Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Word for Preachers...J.C. Ryle on Fireworks in our Preaching

“Whatever we preach, or whatever pulpit we occupy, whether we preach simply or not, whether we preach written or extempore, we ought to aim not merely at letting off fireworks, but at preaching that which will do lasting good to souls! Let us beware of fireworks in our preaching. ‘Beautiful’ sermons, ‘brilliant’ sermons, ‘clever’ sermons, ‘popular’ sermons, are often sermons which have no effect on the congregation, and do not draw men to Jesus Christ. Let us aim so to preach, that what we say may really come home to men’s minds and consciences and hearts, and make them think and consider.”

J.C. Ryle

Friday, May 27, 2011

Husbands, Love Your Wives, As Christ Loved the Church

It touched my heart when I saw the video below at Zach Nielsen's blog, Take Your Vitamin Z. It was posted under the title of "Ephesians 5:25 in Action," referring to the verse of Scripture which reads, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," (ESV).

As I watched this video, I had a couple thoughts. First of all, let us all continue to pray for Bethany and for so many others whose lives have been turned upside down by this devastating tornado. Certain words are so overused as to become trite, and "unbelievable" is certainly one of those words.  Having seen the damage caused in Joplin though, it is almost unbelievable in the very truest sense of the word.

Second, as Zach suggests, this is indeed a wonderful example of loving one's wife "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." It's the type of attitude and action that should mark all husbands.

I may be wrong, but I honestly believe that most husbands (Christian or not) would be willing to act in such a way to protect their wives. Fortunately, very few of us will ever be faced with such a situation. Perhaps more relevant for most of us are the many ways in which we may be called to "give ourselves up for our wives."

Great. You're willing to die to save your wife's life. But are you willing to:
  • Forego the new golf club or hunting equipment, and spend that extra money on her instead?
  • Go where she wants for vacation this summer even though it's "your turn" to choose?
  • Have a heart-to-heart conversation, sharing hopes and dreams, instead of watching the ballgame?
I am far from perfect in these types of areas (especially the last one), so I am not sitting on a high-horse saying, "Follow my example." Rather I am beckoning us all as husbands to be spurred on today by the actions and example of Don. And even more so, let us be spurred on by the actions and example of Christ.

Friday Fun...Bill Cosby on the Dentist

A little old-school comedy from the incomparable Bill Cosby...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Jerram Barrs on Our Identity in Christ

"Thank God, we have a representative, a champion who has faced the devil's worst attacks and has won a great victory for us.  Despite our failures in the face of temptation, the Father looks at us through his beloved Son, the One who has overcome the accuser for us.  Because we are in Jesus, he looks on us with love. Because we are in Jesus, he does not count our faults against us. Because we are in Jesus, he forgives us. Because we are in Jesus he lifts us up when we fall.  Because we are in Jesus, he strengthens us for each day's struggles. Because we are in Jesus, the day is coming when he will give us complete victory over our enemy, and then we will never fail or fall again."

Jerram Barrs

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joplin, Missouri: Before and After

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, not even 2,000 words could convey what the following pictures do.  Please join me in praying for the people of Joplin, Missouri and consider what other ways you might assist them in their recovery.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Some Final Thoughts on Harold Camping

Yesterday I was invited to be a guest on the local radio program Off the KUF with Tom Sumner. It was a fun experience for me to return to my roots in the radio studio as we discussed Harold Camping, faux raptures and what the Bible really says about the end of the world. I want to point out a couple of good things to come out of this whole experience that I mentioned on the radio program. After this, we'll leave Harold Camping alone...at least until October, which is when he says the world will actually come to an end.

I am thankful first of all that, because of this whole episode, there was a great deal of talk (and hopefully at least a little bit of thought) about spiritual matters. News outlets around the country discussed the idea of the rapture. As I drove home on Friday afternoon, it even dominated the discussion on sports radio. And hey, I got the opportunity to talk about the gospel on the radio yesterday.

Secondly, we were reminded of a reality that is especially important in our day. Harold Camping believed quite passionately in what he proclaimed. But no matter the fervency with which he believed these ideas, that did not make them true. It is not our faith that is ultimately most important, but rather the Object of our faith.  And truth is not dependent upon what we believe; it is what it is. We can't all be equally right. Even in this age of relativism, there are those whose beliefs are wrong.

If you'd like to think further about issues of the Lord's return, others deal with it far better than I have. Click here to listen to Allistair Begg's sermon, or click here to read a short devotional message from Mike Wittmer. And while we should certainly refrain from date/time predictions, may those of us who are Christians long for Christ's return. For when he returns, we will experience the greatest good: We will be with Him.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Word for Preachers...Steven Lawson on the Supremacy of God

"It is desperately essential in this hour that preachers recover a soaring vision of the supremacy of God. Life-changing, history-altering preaching will come only when pastors reclaim a high view of God's blazing holiness and are overshadowed by His absolute sovereignty. Towering thoughts of God's transcendent glory must captivate preachers' souls."

Steven Lawson

Friday, May 20, 2011

What We Can Learn From Harold Camping

If you're reading this, odds are that you've probably heard about Harold Camping and his "prophecy" that the judgment day is coming on May 21. If you're reading this more than a day after it was written, then you've also probably heard that Harold Camping's "prophecy" was wrong.

Actually, even if it is still Friday (or early on Saturday), you can still know that Camping is wrong. He has suggested that the Bible is perfectly clear in its teaching that May 21 is the big day. Any time someone says something is perfectly clear, even though they are the only person who has noticed it over the last 2000 years, that ought to give us some pause. More importantly though, Jesus seems to speak pretty clearly to the issue in Mark 13:32 where he says, "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." After his resurrection, Jesus has still not changed his tune. In Acts 1:7 we read, "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.'"

All that being said, I do feel we have something to learn from Mr. Camping. Just as the word of God is perfectly clear that not a single person knows the day or hour it will occur, it is also perfectly clear that we need to constantly be prepared, because Jesus will indeed return to judge the living and the dead. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God;" and in Daniel 7:13-14, "...behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."

There has been much fun made of Mr. Camping, by Christians and non-Christians alike. He has earned the derision which has come his way. But as we make jokes about his foolishness, let us not lose sight of the seriousness that underlies the whole issue. After all, Harold Camping is right to expect the return of Christ. Just not this Saturday.

Friday Fun...A Love Story Straight Out Of Hollywood

I might not be the world's greatest romantic, but I did a pretty good job when it came to proposing to my wife.  Having gained her father's blessing, I showed up at her door step with a dozen red roses.  There was a very nice dinner in a revolving, roof-top restaurant overlooking downtown St. Louis just before Christmas, followed by a limousine ride, a light show, and of course the proposal itself.  Best of all, she was completely surprised.

All that being said, compared to this guy, I (along with just about every other guy out there) am nothing but a rank amateur.  This made the rounds on the internet earlier this week, but I wanted to make sure I shared it as well.  Check it out and be impressed.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TGC11 Workshop Audio

Yesterday Zach Nielsen posted a blog entry that had links to audio from all of the workshops at the 2011 Gospel Coalition Conference. I've re-posted them below.  So much good teaching, so little memory available on my iPod...

Training the Next Generation of Pastors and Other Christian Leaders
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson, and Ligon Duncan

The Pastor’s Counseling Ministry
David Powlison

The Gospel for Muslims
Thabiti Anyabwile

Is Your Church a Safe Place for Sad People? Learning to Walk with Each Other Through Loss
Nancy Guthrie

Old Testament Narrative: Letting the Literature Speak
Kathleen B. Nielson

Women Teaching Women the Bible: A Suggested Model
Jenny Salt

Justification Versus Self-Justification
Ray Ortlund Jr.

Preaching a Christ to Whom We Can Come
Colin Smith

Orphans and Adoption
Russell Moore and Voddie Baucham

Power Through Weakness
Tim Savage

Signs of Grace in Inner-City Church Planting
Eric Mason

Gospel Faithfulness and Business Leadership in Tumultuous Times
Bob Doll

Christianity Explored – A Biblical Strategy for Effective Evangelism in the Local Church
Craig Dyer and Alistair Begg

What Should a Local Church Look Like?
Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, and Mark Dever

Pastoring with Discernment: Applying the Gospel to the Hearts of Those You Serve
C. J. Mahaney

Asian American Christian Thought and Theological History: Pastoral Implications for Diversity and Innovation in a Multiracial Church
Stephen Um and Julius Kim

An Invitation to Hispanic Pastors and Would-Be Pastors
Juan Sanchez

Humble Orthodoxy
Josh Harris

Gospel-Centered Pastoral Leadership
Sandy Willson

The Feminist Mistake
Mary Kassian

Literary Beauty and Gospel Truth: Celebrating the Biblical Union
Kathleen B. Nielson

Pure Desire: Gospel-Centered Morality in a Sex-Saturated Society
Gary Inrig

Mixing Whites and Colors Without Making Them Run: Building Gospel-Centered, Intentionally Multicultural Churches
John Mahaffey

‘They All Look Alike To Me’: The Implications of a Christ-Centered Identity on the Issue of Racial Reconciliation in the Church
K. Edward Copeland

Writing Corporate Worship Music
Keith and Kristyn Getty

The Spirit-Filled Missional Ministry of Jesus
Mark Driscoll

Trellis and Vine
Tony Payne and Colin Marshall

Fostering a Praying Church
Scotty Smith

The Genesis of Gender
Mary Kassian

When Despair Invades Gospel Work: Learning from Elijah
Paige Benton Brown

One-on-One Discipleship: Grass-Roots Church Growth
Jenny Salt

Biblical Theology: What It Is and Why It Matters
Stephen Um and Richard Lints

Substitutes for the Gospel: A Modest Critique of Modern Evangelicalism
Erwin Lutzer

The Mission of the Church
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

Leading Corporate Worship Music
Keith and Kristyn Getty

Seizing Global Gospel Opportunities: Why and How You and Your Church Can Get Involved
Michael Oh

Questioning Evangelism
Randy Newman

The Heart of the Expositor
Kent Hughes

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Spurgeon on God's Revelation to Man

"God does not give a fresh revelation, but rivets the old one.  When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he fetches it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one.  There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived.  It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts.  He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth had long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he coins no more, for enough is done."

Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Can't Change What We Do Until We Change Who We Are

Today Doug Wolter posted the following clip from Toy Story at his blog, Life2gether.

Quick aside: If you are at all interested in family ministry and the church as community, I hope you already follow Doug's blog. If you are and you don't...rectify that situation immediately!

Anyway, much as I was borrowing this clip from Doug, so too he was borrowing it from Chad Nuss, who comments:
In this classic scene, Buzz is convinced his role is to save the galaxy. However, Woody knows who Buzz really is and is trying his best to get through to him. This is what preaching is all about. Preaching is not primarily about what we are supposed to do or not do. Preaching is about reminding us of our identity. We are like Buzz, convinced we are good, spiritual people. The preacher comes to us like Woody, yelling at us to get us to see we are really sinners separated from God without Christ. But once we become followers of Christ, the preacher continues to come to us like Woody, yelling at us to remember who we are in Christ. Christianity is not about a list of do’s and don’ts. Christianity is about identity. We cannot change what we do until we change who we are. Preaching reminds us of who we were without Christ and who we are in Christ. Preaching reminds us that we can’t save the galaxy because we can’t even save ourselves. Only Christ can do that.

Jesus: Far More than a Fix-It Man

At his blog, A Mind Full of Mud Puddles, my friend Brett Barton had some great thoughts today on our dependence on Jesus. He humbly and wisely points out the following, which is uncomfortably familiar to my own life:
I call myself a Christian -- a follower of Jesus -- but in all honesty, I am a terrible Christian. I rarely do the things the Bible says that Christians should do (pray, read my Bible, feed the hungry, give to the poor, etc.) and am much more skilled at finding new and creative ways to sin. It took me a while before I realized that I was a perfect candidate for being a Christian since I was hopelessly dependent on the saving work of Jesus. However even in that, I have had a distorted view of Jesus as something other than my living savior and treated him more as if he was my primary care physician.
Far too often we espouse the kind of "prosperity gospel" that treats Jesus merely as a means to getting health, wealth and happiness.  As such, we often just want Jesus to fix the things that are wrong with our lives so that we can become self-sufficient, no longer needing him until our next problem.

I am reminded of a dear woman in our congregation who was facing all sorts of physical and emotional trials. As I prayed with and for her, I recall how much the content of her prayers impressed me. She prayed not primarily for healing and relief, but rather for strength and courage to endure her difficulties. She knew that a loving and sovereign God was working in and through them for her growth, and she wanted to trust him more to do so.

I think this is the kind of faith that Brett is trying to encourage in his blog. He goes on to point out:
When Jesus said that he was (and is) the Way, the Truth and the Life, I believe that he is saying that he is not only the means to an end, but he is also the end. So now it is becoming more clear that I have been praying and asking Jesus to help me save myself, when he is the one in the business of savings lives. He is the savior. I am the savee. He must increase. I must decrease. Why am I asking him to fix me so that I don't need him as much? That's not really fixing me, now is it?

This is how the weak can say they are strong and the poor can say they are rich. It's not that once Jesus comes into the picture, they will no longer be sick and struggle to pay their bills. No, it's that the weak have something better than bulging muscles and a clean bill of health. They have given up their striving to save themselves and are at peace in the hands of the savior.
May we all (beginning with me) look to Jesus not only as a solution in the midst of difficulties.  Rather, let us see him as the one who has already solved our biggest problem: our estrangement from God; and the one who teaches us that true health, wealth and happiness are found only in an abiding relationship with him.

Click here to read Brett's entire post.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jared Wilson on Taking Notes During Sermons

Jared Wilson offers some helpful thoughts today at The Gospel Driven Church on the value of note-taking during sermons. Though generally against note-taking, Wilson is far from dogmatic and his reasons are well-considered and developed.

For a long time I have been a note-taker.  I tend to get distracted easily and it helps me to focus my attention to take notes. Along with Wilson though, I was prompted to think about this issue a couple years ago when I heard Tim Keller say, "I don't mind if you take notes at the beginning of a message, but if you're still taking notes at the end, I feel like I haven't brought it home."

So should I ditch my note-taking?  I don't know.  In the end, this much is certainly true: How we receive a sermon says a lot about what we understand preaching to be.  Though I will most likely (at least for the meantime) continue to take notes during sermons, there is real value in what Wilson has to say:
Ditching the note-taking preaching ethos both elevates sermons and properly diminishes them. It treats a sermon as proclamation aided by the Spirit, which gives the sermon a supernatural weight. On the other hand, by treating all words in a sermon as expendable to memory, it puts the preacher's words in the right place compared to the Scripture's words. It diminishes the impact of a well-turned phrase and magnifies real revelation.
Click here to read his entire post.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Preaching as Worship

"The preaching and the hearing of the Word of God is in the last analysis worship, worship in its most profound sense.  Preaching is not an auxiliary activity to worship, nor is it some kind of preparation for worship which one hopes will follow...The proclaiming of the Word of God, simply in itself, is high service to God.  The solemn reading and preaching of Scripture in the midst of the congregation is a cultic act, if we may use that term, in continuity with the sacrifices of the Old Testament.  Even more it fulfills these ancient cultic acts.  The Old Testament sacrifices were the type, the foreshadow, of something far greater, the proclamation of the gospel.  The reading and the preaching of Scripture is worship of an even greater intensity, an even greater depth, and an even greater magnificence than were ever the sacrifices of the Temple."

A Word for Preachers...Preaching as Worship

"The preaching and the hearing of the Word of God is in the last analysis worship, worship in its most profound sense.  Preaching is not an auxiliary activity to worship, nor is it some kind of preparation for worship which one hopes will follow...The proclaiming of the Word of God, simply in itself, is high service to God.  The solemn reading and preaching of Scripture in the midst of the congregation is a cultic act, if we may use that term, in continuity with the sacrifices of the Old Testament.  Even more it fulfills these ancient cultic acts.  The Old Testament sacrifices were the type, the foreshadow, of something far greater, the proclamation of the gospel.  The reading and the preaching of Scripture is worship of an even greater intensity, an even greater depth, and an even greater magnificence than were ever the sacrifices of the Temple."

Hughes OliphantOld

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

The Gospel Coalition has a blog post today with cautions on how we preach Christ from the Old Testament from three men who do so wonderfully: Tim Keller, D.A. Carson and David Murray. All three had very helpful comments, but I was especially struck by some of Murray's closing words:
I’d also like to encourage preachers and teachers to be clear and consistent on the question: "How were Old Testament believers saved?” The most common options seem to be:
  1. They were saved by obeying the law.
  2. They were saved by offering sacrifices.
  3. They were saved by a general faith in God.
  4. They were saved by faith in the Messiah.
Unless we consistently answer #4, we end up portraying heaven as not only populated by lovers of Christ, but also by legalists, ritualists, and mere theists who never knew Christ until they got there...
Click here to read the entire post.

2011 Puritan Reformed Conference: The Beauty & Glory of the Holy Spirit

August 25-27, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary will be hosting the third annual Puritan Reformed Conference, with a theme of The Beauty & Glory of the Holy Spirit.  Last August I had the opportunity to attend, and as I've mentioned elsewhere, it was a wonderful blessing to me.

I greatly enjoy conferences, and have been to a number of them.  What makes this one special though, is the fact that beyond the great teaching, it has certain advantages over many other conferences.  First of all, it is a much smaller conference than many others.  While there is something to be said for the likes of larger conferences like The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God and T4G, I found the more intimate setting to be very appealing.  This provided an opportunity to actually discourse with some of the speakers in between sessions and I even got to share meals with a couple of them.

Beyond this, one of the most amazing aspects of this conference is the price.  Early registration (good through June 16th) is only $65!  This, combined with the reasonably priced lodging that Grand Rapids provides, makes this conference by far the best deal going for an event of its sort.

If you live in or near Michigan (and perhaps even if you don't), I highly recommend you take advantage of this great opportunity.  Click here to see the conference schedule and click here to register.

PRTS has put together the short video below overviewing last year's conference.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...B.B. Warfield on the Presence of the Trinity in the Old Testament

"The Old Testament may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted; the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what is in it but was only dimly or even not at all perceived before. The mystery of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament; but the mystery of the Trinity underlies the Old Testament revelation, and here and there almost comes into view. Thus the Old Testament revelation is not corrected by the fuller revelation which follows it, but only perfected, extended, and enlarged."

B.B. Warfield

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kevin DeYoung on Parenting

Kevin DeYoung has a great post on parenting at his blog today. In it he laments how complicated parenting has become, and humorously yet wisely tries to simplify it.  He offers such gems as:
I have four kids and besides the Lord’s grace, I’m banking on the fact that there really are just a few non-negotiables in parenting. There are plenty of ways to screw up our kids, but whether they color during church, for example, is not one of them. There is not a straight line from doodling in the service as a toddler to doing meth as a teenager. Could it be that beyond the basics of godly parenting, that most of the other techniques and convictions are nibbling around the edges? Certainly, there are lots of ways that good parents make parenting a saner, more enjoyable experience, but even the kid addicted to Angry Birds who just downed a pack of Fun Dip and is now watching his third Pixar movie of the week (day?) still has a decent shot at not being a sociopath.
I worry that many young parents are a) too adamant about the particulars of their parenting or b) too sure that every decision will set their kids on an unalterable trajectory to heaven or hell. It’s like my secretary at the church once told me: “Most moms and dads think they are either the best or the worst parents around, and both are wrong.” Could it be we’ve made parenting too complicated? Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents? They will see our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and Twinkies.
Click here to read the entire post.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Word for Preachers...JR Vassar on Keeping the Gospel Central

"If we only present Jesus as a model for how we live, we condemn people. Jesus died the death he died because we cannot live the life he lived. So our preaching must put Jesus forth as Savior. That is what I mean when I say Gospel-Centered. Was the Gospel presented not merely as the starting point for the Christian life, but the very track on which the Christian life is ran? As Dr. Tim Keller puts it, the Gospel is not the ABC's of the Christian faith, but the A-Z of the Christian faith. We do not grow by getting beyond the Gospel, but by going deeper into it. Show in your sermon how the Gospel is the answer. If you are teaching on generosity, show your people how the Gospel liberates us from greed by revealing a trustworthy, generous God who sacrifices greatly to meet our needs. In fact, if your sermon is just as true had Christ not died and risen from the dead, you did not preach the Gospel, you gave advice."

JR Vassar

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thoughts for Mother's Day

Mother's day is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate moms and motherhood.  It is a good thing for the Church to take part in this as we are beckoned both by the commandments as well as by Christ's example to honor our mothers.  But as we do, let us remember that there are many within our midst for whom this is not a joyous occasion.  This may be especially so for those who struggling with infertility.

Russell Moore shared wise words (as he typically does) in his blog yesterday as he charged churches with the following:
"Regardless of how you do it, remember the infertile as the world around us celebrates motherhood. The Proverbs 31 woman needs our attention, but the 1 Samuel 1 woman does too."
In addition to those who are infertile, there are also those who have lost children to miscarriages or those who are single and hear the all-to-incessant ticking of their biological clocks.  In any case, the Body of Christ must take great care to be sympathetic to these sisters, especially at this time when the pain of their longings might be most acute.  May we lift them up in prayer.  May we love them well and make sure to communicate to them their great value in our eyes and in God's.

And for those who do long to be mothers, but fear that this desire might not be realized, Wendy Alsup offers these words of encouragement:
You don’t have to deny your longing or talk yourself into a happy attitude for all the good things you can do without kids. It’s OK to mourn the loss. God said children are a blessing. But after the fall, we do not all get to experience that blessing. The gospel makes up the difference. While you are disappointed in deep ways and that disappointment is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven profoundly content with his work in you through this disappointment. In heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed. You will not be disappointed. May confidence in that hope sustain you.
Click here to read her entire post.

Friday Fun...Hungry Dog

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Jerry Bridges on Our Standing Before God

"We can never obligate God by our obedience or our sacrificial service.  Even if we were perfectly obedient in all our Christian duties, we would still be forced to say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty' (Luke 17:10)."

Jerry Bridges

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden and My Response to God's Justice

Last night, as I finally retired to bed around 2:00, I made one final check of Twitter.  It was then that I saw a link to the picture posted above.  It was taken by Michael Appleton for the New York Times, and when I saw it, I was at once moved with emotion.

It was not the first time I had gotten choked up last night.  Earlier, CNN had gone to split-screen coverage, one side replaying President Obama's speech, while on the other side, people celebrated at Ground Zero in New York, singing our national anthem. It was a moment of patriotic pride for me as an American, as I was euphoric that justice had been done.

The more I considered my own reaction though, the more pause I had. Was I really happy because "justice" had been done? It seems to me that most of our excitement is that WE have been avenged, that WE are (perhaps) safer, that WE have received the justice WE deserve. And don't get me wrong. These are all good things, and I very intentionally include myself in the "WE."

The reality though is that at least those of us who are Christians ought to be less concerned about OUR honor, and more concerned about God's. If this were truly the case for me, I would realize that on the "spectrum of goodness," I am infinitely closer to bin Laden than I am to Jesus. And the Bible makes it abundantly clear that, as a result, I deserve the righteous condemnation of God every bit as much as bin Laden did. If "justice" is what I ultimately want, then I would rejoice just as heartily over my own "being brought to justice."

So in the end, I do humbly and non-triumphalistically thank God that Osama bin Laden has gotten what he deserved. But I am far more thankful yet that, cleansed by the blood of Christ, I will not.

A Word for Preachers...Charles Spurgeon on Preaching With Passion

"If our sermons were to hang like icicles around our lips, they would not be very likely to melt the ice in your minds...you might as well be silent. O sirs, you waste your breath, you lose your time. No good will come of it. Your testimony must be earnest, or it will be fruitless. There must be passion and there must be pathos. The soul must run over at the mouth, and the speech must be the outflowing lava of a heart that swells and heaves with inward fires."

Charles Spurgeon