Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Link: White Horse Inn

I thought I would add White Horse Inn to my set of ministries links. I checked out one of their CDs from our library recently, and I enjoyed listening to it. Their radio program has made an impact on many, and I pray that it will help strengthen my love for God, create a more compassionate love for those around me, and sharpen my thinking about the Christian faith.

I pray that it will do the same for you as well!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why I Admire Dr. Mohler

I have admired and respected Dr. Mohler for several years now, and I'd like to quickly note a few reasons:

1. He is an articulate defender of the Christian faith. Long before I knew much about Southern Seminary, a friend of mine would call and tell me when Dr. Mohler would be on the various news programs. I was always amazed at the clear and calm defense he gave of the Christian faith.

2. He is responsible for bringing reform to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. For that reason, he's either loved or hated by Southern Baptists. I for one love and appreciate him for his service in that regard. I know of others who have stated that they would get a certain degree from our institution, but they wouldn't accept "a degree with Al Mohler's name on it." And, many of my co-workers at one of my jobs highly disdain Dr. Mohler, and he has been the source of jokes, off-hand remarks, etc. I know of others who blame Dr. Mohler for everything that goes wrong on campus. If you find a roach in the dorm room, it must be Dr. Mohler's fault. But, I digress. Let's just say that while there are others who highly disagree with me in my respect for Dr. Mohler, some of those same people have acknowledged that at least he is clear about his beliefs.

3. He is courageous enough to speak up on issues where most of the church dares to speak. I have seen Dr. Mohler berated for his position on women in ministry, and I have seen him defend the exclusivity of Christ while being yelled at by a Jewish rabbi. He has the courage to speak where I often shrink back, and I pray that the Lord will grant me that same courage to declare the whole counsel of Scripture in the face of opposition.

4. He is not afraid to have some fun! Click here to see Dr. Mohler in a battle for the wits! (I must admit that this was my main reason for this post. However, I couldn't write a post like this without first expressing my admiration for the president of the institution where I attend. Enjoy the video!)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Annotated Listing of Links (Ministries & Resources)

My prayer is that these links will provide a great help to you in your Christian life and ministry. Realize that I don't wholeheartedly support any of these sites. However, I am in agreement with much of what you'll find here. There are many excellent resources out there on the internet, and I pray that my simple annotated listing will introduce you to some of the excellent ministries led by servants of God.

If you have a website that you think deserves a spot on the list, feel free to suggest it in the comments portion of this page.

Thanks for dropping in!

9Marks—Few ministries strive for church reform as much as 9Marks ministries. Mark Dever’s goal is to reform the local church, and he sees nine marks that make up a biblical church. My favorite part of the 9Marks ministry is the wonderful collection of interviews with various church leaders. Be sure and visit the website, if for that reason alone! The articles are also invaluable, as well.

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals—This ministry has some excellent material for those who love the gospel. I especially enjoy the various articles written by top-notch theologians. This is definitely an organization worth supporting.

Alpha and Omega Ministries
—I discovered this ministry of James White during middle school due to an on-going dialogue I had with a Roman Catholic apologist. Alpha and Omega Ministries has excellent material on various groups, including Roman Catholicism. The focus of his ministry is apologetics, and he especially focuses on Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, King-James-Onlyism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as Reformed doctrine. I especially commend “The Dividing Line” radio program to you!

Archives and Special Collections (SBTS)--If you're a Southern Baptist, it's no secret that The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a fascinating history. I encourage you to check out the Archives and Special Collections website of SBTS. You'll be able to become well-informed of the history of this great institution as you come across captivating stories, quotes, and facts about SBTS. It's worth your time to take more than just a glance!

Banner of Truth Trust--This organization publishes many good books, including those in the Puritan Paperbacks series. Two of the books that have influenced my life the most are both published by this company: Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed and Arthur Bennett's collection of Puritan prayers entitled The Valley of Vision.

Baptist Theology--The Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary maintains this ministry, which consists of an exposition of Baptist theological distinctives. At the time of this posting, one of the White Papers deals with the subject, "What Makes Baptism Valid?" very useful material can be found here. I especially draw your attention to the NET Bible that they offer. It is a new translation that offers notes from the translators concerning their translation of the texts.

Bible Bulletin Board--As the title implies, this site began as a bulletin board when I was a few years old and before the birth of the world wide web. The value of this site lies in the fact that it has literally hundreds of transcripts of John MacArthur's sermons, including the Q&A section where John MacArthur has responded to questions offered during services at the church he serves. He also offers sermons and resources from Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards, and J.C. Ryle. Don't miss this resource! It's been around for a long time for a reason.

Biblical Spirituality--This ministry, The Center for Biblical Spirituality, is dedicated to helping believers grow in their faith. Much of what claims the name spirituality is divorced from the Bible's teaching on the matter. In that regard, I recommend Dr. Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church--I must admit that I've never been to Washington, D.C. While I hope to go one day and visit the usual tourist sites, I mostly want to go visit this church, pastored by Mark Dever, the founder of 9Marks ministries. The church website offers sermons available for download free of charge, so please avail yourself of this opporunity.

Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics--CRTA offers a wide variety of materials concerning doctrine and apologetics (a defense of the faith). While I do not agree with all of the articles and resources on this site, it is mostly helpful and worth including on this list.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry--CARM is one of the best apologetics resources on the web, hands down! The founder, Matt Slick, offers articles on a plethora of cults and other groups. You'll probably want to bookmark this one!

Christian Classics Ethereal Library--This site is a gem when it comes to biblical and theological resources throughout church histories. From the early church fathers to the full text of Calvin's commentaries, you'll find a repository of wonderful material at one site. This is truly an outstanding resource!

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood--As you can tell by the title of this organization, CBMW is not afraid to address the heated topics of sexuality and gender-related issues. They take a complementarian position, which means that they recognize God-ordained role distinctions according to gender including, for example, the biblical prescription for a male-only pastorate. This is an incredibly politically incorrect stance, but the CBMW's goal is to declare the Bible's position on matters relating to gender and sexuality, regardless of public opinion. For that, I thank them!

Covenant Theological Seminary (Free Classes)
--While you may feel free to go to the seminary's homepage, I particularly wanted to link to their Covenant Worldwide page. The seminary has amazingly offered some of its course available for download, including audio files of the lectures, podcast subscriptions, and PDF files of the lecture notes and even syllabi! This is a most unique offer, and I'm thrilled to link to this resource!

Desiring God--John Piper is the founder of this ministry, which takes his name from one of his most well-known, influential books--Desiring God. He is one of the best preachers living today, and probably one of the very few whose books will still be read 100 years from now.

First Presbyterian Church (Jackson, MS)--Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, III is the pastor of this church. He has been invited to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to speak on several occasions. He is a faithful expositor of Scripture, and they offer MP3 downloads of sermons preached at their services of worship.

Getty Music--Keith and Kristyn Getty are musicians dedicated to writing new, theologically-sound, God-glorifying lyrics of faith for corporate services of worship. Their goal is not to be Christian pop stars. Nearly all of their material is written for congregational singing. I have used and highly recommend using their songs in services of worship.

Grace to You--This website offers resources by Dr. John MacArthur, including free daily devotionals and broadcasts of Grace to You radio programs. Dr. MacArthur has authored one of the best study Bibles available, and I frequently consult The MacArthur Study Bible.

The Henry Institute--This ministry of cultural engagement is led by one of my personal heroes, Dr. Russell D. Moore. It was in one of Dr. Moore's theology class and due to his comments that I realized I was lost and came to know Christ. Dr. Moore took the time to come to my church and baptize me. I find his writing very engaging and his sermons to be astute and often convicting. I especially find the many Henry Institute-sponsored forums to be very informative and edifying.

Indelible Grace--This ministry has done a service to the church by offering recordings and songbooks of old hymn texts married to a more contemporary style. Some of my favorite songs come from their CD recordings. They are affiliated with the Reformed University Fellowship, which is also included in this annotated listing.

Ligonier Ministries--Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder of this ministry, as well as the teacher of its Renewing Your Mind radio program. I had the immense privilege of hearing Dr. Sproul teach on the holiness and justice of God during the spring of 2006. Some of his audio materials on apologetics shaped much of my understanding in high school, and I am thankful for Dr. Sproul's faithful ministry.

Living Waters--This is the publishing and resource arm of Way of the Master ministries. They offer several of Ray Comfort's sermons available for free download in various formats, including "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and "True and False Conversion."

Monergism--This site offers numerous free articles and other resources, including links to many Puritan books offered free in complete form. If anything, it's well worth the effort to bookmark the "Free Online Christian Books" section.

Reformed University Fellowship--The RUF a campus ministry that is found on 110 college and university campuses. They offer an excellent ministry to college students that goes beyond pizza fellowships and ultimate frisbee, and I highly recommend their RUF hymnal resource.

RUF Hymnbook--The Reformed University Fellowship has done the church an excellent service in offering this resource to us. I have included some of their songs in worship services and times of personal devotion.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary--SBTS is one of the best theological seminaries in the world! I am proud of this institution, which includes the college I currently attend, Boyce College. SBTS holds a unique and influential place in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention. This seminary offers Christian scholarship that is unabashedly Christian, conservative, evangelical, and Baptist.

Sovereign Grace Ministries--SGM lies somewhere between an independent ministry and a denomination. The Leadership Team of the movement is led by C.J. Mahaney, who has literally written the book on humility, Humility: True Greatness, as well as The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing. Please be sure and check our their music page.

The Spurgeon Archive--I believe that the title says it all. You'll find an immense offering of sermons and writings by Charles Spurgeon. He is still referred to many times as the "Prince of Preachers," and one of the greatest preachers since the apostle Paul. While it's hard to verify the truth of these statements, they may not be very exaggerated at all. Either way, my heart has been oft encouraged by Spurgeon's writings.

Truth for Life--If you've heard a preacher with a Scottish accent preaching on Christian radio stations, it could very well be Alistair Begg, the founder of Truth for Life ministries. I had the opportunity of hearing Begg speak in person at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he has been invited to give homiletical addresses on campus. I enjoy listening to Alistair Begg very much, and he doesn't shy away from proclaiming the full counsel of the Word of God.

Way of the Master--Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron offer this ministry to believers as a means of encouraging other Christians to evangelize. They base their ministry on the use of the law in evangelism, and not simply by speaking to felt needs. Their method is wonderfully biblical.

Way of the Master Radio--This program is hosted by Todd Friel, and features Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, and other guests. They often do live, on-the-air evangelism, and it's both exciting and educational, as well as a bit convicting if you don't share your faith regularly.

White Horse Inn--Radio programs like this are hard to come by. Michael Horton, Kim Riddlebarger, Ken Jones, and Rod Rosenbladt host this apologetically-minded, culturally-engaging, Bible-saturated radio program. It doesn't hurt their cause that they have R.C. Sproul often as their guest, as well.

Last Updated on 1/13/2006.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Excercising the Grace of Humility

I discovered a passage from Jeremy Taylor's The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living as quoted in the textbook for my "Introduction to Ethics Class" entitled, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics by Robertson McQuilkin. McQuilkin quotes an extended section from Taylor's work that spells out the exercise of humility in personal living:

The grace of humility is exercised by these rules:

Think not thyself better for anything that happens to thee from without.

If thou callest thyself a fool, be not angry if another says so of thee. He is a hypocrite who accuses himself before others with an intent not to be believed.

Love to be concealed and little esteemed, never being troubled when thou art slighted or undervalued.

Never be ashamed of thy birth, thy parents, or they present employment, or for the poverty of any of them.

Never speak anything directly tending to thy praise or glory.

When thou hast said or done anything for which thou receivest praise, take it indifferently and return it to God for making thee an instrument of His glory.

Use no stratagems and devices to get praise.

Suffer others to be praised in thy presence and think not that the advancement of thy brother is a lessening of thy worth.

Never compare thyself with others....

Be not always ready to excuse every oversight or indiscretion or ill action, but if thou be guilty of it, confess it plainly.

Give God thanks for every weakness, deformity, and imperfection and accept it as a favor and grace of God and an instrument to resist pride.

Upbraid no man's weakness to him to discomfort him. Be sure never to praise thyself or to dispraise any man else, unless God's glory or some holy end do hallow it.

These are wise words, for which we will do well to heed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Kingdom of God at Wal-Mart

In chapel today, Dr. Russell Moore brought a message that brought penitential tears to my eyes. This sermon greatly convicted me, and I'm thankful that the Word of God and the preaching of the Word is able to convict and reveal sinful attitudes in our life to make us more like Christ.

My prayer is that God will continue revealing some sinful attitudes of pride and other sins that are present in my life. I think that pride is one of the hardest sins to detect. It is a very subtle sin, and one that we can so easily mask in religious excuses and pious justifications.

May God continue conforming me to Christ's image. The longer I live the Christian life, the more I see my sin. Pray that I'll never grow comfortable with what I find. Pray that God will grant me the wisdom to see those hidden sins that are as yet beneath my view. I am thankful that, even when I cannot readily perceive it, God is making me more like His Son with each passing day.

It would be beneficial for your walk with Christ to download and listen to Dr. Moore's powerful exposition of James 2:1-9, "The Kingdom of God in the Wal-Mart Break Room: Poverty, Partiality, and the Perils of a Gentrified Christianity" (click here to download the MP3 of the sermon).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

If God Has Spoken...

Dr. Al Mohler preached an excellent sermon in our opening convocation ceremony at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Mohler spoke about the topic of revelation and its significance both for the seminary as an institution and the life of the believer in a sermon based on Deut. 4:32-40 and entitled, "Has Any People Heard the Voice of God Speaking...And Survived?" Click here for the MP3 download of the sermon from the SBTS audio resources website.

For your edification and review, here are my meager attempt at note-taking. I'd encourage you to listen to the sermon for yourself.

If God Has Spoken...

1. We do know. Thus, because God has spoken, we do know that He has spoken. Dr. Mohler contrasted our God, the One who speaks but is hidden from sight, with idols that are seen but do not speak.

2. We do know know only by mercy. What we know, we know by the mercy of God, leaving no room for pride, for the revelation of God is mercy. Hearing anything from God is an act of His mercy in communicating with us.

3. We too must speak. Because God has spoken, we cannot stay silent.

4. Then it is all about God and for our good. God has a purpose when He speaks.

5. Then it is for our redemption.
A redemptive purpose lies behind revelation. God set before the Israelites both life and death, and He commanded that they choose life.

6. Then we must obey.
It is not simply a word for our consideration. It is a command to be obeyed or disobeyed.

7. Then we must trust. In agreeance with the old hymn, trust and obedience go hand in hand. We must trust this God who speaks.

8. Then we must witness. We are here because we have heard. Every student sitting in Alumni Chapel on campus for the convocation seminary is studying because someone else proclaimed the gospel to them.

I don't presume to claim that these notes are totally accurate or verbatim, and I encourage you to listen to the message for yourself.

Seminary Students, Local Church Service, & Conversion

A friend of mine has posted a long post on some issues concerning seminary students and service in the local church.

One of her concerns is that the local church expects too much of seminary students, and in a sense I agree. Jennifer and I know some students who display little or no evidence of the grace of God in their lives. Keep in mind that I was formerly a lost Bible college student, so I'm not speaking hypothetically here! I can tell you from experience that one of the hardest places for a religiously unregenerate man to become converted is the area directly behind the pulpit.

Another of her concerns is the unwillingness of some students to serve the local church. She takes issue with that, and I share her concern.

I have included my comment to her post, but reading her original post (Are we any different?) would definitely help place my comment in the proper context.


I enjoyed the rant! I know what you're saying about unfaithful students. I know of a church that had a couple of SBTS/Boyce couples, and neither couple was all that faithful. In fact, they were some of the poorest attenders when it comes to worship.

Of course, I realize that the tendency is to think that we're the better kind of SBTS (or Boyce) students, which is an equally dangerous position of pride. But, yes, I do know students that I'm fully convinced are not called to ministry and are attending SBTS for the knowledge.

However, I can relate to those kind of students since I was last during most of my time here at Boyce. I had the head knowledge piling up, but my heart was as cold as ice. I thank God that He waited to save me after I came to Boyce and studied for years. It helped me see what life is like as a religious, yet unregenerate man. It makes grace and faith seem all that more real and amazing to me.

So...I guess in the end we should pray for those problem students and exhort and correct them when the need arises. And, let's not rule out the possibility that there are probably several unregenerate students walking among us...I mean, I was one.

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to quote Richard Baxter and Charles Spurgeon. After my conversion, I was given the opportunity to address my congregation and let them know that their Minister of Music had just become a Christian a few days prior…It was somewhat humiliating to admit that I had just come to know the Savior, but humility is an integral part of conversion.

Anyhow, Baxter says to “Take heed to yourselves lest you should be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual working of that gospel which you preach…many a preacher is now in hell, that hath an hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it.”

Spurgeon says, “How can [the preacher] daily bid men come to Christ, while he himself is a stranger to His dying love? O sirs, surely this must be perpetual slavery. Such a man must hate the sight of a pulpit as much as a galley-slave hates the oars.” And, “to be lost under the shadow of a pulpit is dreadful, but how much more so to perish from the pulpit itself!”

Okay…That may have veered from the topic of hand, but I guess that my concern through all of this talk of conversion is that:

1. There are seminary students who have had not experienced the miracle of regeneration and are living lives devoid of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As such, we should not expect such students to display a humility that is God-given. It truly took a miracle of God for me to be able to lay down my pride and quit trying to convince myself that I was who I was not. I was not the believer that I claimed to be, for my idol was myself. It’s only by the grace of God that I came to realize my lost condition and turn to Christ.

2. We, in the American church, are quick to put the talented into positions of leadership. Although I was a music minister and had the training necessary for the task, I was groping in the darkness when it came to my spiritual health. I agree that we too often push SBTS/Boyce students into positions of leadership simply because they’re enrolled in an institution. However, they may not be a member of the universal body of Christ altogether.

3. On a side note…I believe that seminary students should be willing to serve. If God has called them to the ministry and to a place of training for Christian service, I simply cannot understand a test-tube understanding of sanctification and service. We do not grow into Christ’s likeness in a vacuum, separated from the exercise of Christian service in the local body. I’d encourage every SBTS/Boyce student to play an active role in the local church. And, this doesn’t mean being shoved into a position of leadership for which they are not ready. However, they should be willing to crawl out of the cave of comfort and be willing to venture into the unknown territory of serving the body of Christ.

I hope that makes sense, and I apologize for being so verbose, but you really got me thinking about these issues, and I wanted to write down my thoughts before they quickly exited.

Blessings to you!!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Gospel of Sexcess: The Age of Biblezines

The following rant (yes, I admit it) is brought to you courtesy of my old blog. It was originally posted on January 3rd, 2006. It has been slightly revised...

I went into your typical Christian bookstore the other day. At the outset, I must be open and admit my view of most Christian bookstores. The truth is, I don't particularly care for your cookie cutter Christian bookstore, and I don't think they bring glory to our great God.
  1. Most of the merchandise is over-priced, to the point of peddling the gospel at times. I can only imagine the Bibles that could be given away if only they would mark down some 3" cheaply-made plastic crosses (designed for display on the mantle of a wealthy, religious suburbanite) for which they charge at least $10 more than it's worth.

  2. Much of the music section drives me crazy. The hip-looking CCM artists weigh less than than the hair gel and eye shadow that they primp themselves up with. You'll almost never find a CD cover that doesn't have a young, sveldt glamour-style portrait. It's all so shallow, yet these "goods" are gobbled up like last night's Chinese take-out. The standards, as well, are often well below the world's standards of excellence. Many of these CD's are a showy, cheap imitation of what the "world" actually does better. [Dr. Russell Moore quoted a GQ article, I believe, in which someone compared much of Christian rock to those cheap perfume knock-offs found in your average dollar store with labels that read, "If you like Stetson, you'll love..."]

  3. Many of the books could only nominally be called Christian. Much of the books come from extreme Pentecostal-Charismatics who believe in a false gospel of health and wealth. They believe that Jesus (you know, the Son of God who didn't have a place to lay his head) wants Christians to be prosperous. Their idea of a "best life" includes developing wealth and influencing people. And, keep in mind that one of these popular authors, T.D. Jakes, denies the doctrine of the trinity, making him a true heretic. So, when I throw out my remarks about Christian book publishers and their authors, it's not just an issue of theological preference but one of theological fidelity.
I am reminded of the Messiah, Jesus, who actually went to the temple and began turning over tables because they were dishonoring God's house through their peddling of exorbitantly over-priced things wares (cf. John 2:14-15). the point of my rant--"Biblezines," these glossly magazines that contain the text of Scripture interspersed among shallow articles about beauty tips with an array of pictures that simply confirm Hollywood and television's shallow view of beauty. Although I could evaluate the merits of Biblezines, I want to draw your attention to one designed for guys (probably in the early 20's to mid-30's range).

The cover of this particular Biblezine for men includes a wonderful, Christ-honoring comment below the title: "Sexcess: Success with the Opposite Sex!" So, buy the Bible, and it will show you how to get lucky with women. As I read that in that bookstore of that unseasonably warm day after Christmas, I couldn't help but experience a mixture of indignation, dismay, and utter disgust. How sad that the holy, sanctified Word of God is being peddled in such a distasteful manner.

This brings into mind Romans 12:2, which encourages us, "do not be conformed to this world." Instead of mentioning the Gospel or even the Person of Jesus Christ, this Biblezine would rather focus on sex, people skills, prosperity, fitness, and technology--much of these things are actually the major sins that keep most men in bondage: not simply "sex," but fornication, adultery, and pornography; not simply "people skills," but the manipulation of others in the attempt to be winsome and climb the corporate ladder; not simply a desire to do well and "prosper," but the desire to amass wealth out of a sinful, greedy heart; not simply "fitness," but the vanity of obsession with physical appearance; and not simply "gadgets," but the prestige that comes and the finances wasted on purchasing the latest technologies.

Of course, I haven't even mentioned how damaging the picture of the front is to your average male. Is Christianity all about looking handsome and being successful in the business world? Such a "Starbucks Christianity" panders to the vanity of our "Desperate Housewives" culture of philistine debauchery. As a professor of mine stated, what about the healthy teenage girl who picks up one the biblezines designed for her age group and finds only pictures of thin, attractive models interspersed with the Word of God? She is led to believe that this is what Christianity is all about--shallow, physical, lustful beauty. How does one approach this same girl who has been led to the pit of despair and a struggle with bulimia.

May we be careful about becoming so much like the world that the world misses the exclusivity and uniqueness of the Gospel message. Coming to Christ is not about coming to someone that's going to make you a really likeable person and give you success in business or with the opposite sex. It's actually about denying yourself. Remember that Jesus Christ told the rich young ruler to actually give all that he had to follow Christ. However, this young man went away lost because Jesus was able to reveal that this young man had no desire to truly follow Christ. The Gospel is not about finding success, it's about losing ourselves. I paraphrase John MacArthur who has stated that he views salvation as an exchange of all that we are for all that He is. It's about sacrificing and crucifying ourselves, laying aside the "old man," our old way of living, and becoming a new creation (something different altogether). Granted, God will often bless us in many and numerous ways, but true conversion is about giving us, in essence, giving up.

It's about resting in Christ. Jesus did not say, "Come to me, and I'll make sure you find an attractive spouse." No, he says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28, NKJV). Then, notice what he says next, "Take My yoke upon you" (v. 29). He tells us to forget our own will and put ourselves into a yoke with him. The yoke was what combined two oxen for the purpose of labor. God has work for us to do as believers, and it's not always easy. In fact, as I'm studying 1 Peter, I'm reminded that we're called to suffer. The Word of God clearly states with regard to suffering: "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21, NKJV). We are actually called to suffer, and we're to follow Christ's example in our suffering.

So, in lieu of the "Sexcess" caption, I think many biblical ideas could be proposed:
  • "Sacrifice: Give Everything to Find Rest"
  • "Death: Dying to Self for Life in Christ"
  • "Church: It's Not About You"
Imagine how well these Biblezines would sell then. In the meantime, instead of catchy phrases approached from a largely secular marketing technique, let us go back to what it's about. Therefore, I propose the following:

Holy Bible

The Bible is to be considered holy, because it is holy! It is different from any other book, because it is inherently powerful, active, and living (Heb. 4:12). Our methods are not powerful; it is God's Word that is powerful, "because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25, NKJV). It's not about clever human wisdom and marketing techniques. It's not "with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4, NKJV).

End of rant...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Self-Serving Motives

As part of my time in prayer and God's Word, I have recently begun reading D.A. Carson's devotional, For the Love of God: A Daily Campanion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word (Vol. 1). The readings are linked in with M'Cheyne's daily plan for Bible reading, and I bought the book to help me, particularly with getting through some of the long Old Testament historical narratives. (Note: Click here to visit a page that has some printable versions of M'Cheyne's daily plan for Bible reading.)

For today's section, one of the assigned readings is 1 Samuel 8. In this chapter, the Israelites are begging for a king, and Carson opens his devotional reading with this simple sentence: "Why people ask for something is at least as important as what they ask for."

After sharing an illustration about a businessman with corrupt motives in requesting that a new committee be added to the company, he questions: "How many of our own requests--in the home, in church, at work, in our prayers--mask motives that are decidedly self-serving?"

Carson notes that, through asking for a king, "the people are not simply lossening their ties to a prophet like Samuel, they are turning away from God himself (8:7-8). The result is horrific: they get what they want, along with a desperate range of new evils they had not foreseen."

So, I encourage you to take a moment and examine the motives behind many of your supplications to the Lord. You may just find that you have a lot more in common with these Israelites than you previously thought...

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Gospel & Sound Theology...On TBN???

If you haven't heard, TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) had some good theology on broadcast last night and gospel presentations that were not watered down or some form of the health-and-wealth false gospel.

I happened to catch the program, hosted by Kirk Cameron of Way of the Master, while Tedd Tripp was on the screen. Tripp and his brother Paul are a part of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, an organization that offers resources for a biblical approach to Christian counseling.

The Reformed Evangelist has a new post about this with links to the program.

By the way, check out Way of the Master. It's really fascinating, and I find myself emboldened to share my faith (as well as convicted by my frequent timidity) after I watch or listen to their television and radio programs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Annotated Listing of Links (Blog Roll)

I thought it might be helpful to provide an annotated listing of the links that I have provided. My design is to give you information on why I chose to link to each of these blogs. Some of the following blogs are helpful for their theological and practical content for Christian living, others are helpful in providing a clean and entertaining diversion from the daily stress of life, and others are blogs by good friends of mine that may fall into one or both of the above categories.

Finally, keep in mind that I don't agree wholeheartedly with the blogs listed below. If I find major theological errors on the following blogs, I may choose to take them off the blog roll. Otherwise, I have found most of these blogs to be extremely helpful and/or entertaining.

Happy Browsing!

Angela C. Starnes—Angela and I have been friends for years since my first semester when we were in Dr. Turner’s voice studio together. She is a faithful friend and a committed believer. She writes her blog mostly to give her family and friends updates on her life. However, she often writes tacit articles about her personal experience as a believer, and these often prove to be an encouragement to me.

Authentic Truth—I cannot remember how I discovered this blog, but the author writes from a Reformed, Dispensational, and Baptistic background. If you visit, be sure and peruse his material on the Emerging/Emergent Church movement.

Between Two Worlds—Most evangelical blog rolls include this blog by Justin Taylor, for good reason! The strength of this blog lies in the many links to current events and issues of theological concern. He’s one of the preeminent evangelical bloggers, to be sure, and I highly recommend his blog.

Biblical Foundations—This blog by Dr. K√∂stenburger contains information on several issues including: New Testament studies, marriage and family concerns, as well as the Da Vinci code craze that has swept the nation. He is a top-notch scholar Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and although his blog is normally updated only a few times each month, the articles are well worth reading.

ChangedbyHim—Paul Helms is at the helm of this blog, and he writes from a Reformed perspective. He’s a good friend of mine that I’ve only met in person a few times, but we share a heart for the gospel and the glory of God. Paul is actually a very capable and articulate poet of the Christian faith as well as the daily experience of Christian living, and you’ll find much of his poetry scattered throughout his blog.

Challies—Challies is one of the most useful blogs to be found in the world of evangelical blogs. Challies freely uses the following labels to identify himself: Christian, Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Conservative, and Searching (and I would add Baptist, as he attends a Reformed Baptist church). I recommend checking out his “A La Carte” section daily! Great stuff!

Conventional Thinking—Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, inaugurated this blog as an avenue to discuss issues pertinent to Southern Baptists. While the blog takes the approach of an in-house dialogue with other fellow Southern Baptists, much of the material found here is valuable even if one is not familiar with the inner workings of life in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Mohler’s Blog—Dr. Mohler’s blog covers issues ranging from politics and culture to concerns in contemporary theology. He can be found frequently on Larry King Live and other media outlets defending the conservative, evangelical position on cultural issues. While his blog is not light-reading, it is frequently helpful and typically very current in its focus.

Faith and Practice
—This blog is a great resource when thinking about issues of discernment. The authors frequently approach contemporary theological issues and how evangelicals are to approach various theological viewpoints. Plus, there’s also some funny stuff found here from time to time!

For His Renown—Dr. Hamilton is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Houston Park Campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written some excellent posts on various theological issues that I have found to be very helpful.

Founders Ministries Blog—This blog is maintained by Dr. Tom Ascol, the Executive Director of Founders Ministries, an organization of Reformed-minded Southern Baptists. Much of this blog focuses upon current struggles within the Southern Baptist Convention as well as issues pertaining to Reformed theology.

JollyBlogger—JollyBlogger writes from a Reformed (PCA) perspective, and he frequently writes about something he’s read. I have found much of what he has written to be helpful, and he often draws my attention to helpful resources.

Josh Harris—While he is best known as the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris also writes a wonderful blog! He’ll often post chunks of material from his books or sermons, so be sure and check this site out from time to time.

Pulpit--If you enjoy John MacArthur and Grace to You ministries, be sure and check out the Pulpit blog. As I’ve come to expect from MacArthur, this blog is quite bold, and it addresses issues of concerns to pastors and ministers from a very conservative, Reformed perspective.

Purgatorio—This blog makes me laugh on an (almost) daily basis! He is a master of photo-essays, and he finds some of the most interesting photos found on the internet. His photos are often a way of providing a cogent critique of modern Christianity, especially the commercialism and watered-down theology that has infected the church.

Pyromaniacs—Phil Johnson of Grace to You ministries heads up this blog, and it is one of the best in the blogosphere! The theological stance of the bloggers is in line with John MacArthur’s theological positions, and (like MacArthur) they offer stinging evaluations of modern Christianity. The posts can be long at times, but they are quite substantive and worth the read. This is one blog that I check often.

Reformation Theology
—I think that the title of this blog says it all. It provides some great theological information, and it occasionally swerves into the realm of practices. However, it’s one of the weightiest blogs that I frequent, and it could not be considered light reading, that’s for sure.

Reformation21—This is the official blog of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and I have often been alerted to quotes, articles, current events, and other issues as a result of finding some links in the posts on this blog. I enjoy stopping by often to see if Ligon Duncan has recently written something new. It’s well worth the time to visit this site.

Reformed Baptist Thinker—The author of this blog, John Divito, is a friend of mine, and he is also a deacon at the church I formerly served, Parkwood Southern Baptist Church. John currently attends The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he serves as webmaster. When he’s not doing his webmaster duties or reading for classes, he somehow finds the time to post some excellent posts on his blog. As a former Mormon, he’s particularly knowledgeable in the area of Mormonism, and he often blogs about the goings-on in the Mormon church.

Reformed Blacks of America—This is one of the most unique blogs that I have seen, and I think the title is self-explanatory. The bloggers on this site speak openly about Reformed theology and its relationship with black evangelicalism. This is a very insightful blog!

Riddleblog—While I do not agree with some of the material on this blog, especially as relates to eschatology, I find much of what I find here to be quite useful.

SBC Outpost—SBC Outpost often takes a critical stance regarding the Southern Baptist Convention in certain areas. Although I don’t agree with the author completely, these posts have provided food for thought at times, and that is most certainly a good thing.

SBC Witness—Most of the bloggers that write for SBC Witness are current students at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are conservative and proudly Baptist, and I have enjoyed much of what I have read in their posts.

The Conventicle—I cannot remember exactly how I discovered this blog, but just as the SBC Witness blog, it is a blog operated mostly by students. They are unabashedly fond of the Puritans, and they have often drawn my attention to many good resources.

The Reformed Evangelist—It’s rare to find a blog devoted to the topic of evangelism, especially one coming from a Reformed perspective! I’m thankful for the presence of this blog in the blogosphere, and it provides a much-needed balance to the questionable evangelistic methods often used accompanied with equally questionable theological presuppositions. You probably won’t find poor methods or theology here, and that’s a relief!

Theme of my song—Jennifer is a friend of mine as well as a co-worker here in the music and audio-visual library at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary library. She is a very patient person and has often endured my theological rants and venting. Sorry, Jennifer!

Together for the Gospel—The Together for the Gospel conference was a historic event. I regret missing the conference, but I appreciate the fact that this blog, which began before the event, has continued. The men writing for this blog are some of my heroes, and I’m thankful that they have continued their dialogue for all the world to see.

Worship Matters—Bob Kauflin serves as the Director for Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. His blog entries come out of years of experience and insight into the nature and practice of worship. Kauflin has spoken frequently at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I find him to be one of the most humble worship leaders that I have met.

Last Updated on 1/12/2006.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Recommended Reading: Holiness

I thought I might whet your appetite to read a wonderful book by J.C. Ryle entitled Holiness. In this book, he has a chapter devoted solely to the topic of holiness, which is often greatly misunderstood in evangelical churches today. In this chapter, he poses a series of thoughts, beginning with a simple question, "Are you holy" (p. 44)? He continues:
I do not ask whether you attend your church regularly, whether you have been baptized, and received the Lord's Supper, whether you have the name of Christian. I ask something more than all this: are you holy, or are you not?

I do not ask whether you approved of holiness in others, whether you like to read the lives of holy people and to talk of holy things, and to have on your table holy books, whether you mean to be holy, and hope you will be holy some day. I ask something further: are you yourself holy this very day, or are you not?

And why do I ask so straitly, and press the question so strongly? I do it because the Scripture says, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." It is written, it is not my fancy; it is the Bible, not my private opinion; it is the word of God, not man: "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

Alas, what searching, sifting words are these! What thoughts come across my mind, as I write them down! I look at the world and see the greater part of it lying in wickedness. I look at professing Christians and see the vast majority having nothing of Christianity but the name. I turn to the Bible and I hear the Spirit saying, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

Surely it is a text that ought to make us consider our ways and search our hearts. Surely it should raise within us solemn thoughts and send us to prayer.
So...I ask you the same question. Are you holy? This is the question that I have asked myself recently, and I have sought to live more like my Savior.