Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fun...Downton Arby's

(HT: Vitmain Z)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: The Last Enemy by Mike Wittmer

In recent weeks, I've shared a couple quotes from Mike Wittmer's The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life. Mike is a friend of mine and he had the publisher send the book to me for free, so perhaps I am a little biased. Even if I were not though, I would enthusiastically recommend this book.

Mike begins this look at his subject matter communicating what we all know to be true, but would rather ignore: "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Take a moment to let that sink in. You are going to die." He continues to speak quite candidly throughout the book about this much neglected topic.

The first three chapters are written to a general audience. After all, we all die, right? The remainder of the book though is directed specifically toward Christians in helping them to understand what exactly is an appropriate attitude to have toward death, and what we can expect after it. Death is indeed evil, Mike points out, and the last enemy. As such it is understandable why one should fear it. But as Mike puts it, "fear is no match for faith," as the one on whom we really is stronger than even death.

Each of the book's 23 chapters is short (approximately five pages) and followed by four "Questions for Reflection." This structure makes the book not only suitable for individual reading, but ideal for group study. I recommend it for anyone who wants to be prepared for what they inevitably will face.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ministry Transitions

Many woke up this morning to news of two transitions involving among prominent church leaders:
1) The elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church are presenting Jason Meyer to the congregation their candidate for Associate Pastor for Preaching and Vision. The expectation that Meyer will become John Piper's eventual successor as the church's senior pastor. Click here for an update on Piper's transition which was posted at Desiring God.

2) In other news, Mark Driscoll announced that he will be replaced as the president of the Acts 29 church planting network by Matt Chandler. As part of this transition, Acts 29 will be moving its headquarters from Seattle to Dallas. Driscoll's Mars Hill Church will remain a part of the Acts 29 network.

    Britain's Got Talent: Charlotte and Jonathan

    By now, if you care to, you've probably already seen this clip from Britain's Got Talent. I thought I'd share it anyway. As I've mentioned before, we all love underdog stories, right? And with this one we get a big helping of loyalty and friendship thrown in as well.

    Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Mike Wittmer on Idols

    "Two facts are always true about idols. First, idols serve their makers, so it is we who pray and put our hope in them who actually play the role of god. We are in charge, and they exist to meet our needs. Second, idols wear us out. As the Philistines rose each morning to dust off and prop up their fallen god Dagon (1 Samuel 5:1-5), so we discover that idols demand our constant care and protection."

    Mike Wittmer
    The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    A Word for Preachers...Stott on Cultural Relevance

    "I recognize that there are perils in the clamant demand for relevance. If we become exclusively preoccupied with answering the questions people are asking, we may overlook the fact that they often ask the wrong questions and need to be helped to ask the right ones. If we acquiesce uncritically in the world's own self-understanding, we may find ourselves the servants rather of fashion than of God. So, in order to avoid the snare of being a 'populist' or a modern false prophet, the type of bridge to be built must be determined more by the biblical revelation than by the zeitgeist or spirit of the age. The Church's calling is to challenge secularism, not to surrender to it. Nevertheless, there is a great need for more understanding of, and sensitivity to, the modern world around us."

    John Stott
    Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Piper, Keller and Bradley Discuss Race & the Christian

    The February 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida has brought the topic of race to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Next Wednesday (March 28) from 7-9pm (EDT), fellow Covenant Theological Seminary alumnus Anthony Bradley will moderate an important discussion with John Piper and Tim Keller on the topic of Race & the Christian. The event will be live-streamed for free at Desiring God and I encourage you to check it out. If you have questions you would like to submit, you can email them to

    In the words of Piper, "This is not a social issue. It is a blood issue." Here is a video invitation from him:

    Invitation to Piper and Keller on Race & the Christian from Desiring God on Vimeo.

    This event will be sponsored by Crossway and hosted by the Grace and Race Team at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

    Friday Fun...Domino Effect

    I recently saw this creative video for the first time. It is, quite simply, really cool.

    (HT: Josh Montague)

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...DeYoung on Genesis and Grace

    "Genesis is a long story -- and the beginning of a much longer story -- about an omnipotent, benevolent God with undeserved and omnipotent blessings. With a few exceptions here and there, the patriarchs are not a wonderful set of role models. Abraham and Isaac lie about their wives, Sarah laughs at God, Lot's wife turns to a pillar of salt, Jacob is a conniving manipulator: he tricks Laban and he tricks Esau and his mom helps him, Laban is a cheat, Joseph is boastful, his brothers are jealous and they sell him into slavery, Simeon and Levi slaughter the Shechemites. Reuben sleeps with his father's concubine, Judah sleeps hith his daughter-in-law, and this is the good side of the family.

    "The biggest obstacle to the promised blessing is not famine or barrenness or hostile armies. The biggest obstacle to God blessing his people is God's people. But...they belong to God. And he chose them and redeems them and reforms them and continues to bless them despite themselves."

    Kevin DeYoung

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    A Word for Preachers...Chapell on the Key to Effective Preaching

    "Consciousness of God's enablement should encourage all preachers (including beginning preachers) to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their calling. Although the degree of homiletical skill will vary, God promises to perform his purposes through all who faithfully proclaim his truth. Even if your words barely crawl over the edge of the pulpit, love of God's Word, will, and people ensures an effective spiritual ministry. You may never hear the accolades of the world or pastor a church of thousands, but a life of godliness combined with clear explanations of Scripture's saving and sanctifying graces engages the power of the Spirit for the glory of God."

    Bryan Chapell
    Christ-Centered Preaching

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Pink on Looking to Jesus

    "Man became a lost sinner by a look, for the first thing recorded of Eve in connection with the fall of our first parents is that 'The woman saw that the tree was good for food' (Gen. 3:6). In like manner, the lost sinner is saved by a look. The Christian life begins by looking: 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else' (Isa. 45:22). The Christian life continues by looking: 'let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith' (Heb. 12:2). And at the end of the Christian life we are still to be looking for Christ: 'For our conversation (citizenship_ is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ' (Phil. 3:20). From first to last, the one thing required is looking at God's Son."

    A.W. Pink
    Exposition of the Gospel of John

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    A Look Back at Emergent

    Five years ago Ted Kluck and Kevin DeYoung wrote Why We're Not Emergent: by Two Guys Who Should Be. It was an insightful, educational and entertaining book, dealing with the Emergent Movement while it was still at (or at least near) its apex. On pages 31-35 of the March issue of Credo Magazine, Kluck takes a look back at things "Emergent" (and its cousin "Missional"), given the perspective that only time can often bring.

    Among the things I found particularly helpful with Ted's piece were the following:

    Ted's openness about his own struggles with pride and the example he sets in his commitment to try to write more humbly. I'll be honest with you, I probably check the stats on my web traffic more than anyone should, and certainly more than anyone who generates as little traffic as I do! I get excited when a web post of mine generates 25 or 50 hits; I can only imagine how hard it would be to remain humble when you're a real author like Ted and thousands of people actually pay money to read your books. He freely admits his struggles in that area, and in so doing, provides a great example for those of us who may like the spotlight a little more than we should.

    A subsequent willingness on Ted's part to express thanks for some of the parts of the Emergent movement.  To be sure, some of this of a backhanded compliment in part, as it includes such things as his observation that the Young Reformed movement owes much of its rise to the Emergent movement. But indeed, for better or worse (and there is surely much of both) the rise of a new generation of prominent Reformed leaders was (at least in part) a response to the Emergent movement. Ted also expresses appreciation though for such derivatives of the Emergent movement as the uniting of people across normal liberal/conservative divides and a concern for many areas on which we all need to focus.

    A steady commitment to keep the center at the center. While not being critical of social efforts, Ted rightly wants to keep the mission of the church centered on the proclamation that our only true hope is in the the good news of Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, and our subsequent salvation. Surely, good works will flow out of this, but the Gospel is the key.

    Check out the whole article by clicking here.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Friday Fun...Dog Breath

    Okay...I may be a little biased in my judgment because a cousin of mine directed this commercial, but I think it's pretty funny.

    Ice Breakers Frost - This Magic Moment from Tom Grabon on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Mike Wittmer and a Christian Response to Death

    "(At Lazarus's tomb), Jesus wept. He did not use the concept of Romans 8:28 as a club, telling Mary and Martha, 'All things work together for good so you should really look for the silver lining here. It's actually a good thing your brother is dead.' He didn't treat their loss as anything other than what it was -- a loss that triggered the tears of God.

    "But Jesus did not weep as those who have no hope. He told Martha, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' (John 11:25-26)...

    "You may shiver as you walk through the shadows of death, but the shadow itself is cast by the bright light of the resurrection. 'Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). One morning you will rise, and every tear will be wiped away from your eyes (Revelation 21:4). So go ahead and weep, but only as one who knows how your story ends. It doesn't."

    Mike Wittmer
    The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    What is Truth?

    David Murray takes a look at the nature of truth in this overview of questions two and three of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.