I am sympathetic to this one point. President Obama's transformation of America has felt like a dismantlement of America internationally, socially, politically, and (certainly) morally. Enough is enough.

Yet there is a real problem with this road to victory. Anger and fear do not govern well. Trump's march to the White House has created many enemies and burned too many bridges. He has disenfranchised many conservatives and Republicans in his own party including both the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader (both Republicans). Add to that his despicable language toward minorities, immigrants, women, and the rest, Trump lacks a clear uniting mandate.

2. Christians Should Be Leery in Cheerleading Trump, But at Least We May Have His Ear

Twenty years ago Christians were united in declaring President Bill Clinton unfit for office due to his serial moral indiscretion. Clinton's adultery and persistent acts of fornication (in the Oval Office no less) in addition to lying under oath demanded political and moral courage of impeachment. Christians then demanded our Presidents to be men of high moral character.

Twenty years later we were the primary cheerleaders behind Donald Trump. This should bother us immensely.

This alone shows that the Christian conscience has been more seared by economic uncertainty than by the moral collapse of our country. As a Christian pastor, I cannot in good conscience be a cheerleader for a man who brags about sexual assault, adultery, fornication, divorce, and has a clearly questionable record on matters of race. Furthermore, his worldview remains unexplored, undeveloped, and self-centered. I see very little fruit of the Spirit in him.

With that said, Trump realizes that he could have never won the primaries without winning the evangelical vote. Thus my hope is that contrary to what the Clinton administration would have been, perhaps a Trump administration will at least lend us his ear. We will have to wait and see.

3. Elections have consequences; so does governing

The electorate is angry because President Obama and the party he leads has lead the country down a very radical, leftward path. The electorate has revolted.

Elections have consequences and America has changed dramatically these eight years, but politicians need to learn that governing has consequences as well and an angry electorate will only feel ignored for so long before they'll turn to anybody, anybody!, to turn back the tide.

4. Christianity is not republicanism. We must remain a prophetic voice no matter who occupies the White House.

The gospel does not advance through elections; it advances through the repentance of sinners. The gospel has political implications no doubt yet to confuse the gospel with politics or a political party is extremely dangerous. It is my fear that too many evangelicals have done just that.

Whoever won the election, it would remain necessary that Christians would speak from a conviction of the gospel outside of loyalty to party. That remains true in a Trump administration. Christians must speak truth to his new power - a power he relishes. Christians must be a prophetic voice willing to say to our adulterous President-elect, "It's not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mark 6:18) regardless of the consequences.

I agree with Russell Moore in this regard:
The sort of conservatism that many of us had hoped for—a multiethnic, constitutionally-anchored, forward-looking conservatism—has been replaced in the Republican Party by something else. On the one hand, there’s a European-style ethno-nationalist populism, opposed by an increasingly leftward progressive movement within the Democratic Party. In both of these movements, moral concerns—certainly personal character and family stability questions—are marginalized. We now have a politics of sexual revolution across the board. This means that conservative evangelicals are politically homeless—whether they know it or not.

That is not the worst situation we could be in. Political power—or the illusion of it—has not always been good for us. Such influence has led us to conform our minds to that of the world about what matters, and who matters, in the long-run of history. We should, as missionary Jim Eliot put it a generation ago, own our “strangerhood.”

What can we do now? We can, first of all, maintain a prophetic clarity that is willing to call to repentance everything that is unjust and anti-Christ, whether that is the abortion culture, the divorce culture, or the racism/nativism culture. We can be the people who tell the truth, whether it helps or hurts our so-called “allies” or our so-called “enemies.”
Remember, our citizenship is in heaven.

5. Pray for your leaders

Scripture is clear that we are to pray, without hesitation, for our leaders whom we elect at all levels. This now includes Donald J. Trump. As a member of team #NeverTrump that includes me. Just as I prayed for a President who supported barbaric abortions and other dangerous social experiments for the past eight years, so too I must pray for our 45th President and his administration.

From Lewis's Pen: The Necessity of Chivalry

All Around the Web - November 9, 2016

Glenn Stanton - 5 Damning Inconsistencies In Transgender Dogma

Joe Carter - Being on God’s Side: A Dozen Recommendations for the ‘Religious Right'

New York Times - Long Before Twitter, Martin Luther Was a Media Pioneer

Kevin DeYoung - A Few Brief Thoughts on the Hatmaker Hermeneutic

Tim Challies -  Four Key Principles of Repentance

Chuck Lawless - 12 Benefits Your Church Might Provide Your Pastors

Art Rainer - 5 Reasons Millennials Are Not Giving to Your Church

Baptist Press - Irish court: Christian bakers must bake pro-gay cake

The Tennessean - LifeWay stores say no to Amy Grant's Christmas album

Russell Moore - Signposts: What I Learned From Congressman Gene Taylor

Gentle Reformation - My Top Ten Suggestions for New Pastors

Babylon Bee - Kenneth Copeland In A Real Pickle After Audience Member Names, Claims His Private Jet

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

John MacArthur on Today's Election

Earlier today I addressed a video of John MacArthur defending his public decision to vote for Donald Trump. Although I have tremendous respect for MacArthur, especially as it relates to biblical exposition and preaching, I respectfully disagree with him greatly here. His argument is weak.

He has since published another statement from Sunday's sermon regarding the election. You can watch/listen to it below.

John MacArthur Comments on the Election - November 6, 2016 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

John MacArthur Will Be Voting for Donald Trump Today

In a recent panel discussion, John MacArthur, known for his biblical exposition and uneasiness in publically dealing directly with cultural and political issues, came out public in favor with voting for Donald Trump; a decision, admittedly leaves me dumbfounded. I will not interact with everything he argues here, but one is hard pressed to to connect his defense of "worldview" with the Trump campaign. His primary concern is articulated at the end where he argues that Trump is an unknown component (a problem in of itself) whereas Hillary is a known component and what we know about Mrs. Clinton should deeply trouble Americans in general and Christians in particular. Though I agree with this latter argument, that does not automatically mean one should ignore who Trump is, what he has said, what he has done, and hand the executive branch over to an unstable, immoral womanizer.

All Around the Web - November 8, 2016

Albert Mohler - Will Beauty Save the World?

Trevin Wax - What’s Really Going On with Evangelicals and Same-Sex Marriage

Denny Burk - Is evangelical Christianity becoming more open to gay marriage?

Tim Challies - Children and Sleepovers: What Parents Need to Know

Kevin DeYoung - Moral Philosophy and Marriage

Justin Taylor - The Only Four Things You Need to Read in Response to the Hatmakers

Evangelical History - Jesus and the Two Evangelists

Thom Rainer - The Two Most Common Practices in Healthy Churches

Chuck Lawless - 9 Characteristics of Defeated Pastors

The Daily Signal - DC City Council Votes to Allow Physician-Assisted Suicide. That’ll Change Us All, for the Worse.

Washington Post - Number of home-schooled students has doubled since 1999, new data shows

Albert Mohler - Reflections on the 499th Anniversary of the Reformation — 2016 Ligonier Fall Conference

Monday, November 7, 2016

"A Commentary on Exodus" by Duane Garrett: A Review

Every pastor is constantly on the lookout for high quality commentaries to help them in their preaching and studying of Scripture. Recently I was given a copy of Dr. Duane Garrett's new commentary on one of my favorite Old Testament books, Exodus. The book is simply titled A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel, 2013).

Dr. Garrett was a professor of mine at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he teaches, among other classes, Hebrew. As such I had high expectations on the commentary. Kregel could not have chosen a better scholar to pen a commentary on the second book of Moses.

Each section includes a discussion on the translation and structure of the text followed by a commentary of each verse. The final section regards what the author calls a "Theological Summary of Key Points." This, I find, is a helpful balance of what most readers need in a scholarly commentary.

With that said, one will need to be familiar with the original languages and "scholarly talk." Some commentaries are written for those who have no background in Hebrew or Greek while others spend  more time with the original text realizing that untrained Christians will not be able to follow as easily. This commentary fits within the latter category. The book is well-footnoted and Dr. Garrett's ability to handle Hebrew is evident on every page.

In addition to Garrett's commentary on the text, there is a helpful introduction to Exodus. Those familiar with modern scholarship will not be surprised the amount of space Garrett dedicates to introducing Exodus. Scholars have called into question Mosaic authorship, the date of Exodus, etc. much of which stems from the Documentary Hypothesis. Then there are historic questions, when did the events in Exodus take place, who was the Pharaoh of Joseph and Moses, etc. Garrett handles all of this.

In the end, I would recommend this book to students of Scripture in general and to preachers in particular. Its a great resource to have in your library. The liberation of Israel in Exodus is the cross/resurrection of the New Testament. Therefore, we cannot ignore this text. Garrett offers us a helpful guide to understanding this second book of God's Word.

This book was given to me courtesy of Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review

All Around the Web - November 7, 2016

Joe Carter - Court Protects Iowa Churches from Government Censorship and Control

John Piper - Sons of Freedom and Joy: How a Christian Relates to the State

Baptist Press - Irish court: Christian bakers must bake pro-gay cake

The Federalists - The War On Wedding Vendors Is Ultimately A War On Free Thought

The Federalists - It’s Not Airbnb’s Job To Check Me For Bigotry

Ed Stetzer - Evangelicals Across the Spectrum Are Clarifying Marriage as a Core Belief

Thoughtlife - Lux in Tenebris: How God Is Moving on Secular Campuses

Chuck Lawless - 7 Things to Do if You Don’t Want to Go to Church This Weekend

Thom Rainer - Five Social Media Practices to Avoid and How to Guard Against Them

Cross Examined - On the Historical Accuracy of the Book of Acts

WTHR - Cubs fan shares World Series with late father at Greenwood cemetery

Babylon Bee - Jen Hatmaker Lands New HGTV Show Renovating Biblical Doctrine | Satire