Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:11-12

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

War on Christmas Idiocy

This morning I received the following “action alert” from a “Christian” organization. Stuff like this really aggravates me. Not the issue that they are describing, but their actions. Read the excerpt, then I will comment:

One minute action - Contact these three companies that ban 'Christmas'
Send an email to Radio Shack, Office Depot and Staples - All at once!

Dear Friend,

In an attempt to avoid the use of the term "Christmas," three major retailers have omitted it from their advertising. AFA has reviewed the website and newspaper ads of Radio Shack, Office Depot and Staples. We found terms like "holiday deals," "holiday prices," "gifts" and "happy holidays," but no "Christmas."

Here is a direct quote from Staples: "We use the term Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. We do this because it does not offend any other religions and to remain politically correct."

Retailers like Radio Shack, Office Depot and Staples want your shopping money, but they refuse to recognize the Reason for the Christmas season.

Christians celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ. Yet there are those companies which feel that a public recognition of the birthday of Christ is not appropriate. Why? Because a few people may be offended!

Let Radio Shack, Office Depot and Staples know you are offended by their decision to purposely eliminate "Christmas" from their advertising.
Mike's Comments: When will Christians stop expecting non-believers to act like believers? Of course these retailers want your shopping money – that’s why they are in business! And the term “holidays” is used rather than Christmas for a number of reasons, including the fact that “holidays” covers multiple holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, and Christmas is only one day (and the stores are CLOSED on that day). How anyone can think that this kind of behavior is God-honoring is beyond me.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Ron Santo, We'll Miss You

Legendary Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo died Thursday night in Arizona. He was 70. Friends of Santo’s family said the North Side icon lapsed into a coma on Wednesday before dying Thursday. Santo died of complications from bladder cancer, WGN-AM 720 reported.

“He absolutely loved the Cubs,” said Santo’s broadcast partner, Pat Hughes. “The Cubs have lost their biggest fan.”

Hughes noted that with all the medical problems Santo had–including diabetes with resulting leg amputations, heart disease and bladder cancer–”he never complained. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to talk baseball.”

Santo was the quintessential Cubs fan and made no apologies for his on-air cheerleading or his utter frustration over a Cub’s misplay.
from Jesus Creed

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Best Christmas Song?

Jonathan Acuff, over at Stuff Christians Like, posted a question on his blog about the greatest Christmas song of all time.

I have several favorites (and several songs I wish radio would NEVER play again), but I voted for O Holy Night (Martina McBride’s version is awesome) and White Christmas by Bing Crosby.

How about you, what do you think is the best Christmas song of all time?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Authority of the Word

A young Christian was preparing for a trip when his traveling companion came into the room to see how he was doing. "Are you done packing?" his friend asked. "Almost," said the young man. "The only things I have left to pack are a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a microscope, a volume of fine poetry, a couple of biographies, a package of old letters, a book of songs, a sword, a hammer, and a set of books I've been reading."

"Where are you going to fit all that stuff?" the friend asked. "Right here," the young man replied as he reached for his Bible and put it in the corner of his suitcase.

For generations, people have trusted the Bible. It has guided, encouraged, and comforted millions of people who readily testify to its life-changing impact. It is the best-selling book of all time, and not by a small margin. It is the cornerstone of Western Civilization. Its ethical standards have launched freedom movements, and its laws and regulations have guided lawmakers, judges, and jurists by the score. It has inspired great works of music and art, including songs, sculpture, paintings, plays, and movies. Its graphic portrayals of heroes and heroines have captured the imagination of young and old alike.

The Bible is a fascinating book. It is actually a library of 66 books. Written by 40 different authors, in 3 different languages, over a period of 1500 years – the Bible is accurate, inspiring, a source of faith, and instruction for Christian living. Most Christians have a high view of the Scriptures, yet according to statistics, that view doesn't often translate into reading the Word or doing what it says. Researcher George Barna says that the church's problem is not its theology, but its failure to apply it in compelling ways. Polls consistently show that many Christians think and behave no differently from anyone else.

However, God had a purpose in giving us the Bible and that purpose was not just to add another volume of literature to the human race, nor was it to leave us confused and bewildered -- at the mercy of theologians to interpret for us. God wanted to reveal His will to us. Because of the Bible’s source, it has vital practical relevance for our lives.

Historically, the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ have given prominence to the Scriptures. Slogans about the Bible were well known among our people:

“No Creed but Christ, No Book but the Bible”
“Where the Bible speaks, we speak; and where the Bible is silent, we are silent”
“Book, chapter, and verse for what we believe and practice”

Each of these slogans emphasizes the centrality of the Scriptures with regard to our faith. Extra-biblical documents such as creeds, catechisms, and articles of faith can often lead to division and denominational separation. But the Bible unites people. Early in its history, the Restoration Movement became known as “a people of the Book” because of the strong emphasize given to God’s Word.

Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Many years after events happened, the Spirit of God helped them to remember and record the truth which God wanted to reveal to the human race for all of time. The sacred writings are said to be God-breathed or inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), meaning that the fundamental characteristics of Scripture – what makes these writings sacred – is the fact that God breathed them out, that they have their ultimate origin with God Himself.

Restoration Movement churches take the Bible seriously because we believe it is the Word of God. We believe the journey we are on as we follow the Word of the Lord revealed to us in Scripture is going somewhere. We’d like you to go with us.

This first appeared on the Fall 2010 Issue of reIGNITED.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ran Out of Money and Ideas

From Jared Wilson:

Via Al Mohler, I learn this:

In his 1986 book, Your Church Has a Fantastic Future, [Robert] Schuller provided what he called “A Possibility Thinker’s Guide to a Successful Church.” The book is a manual for a ministry built on pure pragmatism, sensationalistic promotion, a therapeutic message, and a constant and incessant focus on thinking positively.

His message about money was simple: “No church has a money problem; churches only have idea problems,” he asserted.

As most of those who keep up with the headlines know, Schuller's Crystal Cathedral has declared bankruptcy.

I guess he ran out of ideas.

Any church founded on a pastor's good ideas will ultimately fail; but it is spiritually bankrupt from the start.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back on the Virginia Peninsula

This week I am preaching a revival meeting in Newport News, VA at the Olivet Christian Church. It's really great to be back in this area. I ministered for 12 years with the nearby Northampton Church of Christ, and there are lots of dear friends and good memories here. My good friend David Willis is the preacher at Olivet, and we are having a good time laughing and talking shop. I plan to visit some of my old running routes, and of course some of my fave restaurants like Rocky Mount BBQ and Hot Dog King. But the best part is getting to preach God's Word to His people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rescued from the Depths

This morning I was reading the paper (yes, I’m still old school that way), amazed at the story about the rescue of the Chilean miners who have been trapped underground for 69 days. The account of the first miner, Florencio Avalos, emerging from the missile-like rescue capsule to a cacophony of cheers, hugging his sobbing 7-year-old son and wife and President Sebastia Pinera was heartwarming. I literally had a lump in my throat. One writer reported, “The miners emerged like clockwork, jubilantly embracing wives, children and rescuers and looking remarkably composed Wednesday after languishing in the depths of a mine that easily could have been their tomb.”

The world is captivated by this story. Everyone is celebrating the rescue. I could not help but think of the stories Jesus told in Luke 15 about the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. The words of the father of the Prodigal Son come to mind, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and found” (Luke 15:32).

Each one of those miners is somebody’s son, brother, husband, or boyfriend. Each one is loved, and important to somebody else. Each one’s rescue/salvation is celebrated with great rejoicing. As the last few miners emerge from the depths, the celebration will continue. Miner #33 is just as important as Miner #1. Let’s have this same mindset in the Lord’s church. Every person who comes to know Jesus is reason to rejoice. One more has been rescued from the pit of hell. Praise be to God!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Morning in St. Louis

I spent a day and a half in St. Louis with a couple of minister friends, exchanging possible sermon ideas and best practices. I woke up early this morning decided to go for a run. My hotel was a mile or so from the Gateway Arch, so I decided to run down to the Arch and the surrounding National Park. As I got closer to the monument, the sun was rising up behind it. When I arrived at the park and ran around the Arch there was fog on the Mississippi. It was a gorgeous sight. The city was just starting to come to life, so it seemed like I had the whole place to myself.  It was very cool, and a great way to begin the day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 Personal Growth Questions

Perry Noble has these on his blog today. I thought they were good:

#1 – Am I reading my Bible for information or transformation?
(James 1:22-25)

#2 – Am I allowing people or circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus promised to me? (John 10:10)

#3 – Is there anything in my life that God is consistently dealing with that I am trying to ignore? (Ezekiel 14:1-5)

#4 – Who are the people in my life that God has placed around me for the purpose of me sharing Christ with them and/or inviting them to church? (II Corinthians 5:16-21)

#5 – Is there anyone I need to apologize to? (Ephesians 4:25:27)

#6 – Is there anyone I need to forgive? (Ephesians 4:32)

#7 – Is there a sin I need to confess to others and ask for help? (James 5:16)

#8 – Am I fully utilizing the gifts and abilities that God has blessed me with…or am I simply choosing to waste my life? (I Peter 4:10)

#9 – Do I know more lines from the movies that I love than verse from the Bible that I read? (Psalm 119:11)

#10 – Is there anything going on in my life privately that, if it became public, would cause me and/or the body of Christ to be embarrassed? (I John 1:9, James 5:16)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Penetrating Questions

Tim Stevens asked some penetrating question in a recent blog post:
The Pain of Growth
Last week I was asked, “If our church is going to double in the next two years (from 500 to 1000), what will it take?” Here is what I shared…

Some of you won’t have as much access to the senior leader. This has to be okay with you.

Ask: Are you more committed to maintaining the tight-knit staff size and your proximity to the pastor? Or are you more committed to the church growing?

Some of you are doing okay as a leader in a church of 500, but that’s not going to cut it at 1,000. You need to be willing to step aside into another role.

Ask: Are you more committed to keeping your position and title? Or are you more committed to reaching more people?
You will need to anticipate the strain and pressure before you actually feel it. You are the leader–looking ahead, around the corner.

Ask: Are you comfortable? If so, you probably aren’t anticipating growth adequately.

You will have to be as willing to stop stuff as you are to start stuff.
Ask: What are you doing that takes time and energy and diverts your focus? What has God uniquely gifted your team to do where you should put more focus?

You will have to drive up the level of excellence. When people walk up to a fair booth to buy food, they have one expectation of service and quality. At McDonalds, it’s another level. And when they walk into a Houlihan’s, it’s yet another level. As you grow, so will the expectations of your guests.

Ask: What areas of the ministry would not be considered excellent if you were a church of 1000?

What would you add to the list?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What a Great Weekend

We had a terrific weekend at Cedar Creek. Bob Russell did an excellent job preaching, and the church received him well. On Sunday night, Bob met with the elders and staff for an informal time of teaching and leadership Q & A. I was privileged to spend some time with him (playing golf and talking shop) before we went the the Men's Rally at Lake James Christian Assembly. It was a record-setting night, with nearly 500 people in attendance. Bob's message was challenging and convicting. I was very proud of the Cedar Creek guys (the staff, the elders, the band, the tech team) and the LJCA staff. It was a wonderful night and the Lord was praised.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bob Russell Coming to The Creek

Cedar Creek Church is excited to welcome Bob Russell this weekend. Bob will be preaching during the morning services at The Creek, and also speaking at the Men's Rally on Monday night at Lake James Christian Assembly. If you are in the area, we would love to have you worship with us.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hipster Christianity

A few weeks ago I read Brett McCracken's piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Perils of Hipster Christianity. I thought he really hit the nail on the head. I ordered his book from Amazon and read it essentially in one sitting. This guy is no clueless dorky prude (he writes for Relevant magazine!), but he makes some very vaild points about the church's vain pusuit of "cool." We're never gonna get there folks. Just be the church!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Man's Weekend

Tracy is out-of-town and Lindsey is away college, so Luke and I have a few days to do some fun "guy stuff." Last night we played nine holes of golf, then we came home and watched Jaws. I had forgotten about many of the scenes in that movie. It was pretty good for 1975. And Luke loved it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend @ The Creek

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. Cedar Creek is hosting two great events. We did something similar last year and it was a great time. If you are in the Fort Wayne area this weekend, come join us!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Northmen

Just got back from The Northmen. It is an annual campmeeting for men & boys in Northern Michigan. It is very primitive. We camp out in the middle of the woods (the nearest town is 12 miles away). No electricity or indoor plumbing (bathing is done in the creek). I got to hear some of my friends preach, and I enjoyed the fellowship with the guys from Cedar Creek. My favorite part is spending time with my son. Next year is going to be the final Northmen. Mark your calendars for August 2-4, 2011.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finishing Well

While at Hillsboro Family Camp I had the privilege of hearing five men who have been in the ministry for 50 years or more (George Faull, Glenn Bourne, Ray Bennett, Harvey Bream, and Olan Hicks). Some of these brothers have been my ministry heroes (Ed Bousman, at 91 years of age, spoke on Thursday, but I didn’t get to hear him). It was encouraging to hear these brothers talk about the joys of ministry, and yes, even the disappointments; because through it all, God is faithful. If the Lord tarries, I pray that I will follow in the footsteps of these men who are finishing well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hillsboro Family Camp

I was able to enjoy a couple of days at the Hillsboro Family Camp. It’s always like coming home; there are so many friends there. I have a lot of fond memories of Family Camp. When I was a newbie preacher, Hillsboro had a huge impact on me. I appreciate those who prayed for me as I preached on Tuesday night. And the folks were very encouraging afterwards. It was great to hear some of my friends preach also.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Recently my daughter graduated from High School. Her younger brother will follow in her footsteps in a few years. As I reflected on their young lives and contemplated the fact that they will soon be living on their own, I wondered where their faith journey would take them. They have attended Restoration Movement churches their entire lives, but lately I have been asking myself what I want to pass along to them regarding their spiritual heritage.

I want my children to know that we are a people of the book. When we use the Bible as our primary source for teaching and preaching, we are following the example of the early pioneers of our movement. Alexander Campbell (and others) emphasized the return to the Bible, apart from the teachings, traditions and doctrines of men, as the guide and rule of a believer’s life. Many times my children and congregation have heard me echo that old phrase, “The Bible only makes Christians only.” Our goal is to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. I must admit that it is easier said than done. However, the Scriptures must be the place where we turn to find God’s will for our lives and for His church.

Even so, I want them to realize that we do not have a monopoly on truth. Nearly all of our early leaders came from denominational backgrounds. Much of what they learned about God and His Word came from their experiences in those churches. Truth is truth regardless of the pedigree of the person speaking it. We should be grateful for the diligent work of Bible translators and missionaries; teachers and preachers and writers. The Reformers paved the way for those who would come along after them, those we now recognize as the “Restoration Forefathers.” Today we still benefit from the insight of people who are not from “our tribe.” We must never come to believe that our movement has a correct understanding of every point of doctrine, and by implication everyone else is wrong.

I want my daughter and son to understand that our movement is just that, a movement. The restoration of New Testament Christianity is something that we long for; something that we move towards as we continue to study the Bible and witness to a world that needs Christ. There is no new truth – God is not giving additional revelation. However, perhaps we have more to restore. Maybe there are some issues that we need to restudy and rethink. Are there practices that Scripture commends that we have neglected? Are there actions that we need to cease? Are there attitudes that we need to adjust?

I want my children to have their own faith and be independent thinkers and students of the Scriptures. Of course, my desire is that they remain in this movement. But I want them to do so because they really believe in its principles and pleas, not simply because it is our family tradition. However, our children will not know these things unless we take the time and make the effort to teach them. What are you teaching your kids these days?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I just love July 4th in our little community. It is the most Mayberry-esque day of the year. It seems like the entire community comes out to enjoy the festivities. Cedar Creek has a very visible presence at this event. Our Praise Band had the privilege of playing worship songs for about an hour in the park pavilion. The youth group sold pop and water. Several of us were wearing red "Celebrate Christ at the Creek" t-shirts. It’s like a family reunion. The weather was perfect and the fireworks show was spectacular.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Five Guys

Fort Wayne has a new burger joint -- Five Guys. It is a national chain, but new to this area. And it is fantastic! Everything about it is great. I have been there a few times, but last night we went with some friends and had a great time. If there is a Five Guys in your area, check it out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If God had texted the Ten Commandments

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

1.no1 b4 me. srsly.
2.dnt wrshp pix/idols omg’s wrk on w/end
5.pos ok – ur m&d r cool
6.dnt kill ppl
7.:-X only w/ m8
8.dnt steal
9.dnt lie re: bf
10.dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

Monday, May 24, 2010

23 Years of Ministry

Today marks 23 years since I was “set apart” or formally “ordained into the ministry” by my home church in Three Oaks, Michigan. I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about the things that God has allowed me to do for Him over the years. I don’t deserve to be saved, let alone serve as one of God’s messengers. Yet, because of His grace, the Lord grants me the wonderful privilege of proclaiming the Good News.

In 1987 I never could have imagined that I would have the privilege of serving a little country church in Michigan (those dear saints endured a 21 year old rookie minister learning how to preach); then moving to a wonderful church in Virginia, winning many to the Lord, developing deep friendships, and ordaining several young men into the ministry. Nor did I have any idea that I would come to Fort Wayne, Indiana to serve with another great church. God has blessed me with the privilege of preaching in many places, (Revivals, Campmeetings, etc.), meeting some great saints along the way. Thank you Jesus!

I’m just as “fired up” today as I was 23 years ago. Like the prophet Jeremiah, I can say, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot!” With the apostle Paul, I say, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and supported me through the years.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pulpit Provocateurs

I listen to a lot of sermon podcasts and have noticed a disturbing trend. That is the language that some preachers are using. Words like crap and pissed and screwed; or euphemisms like flippin’ or frickin’; or scatological humor – these are becoming commonplace. Seriously.

Perhaps this is an effort to be cool or relevant, but I believe we are losing the power and authority of the Word of God and the role of the pulpit (whether you have a literal pulpit is not the point). Preachers will point to the Apostle Paul’s use of scubalon in Phil. 3:8 (a shocking word that some contend should be translated crap or sh*t in our vernacular), or his wish that the Judaizers would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12).

The argument goes something like this: “Paul used shocking words, so I can do so also.” But the reason these examples are notable is that they are so rare! And I've got a news flash for you bro – you are not an inspired apostle!

I’m not a stuffed shirt or a prude, but c’mon guys! Really?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Young, Restless, and Restorationist

As a minister I often read and sometimes travel in circles outside the Restoration Movement, in what is broadly called evangelicalism. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring among this group , a resurgence in Reformed Theology (i.e. the teachings of men like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, and others). In 2009, Time Magazine listed The New Calvinism as one of the Top 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Young people who have been attracted to this have been called, “Young, Restless, and Reformed” in numerous articles, books, and blog posts. Dissatisfied with the status quo that they are experiencing in their congregations, they are starting to read, study, and promote some of the core doctrines that launched the Protestant Reformation.

These facts may fascinate some folks, but why am I writing about them in a column that is supposed to promote Restoration Movement principles? The answer is simple. I’m wondering whether the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ can demonstrate a similar rebirth. Does our movement have significant numbers of people who can be identified as, “Young, Restless, and Restorationist”? If so, how can we motivate and mobilize them to spread their enthusiasm among our churches and the world? If not, can such a passion be created, and how can it be done?

The plea of our forefathers to restore New Testament Christianity needs to be rediscovered by a new generation (actually, multiple generations are good candidates for exposure to this subject). The very principles that once made the Restoration Movement the fastest growing movement in North America are just as valid today as they were 200 years ago. The early slogans still ring true:
Where the Scriptures speak we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.
No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible.
Do Bible things in Bible ways; call Bible things by Bible names.
In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion liberty; in all things, charity.
Surely there are people in their 20’s and 30’s who have grown weary of the “same old church thing” and would be eager to embrace a return to the church as depicted on the pages of the New Testament. Our Calvinist friends have demonstrated that young people are not averse to things of a spiritual/biblical nature. I urge you to pray for the Lord to raise up leaders in our movement who are able to capture the imaginations of our young and bright believers. The purpose is not simply to perpetuate the movement or to elevate human leaders like Alexander Campbell or Walter Scott. Rather, the goal should be to promote the truth that has eternal value.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ernie Harwell

I didn't start listening to Ernie Harwell until I went to college. But wow, that guy was an outstanding broadcaster. The Tigers were very good in those days (mid 80's) winning the world series in 1984, so I listened to a lot of games. Several of my college friends were Tigers fans, so it was hard to avoid. They don't make 'em like Ernie anymore.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I’m preaching about laziness on Sunday. Actually the sermon is entitled Valuing Your Work, but the unspoken subtitle is:“Quit being a lazy bum, sitting on your butt, eating Cheetos and playing video games while living in your Mom's basement." I’m in a series call Got Wisdom? It’s from the book of Proverbs -- perhaps is the greatest "how-to" book ever written. God’s Word has much to say about the rewards of work and diligence; as well as the consequences of sloth and laziness. No wonder the ancients listed it as one of the seven deadly sins.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

T4G Wrap-Up

One of my friends asked me how I enjoyed T4G. I told him (half-jokingly) that it was great, except for the Calvinism. Obviously, I didn't agree with everything I heard, but the sessions encouraged my soul. I especially appreciated the last sermon by C.J. Mahaney -- it was a call to preach the Word -- certainly something I have heard before, but it's good to be reminded from time to time.

Another thing that sets this conference apart is the number of books that are given away. At each main session we found four new books on our chairs. I volunteered a couple of times to help with the distribution (two or three hundred volunteers fanning out to place chairs on 7000 seats is a sight to behold -- and it was fun!).

Here is the list of books given to us:

•R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God
•Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation
•Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence, It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement
•Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything
The ESV Study Bible
•Thabiti Anyabwile, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence
•Greg Gilbert, What Is the Gospel?
•John MacArthur, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
•Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters
•John Piper, Finally Alive
•Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards on Beauty
•Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Plight of Man and the Power of God
•Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, The Essential Jonathan Edwards Collection
•Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching
•Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World
•Ligon Duncan, Fear Not! Death and the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective
•T4G, Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
•D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
•J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
•Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline
•J. Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Together for the Gospel

I am attending the Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville this week. Day One was great. Mark Dever had an outstanding message. And they are giving away books galore. At the beginning of each new main session there are four new books on the seats. The worship is wonderful. 7000 men singing In Christ Alone -- wow! But the highlight of Day One was was meeting my old friend Derek Penwell for supper. Derek and I have known each other since elementary school days (we attended church camp together). We reconnected in college (playing on the baseball team and rooming next door to each other). He was one of the groomsmen in my wedding. We haven't seen each other in over 20 years. It was great to catch up.

I'm looking forward to Day Two with heavy hitters John MacArthur and John Piper.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

John Piper Rethinks Long-Standing Belief

After announcing his upcoming 8-month leave-of-absence, Calvinist John Piper also released the following statement concerning his position on the atonement:

"After much study of God's Word, I have come to the conclusion that the Calvinist position concerning the doctrine of the atonement is outside the teachings of Scripture. For many years I have taught that the Calvinist position on the atonement was absolutely correct. I taught that the atonement was the elect. Jesus died to save the elect to the glory of God. I taught that God the Father sent the Son to glorify His name by dying in place of the elect and through His Spirit He now draws them unto Himself. I was incorrect.

I now teach that the atonement was for all and this truly brings glory to God. For many years I have sought to exalt God through faithful teaching of His Word. I have tried to emphasize that the Westminster Confession of Faith is correct when it say that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is accomplished best through the unlimited atonement of Jesus Christ. God is glorified and His honor is proclaimed when we declare that Jesus died for all men and that all men can be saved through His atonement. What a wondrous work is Jesus' death and resurrection! How mighty is our God!"

I must say that I was shocked to read such a statement. You can more about the Piper statement here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Matter of Opinion?

Have you ever been in a discussion about a particular teaching of the New Testament and heard someone say, “Well that was just Paul’s opinion”? I have heard people say this with regard to homosexuality. And the qualifications for elders. But most often it is used as an attempt to refute the biblical teaching about the role of women in the church, particularly 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” There is similar teaching in 1 Corinthians 14.

Ignoring a biblical command due to the belief that it is merely “Paul’s opinion” is fraught with theological pitfalls. It seriously challenges the doctrines of inspiration and apostolic authority. It puts one on a slippery slope toward biblical irrelevance. If a doctrine can be ignored and written off as someone’s opinion , then almost nothing is off-limits (except perhaps the red-letter words of Jesus).

The Holy Spirit anticipated the “matter of opinion” issue. In 1 Corinthians 14:37 (in the context of women being silent in the churches), Paul writes, “If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.” In other words, he is saying “This is NOT merely my opinion.”

However, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that the teaching in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 is simply Paul’s opinion. The opinion of the apostle Paul should carry much weight with those who want to follow the Lord. We are talking about a man who was perhaps the godliest person to ever walk the earth (next to Jesus). He was someone who preached the gospel, healed the sick, raised the dead, and penned two-thirds of the New Testament. He was imprisoned for his faith; stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and left for dead. Isn’t his opinion something that should have great influence over us?

The person who says, “That was just Paul’s opinion” wants me to reject what Paul says and listen to what she says. As former President Bush used to say: "Not gonna do it!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

For the Love of Books

My brother-in-law came to town for a visit today. He brought me a present -- a big box of books. He has a lot of "preacher books" that he no longer wants/needs. He brought a variety of commentaries, books about preaching and a few other topics. I already had a few of them, so I passed them along to some staff. We were all happy. Thanks Barry!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Restoration History

I have been teaching about the history of the Restoration Movement during the winter session of The Well (the mid-week program at our church). It is one of the elective classes we offer for adults. Ever since my Bible College days, I have been a Restoration History buff. The principles and plea of our spiritual forefathers resonates with my spirit. The idea of taking the Bible only and being a Christian only, eschewing denominational divisions makes sense to me.

It has been fun introducing these concepts to some of the new believers in our congregation. Some of my brethren have suggested that it is time to bury the Restoration Plea. They are simply wrong.