Saturday, July 21, 2007

on the need to read...

i often reference books and authors on this site and to members of my church and others who i come into contact with.

often i get a response of "i don't like to read" or some variation of it.

while i understand the sentiment of not doing things that one doesn't enjoy, i am becoming more and more convinced as i get older that reading is in a category that is exempt from "i don't like it so i don't do it".

i am tempted to compare it to eating vegetables even when you don't like them, but that is too negative of a comparison. i think a lot of times we say we don't like something without knowing if we do or not. (again.. the food comparison).

how do we continually grow in our faith if we don't read? we can listen to sermons and participate in dialogue, but those are, for the most part, passive interactions and where they are more active, they are dependent on information we already have.

how are we continuing to learn and grow and sharpen our minds?

at least one answer is "by reading."

i came across this excellent article over at the desiring god blog. here are some excerpts:

Christians are people of the book: God purposely chose
the medium of typography to deliver his revelation to us.
In that book, we are commanded to love God with our
hearts and our minds (Matthew 22:34-40). This gives
Christians a clear command to use their intellects —
to be, in other words, a kind of intellectual.

Reading is one of the best ways to develop our minds.
It can help us to know God and ourselves, gain vicarious
experience, increase our perception and imagination,
train our minds to think critically and logically, and
teach us self-discipline. (For more on this, see Neil
Postman's excellent Amusing Ourselves to Death.)

But we have a problem: our culture is becoming aliterate.
We have the ability to read but not the desire.
Or maybe some of us have the desire but not the time.
We make time to watch television and surf
the Internet
for the latest triviality, but we
can't seem to make the time
to sit down and read for an hour.

Christians should be readers. We should read and meditate
on the Bible, of course, but we should also read theology.
Good theology systematizes and explains the Bible in ways
we would be pressed to come up with on our own. Few of us
are a Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, J. I. Packer or John Piper,
and we would be wise to learn from them.


to be a reader doesn't mean you have to read only large books with hundreds of pages full of words that you don't understand. there are many books written specifically for those who want to grow in their understanding without demanding a degree in literature or theology.

if you were to only read 20 pages a day, a great number of books could be read in less than 2 weeks.

here are a few that contain a wealth of information good for the heart and mind that are easily accessible. (click titles for links)

the dangerous duty of delight by john piper

knowing god by j.i. packer

the holiness of god by r.c. sproul

what is a healthy church? by mark dever

according to plan by graeme goldsworthy

christian beliefs:20 basics every christian should know by wayne grudem

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the pope says my church is not a church...

this is some old news, but i have been having a battle with my back the past two weeks and haven't been at the computer often.

in case you missed it, in the last week or so, pope benedict made the declaration (or, more accurately, reaffirmed the catholic churches teaching) that the only true church is the roman catholic church.

read news article here[HT:brandon hall]

the argument is that the catholic church is the true church based, at least in part, on its misinterpretation of matthew 16:16-19.

this is another instance where as christians who are not roman catholic need to learn our church history! why aren't we catholic? what events led to the split? who were the key figures and why? what were the major doctrines that were in question? what has happened since then?

for answers and very intriguing reading, i suggest stephen j. nichols' book, the reformation:how a monk and a mallet changed the world , and timothy george's theology of the reformers.

these are things we need to know in order to discuss these issues. if someone were to ask you why you are not roman catholic, could you answer them coherently?

i will say this for the pope (as others have), i admire his unflinching fist wave in the face of the postmodern thought of "accept everyone as they are!!" if only we as protestants would have such firm conviction.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

here's the church, here's the steeple, open it up, where's the gospel?

less than 200 yards from my house is a large church building. i have nothing against large church buildings. no matter what the size, as long as the gospel is proclaimed and the god who is worshipped is the one true god, it matters little if the building seats thousands or barely 100, as my own does.

the size of this church is not what bothers me. what does bother me is that this past sunday, they cancelled their morning "worship services" and instead showed the movie "evan almighty". if thats not enough, you had to pay to get in.

set aside for a moment whether or not the movie itself is worth seeing. i have no idea, i haven't seen it, though i have said i would like to. whether or not the movie is good or not isn't the point.

the point is this. what in the world does it say about our view of god and his deservingness of our worship when we cancel services said aside to corporately proclaim his glory and majesty and to spend time in his word in order to show a movie?

what does it tell church members about the priority of the leadership? what does it tell visitors about the god the church claims to worship and his holiness? what does it say to the lost about the need for christ? what does it say to the community about the value of this church's worship?

i am not anti-hollywood. i am not anti "evan almighty". but i am anti trivialization of the worship of the holy and mighty god of the universe who demands that we worship him in spirit and in truth - not in technicolor, surround sound and high definition.

here is another blogpost concerning the same event

HT: ron kinzel