Thursday, June 26, 2008

Never forget why we do what we do...

The Christopher Wren Cathedral story by Tim Sanders from a 2007 leadership conference. The point of it is how purpose drives motivation. For more useful advice, visit Tim's blog at

12 Sins We Blame on Others

Ben Reaoch, pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. lists 12 Sins We Blame on Others

* * *

It started in the Garden. Adam said to God,

The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. (Genesis 3:12)

The first man, caught in the first sin, turns to blame his wife. And he extends the blame to God as well! He implies that he would have remained innocent if God hadn’t put Eve in the garden with him.

The blame-shifting in the Garden continues today. Our proud hearts send us desperately looking for someone else to point to every time we’re confronted with our own sin. There must be someone else—our spouse, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker, pastor, friend, or God, himself.

We are so desperate to justify ourselves that we become irrational. Here are 12 examples.

1) Anger

I wouldn’t lose my temper if my co-workers were easier to get along with, or if my kids behaved better, or if my spouse were more considerate.

2) Impatience

I would be a very patient person if it weren’t for traffic jams and long lines in the grocery store. If I didn’t have so many things to do, and if the people around me weren’t so slow, I would never become impatient!

3) Lust

I would have a pure mind if there weren’t so many sensual images in our culture.

4) Anxiety

I wouldn’t worry about the future if my life were just a little more secure—if I had more money, and no health problems.

5) Spiritual Apathy

My spiritual life would be so much more vibrant and I would struggle with sin less if my small group were more encouraging, or if Sunday school were more engaging, or if the music in the worship service were more lively, or if the sermons were better.

6) Insubordination

If my parents/bosses/elders were godly leaders, then I would joyfully follow them.

7) A Critical Spirit

It’s not my fault that the people around me are ignorant and inexperienced.

8) Bitterness

If you knew what that person did to me, you would understand my bitterness. How could I forgive something like that?

9) Gluttony

My wife/husband/roommate/friend is a wonderful cook! The things they make are impossible to resist.

10) Gossip

It’s the people around me who start the conversations. There’s no way to avoid hearing what others happen to say. And when others ask me questions, I can’t avoid sharing what I know.

11) Self-Pity

I’ll never be happy, because my marriage/family/job/ministry is so difficult.

12) Selfishness

I would be more generous if we had more money.

Making excuses like this is arrogant and foolish. It’s a proud way of trying to justify our actions and pacify our guilty consciences. And it keeps us from humbling ourselves before God to repent of our sins and seek his forgiveness.

Consider James 1:13-15, which leaves us with no way of escaping our own sin and guilt. We cannot blame God, for he “cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

Instead, we have to accept the humbling truth that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” This will end the blame game, and it will send us pleading for Christ’s mercy and grace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George Carlin, and us

Since the death of Comedian George Carlin who died of a heart attack at age 71 Sunday evening, several commentators have mentioned his impact. Dan Phillips @ mentions:

"Carlin's worldview took a toll on him, as drug-use reportedly started the heart-problems that eventually killed him. Five years before his death, the "funny-man" voiced a very dark view:
"I sort of gave up on this whole human adventure a long time ago," he said a couple of years ago. "Divorced myself from it emotionally. I think the human race has squandered its gift, and I think this country has squandered its promise. I think people in America sold out very cheaply, for sneakers and cheeseburgers. And I don't think it's fixable."
Commenting on the impact of this worldview: "Here you see a man who is confronted with the disaster which autonomy has brought on our race. Carlin sees some of the bitter fruits of man's rebellion against God. He longs for redemption. He sees that it will not arise from within us. Yet, like the classic definition of insanity, he has no prescription but more of the same. He was raised Roman Catholic, and probably thought (alas, wrongly) that this exposed him to Christianity, to Christ, to the Gospel. Thus he often expressed contempt for religion. Rejecting the fake, like so many he was inoculated against the real item. Thus apparently Carlin never seriously considered the actual cure whose absence he would later feel so keenly: Jesus Christ, the only hope and redeemer of mankind (John 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:1). As we all naturally do — in spite of his many keen insights — Carlin misdiagnoses the cause, and thus completely misses the cure".

If you are willing to consider the other radical side of the coin look at Michael Spencer @ He notes: "What strikes me as continually ironic is that Carlin and other comedians have become the truth-tellers of our time, while Christians, especially in their official capacities as preachers, etc., have become the embodiment of truth avoidance and truth obscuration. Or, if you’d like to get on the more cynical bus with me and the Ecclesiastes Band, we’re more known for being liars about the human journey than we are for telling the truth. In that sense, I can say a hardy Thank God for George Carlin, who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was, even if it totally overturned the tables so nicely arranged by the orderers of society and the custodian of decent thought.

Carlin embodied Shakespeare’s ideal of the fool. (See King Lear for details.) The Fool was a truthteller wrapped in the costume of a clown. Because you had agreed to submit to his agenda of laughter, you opened yourself up to his agenda of truth. One of the first conversations between Lear and his fool includes a death threat, but the Fool is not intimidated, and soon Lear is begging his Fool to continue being the one person who will tell him the painful, but precious, truth.

Carlin was often plunged into controversy of his own making. He saw the hypocrisy of assigning shock value and criminal consequences to words and he played the trump card of the “7 Words You Can’t Say” routine and changed the culture. I know there are plenty of Christians who equate the Golden Age of morality with a lack of profanity, but I’ll have to differ on that one a bit. Behind Carlin’s crusade to use offensive words was another agenda: an understanding of words with social, political, racial and religious significance that were also dangerous to the status quo. Word control was a form of oppression, and Carlin was the liberator in Fool’s clothing. Christians should be verry careful before they side with the thought/word police. What you gonna do when they come for you?"

Wikipedia has a very complete Carlin entry.

Comedians and those who knew the man discuss Carlin’s life and contribution.

This all goes beyond the death of an entertainer. This impacts all of us in considering how any of us will be remembered when we pass away. It's worth our giving that a thought, regardless of the size of our circle of influence, fame, infamy.

In conclusion, Phillips notes: "I'm not asking that we convince the world to like us. Not going to happen — or we've messed up, somewhere (James 4:4). I'm not saying we should expect fairness from the MSM. I'm more thinking of what we make our emphasis. If the media noted our passing, and mischaracterized us, would our friends have abundant resources to show how ridiculous they are? Or would we have played right into their hands by poor judgment, poor priorities, over-fondness of applause, playing for laughs and roses?"

The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot
(Proverbs 10:7)

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold
(Proverbs 22:1)

A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
(Ecclesiastes 7:1-4)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

John Piper - Inspiring Youth

This is John Piper mentioning Alex and Brett Harris in his 2008 Don't Waste Your Life conference - full thing can be found here ( nt_waste_your_life_session_4/)

ESV Wordled

Justin Taylor@ presents Wordle which is a program "for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."

As the ESV Blog points out, Andrew (at The Crazy Australian blog), took the ESV New Testament and created a Wordle of the most prominent words:

And David Reimer sends along his Worldle of the (ESV) Psalms:

If you want to see what the entire ESV text of the Bible looks like, click here.

Just when you thought TV could not get lower: "Swingtown"

Tim Stevens @ has posted an interesting review of Swingtown on CBS.

"This is a show about couples that "swing" -- that is, trade spouses for sexual pleasure. And it is not on HBO or Cinemax. Nope, it's on CBS during primetime when your adolescent kids are likely to be flipping channels. Entertainment Weekly describes Swingtown as "a partner-sharing show whose pilot episode features its protagonists doing drugs and engaging in a foursome."

After watching the first two episodes, he notes the message of the show:

  • Sexual relationships with multiple partners have no consequences.
  • Your spouse is a prude if she/he won't let you sleep around.
  • You can have sex with another person without bonding emotionally or impacting your current committed relationships in any way.

After describing the background of the executive producer and show creator, Mike Kelley, he goes on to talk about how he pitched the show to CBS after being declined by several cable networks. He told the Nina Tassler, president of CBS entertainment: "We still want the leading lady to take [drugs] and have sex with the neighbors. We still want the underage daughter to smoke pot and flirt with her teacher. We still want the crazy neighbor lady to snort coke." The amazing thing is that Tassler wants us to think this show reflects normal life".

When to Leave Your Church

When Should People Leave Their Church?John MacArthur @ has a quick post on when to leave a local church. He notes: "Leaving a church is not something that should be done lightly. Too many people abandon churches for petty reasons. Disagreements over simple matters of preference are never a good reason to withdraw from a sound, Bible-believing church. Christians are commanded to respect, honor, and obey those whom God has placed in positions of leadership in the church (Heb.13:7, 17).

However, there are times when it becomes necessary to leave a church for the sake of one’s own conscience, or out of a duty to obey God rather than men. Such circumstances would include:

If heresy on some fundamental truth is being taught from the pulpit (Gal. 1:7-9).

If the leaders of the church tolerate seriously errant doctrine from any who are given teaching authority in the fellowship (Rom. 16:17).

If the church is characterized by a wanton disregard for Scripture, such as a refusal to discipline members who are sinning blatantly (1 Cor. 5:1-7).

If unholy living is tolerated in the church (1 Cor. 5:9-11).

If the church is seriously out of step with the biblical pattern for the church (2 Thess. 3:6, 14).

If the church is marked by gross hypocrisy, giving lip service to biblical Christianity but refusing to acknowledge its true power (2 Tim. 3:5).

This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with moving one’s membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service. But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sermon Outline: “God is Triune”

1) The Tri-unity of God is One God

Deuteronomy 6:4

Mark 12:28-37

John 10:30

2) The Tri-unity of God in Three Persons

Genesis 1:26; 11:7

Isaiah 6:8

Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19

2 Corinthians 13:14

3) The Tri-unity of God Can be Confused

Philippians 2:5-8

John 1:3

4) The Tri-unity of God impacts us

Bob Kauflin Interview on How Music Works in Worship

This is the third clip from a longer video in which Tim Smith, worship pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, asked Bob Kauflin various questions related to worship. In this portion, Tim asked Bob about the relationship between music and worship. In it Bob talks about some of the factors that have made music such a volatile issue in the church today, and different ways that Christians view music. Just scratching the surface here…If you want to dig deeper, read Harold Best’s Music Through the Eyes of Faith. It is extremely insightful, helpful, and biblically faithful.

The Pastor’s Joy + Church Members

Tony Reinke @ mentions how joy-filled pastoring is partially dependent upon joy-filled church members. So how can members of a local church help foster joy in their pastor? This topic is discussed in this third excerpt from the upcoming Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview podcast (“The Pastor + Joy”).


Joshua Harris
: For non-pastors listening who are asking, “How can I be a joy to my pastors?”, what are ways they can be encouraging and boosting the joy of their pastors?

C.J. Mahaney: Well, excellent question. In Hebrews 13:17 we read, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” [ESV]

So for all those who are listening, that is an excellent question to be asking. This is a biblical question: How can I make pastoring a joy for my pastor?

I think one would be wise to begin with a text like this and to recognize the priority of making it a joy to serve in pastoral ministry by your appreciation of those in pastoral ministry—your appreciation of their character, their care, their labor, their unique work on your behalf. So there is an appropriate responsiveness expected of you towards their leadership and service in the context of the local church that will make it a joy for them to pastor.

And it would be wise for everyone listening to ask another question: Am I a joy to pastor?

And don’t confine the evaluation of yourself to yourself. I would encourage everyone listening to approach your pastor and ask, “Am I a joy for you to pastor? And if not, why not? I want to be a joy to pastor. I want to bring you joy in pastoring.”

So I think Scripture is clear: By appreciating the character of their pastor and the labor of their pastor, by encouraging their pastor, by the member’s own participation in the local church, they can be a pure joy to pastor.

God wants happy pastors. Any other kind of pastor does not accurately represent God. Yet happy pastors are, to some degree, dependent on individuals who make it a joy to pastor.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Humour

Kids suing parents

Court overturns father’s grounding of 12-year-old:

A Canadian court has lifted a 12-year-old girl’s grounding, overturning her father’s punishment for disobeying his orders to stay off the Internet, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting “inappropriate” pictures of herself online using a friend’s computer.

The father’s lawyer Kim Beaudoin said the disciplinary measures were for the girl’s “own protection” and is appealing the ruling. . . .

According to court documents, the girl’s Internet transgression was just the latest in a string of broken house rules. Even so, Justice Suzanne Tessier found her punishment too severe.

Gene Edward Veith @ comments: "It isn’t just the deconstruction of marriage we are facing, it is the deconstruction of the family, with its constituent authorities and responsibilities, with the state taking its place".

Why It Matters That God Does Everything for His Own Glory

Why should we emphasize that God loves, forgives, and saves for his own glory? John Piper @ outlines two reasons (among others).

1) Because the Bible does.

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! (Psalm 79:9)

Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. (Jeremiah 14:7)

We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name's sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne. (Jeremiah 14:20-21)

God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26)

Your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. (1 John 2:12)

2. Because it makes clear that God loves us with the greatest love.

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory. (John 17:24)

The greatest love is God’s giving himself to us for our eternal enjoyment for ever, at the cost of his Son’s life (Romans 8:32).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

LIFE Together: Summertime

Shown at LIFE Together on June 1, 2008 to provide some ideas of how you can live out LIFE during the summer season.

Ten Excuses: How to respond to those trying to dodge the Great Commission.

"It isn't hard to find reasons to avoid reaching out to others with the good news of Jesus Christ. Here is how I respond to ten common objections."

  1. "I don't have any non-Christian friends."
    Jesus was a friend of sinners. We need to take risks to follow his example.

  2. "I don't have the gift of evangelism. It's not my thing."
    Jesus gave the Great Commission to the entire church. We all have a vital part to play by using approaches that fit our unique personalities.

  3. "I don't have time right now."
    Mix outreach with things you're already doing by inviting unchurched friends to join you. Think of the difference one lunch made in the life of Zacchaeus!

  4. "I'm afraid of what friends will think of me."
    That's a good sign you're sensitive enough to approach people in ways that won't unnecessarily offend them! If you interact respectfully, they'll likely be open.

  5. "I'll just live out my faith in front of my friends; they'll figure it out."
    That sounds appealing, but it's neither biblical nor effective. Paraphrasing Romans 10:14, they're not going to see it unless we also say it.

  6. "I don't know how to bring up the topic."
    Pray for wisdom and courage to seize split-second opportunities to steer ordinary topics, like getting a drink of water (John 4), into spiritual conversations ("I could have given you living water").

  7. "I wouldn't know what to say once the topic was raised."
    That's okay because it's best to do more listening at first anyway. Once you're into it, you'll find experiences to explore, questions to discuss, and stories to tell—and the Holy Spirit will guide you!

  8. "I don't know enough."
    The best way to grow in this area is simply to dive in and say what you do know. You can always delay answering a tough question until you've had time to look into it.

  9. "In our church's tradition, we don't talk about personal faith."
    Your friends need to understand the gospel message because it's "the power of God for salvation." Stretch yourself to communicate it in ways that fit you, and them—maybe writing letters or sending books or tapes. Take small steps, and it'll become more natural.

  10. "My church is more into teaching and worship than evangelism."
    Don't excuse negligence of one area because we have competence in another. For the sake of lost people who matter to God, let's do all we can to reach them, personally and through the church.

In Defense of Sola Scriptura

C Michael Patton @ is conducting a fascinating series on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Highlights include:

There are essentially five views that exist in the church today concerning the important issue of authority.

1. Dual-source theory

Belief that Tradition, represented by the magisterial authority of the Roman Catholic Church, is infallible and equal to Scripture as a basis for doctrine; the Church itself is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice since it must define and interpret Scripture and Tradition.

Adherents: Roman Catholics

2. Prima Scriptura

Belief that the Body of Christ has two separate sources of authority for faith and practice: 1) the Scriptures and 2) Tradition. Scripture is the primary source for authority, but by itself it is insufficient for all matters of faith and practice. Tradition also contains essential elements needed for the productive Christian life.

Adherents: Some Roman Catholics (an alternate view)

3. Regula Fidei

Lit. “Rule of faith.” Belief that tradition is an infallible “summary” of Scripture passed on through apostolic succession. Ultimately, there is only one source of revelation, but two sources of authority. In other words, Tradition is Scripture.

Adherents: Eastern Orthodox, some Protestants

4. Sola Scriptura

Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.

Adherents: Reformed Protestants/Evangelicals

5. Solo Scriptura or Nuda Scriptura

Belief that Scripture is the sole basis and authority in the life of the Christian. Tradition is useless and misleading, and creeds and confessions are the result of man-made traditions.

Adherents: Radical Reformers, Fundamentalists, Restorationist Churches

And from Part Two:

Ferguson Sermon Series on the Book of James


Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Restoring The Wanderer

James 5:19-20

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Praying Like Elijah

James 5:13-18

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Suffering, Sunny, or Sick?

James 5:13-16

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Patience

James 5:7-12

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: When Wealth Proves False

James 5:1-6

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: D.V.

James 4:13-17

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: A Spiritual Check-up

James 4:1-12

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: True Wisodom

James 3:13-18

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Guarding the Tongue

James: 3:1-12

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: How Faith Works

James 2:14-26

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: No Partiality

James 2:1-13

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Hearing, Speaking, Doing

James 1:19-27

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Responding to Temptation

James 1:12-18

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Handling Poverty and Wealth

James 1:9-11

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Seeking Wisdom

James 1:5-8

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: Meeting Trials

James 1:2-4

Sermon Only


Full Service



Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The Letter of James: James Who?

James 1:1

Sermon Only


Full Service


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amena Brown: Resurrection

Growing up in church and a single-parent home, Amena grew up struggling to trust God. She now expresses her love for God by performing spoken word poetry.

Does your son act too much like a little boy?

Read this story by Amanda Witt. It is a post about this ad from Salvo:

The story is about Amanda’s two boys seeing this ad and showing some concern. Here is part of their conversation:

“That face he’s making–that’s just like your monster face.”

“No it isn’t! With my monster face, I go like this…”

Read the story.

Theology of the New Covenant

Paul Lamey @ presents an overview of the theology of the New Covenant. He notes: "A crux interpretum with significant theological implications is the meaning of the promised New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-36). How does one distinguish between Israel and the church if at all (a debate between dispensational and covenant theologians)? Does the church presently participate in the NC and is there more than one NC (a debate chiefly among dispensationalist)? Is the NC a fulfilled reality or are there aspects which remain unfulfilled (realized?)? Are there “unbelieving” members presently in the NC?"

"Below are ten key theological aspects of the New Covenant that I believe are essential for articulating a consistent and complete theology of the NC. Each one is a weighty issue in and of itself so I simply offer the key points":

  1. The NC is in fact “new” (Heb. 8:13)
  2. The NC was promised by the prophets (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-36)
  3. The NC was instituted by Christ (Luke 22:20)
  4. The NC was inaugurated at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41)
  5. The NC is participated in by the church in the present age (1 Cor. 11:23-34; 2 Cor. 3:1-18; Eph. 2:11-13)
  6. The NC will be fulfilled in Israel in the Millennial Kingdom (Rom. 11:25-27)
  7. The NC will be consummated in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1-4)
  8. The NC is applied only to those who consciously know the Lord by faith (Jer. 31:34; cf. Heb. 8:11-12)
  9. The NC ensures that every recipient of its promises possesses forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34)
  10. The NC’s members cannot abandoned the faith in any respect (John 6:38-40, 10:27-30; 1 John 2:19)

Seven Reasons To Study the Church's Past

Tim Challies @ reviews some reasons that we, as Christians, should be eager to engage in the study of church history.

God Tells Us To:

“For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?” (Job 8:8-10)

To Understand Today:

To Understand Tomorrow:

To Understand Providence:

To Understand Error:

To Understand People:

To Understand Endurance:

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Ancient Sociological History of Atheism

Professor Edwin Judge briefly surveys the ancient sociological history of atheism in his interview with Greg Clarke:

Christians & Politics

, @ is presenting an interesting series on Christians and politics. He is dealing with:

1. Preaching, not lobbying, is how we make truth known.
2. Gospel, not Law is what changes sinful hearts.
3. Service, not dominion, is the most effective way to win people in any culture
4. Christ, not moralism, should be the primary substance of our message.

The Gospel in a Nutshell

What is the gospel?

How would you define it in a single sentence?

“The essence of the Christian religion consists in this, that the creation of the Father, devastated by sin, is restored in the death of the Son of God, and re-created by the Holy Spirit into a kingdom of God.”
Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics.

Tips for Self-Discipline

John MacArthur @ presents 7 tips to help someonce develop self-discipline in his or her life?

Developing Self-Discipline

1. Start Small. Start with your room. Clean it, then keep it clean. When something is out of place, train yourself to put it where it belongs. Then extend the discipline of neatness to the rest of your home.

2. Be on time. That may not seem very spiritual, but it’s important. If you’re supposed to be somewhere at a specific time, be there on time. Develop the ability to discipline your desires, activities, and demands so that you can arrive on time.

3. Do the hardest job first. When you do that, you will find it easier to do the simpler tasks.

4. Organize your life. Plan the use of your time; don’t just react to circumstances. Use a calendar and make a daily list of things you need to accomplish. If you don’t control your time, everything else will.

5. Accept correction. Correction helps make you more disciplined because it shows you what you need to avoid. Don’t avoid criticism; accept it gladly.

6. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings. Learn to do what you know to be right even if you don’t feel like doing it. Sometimes it’s even beneficial to deny yourself things that are acceptable to have, like a doughnut in the morning or dessert after dinner. Exercising such self-restraint helps you develop the habit of keeping other things under control. Cultivating discipline in the physical realm will help you become disciplined in your spiritual life.

7. Welcome responsibility. When you have an opportunity to do something that needs to be done, volunteer for it if you have talent in that area. Accepting responsibility can force you to organize yourself.

Please… Don’t Come to My Church


From Monday Morning Insight:

Nick had a great post over at Essential Shift last week. The first paragraph really grabbed my attention: " If I had it my way I would do away with outreach events. I would get rid of every event we hold at our church that is geared towards bringing non-Christians to our church. Now let me explain. Non-Christians are non-Christians for a reason, and they don’t come to church for a reason. 99% of everyone here in America has been to a church, has been invited to a church, or has been witnessed to, and there are still those who want nothing to do with the church. Why do we think that inviting them to a murder mystery night get them to change their mind? I’ll tell you why, we want it on our turf, we want to call the shots." Read the full post here...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sermon Outline: Hebrews 12:4-11. God is Father

1) God’s Discipline is Parental. Hebrews 12:4-8

Revelation 3:19

Romans 1:24

2) God’s Discipline is Perfect. Hebrews 12:9-10a

Psalm 119:165

2 Corinthians 4:17

Ephesians 6:4

3) God’s Discipline is Profitable. Hebrews 12:10b-11

Hebrews 5:14

1 Timothy 4:7

Romans 5:3-5

Romans 8:14-18

Honoring Fathers

Friend, Teacher, Hero, Dad. This thoughtful video illustration is a tribute to fathers, and an appreciation for the little things they do for all of us.

Because it's Father's Day

Look no further for the perfect Father's Day gift. Bluefish TV has the perfect idea for that special dad. Mandles are scientifically engineered candles just for men. Man smells that are sure to please!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sacrifice: What would you give your life for?

Would you die for your family, your friends? Some would. But would you sacrifice yourself for strangers, sinful strangers? Romans 5:7-8 comes to life in this stimulating clip.

"Human Rights" Tribunal to pastor: Renounce your faith!

Now banned from expressing moral opposition to homosexuality

WorldNetDaily @ reports that a Canadian human rights tribunal ordered a Christian pastor to renounce his faith and never again express moral opposition to homosexuality, according to a new report.

In a decision dated May 30 in the penalty phase of the quasi-judicial proceedings run by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, evangelical pastor Stephen Boisson was banned from expressing his biblical perspective of homosexuality and ordered to pay $5,000 for "damages for pain and suffering" as well as apologize to the activist who complained of being hurt.

According to a report from Pete Vere at the Catholic Exchange, the penalty could foreshadow the possible fate of the Rev. Alphonse de Valk, who also cited the biblical perspective on homosexuality in the nation's debate over same-sex "marriage" and now faces HRC charges.

Boisson wrote a letter to the editor of his local Red Deer, Alberta, newspaper in 2002 denouncing the advance of homosexual activism as "wicked" and stating: "Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights."

The activist, local teacher Darren Lund, filed a complaint, and the guilty verdict from Lori G. Andreachuk, a lawyer, was handed down Nov. 30, 2007. The latest decision involved the penalty phase of the trial.

"While agreeing that Boisson's letter was not a criminal act, the government tribunal nevertheless ordered the Christian pastor to [stop expressing his opinion]," Vere reported.

Andreachuk noted that Lund, who brought the complaint, wasn't, in fact, injured.

"In this case there is no specific individual who can be compensated as there is no direct victim who has come forward," she wrote.

However, that did not stop her from ordering the payment anyway.

And as for the future, she wrote:

"Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about … Lund or … Lund's witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current Web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.," the lawyer opined.

Andreachuk also ordered Boissoin to apologize for the original letter in the Red Deer Advocate and told the two "offenders" to pay $5,000.

The apology letter, Vere said, "threatens civil liberties in Canada, according to Ezra Levant, an author and lawyer who himself was targeted by an HRC attack."

"[The] government now believes that if it can't convince a Christian pastor that he's wrong, it will just order him to condemn himself?" Levant wrote on his blog. "Other than tribunals in Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China, where is this Orwellian 'order' considered to be justice?"

"This is like a Third World jail-house confession – where accused criminals are forced to sign false statements of guilt," Levant wrote. "We don’t even 'order' murderers to apologize to their victims' families. Because we know that a forced apology is meaningless. But not if your point is to degrade Christian pastors."

"In essence, the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal is ordering to the minister to renounce his Christian faith, since his opposition to homosexuality is based upon the Judeo-Christian Bible," Vere wrote.

WND reported recently about de Valk, the target of a Human Rights Commission case over his biblical references regarding homosexuality.

"Father [de Valk] defended the [Catholic] Church's teaching on marriage during Canada's same-sex 'marriage' debate, quoting extensively from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul II's encyclicals. Each of these documents contains official Catholic teaching. And like millions of other people throughout the world and the ages – many of whom are non-Catholics and non-Christians — Father believes that marriage is an exclusive union between a man and a woman," Vere wrote.

Vere raised the question that Canada now considers morality a "hate crime."

"If one, because of one's sincerely held moral beliefs, whether it be Jew, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, opposes the idea of same-sex marriage in Canada, is that considered 'hate'?" he asked.

Vere wrote that the response he got from Mark van Dusen, a spokesman for the federal human rights prosecution office, shocked him.

The government agent confirmed the agency investigates complaints but doesn't set public policy or moral standards. He said the agency job is to look at the circumstances and decide whether to advance it or dismiss it.

What is shocking about that, Vere wrote, is the admission that unjustified complaints can be dismissed, yet the case against de Valk has continued now for more than six months.

An extended audio recording between Vere and van Dusen is posted on YouTube:

Controversal Church 30 Sex Challenge

"What's Wrong with Being a Consumer"

McDsDrive-Jesus.jpg@ has had a series on Marketing the Church (Part One, Part Two, Part Two b, Part Three, Part Four & Part Fin).

See responses from Ed Stetzer Questions for McChurch and Questions for Questions for McChurch.
KingdomGrace's Post-Critical? is another important read She comments on the new Bill Hybels Reveal Justification clip where she says, I have a great deal of respect for Bill, but I had trouble sifting through the business and attractional language in this clip - strategic, models, relevant, initiatives, spiritually catalytic, effectiveness, weekend event, service, adjustments, more effective, more information, lead better, seeker ministry, risk profile - yada, yada, yada. “You have to thrill believers in order to move them to a place where they see people far from God the way Jesus sees them.” [Hybels quote from video.]
I am trying to put a positive spin on what he meant by thrilling believers. Better worship songs? video clips of Bono? better coffee and donuts? What kind of thrilling might be happening in the multi-million dollar building at the well-produced service of the weekend event? Maybe there could be a power point of what’s happening outside the walls in order to “thrill the believers” into seeing others the way Jesus sees them.

The Church is Not a Business makes some very good points.

In the pages of Scripture, we get a very different model for how the church is to operate. Success there does not depend on a person’s brilliance, their adherence to the latest best practices, or their ability to master ingenious strategies. It depends on God; on being “empowered” by the Holy Spirit. We don’t “market” Jesus or what the church has to offer; we become what God is calling us to be and let that speak for itself. We don’t “sell” the Gospel or manage customers, commodifying both the teachings of Jesus and the people we are called to serve. And language really does matter in how we think about these things.

And perhaps most counter cultural of all, we don’t necessarily pursue success; we pursue faithfulness. The people we meet in Scripture are so often are failures. Many appear to be inconsequential and insignificant. The secret of their “success” is their radical reliance on God, and their faithfulness in following His lead.

@ notes: "The bottom line for me in responding to "What's Wrong with Being a Consumer" is that the church isn't about consumption - it's about the production of new life at the personal, corporate, neighborhood and global levels. The creator who chooses to indwell us motivates us to creation rather than consumption.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Archaeologists Unearth 'World's First Church'

Ethan Cole @ The Christian Post Reporter reports on an amazing discovery: "Archaeologists unearthed in Jordan what they believe to be the world’s first church, according to a report Monday.

"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," said Abdul Qader al-Hussan, the head of Jordan's Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies, to The Jordan Times.

He added that the discovery was “amazing.”

The nearly 2,000-year-old church was discovered underneath Saint Georgeous Church in Rihab, Mafraq, in northern Jordan near the Syrian border. St. Georgeous dates back to 230 A.D., and is considered the oldest “proper” church in the world.

Hussan said his team has evidence to believe “this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ.”

These 70 early Christians are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem, particularly to Rihab, and founded churches in northern Jordan. Historical sources, according to Hussan, suggest the 70 Christians lived and practiced their faith in the underground church and only left when Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers.

“It was then when St. Georgeous was built,” said Hussan noted.

The underground church has been described as a cave with several stone seats believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse – an area which usually contains the altar.

“A wall with an entrance is the only partition separating the altar from the living area,” Hussan reported.

There is also a deep tunnel in the cave thought to have led to a water source, he noted.

Bishop Deputy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Archimandrite Nektarious described the discovery as an “important milestone for Christians all around the world.”

"The only other cave in the world similar in shape and purpose is in Thessalonika, Greece," the bishop said, according to The Jordan Times.

Officials at the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism said they plan to use the discovery to promote tourism in the area in the near future.

Some 30 churches have been discovered in Rihab, according to Hussan, and Jesus and Mary are believed to have passed through the area.

The Coming Demographic Winter,

Chuck Colson @ has a facinating article on demographics in the Developing World and their implication for North America.

From some of what he notes: "Mexico is in the midst of an unprecedented decline in birth rates: In 1965, the average Mexican woman gave birth to seven children. Today, it is 2.1—the same as their American counterparts. It is estimated that, within the next several decades, Mexico’s population will be older than ours.

This is part of a worldwide trend. We usually associate low birth rates with the industrialized nations. But according to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, up to half of the world’s population lives in countries with below-replacement level fertility.

Thus, it is not only Japan; it is Korea, China, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka . . . And China’s low birthrate—government-ordered, by the way—and its rapidly aging population threaten to undo its newly achieved prosperity.

In other parts of the world, the threat may be graver. In 1980, Iran’s birth rate was 6.5 births per woman. Today, it is 1.7 births per woman—well below replacement level. As a result, Iran has one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations. The Asia Times columnist “Spengler” has speculated that the Iranian “demographic catastrophe in the making” may tempt Iran to act aggressively “while it still has the manpower to do so.”

The decline of birth rates in the developing world has consequences for the West, as well. The West has compensated for its low birth rates through immigration, most of it from the developing world. But, as Demographic Winter points out, lower birth rates in these countries raise the prospect of fewer immigrants and, thus, a lower standard of living.

Ultimately, the documentary makes the reality of demographic winter, and its consequences, brutally clear. It also makes it clear that the demographic decline it documents is not the result of some plague or other biological agent—it is the predictable product of our worldviews and values. Any society that devalues marriage, that encourages people to place career above family, that embraces abortion, will see its fertility rates plummet. But, as Spengler and others have pointed out, the root of the problem is “the decline of religious faith.” Loss of faith in the world to come leaves us grasping for everything we can get in this one, even at the expense of future generations.

Not surprisingly, the exception to these demographic changes is among religious believers, who take seriously the command to be fruitful and multiply—who believe in the family and see children as a gift from God. Their belief in the world to come makes them fruitful in this one. And it makes it urgent to know and articulate our worldview to others while we can".

For Further Reading and Information

Learn how you can get a copy of Demographic Winter.

BreakPoint Commentary No. 080609, “Demographic Winter: Where Have All the Children Gone?

BreakPoint Commentary No. 080610, “Demographics and Prosperity: Demographic Winter and the Economy.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 070809, “Living on Borrowed Time: Iran’s Demographic Crisis.”

BreakPoint Commentary No. 060418, “Be Fruitful and Multiply: Christians and the Birth Dearth.”

Mexican Birthrate Plummets,” Quad-City Times, 5 April 2006.

Sam Dillon, “Smaller Families to Bring Big Change in Mexico,” New York Times, 8 June 1999.

John Flynn, “The Birth Dearth,” Zenit, 30 September 2007.

Michael Meyer, “Birth Dearth,” Newsweek International, 27 September 2004.

Spengler, “Why Iran is Dying for a Fight,” Asia Times, 13 November 2007.

Spengler, “Jihadis and Whores,” Asia Times, 21 November 2006.

Suvendrini Kakuchi, “JAPAN: Wooing Women as Birth Rate Drops,” IPS, 10 January 2006.

Robert Longley, “U.S. Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low,”

Barbara Crossette, “Demographers Puzzled by Declining Birthrates,” International Herald Tribune, 28 August 2002.