Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ted Kluck On ESPN's No Clothes Mag

Ted Kluck writes an open letter to ESPN in CT about the stupid plans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Worth Meditating On Forever"

The sin-atoning death of Christ is remarkable for being at once most offensive to the world, most treasured by the church, most astonishing to the mind, and most stirring to the soul. Simply put, the one thing we would least expect to hear about God is that he sent his own Son to die for our sins. Thus it is Christ’s precious blood that puts the amazing into grace, puts the wonderful into the gospel, and puts the marvelous into God’s plan of salvation. There can be no greater truth to be faced than the gospel message of the cross, no greater mystery to be considered, and no greater comfort to be received. The cross is a theme that Christians will meditate on forever without exhausting its wonder, and of the cross God’s redeemed will sing with glorious praise to unending ages.

–Richard Phillips, Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ, Ed. Richard Phillips (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 9.

Peace In the Midst of Adversity

The following was written for my church's newsletter in the midst of a preaching series on 'Peace.'

By the time you read this article, we will be a few weeks into the sermon series, Peace. My great fear is that in the desire to have peace in various areas of our lives -where there is trouble and the waves of life are tempting us to fear what harm will come our way – my fear is that we will move our eyes off the peace with God that has been made “by the blood of his cross.”

It’s pretty easy really. The difficulties that creep and seep into our life are right before us. The temptation is to simply remove those things, which are stealing peace. The temptation is to place all our hope in the removal of any and every thing that is an obstacle to peace. The temptation is to have a horizontal hope, all the while ignoring the vertical peace we have. The temptation is to say, “Yes… Yes, I know I have peace with God, now I just have to get rid of this adversity.” The temptation is to be of the opinion peace can only be had by the absence of adversity. The temptation is to idolize the lack of adversity and difficulty and the calm waters of other people’s lives.

Or perhaps it is just me.

But I doubt it. We are a culture whose prayer requests are riddled with concerns about physical health and family trouble while prayers offered to God asking him to reveal his glory in the midst of adversity are like the Yeti. Heard of but never really seen. Guilty? Yeah, me too.

So how do we get to the point where we actually long for peace in the midst of adversity and not just peace by the removal of adversity? Well the regimen is certainly more difficult than the prescription. It is the daily relentless preaching of the gospel of grace to yourself.

Think about it. When your world seems to be crumbling and nothing seems to be going the way you think it should, what will be the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19)? Will it be the temporary hope of all that has just proved itself not worthy of our trust or will it be the one who gave it and took it away (Job 2:21)? Will it be the resurrection of all that has fallen around you or will it be the promise of the future resurrection? Will it be in the replacement of all that has proved to be dust or will it be in the one who holds the Universe in his hands? Will we find peace in the change of our circumstances or will we find peace in the midst of adversity?

Even those who do not believe the gospel find peace in easy times and Disney Land-like bliss. But only those who daily find peace in the gospel of what God has done to save us by the work of Jesus have a peace that rises above “understanding” (Phil 4:7). Preach the gospel to yourself everyday and “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Law/Gospel in Preaching

Michael Spencer waxes prophetic in this post which I plan to read daily for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight

U2 - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight from David OReilly on Vimeo.

To Hell With Practical Thinking

I just got through Your Jesus Is Too Safe by Jared Wilson. And it was like a sucker-punch. It was full of convicting teaching I did not expect. But I suppose that is good...still hurts though.

The one part of the book (a more capable blogger would remember and tell you where) that is still ringing in my ears is where the author talks about the impractical nature of Jesus' teaching and he contrasts such teaching with the way we think as modern-day believers - me as a modern-day pastor. He points to the sermon on the mount and its impractical nature. And it is. The beatitudes are the epitome of impractical. Rejoice and be glad when you are persecuted? This is not practical. The teaching of Jesus will very often not help you win friends and influence people. His teaching on adultery and anger and divorce and love for enemies will get you reviled and hated. And in the economy of this culture (including the church) this is ridiculous.

Speaking of economy, does anyone take seriously Jesus' call to not be anxious? Does anyone ever really consider the lilies and then not worry about what they will eat and drink and wear and where they will live?

No, they don't.

We pay lip-service to the sermon on the mount and then we make faith negligible by getting practical. We think like "gentiles." We actually live as if there is no God who loves us and will care for us.

What would it look like to actually to live this way? What would it look like to be a minister of the gospel, who rejected the practical thinking of a world who wants guarantees beyond the promises of Jesus? What would it look like to be this kind of disciple?

I think our practical thinking is resulting in the lives of untold numbers of people never seeing the glory of God in the lives of so-called believers. And it is because we value the practical nature of saved money and the comfort of the results of our achieving the American Dream. Therefore many will end up in hell because we never said "to hell with a life of practicality."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Pastor as Scholar: A Personal Journey

This autobiographical talk by Piper has been around awhile but I keep coming back to it. After all, no one has influenced me more than John Piper. No one has been more of a mentor to me than he has. Getting to see how he became what he is absolutely fascinates me...certainly better than any movie.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Over the Grave

No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast
No hyssop branch no priest
No running brook no flood no sea
Can wash away this stain from me.

For only your blood is enough to cover my sin
For only your blood is enough to cover me.

The new album by Sojourn Music, "Over the Grave" is simply awesome. All of their albums have been really good. But this one has really blown me away. It sounds like nothing come out of Nashville and is of a quality that is rare compared to any album I have. It's got the blues, soul, indie rock, americana and everything in between.

Each song is inspired by the hymns of Isaac Watts. So you will hear a lot that sounds familiar in the lyrics, though the tunes are all original.

How good is this album? To be honest, I cannot imagine hearing a better album this year. I know, I know...mutemath has a new album to be released next month...but I stand by what I just said. This album is that good.

You can listen to some of the tunes over at their facebook page. Soon you will be able to download from iTunes, etc but I tell you, it is worth ordering and getting through snail mail at their webstore.

How To Overspiritualize Everything