Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trying Times

Some people call me a wimp. Some people say I'm accident prone. I don't believe either one! I think I am just a trophy of grace!

At the end of September I broke my ring finger on my left hand playing football. After several weeks in a cast a couple of weeks taped up, my finger is pretty much back to normal now. So what do I do? Go play football again! What else?

Yeah, you guessed it. Bad idea. The very first time I was back on the field, I jammed my index finger on my right hand and broke a rib. *Sigh.* The finger's a little sore but doing fine. The rib hurts like crazy. I am now the official referee.

For some people these may be frustrating things. Come to think of it, that's exactly what they are for me, too. I have enjoyed playing with the teens and have been really frustrated about not being able to really play much anymore. I figure it may not be worth it to go back out and play hardcore. Those of you who know me well know that I've never really played a lot of sports. It's not that I don't like them, I have just invested my time in other ways. So why, when I finally get to play on a regular basis--even as a ministry--does God let such discouraging things happen?

It's time for theology to say hello to reality. "Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). The endurance production business is not a fun one, but James insists that it is my faith, not my endurance that is being tested. My endurance is being developed by the testing of my faith.

So the issue at hand (no pun intended) is that broken fingers, broken ribs and having to sit out of football is a test of whether I believe what God has said about himself. God has promised to withhold no good thing from me (Psalm 84:11). Do I believe him? God has promised that everything that comes into my life will be to make me more like Christ (Romans 8:28). Do I believe him?

That's why I say I am a trophy of grace! My broken bones and frustrated desires are an opportunity for me to express to everyone around me that God is great and God is good and his plans are infinitely more important and infinitely more satisfying than my own!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bruce on Sin

1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin.” F. F. Bruce in his commentary on 1 John writes the following:

“Sin is so thoroughly uncharacteristic of the Christian Life that a life which is marked by sin cannot be called Christian.”

Think on that!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Evaluating the HCSB

If you were looking for a new Bible these days, you could easily become overwhelmed with the plethora of translations to choose from. From humanistic and irreverent paraphrases and "Biblezines" to interlinear multi-language study Bibles, there is certainly no lack of translations available across the theological spectrum. So why have the folks at Holman Publishers ( decided to grace us with another new translation?

I grew up on the KJV and had no trouble understanding basic Elizabethan English by the time I was in Jr. High. When I went to college I began using the NASB in an effort to force me to pay closer attention to the text rather than simply breezing across passages that sounded very familiar. It was amazing how I had come to take the text for granted and how simply reading in a new translation helped me pay closer attention to the text.

When I began working with teens several years ago, I began using the NIV. I noticed that when I asked teens to read from their King James Bibles they could not explain the passages at all. When I had them read from an updated English translation, however, they quickly grasped the main ideas of the text. We cut out a lot of "wasted" time simply updating the language for 21st century English speakers.

So why am I now considering switching to yet another new translation? Am I caught up in the "new translation" fads? I don't think so! With each translation change I have been delighted and frustrated simultaneously. With the switch to the NASB I was thrilled with the accuracy of translation that included recent scholarly studies, but I was disappointed with its reading difficulty. With the change to the NIV I was excited about its reading ease and its translation accuracy, but I was frustrated several times with translation choices (e.g., the translation of sarx in Romans as "sinful nature").

I began reading the Holman Christian Standard Bible online several months ago and was greatly impressed. My dad bought me a print version several weeks ago, and I have been more than impressed...I have been thrilled! Here are some of the features of the HCSB that have made me a "convert" to this fantastic translation.

1. Reading Ease -- The HCSB reads like a well-written work of literature. The dialogue sounds like dialogue and the narrative sounds like narrative and the poetry sounds like poetry. It's enjoyable to read and to listen to.

2. Translation Courage -- The HCSB does not bow to tradition, but to accuracy when it comes to translation. For years I have been frustrated over the misinterpretation of John 3:16 as, "God loved the world so much that...." The HCSB correctly translates the houtos in that phrase as "in this way." "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, HCSB). This and other translation acuracies demonstrate the commitment the tranlators have to the meaning of the original text.

3. Interpretation Options -- The HCSB leaves purposely ambiguous phrases as such instead of selecting a particular interpretation. For example, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 has an awkward phrase that often gets interpreted in translations. The HCSB leaves the phrase vague so that different interpretations are possible. NOTE: Of course it is not a good idea to leave phrases vague that should be and could be translated in a specific way, but texts about which there may be legitimate differences of interpretation, the HCSB is honest about and leaves vague.

4. Theological Terms -- The HCSB retains theological terms such as grace, propitiation, justification, righteousness, etc.

There are many other features of the HCSB that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I'm sure as I continue to use this translation over the coming years I may find things that I would do differently, but I would definitely give the Holman Christian Standard Bible high marks! I used to use the NASB for studying and the NIV for teaching/preaching. With the HCSB I now have one translation that works well for both. I encourage you to read it online at Or, better yet, go buy the $8 paperback version and feast on the Word! Let me know if you do and what you think.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Double Trouble

I got a phone call from Sarah Lindsay the other day. Apparently Brian and Sarah are having twins! Congratulations, you two...and good luck!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rutherford -- Perspective

In a world of unrelenting materialism and constant bombardment with "stuff," we desperately need a perspective check on a regular basis. Our culture says, "Get this. You need this. This will make you happy." Whether it's new cars, relationships, clothing or just our "rights," we are thoroughly innundated with calls for a this-world outlook and mindset. While exiled in Aberdeen in 1637, Rutherford wrote to Thomas Corbet of his love for Christ and how his intimacy with the Savior makes all this world's vanities be revealed for what they truly are: vanities.

"Build not your nest here. This world is a hard, ill-made bed; no rest is in it for your soul. Awake, awake and make haste to seek that Pearl, Christ, that this world seeth not. Your night and your Master Christ will be upon you within a clap; your hand-breadth of time will not bide you. Take Christ, howbeit a storm follow him. Howbeit this day be not yours and Christ's, the morrow will be yours and his. I would not exchange the joy of my bonds and imprisonment for Christ with all the joy of this dirty and foul-skinned world. I am filled with Christ's love."

Only when we see the world as Samuel Rutherford saw it--through the eyes of eternal joys--can we really find true delight in what is infinitely delightful, namely, Christ himself. Oh, that our eyes were opened to behold wonderful things in the Person of our great Savior! And oh, that all our spiritual senses were awakened to taste and see that he is good! Then would we never wish to be entangled again with such broken and leaking cisterns as this world has to offer.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Personal -- Finger Update and Baby Info

I went back to the hand specialist on Monday and he said my finger is healing well. I get the cast off in 10 more days!

All right, now to the important stuff:

Monday, September 26, 2005

Personal -- Oh dear...

This post is a very difficult one because I have to type it with one hand. All right, here's the story:

Every fall we have a family picnic for our teens and their families and friends. This year we had nearly 70 peope show up for what promised to be an unforgettable experience. We love flag football, and we were thrilled to have a large group of people for a game on a real field! It doesn't get any better. Well, not 10 minutes into the game, David and I ran a successful blitz on Bob and pushed their team back a few yards. When they got a first down we decided to try it again. This time, however, I missed Bob's flag and hit him in the side. Yes, I broke my finger. I broke the ring finger on my left hand. The bone below the second knuckle is broken in two places. I took my wedding ring off quickly. That was shortly before I passed out. Well, they tell me I passed out...I don't really remember that part. I'm going to a hand specialist today at 12:30 to see what needs to be done. I would certainly appreciate your prayers. I'm going to miss playing the piano for several months, but I know God means this for my good and his glory, so I will rejoice! Rejoice with me, and pray for me!

UPDATE: I went to the specialist this afternoon. He said he would try to set the bone back in place, but if he couldn't he would have to do surgery to put in pins and plates because the bone was broken and twisted. Well of course the word "surgery" sent instant prayers shooting up to my Heavenly Father. God was very gracious, and the doctor was able to set the bone, literally in a matter of seconds. He took x-rays afterward and it was a perfect fit! Even the doctor was surprised. The pictures below are of my hand before he worked on it, and then immediately after:

My hand is in a cast right now. I'll go back for a follow-up visit next Monday. If the bone is healing well and hasn't shifted, then I'll be in the cast for about 3-4 weeks. Please pray with me that it stays in place!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Personal -- Congratulations!

Congrats to Brian and Sarah Lindsay, friends from college! They're expecting their first child in May!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rutherford, et. al. -- Depressed Christians

Depressed Christians? It should sound like an oxymoron. In fact, it would sound like an oxymoron if it weren’t too often our experience. So what does a depressed Christian do? Chances are Prozac and Zoloft aren’t the best options. But my question isn’t so much about how a Christian gets out of depression as how a Christian gets through depression. How do depressed--or lamenting--Christians talk? How do they sing? How do they think?

Check out these depressed believers from history:

1. Job – If anyone had a reason to be depressed, this guy had it! He lost everything…I mean, everything…in one day. Many of the Katrina victims can’t even come close to the loss that Job experienced (although their loss may feel just as great). This is what Job said:

"Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?" (Job 3:23)

Job asks, "Why, God, do you take everything from a man and yet let him live then in his misery?" Do we scold Job for asking? Do we somehow feel his frustration with him?

2. Paul – Like Job, Paul experienced sufferings that most of us will never endure for the cause of Christ’s Kingdom. He told the Corinthians,

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life" (2 Cor 1:8).

"Despaired even of life." That doesn’t sound very "Christian." Yet what gets Paul through such a despairing situation?

3. Samuel Rutherford – Perhaps it was more his disposition than his circumstances that brought on Rutherford’s depression, although he definitely had his share of depressing circumstances as well. In January of 1646 he writes to James Guthrie,

"I am at a low ebb as to any sensible communion with Christ; yea, as low as any soul can be, and do scarce know where I am; and do now make it a question, if any can go to him, who dwelleth in light inaccessible, through nothing but darkness. Surely, all that come to heaven have a stock in Christ; but I know not where mine is…. I should count my soul engaged to yourself, and others there with you, if you would but carry to Christ for me a letter of ciphers and nonsense (for I know not how to make language of my condition)" (Letters, 176-177).

4. Charles H. Spurgeon – Spurgeon considered himself born with a certain disposition towards “melancholy,” the old word for depression. He often lamented the depressing nature of people who criticized his sermons: "'Thou shalt not yoke the ox and the ass together' was a merciful precept: but when a laborious, ox-like minister comes to be yoked to a deacon who is not another ox, it becomes hard work to plough" (Lectures to My Students, 311). But he especially experienced depression when some jokers yelled out "Fire!" in the middle of one of his sermons at the Surrey Gardens. There were more than 10,000 people present and pandemonium broke out. Seven people died in the stampede that followed and many more were injured. Spurgeon was only 22 years old at the time. Spurgeon described himself afterwards as having been "a soul [that] went so near the burning furnace of insanity."

So the question again is what does a depressed Christian do? Can he pray? Can he sing? Can he question God? I ask these questions not because I am suffering from depression; I’m actually quite happy this morning! I ask them, rather, because I see so much suffering around me. In my church people are suffering and distraught. In my school young men preparing for the ministry are weighed down with despair. And in my reading I come across Rutherfords and Spurgeons and Jobs and Pauls who say things like, "Why does God even let people live when he brings such sorrow on them?"

Here are some thoughts. First, respond in a Rutherford-like way. After his complaint to Guthrie about his depressed state, he begs his friends to pray for God to rain down infinite mercy upon him. Rutherford understood that only the infinite, sovereign grace of God could help him. "Millions of hells of sinners cannot come near to exhaust infinite grace."

Second, read Spurgeon’s sermon, "The Sorrowful Man’s Question." You can read it by clicking here.

Third, Justin Taylor’s post on his blog "Between Two Worlds." The post is called, "What Can Miserable Christians Sing?"

I know, I know, that’s a cop-out. I won’t even answer the questions I raise! That’s okay, though. Rutherford, Spurgeon and Trueman (on Taylor’s blog) answer the questions very well. Check them out, and lament like a real believer!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Personal/Theology -- Embracing ALL of the Body of Christ

I had a very interesting and deeply humbling experience Sunday night. As a part of one of my seminary classes, I am required to visit and evaluate preaching services at various churches. Sunday evening I had planned to visit a fairly large Southern Baptist Church in the area. When I got there, however, I discovered that they were not having a regular service that evening, so I had to find somewhere else to go. I found a small Independent Baptist Church called Welcome Baptist Church and decided to go there. The church sign read, “Sin invites judgment,” so I was quite sure that this would be an interesting experience. The problem was that I approached the entire situation without the mindset of Philippians 2:1-11 or 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. I thought I would go incognito and see how this church treated me. That was how I was going to evaluate them. It didn’t take more than about 5 minutes, though, for the Holy Spirit to severely rebuke my arrogance. “You’re not here to criticize or critique; you’re a part of this Body whether you like it or not!” So my austere demeanor very quickly changed to an attitude of love—and I’m sure that I and Welcome Baptist Church were both better off because of it. I decided to smile and be friendly and try to be an encouragement to these believers. After all, I was probably the first visitor that had seen in quite a while. I am very thankful that God changed my attitude quickly. I left feeling like I had been able to encourage these people and be a blessing to them rather than simply a thorn in their side for that evening. And, not so amazingly, they were a blessing and an encouragement to me as well! I learned that night that I have been far too hypocritical in my embracing of parts of the Body of Christ. If I can embrace the Pipers, the MacArthurs, the Sprouls, the Packers and others, I must be just as willing to embrace the names that I’ve never heard of and will probably never hear again.

But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
Jesus is the way.
Casting Crowns

Monday, August 29, 2005

Personal -- Congratulations!

Congrats to my good friends, Marius and Tamar Pundys! They just adopted a beautiful baby boy, born August 27, 2005. Peter Joshua Pundys was 7 lbs., 3 oz and 19 inches long! Congratulations!

See more pictures here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just for Fun -- Church Signs

We've all seen our share of ridiculous church signs, like the one down the road from my church that use to read, "Wal-mart is not the only saving place." Church signs range from the disappointingly pathetic to the enragingly blasphemous. Well now you can create your own ridiculous church! Check it out:

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Personal -- Fall Semester

I just finished registering for the fall semester. They still call me a full-time student, and I'm beginning to wonder how many different "full-time" things I can be called all at once! Please pray for me this semester.

Here's my schedule, for those of you who are interested:

Mondays: My day off!

Tuesdays: 9:30 – 11:30, Principles of Preaching (Davey); 11:30 – 1:35, Theology of Pentateuch (Soltau)

Wednesdays: No classes

Thursdays: 7:30 – 9:00, President’s Hour; 11:30 – 1:35, Exegesis of Poetry (Soltau)

Friday: No classes

I’m also taking an iSchool (online) class with Dr. Ebert called The Use of the OT by the Writer of Hebrews.

If you're interested in Central Seminary, check out the website:

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Just for Fun

It would be funny...if it weren't too true!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rutherford – Assurance and Confrontation

There are two things that have been bothering me over the past several weeks. One regards the issue of assurance of salvation; the other touches on our boldness in confronting followers of Christ for their sin. The trouble for me is not that we tend to lack teaching on assurance, but that we tend to be very different in how we teach assurance from what I find in men like Rutherford and, more importantly, Paul and Christ. Along those lines, I find Jesus, Paul and Rutherford confronting sin in their followers in a way that I find myself very uneasy about. I constantly struggle with the questions, “Am I being too harsh? Am I being too merciful? Am I being too impatient? Am I being too patient?” That balance is very difficult to achieve. Here are some of the things I’m reading from Paul, Jesus and Samuel Rutherford that make this battle in my mind so difficult.


“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21 NIV).

I can’t miss the fact that discord, jealousy and selfish ambition are in that list—qualities that can be found in many young men and women.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:1-5 NIV).


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mat. 5:27-30 NIV).

Jesus in no way offered a “wait-and-see-how-it-goes” policy for dealing with sin. He insisted on “radical amputation.”


“You may put a difference betwixt you and reprobates, if you have these marks:

  1. If ye prize Christ and his truth so as you will sell all and buy him, and suffer for it.
  2. If the love of Christ keepeth you back from sinning, more than the law, or fear of hell.
  3. If you be humble and deny your own will, wit, credit, ease, honour, the world, and the vanity and glory of it.
  4. Your profession must not be barren and void of good works.
  5. You must in all things aim at God’s honour. You must eat, drink, sleep, buy, sell, sit, stand, speak, pray, read, and hear the Word, with a heart-purpose that God may be honoured.
  6. You must show yourself an enemy to sin, and reprove the works of darkness, such as drunkenness, swearing, and lying, albeit the company should hate you for so doing.
  7. Keep in mind the truth of God that you heard me teach, and have nothing to do with the corruptions and new guises entering into the house of God.
  8. Make conscience of your calling, in covenants, in buying and selling.
  9. Acquaint yourself with daily praying; commit all your ways and actions to God by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. And count not much of being mocked, for Christ Jesus was mocked before you" (Letters of Samuel Rutherford, 83-84).

Here lies my dilemma: Though the gospel itself is very clearly by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, our assurance of our salvation rests on the evidence that it produces. That is easy enough to understand. The dilemma part of it comes for me when teens in my youth group seem more keen on lying than on telling the truth; when sexual sin becomes a lifestyle for a person—even though he or she “really wants to be free” from it; when God and his Word are only Sunday and Wednesday necessities. These are the situations I find myself facing and wondering how best to respond. When Rutherford wrote to John Gordon of Cardoness, he challenged him on his salvation with these words:

“I beseech you, Sir, by the salvation of your precious soul and the mercies of God, to make good and sure work of your salvation, and try upon what ground-stone you have builded. Worthy and dear Sir, if you be upon sinking sand, a storm of death and a blast will lose Christ and you, and wash you close off the rock. O for the Lord’s sake look narrowly to the work.... Know this, that those who never had sick nights or days in conscience for sin, cannot have but such a peace with God as will [fester] and break the flesh again, and end in a sad war at death. O how fearfully are thousands beguiled with false hide, grown over old sins, as if the soul were cured and healed” (Letters, 49-50).

So the question, for me, remains then, “To what extent to do I boldly challenge a professed faith that displays little or no evidence of genuine conversion?” For some time I resolved that impasse by insisting that it was not my duty to judge a person’s salvation, and that may still be the correct approach. However, the more I read of men like Jesus, Paul, Rutherford, Spurgeon, Owen, Baxter, et. al., the more I come to the conclusion that maybe that is exactly what my job as a shepherd is.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Personal -- Summer Retreat

We just returned yesterday from a trip to Alpine Camp at Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia. We took 10 of our teens on a summer retreat. We went whitewater rafting and rappelling and had a great time! I'll be putting some pictures up on the Grace Student Ministry website this week. Be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Personal -- Whitts Moved In

Congratulations to Paul and Christie Whitt and their family on finally getting moved in up at Northland Baptist Bible College. Paul is transitioning from a job as the world's greatest youth pastor to a job at Northland as...something important. For all of you Northland grads, you really missed out. Paul Whitt is a man of God that will be used greatly at Northland for many years to come! Here they are in the soon-to-be-frozen wasteland of NBBC:

Monday, August 08, 2005

Personal -- Baby's First Picture

We have our first pictures of our baby! Here's my favorite:

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Theology/Personal – When Theology and Reality Collide

There is a dichotomy in the Christian life that is too often too true. It goes along with the worn out joke about my being a “cemetery” student. The assumption tends to be that seminary students get all filled up with theology and, as a result, become disconnected from reality. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the trend these days in seminaries such as CBTS, Master’s and the like. Local church oriented seminaries tend to be very strong in helping students live out the theology they learn in the classroom.

Sometimes it’s easy to “apply” theology. For instance, we believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Practically, then, we don’t try to earn our salvation through good works. Easy enough, right? It gets a little stickier though in some less than obvious situations. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to live out some of the most important theological truths that I have ever learned.

Here’s how it works. One of the foundational truths that supports all that I teach my teens is that we have been created for the glory of God and that we fulfill that purpose best when we find Christ to be our most satisfying treasure. It is a truth that God taught me several years ago in a very real way, and it is a truth that my teens are finding real in their own lives. But how does it work?

What do you do when the people you love the most betray you and turn on you? How do you react when you get the phone call that someone you love has terminal cancer? Can you really insist that a young couple find their joy in Christ when they just experienced a miscarriage? Can I, as a youth pastor, honestly counsel my teens with, “Rejoice in the Lord,” when their lives seem to be going all wrong? Does this theology really work when it collides with reality?

Absolutely! My teens and I have all had the privilege of seeing a deeply rooted delight in God change the most practical, down-to-earth things. Carrie and I get to rejoice with them and they get to rejoice with us even in the most difficult situations precisely because the theology is true. Hebrews 11:6 talks of the nature of true faith as being a belief that God exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. We have seen him reward; we have seen him give us drinks from his river of delights (Ps. 36:8). When life seems to fall apart and when circumstances get seemingly impossible to bear, we show everyone around us that Christ is a greater treasure than anything we may have lost. This is the attitude of Job, of Paul, of Christ himself.

One of the tests of our theology is what happens to it when it collides with real life circumstances. I’m glad that this theology holds up well when “real life” strikes. Rutherford was right: Christ truly is a treasure worth rejoicing in more than anything…or anyone…else.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rutherford -- Christ a More Precious Treasure

Rutherford had many noble friends. Two of his best were Lord and Lady Kenmure. The Kenmures were very active in helping Rutherford and the kirk of Scotland in their quest for a spiritual reformation. In 1630, when Rutherford’s wife passed away, he wrote the following words of trust and resignation to his friends, the Kenmures:

“Whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well…. It is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bed-side, and draw aside the curtains, and say ‘Courage, I am thy salvation,’ than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited of God.”

Rutherford had an amazing perspective. Rutherford had been through this testing with his wife and had held out a constant hope in God. So four years later when Lord Kenmure died, Rutherford was able to write this piece of faith-filled counsel to Lady Kenmure:

“Your Lord never thought this world’s vain painted glory a gift worthy of you; and therefore would not bestow it on you, because he is to provide you with a better portion. Let the moveables go, the inheritance is yours. You are a child of the house, and joy is laid up for you.”

Is Christ that great a treasure to me? Am I so filled with the greatness and worth of Christ that I can call all else I hold dear “moveables”?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Theology -- Paul's Perspective on Fads and Fad Bashing

It seems that one of the recent fads in conservative evangelical and fundamental blogging has been to bash fads of broader evangelicalism. Fads such as Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Everything and Joel Osteen’s false gospel of happy thinking have been the subject of intense fad-bashing from Sharper Iron, PyroManiac and several other notable blogs. I want to take this opportunity to both congratulate my blogging colleagues on their perceptivity and at the same time to distance myself from them.

Congratulations…and thank you.

To Phil Johnson and those at Sharper Iron and other blogs who have taken up the cause of exposing bad theology and bad philosophy, I say a hearty and sincere thank you. It is indeed saddening to see hoards of professing believers spend their money on what is not bread and their labor on what does not satisfy (Isa. 55:2). It is a sad indication of the state of evangelical Christianity when books like Eldredge’s Wild at Heart top the best-seller list, yet the average Christian book store doesn’t even stock a Puritan work (never mind having a Puritan section). Certainly our brothers and sisters in Christ need to be awakened to the unbiblical content and philosophy of these “faddish” men.

The other side.

On the other hand, I have a deep desire to have a Paul-like attitude about men with whom I disagree. When Paul wrote to the Philippian believers (Phil. 1) he addressed some of the “fad” preachers of his day:

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (NIV)

That line from verse 18, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached,” really gives me reason to pause and reflect. To the extent that a popular writer/speaker proclaims Christ, to that extent I must rejoice! Just for clarification, I understand that Joel Osteen’s “gospel” is not the gospel of Christ. So I do not rejoice in his proclamations. I also understand that I probably have far less insight into the ministry of Rick Warren than others who have exposed his faulty philosophy of ministry. But to whatever extent he preaches the gospel, I will rejoice in that. If I must wait until I find pastors and churches who have my same philosophy of ministry and hold my same theological dogmas before I can rejoice, I will probably live a very un-rejoicing life.

This is my attempt to live out Augustine’s sound advice: “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” I do not want my blog or my life to be characterized by “fad bashing” or even “fad bashing bashing,” but by something positive and constructive. There must be appropriate exposure of that which is harmful to the Body of Christ, but there must also be generous grace with those with whom we disagree.


With Paul’s example in mind, let me propose an alternative to harsh, unrelenting condemnation. If a man or ministry proclaims the gospel, whether from bad motives or good motives, whether from bad philosophy or good philosophy, let us rejoice with them. Let us seek first to rejoice in the gospel, and then to expose the error. So to my Fundamentalist friends, let me encourage you not to write off men such as John MacArthur, John Piper, Mark Dever and others, simply because they don’t wear your badge or apply your doctrines in the same way that you do. To my Evangelical friends, let me encourage you not to discount everything a Rick Warren, or someone like him, may say just because they get their pneumatology wrong or their philosophical foundations are shaky. Seek first to rejoice in the gospel, and then to expose the error.

If this method of dealing with fads is not what Paul had in mind, then I welcome your suggestions as to how to have a Philippians 1:18 attitude.

One of Samuel Rutherford's "Directions for Christian Conduct": “That words be observed, wandering and idle thoughts be avoided, sudden anger and desire of revenge, even of such as persecute the truth, be guarded against; for we often mix our zeal with our wild-fire.” (From Rutherford’s letter to John Fleming, Bailie of Leith, from Aberdeen, March 15, 1637.)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Personal -- We're Having a Baby

It's official! Carrie's due date is March 4! We're very excited. We'll keep everyone updated.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Categories -- Things I'll Be Blogging About

I want to categorize the things I'll be blogging about into several categories. That way you can read only the blogs from a category that interests you. Here they are:

1. Theology -- Hopefully stimulating and profitable theological discussions; often something the Lord has recently been teaching me.

2. Personal -- Things about me and my family that may interest family and friends. I'll be posting one of these tomorrow.

3. Web -- Links to sites of interest on the Information Superhighway.

4. Just for Fun -- What can I say? Sometimes you just need a good laugh.

5. Samuel Rutherford -- History, quotes, anecdotes, etc. about a very ordinary man with a very extraordinary God.

For today, here's a Samuel Rutherford post:

Rutherford suffered great persecution at the hands of the state church. He was eventually taken out of his parish at Anwoth and exiled to Aberdeen. Yet in the midst of this persecution, he took an amazingly grace-enabled view of his persecutions. He frequently likened his persecution to carrying Christ's cross (Luke 9:23). Here's what he said about his banishment:

“O how sweet are the sufferings of Christ for Christ! God forgive them that raise an ill report upon the sweet cross of Christ. It is but our weak and dim eyes, and our looking only to the black side, that makes us mistake. Those who can take that crabbed tree handsomely upon their back, and fasten it on cannily, shall find it such a burden as wings unto a bird or sails to a ship.” (To Lady Kenmure, Aberdeen, November 22, 1636)

May God grant me that Christocentric attitude in all my joys and all my sufferings!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Will and Carrie at the beach.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)

Welcome to Anwoth

There are a lot of questions to answer about Anwoth, the blog. Today I'm going to try to answer some of them. Then I'll ask some of my own.

1. What's an "Anwoth"?
Anowth is not a piece of clothing or an ethnic food or some theological term. Anwoth is the name of the small farming community in southern Scotland that Samuel Rutherford pastored in the mid-1600s. Here's a picture:

Samuel Rutherford has become a sort of hero for me. I will be posting about Samuel Rutherford once in a while so you can meet him too. I want this blog to be a virtual Anwoth--a place where Christ is loved and exalted, a place where you and I can enjoy each other's fellowship and our fellowship with the Bridegroom Himself!

2. What will I be blogging about?
Good question. My goals for the blog fall into three main categories. First, I want to keep friends and family up to date on what is going on in my family's life. Second, I want to generate profitable discussions of a theological nature (notice the emphasis on "profitable"). Finally, I want to have a forum to pass interesting things on to you and maybe even discuss those "interesting things." Yes, that is specifically vague so that I can post about anything that interests me and throw it into that last category.

Okay, my turn for a question:

For those of you who already blog, how do I automatically send an email to people when I create new posts?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Give Up

Practically the whole world is blogging...except me. Well, I've finally given up and decided, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Actually, I'm looking forward to the whole blogging experience. So, here are the possible predictions for the future of my blogging life:

1. The entire world will find my blog to be incredibly stimulating and productive, and my blog will start a major revolution/reformation among humankind the world over.

2. The evangelical world will enjoy reading and interacting with my blog, and my blog may actually become the catalyst for something good and useful.

3. My friends and family will read my blog and may even humor me by posting their own thoughts once in a while.

4. People that I don't know will read my blog at 2:30 in the morning and wonder why they live such pathetic lives.

5. No one will even know my blog exists and I will develop an alternate personality named Charlie that will post comments on my own blog for a while before the little men with white coats insist on my beginning therapy.

Now, there's no way to really know which of those predictions will come true, but as I read back over them, I think any of them would be a life-changing experience for me! There you have it: optimism at The real plans for this blog, of course, are more visionary than "multiple personality disorder." I would like to be able to communicate with my friends about wonderful things God is doing in my life and the life of my family. I would also enjoy being able to interact with other people on topics that, frankly, I find interesting.

If you're reading this post, someone (probably me) obviously told you about my blog. If you see value here or even potential value, pass the word along! By the way, if you think you have something worthwhile to say, have at it! Welcome to Anwoth!