Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun...Bad Candy

Tim Hawkins shares the following thoughts on bad candy.  And please people, no matter what your thoughts are regarding Halloween, don't be the house that gives out the lame stuff.

(HT: Challies)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update From Kenya

Monday I posted about my friend, Karen Smith, who was attempting to help a young boy in Kenya named Koech who is suffering from cancer.  You may recall that they had lined up a doctor and a hospital to provide care for him, but that they were experiencing difficulties with getting him a visa issued so that he could come here for treatment.

In case you were wondering, I wanted to pass along a portion of the update that I received from Karen's husband earlier today:
"Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
-- Psalm 124:8
Should any of us doubt whether our LORD is ever-present and working on behalf of those who love Him and who are faithful to Him, please talk to Karen about the events at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi earlier today. The Lord moved in the lives of everyone involved, including the Embassy agent who at first was unwilling to budge, and ultimately Koech was approved for a visa.
To say it was a remarkable story does not do justice to the details that God covered and the obstacles He removed. 
Karen will be flying out of Nairobi tonight, and Koech will leave Kenya on Tuesday (his visa will not be ready until then) with Peter Kendagor accompanying him to St. Louis...  
I look forward to hearing more details from Karen.  To all who have been praying, I thank you, and ask that you continue to keep Koech in your prayers in the days and weeks to come.

Book Review - Republocrat

With election day nearing, Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative by Carl Trueman seemed to be quite a timely read.  Lately, I’ve been noticing some of Trueman’s blog entries at Reformation 21 and have appreciated both his thoughtful approach as well as the sharp wit displayed in his writing.

Trueman, the Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, fails to fulfill certain caricatures, in that he is a very conservative Christian with very liberal politics (on most issues). In fact, Trueman’s goal in this book seems to be to highlight the truth that too often the line becomes blurred between Christian conservatism and political conservatism. “The gospel,” he rightly contends, “cannot and must not be identified with partisan political posturing.”

He does spend some time in Republocrat arguing for his political perspective. In this, I imagine that many (most?) political  conservatives will find Trueman’s arguments unpersuasive, the occasional strawman sneaking into the mix. But I am quite sure he would make the point that his goal was not to argue for his view on issues, but rather to simply point out that we need to realize that whichever way we vote, there are certain trade-offs we are making. In light of this truth, Christians need to engage the political process in what is truly a counter-cultural way.

“I look forward to the day,” Trueman states, “when intelligence and civility, not tiresome clichés, charater assassinations, and Manichaean noise, are the hallmark of Christians as they engage the political process.”

In Republocrat, Trueman has succeeded in writing a very thought-provoking book which I would heartily recommend to any Christian who takes their political views seriously. I do not agree with all of his positions; one could scarcely hold to an identical combinations of views. But then again, that is pretty much the point of the book; we should critically examine all of the issues and not simply default to what a certain political party tells us is the appropriate liberal position, the appropriate conservative position, or (most especially) the appropriate Christian position.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Go, Rangers!

The World Series gets underway tonight.  As a St. Louis Cardinal fan (and an old-time, traditionalist one at that), I normally root for the National League's entrant in the World Series.  This year is different though.  I am rooting for the Texas Rangers of the American League.  It's not that I have anything in particular against the San Francisco Giants, it's just that I find the Rangers compelling for a number of reasons, some of which are admittedly better than others:
  1. The Rangers have never won the World Series.  In fact, they had never won a playoff series of any kind before this season.
  2. During his playing career, I was always a big fan of Nolan Ryan.  I'm not sure if there was a non-Cardinal who I liked more.  He is the team president for the Rangers, and in just his third year at the helm, he has led them to unprecedented heights.
  3. Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, one of the team's stars, is an alum of my alma mater, the University of Missouri.
  4. Both my in-laws and my college roommate live in Dallas.  My family tries to go there at least annually and we really like the area.  In fact, my wife recently visited, and brought home an Ian Kinsler replica jersey as a souvenir for my son (which he wore to school today).
  5. The Josh Hamilton story.  It's my favorite kind of story - a story of redemption.  Watch the video below.

(HT: Challies)

We Praise What We Enjoy

Today I read another great post from Jared Wilson. In it he insightfully states that we offer praise to those things which we truly enjoy.
Worship of God is enjoyment of God. We have no problem laughing at something funny, smiling at something pretty, "mmmm"-ing something delicious, humming something catchy, or cheering something exciting in the stadium, but when we get into church on Sunday mornings, we have trouble worshiping because we don't know and enjoy God the same way we know and enjoy jokes, pictures, food, songs, or sports.
Click here to read the whole post.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

“In Christ all things are ours. There is now for us no awful Beyond of mystery and fear. We cannot, indeed, explain the world, but we rejoice now that we cannot explain it. To us it is all unknown, but it contains no mysteries for our Saviour; He is on the throne; He is at the centre; He is ground and explanation of all things; He pervades the remotest bounds; by Him all things consist. The world is full of dread, mysterious powers; they touch us already in a thousand woes. But from all them we are safe.”

J. Gresham Machen

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Opportunity to Help

Some of you know my friends back in Webster Groves, Missouri, the family of Mike and Karen Smith.  If you don't know them, I guess there's a (slight) chance you might remember them from a post I did back in March when it was announced that they would receive the Froebel Gaines Family Award, which by the way was presented to them October 16th at the 2010 Statesmen Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Congrats again, Smiths!

As I mentioned in that previous post, the Smiths have been very active in ministering to the people of Kenya through Get the Word Out, Inc., a missionary organization founded by Karen.  One of the really neat things I didn't mention in that post was the impact that GTWO and the Smiths have had on the life of Esther Tudo. Here is a story about Esther that ran on KSDK Channel 5 in St. Louis early this year:

The good news is that this summer, Esther returned home to Kenya, doctors having successfully treated the cancer that had been so imminently life-threatening.  The bad news is, as Karen says in the TV story, Esther is the face of so many other children in need.  Yesterday, I got a message from Karen about one other such child.  I don't normally use this space for things like this (in fact I don't think I ever have), but I wanted to forward her message on so that as many people as possible could prayerfully consider if they might be able to help out.  Here is the body of the message Karen sent:
Here’s the deal… there’s a young boy in Kenya whose name is Koech (James Koech Lokwakapel).  He has been diagnosed with cranial sarcoma and the doctors after treating him for over 2 years (for malaria, tuberculosis, even removing his spleen) can do nothing else to help him.
Enter Dr. Rob Hanson and St. John’s Mercy Hospital… both are ready, willing and able to treat Koech and attempt to save his life.  Awesome God, mighty servants!
The problem… the US Embassy in Nairobi is refusing to give him a medical visa because of “a spelling error of his mother’s name.”  The error has been corrected, everything verified, but no one will respond.  US Senators have attempted to help but without success.
So…I’ll be traveling to Nairobi on Monday, Oct 25th,  to  go personally to the US Embassy as Christ’s ambassador and to stand in the gap for Koech – my hope is to bring him back by Friday, Oct 29th.
What can you do?  PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.  Pray for favor, pray for justice, pray for victory in Jesus’ Name!  And you can help financially – we need to raise $3000 for plane tickets, and for expenses to bring him back for treatment.
As you know…all contributions are tax-deductible by IRS guidelines as we are a 501(c )[3] organization. 
Thank you for your partnership -  we work together against Satan’s plan to destroy and have the honor to bring help to a child and glory to God!  He is MIGHTY TO SAVE!
If you're interested in helping, here is their contact information:

Get the Word Out, Inc.
PO Box 190242
St. Louis, MO 63119

Get the Word Out, Inc, is a 501[c](3) and all donations are tax-deductible under IRS guidelines. Contributions should be made out to Get the Word Out, Inc. and should be mailed to the address above.

Can a Message of Social Justice Be "The Gospel?"

Today over at his blog, The Gospel-Driven Church, Jared Wilson analyzes the confusion that many have as to what exactly "the gospel" is.  With his usual insightfulness, he specifically counters the notion that "the gospel" is a set of things we are to do and not to do.  Good deeds are indeed good, he points out, but they are not the good news.
Heck, Angelina Jolie has adopted, what?, 300 orphans? Isn't George Clooney saving the world? Matt Damon fights for social justice, and he does it without a splinter's notion of the gospel.

Are we supposed to be doing these things too? Yes. It is the command of God to love our neighbor. But social justice is not unique to Christianity, and in fact if social justice is the good news, we bear the same message as lots of people who are going to hell. Social justice, then, is salvifically neutral. And therefore, while it accompanies and may testify to the good news, it cannot be the good news itself.
Wilson goes on to point out that instead of being something we do, "the good news" is the message of what Christ has already done (living, dying and rising again to reconcile sinners to God) and what he is currently doing (empowering our conversion and obedience).  Read the whole post here.

A Word for Preachers

"All preachers are vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy.  In fact, the more faithful preachers are to the Word of God in their preaching, the more liable they are to the charge of hypocrisy.  Why?  Because the more faithful people are to the Word of God, the higher the message is that they will preach.  The higher the message, the further they will be from obeying it themselves."

R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review - Christians Get Depressed Too

David Murray's Christians Get Depressed Too is a concise, practical book which is designed to be helpful for both those suffering from depression as well as those who are in some capacity caring for others who are fighting it.  Murray is quite clear that he does not view depression as something which is inconsistent with Christianity.  In fact, he points out, many heroes of the faith, including those in the Bible, have struggled with varying degrees of depression.

Beyond this, Murray points out that though depression always has spiritual effects, its causes are not always spiritual in nature.  Often times, life situations and physical ailments over which a person has no control stand behind their suffering with depression.  In such situations, the proper treatment for depression will often not be purely spiritual in nature.  He argues there are certain times, for instance, which call for the introduction of medication to correct physical problems.

This book doesn't claim to have all the answers.  There are no quick-fix promises.  But it does offer some very practical steps in working through depression.  If you are struggling with depression, or if someone you love is, I highly recommend this book

Lowliness vs. Entitlement

We are a people of entitlement. Look at and listen to advertisements and notice how frequently the phrase "you deserve" is used.  Christ calls us away from such a sense of entitlement and calls us instead to a life of humility. John Piper speaks beautifully to this point below. It is well worth the two or three minutes it will take to watch.

(HT: Matthew Robbins)

One More Reminder

I've mentioned this before, but wanted to issue a reminder just in case you forgot.  Next Friday, the congregation I serve, Calvary Presbyterian Church in Flint, Michigan will hold the Seventh Annual  Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology, beginning at 10 am.    Dr. Joel Beeke and his fellow professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Dr. David Murray will be our featured guests and they will speak on the theme of "Reformation Family Living in the 21st Century."  

There is still time to sign up and the cost is extremely reasonable at only $15 per person, with children living at home attending for free.  We will also serve a hot lunch served at the church for an additional $5 per person which promises not only to be delicious, but will serve as a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with other conference attendees.

Click here to get a brochure, and feel free to send me an email with any questions you might have at

Friday Fun...The Difference Between Men and Women

Brian Regan explores the differences between the sexes.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Take Two

Back in June, I posted the U.S. trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third installment in the most recent film adaptation of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series.  I just saw the international trailer and thought I'd post it too, as it gives a somewhat different (I think fuller) feel for the film.  It is scheduled to hit the theaters in December.

(HT: Trevin Wax)

(The Lack of) Civility and Content in Public Discourse

Carl Trueman had an interesting and thought-provoking post the other day at Reformation 21.  In it he cited last week's much publicized argument between Bill O'Reilly and Whoopi Goldberg.  In case you missed it, O'Reilly was a guest on The View.  As he and the panel discussed the so-called "Ground-Zero Mosque," the discussion quickly devolved into a shouting match, culminating with Goldberg (as well as co-host, Joy Behar) walking off the set.

 I recently purchased, and very much look forward to reading, Trueman's book, Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative.  Though I don't always agree with him, I enjoy reading what he has to say because he is almost always thought-provoking. And while I sometimes have my sensibilities offended by Trueman, I appreciate the fact that he is definitely an equal-opportunity offender.  I think this comes through in these comments on the O'Reilly-Goldberg tête-à-tête, in which he decries the lack of civility and content in contemporary political discourse:
The most popular TV pundit of the Right, who yet cannot define "socialism," versus the advocate for women's rights who does not regard the drugging, and forcible and perverted sexual violation of a thirteen year old girl as "rape."  If ever we needed a microcosmic demonstration of all that is wrong with left and right, those two say it all: it is all about empty posturing, extreme slogans, and, above all, entertainment.
Against this cultural backdrop, Trueman calls on Christians to raise the bar, both in what we expect and in what we exhibit.  He points out that those who (like me) subscribe to the Westminster Standards are bound by such statements as the Larger Catechism's answer to Question 128, which reads as follows: "The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonour to them."  He goes on to make the following suggestions:
Christians, right and left, should model intelligent civic engagement, not help to destroy it by pandering to the moronic soundbites and posturing of the TV pundits.  And anybody who holds office in a confessional presbyterian denomination and who calls the President a Marxist (or carries around a picture of him at a rally photoshopped to make him into Hitler or the Joker), or anyone, for that matter, who claims that the Republicans are all Fascists or racists -- anybody who does such, I say, should be charged in the courts of the church with breach of vows and, if unrepentant, dismissed from office.  Criticism and dissent are vital in democracy; but  how we express that criticism and dissent should be shaped by our Christian commitments and, for those of us who hold office, by our solemn vows.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.  Please comment below.  You can read Trueman's whole post here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

“And lest we should adopt the opinion of the philosophers, that ignorance, which leads us into mistakes, is only an incidental evil, Paul shews that it has its root in the blindness of their heart, by which he intimates that it dwells in their very nature. The first blindness, therefore, which covers the minds of men, is the punishment of original sin; because Adam, after his revolt, was deprived of the true light iof God, in the absence of which there is nothing but fearful darkness.”

John Calvin

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Bible Should I Get?

I got a note from a friend the other day who was looking to purchase a new Bible.  He was asking me for my suggestions as to what Bible he should get and it occurred to me that there might be other readers of the blog who would have a similar question.

There are a number of considerations that go into purchasing a Bible.  For me, some of the most important ones include:
  • What translation do you want?
  • What type of study aids (if any) do you want?
  • How portable do you want the Bible to be?
We will address these questions in the following paragraphs.

What translation do you want?
There are varying strategies involved in the translation of any text.  Some Bibles, like the New American Standard Bible (NASB), try to attain a word-for-word translation.  Others, such as the New International Version (NIV), go for what is termed "dynamic equivalence," attempting essentially more of a thought-for-thought translation.  Still others, such as Eugene Peterson's The Message, can be better described as a "paraphrase" rather than a translation.

Each type has its benefits and its drawbacks.  The more one is to the NASB side of the spectrum, the more "literal" the translation of each word.  At the same time though, Bibles on this end of the spectrum tend to be far less "readable," with language that is often stilted.

It is my opinion that the English Standard Version (ESV) has done a wonderful job of combining the best of both ends, maintaining what they term an "essentially literal" translation of the words, accounting for such things such as idiomatic phrases, while striving for a (and attaining) a very readable English text  I think it is a great practice when studying a passage to go to various translations in order to bring out some of the different nuances of the text.  If I only had one translation though, it would definitely be the ESV.

What type of study aids (if any) do you want?
Bibles can come with all sorts of study aids such as study notes, charts, maps, etc.  Some people prefer to have none of these, opting to read the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, so help them God.  I can't completely argue with this strategy as it does cause one to rely more on the Holy Spirit's guidance.  I remember a summer when I was in college where the only Bible I used was one without study notes of any kind and I was richly blessed.

That being said, we must also remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.  There are many insights into the truths revealed in Scripture that have been accrued through the centuries, and we are unwise to neglect this body of wisdom.  For this reason, I recommend using a study Bible of some sort for personal study.  The key issues then become, whose notes do I want to be studying as I read the Bible and how in-depth and wide-ranging are they?
Considering these two factors, the ESV Study Bible is unsurpassed.  The study notes are wonderful. Many colorful maps and illustrations (like this one of the Temple at right) are included, often alongside the text.  These serve very well to help the reader understand what they are reading.  There are over 100 pages of helpful articles at the back of the Bible on various theological and biblical issues, as well as a concordance, a daily Bible reading plan, and an overview of the history of salvation in the Old Testament.

How portable do you want the Bible to be?
This is the only drawback to this Bible in my mind.  Due to the copious nature of what is included, it is necessarily a rather large Bible.  The pages are rather thin, but with over 2750 of them, this Bible still is hefty. If your plan is to carry it around a lot (as a student for instance) it might not be perfect.  But if it will mainly be used at a single location, you can do no better in my opinion than the ESV Study Bible.

The ESV Study Bible has a cover price of $49.99.  If you click here though, you will be directed to where it can be purchased for $31.49.

For a more in-depth look at the ESV Study Bible, watch the video below featuring Tullian Tchividjian.


Monday, October 18, 2010

A Word for Preachers

"I am content to live and die as the mere repeater of scriptural teaching, as a person who has thought out nothing and invented nothing, as one who never thought invention to be any part of his calling, but who concluded that he was simply to be a mouth for God to the people, mourning that anything of his own should come between."

Charles Spurgeon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Fun..No Toppings

Have you ever called a customer service number and gotten absolutely nowhere? Well, I hope you've never had a call quite like this one. I'm ashamed to admit, it's not hard for me to imagine this happening to me. Make sure you listen all the way to the end.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heavenward Prayers

If you don't already visit there regularly, let me recommend that you make Scotty Smith's blog, Heavenward, a regular stop as you make your journey through the week.  Each day, Scotty shares a prayer for the day that is dripping with gospel sensibility.

For instance, today's prayer is inspired by Psalm 119:71 which reads, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."  This is not the way I naturally think, but it's the way I ought to.  And the way Scotty prays is not the way I naturally pray, but it's the way I'd like to.

Check out his daily prayers.  I've been blessed immensely by them and I'm sure you will be too.

Chilean Miners Rescued

To see more poignant images like the ones below, click here.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

“Christ discharged the debt of sin. He bore our sins and purged them. He did not make a token payment which God accepts in place of the whole. Our debts are not cancelled; they are liquidated. Christ procured redemption and therefore he secured it. He met in himself and swallowed up the full toll of divine condemnation and judgement against sin.”

John Murray, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Young & Reformed Conference

At Calvary Presbyterian Church in Flint, Michigan, we're looking forward to Seventh Annual Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology which we will be holding Saturday, October 30.

I just found out about another conference on the west side of the state the prior weekend that also looks to be fantastic.  Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center (near Grand Rapids) will be hosting the Young & Reformed Conference with featured speakers Kevin DeYoung, Mike Wittmer and David Murray (who also will be at our conference the following week).   All three are are among my personal favorites, not only great speakers, but also great guys.

Of course we'd love to have you attend our conference.  But if October 30 doesn't work for you, or if you're on the west side of the state and can't make it over to Flint, I highly recommend that you check out this conference.  It is very reasonably priced at $10 ($5 for students) and should be a great time of teaching and fellowship.

OCTOBER 22-23, 2010

A Word for Preachers

The preacher must be a serious man; he must never give the impression that preaching is something light or superficial or trivial…What is happening is that he is speaking to them from God, he is speaking to them about God, he is speaking about their condition, the state of their souls. He is telling them that they are, by nature, under the wrath of God – 'the children of wrath even as others' – that the character of the life they’re living is offensive to God and under the judgment of God, and warning them of the dread eternal possibility that lies ahead of them. In any case the preacher, of all men, should realize the fleeting nature of life in this world. The men of the world are so immersed in its business and affairs, its pleasures and all is vain show, that the one thing they never stop to consider is the fleeting character of life. All this means that the preacher should create and convey the impression of the seriousness of what is happening the moment he even appears in the pulpit. You remember the famous lines of Richard Baxter: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Preaching and Preachers, pp. 85-86)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: What Is the Gospel?

Yesterday I posted a video in which Kevin DeYoung, Ryan Kelly and Greg Gilbert discussed the mission of the church.  I had neither heard Gilbert speak nor read anything by him before this.  It just so happens though, that last week I ordered his book What Is the Gospel?, which I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this week.

Gilbert recognizes that we live in an age of much gospel confusion.  Both inside the Church and out there are varying views as to what exactly we mean when we speak of the "gospel."  It is this problem which he strives to address.  As D.A. Carson states in the book's forward, "This book does not so much claim to break new ground as survey afresh some old ground that should never have been ignored, much less abandoned."

What Is the Gospel? has much to commend it.  It deals with the deepest and most meaningful of truths, yet does so in a way that is eminently readable.  Gilbert clearly loves the gospel and it comes through in his writing.  A number of times I was forced to simply stop reading, ponder the great truths that he had expounded, and worship the God of whom they spoke.  And just as he maintains that the life, death and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the gospel, he makes sure that the Bible is at the heart of his argument.  As a quick perusal of the Scripture index will show, in just over 100 short pages of writing, Gilbert makes almost 175 distinct Scripture references.

I often speak with others about the necessity to keep the gospel at the center of all we do.  In fact, it must inform not only our actions, but our very identity.  And if this is to be true of us, then we must be sure that the gospel that is doing this is the true gospel.  Therefore we must hold fast to the gospel by which we have been saved, the gospel Paul considered to be of first importance: "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Greg Gilbert has done this, and What Is the Gospel? will help others to do the same.

Friday Fun...Not-So-Pastoral Counseling

I may not be well versed in the most up-to-date therapy techniques in the secular counseling world, but I know for sure that this is not the best model for pastoral counseling...

"Stop It" Skit by Bob Newhart from Tim Tolosa on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Mission of the Church

Here is a helpful video from The Gospel Coalition in which a trio of young pastors discuss the issue the mission of the church. It seems to me that in the end, Kevin DeYoung, Greg Gilbert, and Ryan Kelly hit the nail on the head as they emphasize the centrality of the proclamation of the Gospel, namely Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection.

This is not to say that there is no place for a life of good works.  Indeed we are commanded to live as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16), to love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-39) and to live lives marked by the good works which God has prepared  in order that we might walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).  What is crucial is that these works are seen neither as "the Gospel," nor as an end in themselves.  They are never a means by which we might earn the favor of God, but rather ought to be only and always a thankful response to his gracious love.

The Mission of the Church from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fifth Down...Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago today, I was a freshman at the University of Missouri. It was Parents' Weekend and my father and I were at the Mizzou-Colorado football game. The Tigers had been pretty down for a number of years and Colorado was a team that would go on to win a share of the national championship that year. What happened on that day was one of the most stunning, disappointing, unfathomable games I've ever seen. In Tiger lore it lives on in infamy as "The Fifth Down Game."

If you don't know the details, you can read about them at length here. The long and short of it is that Mizzou was about to pull off an improbable upset, when a series of (ahem) questionable moves by the officials turned the thrill of victory into the agony of defeat. The winning touchdown scored (kind of) when Colorado's Charles Johnson (almost) made it into the end zone on fourth (well, actually it was fifth) down.

Colorado's coach back then was Mizzou alum Bill McCartney. At the time he was a high-profile figure, not just as a coach, but as the founder of Promise Keepers, a Christian ministry emphasizing the need for character among men. Unfortunately, after the game, he tried to turn attention away from the whole five downs thing, and place the focus on the field conditions that day.  Admittedly, the field was terrible. For some reason, the Faurot Field omniturf had played as if it were an ice rink.  But given McCartney's status as a supposed Christian leader, it was...well...let's say "unfortunate."

Not surprisingly, McCartney came under great criticism for his response. Here was a man who had talked so much about character, and yet he refused to admit that Mizzou got robbed and that his team was the beneficiary. He was called a hypocrite and worse, and to this day is largely villified by his fellow Mizzou alumni.

I was glad though to see the video below from McCartney today.  In it he says what he should have said twenty years ago.  I'm not sure if most Mizzou fans are willing to forgive him.  And frankly, that loss will go on stinging for as long as we cheer for Ol' Mizzou.  But I do take the following lesson away from the whole escapade:  Be humble.

Even when it doesn't seem easy, it is the right thing to do; sometimes we need to forgo our "rights."  Our failure to do so will, more often than not, cause us more pain in the long run.  But this is not the only reason we should do this.  We should be humble most of all because we follow one "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross," (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV).

May we all emulate Christ in humility, and find our glory in him.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

"If mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13), are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner."
                               Martin Luther

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

DVD...God's Technology

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am very excited about the Mid-Michigan Conference for Reformed Theology which we will be holding October 30. The theme will be Reformation Family Living in the 21st Century and our speakers will be Joel Beeke and David Murray.

One of the topics which Dr. Murray will address will be that of technology and how we as Christian families ought to interact with it.  He has produced a 40 minute DVD on this topic entitled God's Technology.  In it he makes the point that the digital revolution is perhaps a bigger revolution than even the industrial revolution was, and in light of this momentous era of change, it is essential that parents develop a distinctive Christian response.

The answer, he argues is to neither blindly embrace all that technology produces nor to attempt complete separation from it. Rather, we must adopt a plan of disciplined discernment.  In the video, he outlines and models one such plan.

We'd love to have you at our conference.  If you can't make it though (especially if you have children), watch this video.  I've posted a trailer for it below and you can purchase it either via DVD or digital download here.

God's Technology Trailer from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: Hipster Christianity

Brett McCracken’s recent book, Hipster Christianity is a study of what happens, as its subtitle tells us, when church and "cool" collide. While at times humorous, it is not a satire, and while at times critical, it is not an ivory tower lampooning. Rather it is a critique from the midst of hip, as McCracken is a young, cool Christian, in tune with what’s “in,” both in the church and in culture at large.

The first third of the book deals with the history of hip, first in terms of the culture at large, then as it has applied within Christianity. It reads a little slowly as McCracken lays the necessary sociological and historical groundwork for a discussion of this type. What I found to be most key in this section though was his observation that if ever there was a culture born to aspire toward the hip, it is indeed America with our emphasis on individualism and personal freedom.

The second section deals with hipster Christianity in the church today, giving examples of what types of things this group of people is drawn to (and repelled by). I have heard some criticism from others in regards to this section (i.e., “I’m hip, but I don’t like some of the things he says hipsters like…”), but I assume that his examples are meant to be broad-stroke generalities, not absolutes. Taken this way, they paint what I would consider to be a fairly representative picture.

Finally, McCracken contrasts what he terms as “Wannabe Hip Churches” and “Authentic Christian Cool.” This is where many who are a part of the hipster movement within Christianity will take issue. I am not terribly (read: at all) hip. It is probably in no small part thanks to this that I found this to be the most important and helpful section of the book. I didn’t take McCracken to be condemning all of hipsterdom, after all, he is a self-professed hipster himself. Rather, he was recognizing that we all (hipster and traditionalist square alike) have a tendency to be too concerned with how others see us, and we must make sure that we fight against this urge, not fan it into flame.

In the end I took the main point of the book to be that nothing is really more cool than the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. It is truly relevant and truly lasting. Christianity needs to be creating culture, not reacting to it, and if we are to have a hipster culture within our church, it must bubble up from within, not be some façade that we’ve built so as to appease desired consumers.

Hipster Christianity is an interesting study. There were no doubt parts that would offend people on both ends of the spectrum, which I suppose is one indication that in this book, McCracken must have done something right.

Friday Fun...The Dentist

Keeping with our theme from last week (straight guys who can't keep a straight face), we bring you old friends Tim Conway and Harvey Korman in another classic sketch from The Carol Burnett Show.