Friday, August 31, 2007

current issues...

do you know anything about...

open theism?

what about the emergent church movement?

the "new perspective" on paul?

all of these are hot button theological issues swirling around the church today.

one teaches that god does not know the future and does not have total control over the universe.

another teaches that the traditional understanding of "justification by faith alone" has been misunderstood for over 500 years.

sound unbelievable? surely no true christian would believe these... much less teach these things, right?

well... be careful what you buy in your local christian bookstore. if you're not careful you could be buying a book written by a proponent of open theism, the new perspective, the emergent church, etc.

the term "christian" has become so broad that i literally shudder to think of what people may purchase in a bookstore that they think is safe.

i intend to devote my next few posts to these issues and others. if you have any topics you would like to discuss or to understand a little better, please feel free to leave it in the comment section.
(by the way.. leaving comments does *not* require you to sign up for anything or cause you to start getting spam. you do not have to register to leave comments... i know some have had that concern)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

dead dogs and dead babies...

justin taylor makes a very brief yet stunning post over at his blog (which i read every day)

read it here

the nfl suspends indefinitely, michael vick for participating in the deaths of dogs.

yet the nfl team, jacksonville jaguars just donated $30,000 to planned parenthood, which supports and encourages aborting human babies.

america is a very confused and sad nation.

our willingness to overlook such glaring inconsistencies is worse..

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

gun control??...

now those are two things id never put together...blowguns and incense...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

god's name is *NOT* "allah"

this story hit the news today...
Roman Catholic Bishop Wants Everyone to Call God 'Allah'
A proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community. Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called. "Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.....
...Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding...."It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."

read the entire story here
here it is, folks. this is what happens when we are not clear and intentional about who we worship. the object of worship for islam, "allah" is *NOT* the same god that christians worship. the god of islam is not triune, nor did he send his son, jesus christ, to provide salvation for all who would believe.
they are NOT the same god. we must be clear about this. it is imperative to getting the gospel right.
i was actually going to blog about a slogan that has been made increasingly popular by U2 singer bono. in case you havent seen it on a t-shirt or bumper sticker, here it is.

the signs of islam, judaism, and christianity put together to form the word "coexist".
insofar as the sentiment is that among diasgreement, we should still strive to live among each other with love, i agree. but where i vehemently disagree is the notion, as it is often presented, that it doesnt matter which faith is yours, they are all equal.
this is simply not true. and the thing is, not one of these three religions, if taken from their orthodox and historic positions, would agree that any other religion is valid. each one claims that it is the only true way to god.

the words of the apostle paul in galations 1 serve us well here...
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (gal. 1:6-9)

let us refuse to further this nonsense that all religions are equal as long as they are sincerely believed. of course we should point these truths out in a spirit of love and with patience. but we are not loving anyone by letting them believe a lie that will send them to hell to endure the wrath of god for eternity.
i would rather offend someone's sense of "tolerance" than further this lie.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

i'm not "reverend"

my ordination council meeting was this past sunday afternoon.
for over 90 minutes i was questioned and examined by laymen, local ministers and renowned theologians who were attempting to discern whether or not i am truly called by the lord to be a minister of the gospel. it was a most humbling experience. by the grace of god and by his calling the council approved me and recommended me for ordination.

some may wonder why such scrutiny? why such examination? if someone feels called by the lord to be a pastor, shouldn't we just be thankful and send them on their way?

well, if the large and ever growing list of people who "used" to be a pastor is any indication, we should worry less about being too careful and be much more concerned that we are too quick to affirm that someone is indeed called. also long is the list of those who introduce themselves with a title denoting ministry, yet live live marked by other things.

i was reading a news story earlier and two names that are frequently in the news appeared. they are both designated as christian leaders/preachers with the title "reverend" in front of their name. but i would venture to say that what these men are known for is far removed from the gospel of christ. that is not to say that ministers cannot be involved in causes of human and equal rights.. our own nation's history, indeed world history, is a testament that they have been and should be. but in the cases of these two men (and there are others), though they have "rev." in front of their name, what they are known for is not the gospel.

the difficulty is that examination must not stop with public figures.

i have been and will continue to go to great lengths to emphasize that after my ordination this week that i will be no more special or loved by god than those to whom i preach every week. but as a minister, my reputation should be first and foremost "one who is a minister of the gospel of jesus christ". but even if i were not a pastor, simply by being a christian, one who "is a follower of jesus christ", i should be known as one who promotes the gospel of my namesake.
ministers aren't the only ones who should be known as those who point to christ.

if we are known by anyone as "christian", when they observe our lives what are we pointing them to? if they were to give a description of us, would "love of god with heart soul mind and strength" be mentioned as what makes us who we are?

are we known more for the causes we are against, the things we hate, issues that make us angry, or our favorite sports team, music, movies, tv shows? or are we known as people who love and strive to obey christ?

we need to stop compartmentalizing our lives. "christian" is not part of who we are.. it *is* who we are. it is not one item on a list of our hobbies or interests.

we are not doctors, teachers, students, school board members, office employees, athletes, or musicians who are christians.

rather, we are christians who are doctors, teachers, students, school board members, office employees, athletes, and musicians.

there is a difference, and that difference is what changes lives.

may god grant us this grace...

by this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so
prove to be my disciples
- john 15:8

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


i have received emails inquiring about my lack of posting recently. there are several answers to the question, so i thought i would answer them all at once.

#1- i have a 10 week old baby boy....enough said

#2 - this summer i took a class that required over 1,500 pages of reading in addition to a lengthy position paper that has consumed the bulk of any free time i have had since may.

#3 - i had to finish another writing assignment for a lifeway publication

#4 - i have degenerative disc disease. i had surgery in 1999, and from time to time have flare ups. for the first couple of weeks of july i was in bed due to a major flare up in the form of a herniated disc that was/is rubbing against nerve endings in my spine that cause burning and numbness in my leg. i start 12 weeks of physical therapy tomorrow. i would appreciate your prayers that the lord would see fit to heal me totally so that i may return to a "normal" lifestyle, despite my undeservingness.

i appreciate all of the emails and other contacts i regularly receive because of this blog. what began as an attempt to cure a bout with insomnia has become a regular part of my life. though i rarely (if ever) have any original thoughts, i am amazed that so many people read this blog. since july of last year, this blog has been visited over 7,500 times and from all across the globe. (some of these were surely lost travelers on the information superhighway!) it is a humble reminder to me that if i am to speak with confidence, to speak the truths of god's word. i am sure i may have failed at times, but i pray that my intentions are always to honor the lord with the content of this blog.

my final year of seminary begins one week from today. i will be taking the rest of this week off in order to just rest and continue to recover from this back injury. lord willing, i am also being ordained in two weeks (assuming that i pass my ordination council this week!), so i need to study and prepare for that as well.

that said, i do intend to begin posting regularly soon. in 2005 (starting in june) i posted only 24 times. last year, 36 times. already this year i am over 50. i have no number that i am shooting for, but it has been a good exercise for ordering my thoughts and thinking through certain issues. thank you for thinking through them with me. please continue to send feedback. i get quite a bit through email, but please feel free to leave a comment on the blog itself.

since i will be taking an intentional break from posting for the next week, i wanted to leave you with some links of blogs that i have found to be very informative without feeling like i am doing homework.

justin taylor

desiring god

al mohler

enjoy these sites, and i hope that you will return here in a week or so. in the meantime, i ask that you pray for my back, as well that colossians 1:9-10 would be true in my life as i strive to be a better follower of christ, and a better husband, father, pastor, teacher, writer, and friend.

in christ alone,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

when bridges fall and people die

why give my own thoughts on this tragedy when pastor piper has said it all...
i post his blog post in its entireity.

At about 6 PM tonight the bridge of Interstate 35W over the
Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. I am writing this
about three hours after the bridge fell. The bridge is located
within sight of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Most of us
who minister at the church cross this bridge several times a week.
At this point I don’t know if any staff was on the bridge.
Desiring God offices are about a mile from the bridge.

There are no firm facts at this point about the total number
of injuries and fatalities. When we crossed the bridge Tuesday
on our way out of town, there was extensive repair work
happening on the surface of the bridge with single lane traffic.
One speculates about the unusual stresses on the bridge with
jackhammers and other surface replacement equipment. This was
the fortieth anniversary of the bridge.

Tonight for our family devotions our appointed reading was
Luke 13:1-9. It was not my choice. This is surely no coincidence.
O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would
hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came
to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers
by Pilate. Here is what he said.

There were some present at that very time who told him about
the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he
answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all
the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but
unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the
tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse
offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless
you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought
he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that
those who didn’t die did not deserve to die. That is not what
he said.
He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t
repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It
only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God.

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old)
and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the
calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t
let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.”
When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her
and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was
a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are
angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong.
That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people
of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of
the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

I sang to her the song I always sing,

Come rest your head and nestle gently
And do not fear the dark of night.
Almighty God keeps watch intently,
And guards your life with all his might.
Doubt not his love, nor power to keep,
He never fails, nor does he sleep.

I said, “You know, Talitha, that is true whether you die in a bridge
collapse, or in a car accident, or from cancer, or terrorism, or old age. God
always keeps you, even when you die. So you don’t need to be afraid, do you.”
“No,” she shook her head. I leaned down and kissed her. “Good night. I love

Tonight across the Twin Cities families are wondering if they will
ever kiss a loved one good night again. Some will not. I am praying that they
will find Jesus Christ to be their Rock and Refuge in these agonizing hours of
uncertainty and even loss.

The word “bridge” does not occur in the Bible.
There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn’t build bridges, he divides
seas. The other is that usually his people must pass through the deadly currents
of suffering and death, not simply ride over them. “When you pass through the
waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm
you” (Isaiah 43:2). They may drown you. But I will be with you in life and
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is
written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as
sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life . . .
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Killed all day long. But not separated from Christ. We go through the river.
Not over it. He went before us, crucified. He came out on the other side. He
knows the way through. With him we will make it. That is the message we have for
the precious sinners in the Twin Cities. He died for your sins. He rose again.
He saves all who trust him. We die, but because of him, we do not die.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he
die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never

Talitha is sleeping now. But one day she will die. I teach her this. I
will not always be there to bless her. But Jesus is alive and is the same
yesterday today and forever. He will be with her because she trusts him. And she
will make it through the river.
Weeping with those who weep, and those who should,
Pastor John

Psalm 71:20 You who have made me see many troubles
and calamities will revive me again.