Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Un-Incarnate Can’t Be Killed

It probably comes as no surprise to many that I’m not a big fan of video preaching. I understand the practical reasons many pastors and churches employ video for worship services, and I fully admit I have no idea what it’s like to troubleshoot the issues involved in having multiple thousands attend services over multiple venues. (There but for the grace of God go I.

I also have to point out that my particular position is not that using video preaching is universally wrong or that those who use it do so unreflectively. My friend Matt Chandler both uses video preaching at Village Church campuses and sounds words of caution against it. When I was a researcher for the Docent Group, I had the privilege of working with/for some of the most innovative multi-site pastors in America, and I have found them without exception to be thoughtful, godly, humble men who love Jesus and his church. They are not technolaters, in other words.

All that said, I still have some basic objections with the message communicated in the use of video preaching. I think I’ve touched on some of my issues before — and it’s not as if what I say is inherently valuable anyway — but one reason against it that I haven’t blogged on is this: A preacher on a TV screen can’t be murdered.

This will sound like a morbid point to some and probably like macho posturing to others, but we know that some preachers put themselves …

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Our Father Takes Us to Work

I’m participating in the blog tour for Mark Driscoll’s newest book Religion Saves (and Nine Other Misconceptions), so my review will be up next Wednesday, but I wanted to share this quote on the place of evangelism in relation to election because I just thought it was great.

We should evangelize the lost because God has chosen to work through our ministry efforts to save people. He does this so that we would share in his joy and get to know the heart of our Father better. Similarly, when I was a little boy, my dad was a union construction worker who hung sheetrock. I still remember the times when I dressed up like my pop, donning overalls, a white T-shirt, steel-toed boots, and a miniature hard hat, and packed up my lunch box and thermos to go to work with my dad. He would give me a few tasks throughout the day, and by working with my dad I got to know him better and spend time in his world. God is a Father like that. He needs people like me to evangelize the world no more than my dad needed a little boy to build an apartment complex, but he takes his kids to work because he loves them and wants them to be with him doing what he loves.

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The Kingdom is A Table Prepared in the Presence of Our Enemies

“The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would have ever been spared?”

– Martin Luther

HT: My friend Kinley

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Jesus Doesn’t Need More Cowbell

One of the best selling books in the category of “Christology” at right now is The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived: Secrets for Unparalleled Success and Unshakable Happiness from the Life of Jesus. One of the customer reviews explains the book this way:

He started his career with eight failures and became a multi-millionaire. In this book, he shows you how to succeed at being the best YOU you can be, by being like Jesus. This book is “How to win friends and influence people” plus every book that John Maxwell ever wrote, all in one. You can save yourself a ton of time and money if you buy, read, highlight, study, and apply the principles of this book.

In an endorsement, JetBlue Airways CEO David Neeleman says, “I believe these breakthrough strategies could propel you to levels of success and happiness you haven’t imagined. No wonder the wisest man who ever lived also became the richest!”*


We can scrutinize this spiritual vacuousness of this book till the cows come home. But the problem is that what is making this book so popular right now is also what drives the message of too many of our churches: Jesus wants you to achieve your hopes, dreams, and aspirations. The evangelical Jesus is the guru of our American dreams.

And why? Because that’s what we want. That’s what sells easily to us. That’s what draws the crowd.

In John 6 we get a breathtaking survey of the extremes of Jesus’ ministry. He begins by feeding …

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In Christ Alone

I have no idea who this guy is, but I love this song, and his version was my favorite. Simple, unobtrusive, but still powerful. He’s not performing. (And I like his accent.


“In Christ Alone”Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart TownendCopyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;He is my light, my strength, my song;This cornerstone, this solid ground,Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.What heights of love, what depths of peace,When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!My comforter, my all in all—Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,Fullness of God in helpless babe!This gift of love and righteousness,Scorned by the ones He came to save.Till on that cross as Jesus died,The wrath of God was satisfied;For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,Light of the world by darkness slain;Then bursting forth in glorious day,Up from the grave He rose again!And as He stands in victory,Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;For I am His and He is mine—Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—This is the pow’r of Christ in me;From life’s first cry to final breath,Jesus commands my destiny.No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,Can ever pluck me from His hand;Till He returns or calls me home—Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

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Meet Jesus Jr.

My friend Ray Ortlund, Jr. on “Jesus Jr.”:

Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr.

Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response is “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good.

Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.

It is time to tear down Jesus Jr. It is time to rediscover the real Jesus. Still today, even to us, his invitation stands: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28).

On a personal note, once in our pastors’ gospel group, Ray shared about “his friend Jesus.” It was one of the most riveting, impactful, Spiritual moments I’ve ever experienced. Ray described …

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A Little Something for the Nerds

Been a while since I posted some straight up theology, but those, like me, who are fans of both N.T. Wright and John Piper may appreciate this two-part series by Kevin DeYoung with four questions for Wright on the particulars of his view of the atonement:

Good News: We Go to Heaven When We Die!

Flying Monkeys and the New Perspective

Good stuff.

HT: Zach Nielsen

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The Bridge of Grace (That’ll Preach)

The incomparable Spurgeon:

“The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. I can hear their trampings now as they traverse the great arches of the bridge of salvation. They come by the thousands, by their myriads, e’er since that day when Christ first entered His glory.

They come and yet never a stone has sprung in that mighty bridge. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them, trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.”


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Man Up

Mark Driscoll yells at men and some Christians wring their hands about it. I say “Keep it up.”

According to this Time article, traffic tripled to (no, I won’t hyperlink it) — a website that helps men and women commit affairs — the Monday after Father’s Day.

What the heck?

The whiners in the article talk about things being tough in marriage. Welcome to real life.

I know there’s lots of great guys out there faithfully loving their wives and kids and not taking out press releases about it, but there’s still an awful lot of idiots. In the church.

I don’t expect lost people to be great at marital monogamy, and while all people are sinners, and sinners sin, I am totally freaked out about self-professing Christians who both cheat and then half-*ss their repentance.

Remember recently “fallen” pastor Gary Lamb? Homeboy’s Twitter feed ever since has been riddled with how irritating and inconvenient his life is now, at one point even saying he’d “kill” a rude driver who obviously didn’t know the week Gary’d been having. Poor baby.He acts like a victim and of course he receives tons of Twitter sympathy.

In a blog post, Lamb refers to other pastors who are cheating on their wives, saying he knows “what they’re going through.”Apparently having sex with a woman who’s not your spouse is something that happens to you, not something you do.

Man up, dudes. You cheated on your wife. Sorry life’s been tough lately, but quit yer whining. You earned …

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Missioning Prayers

My parents head out for Honduras tomorrow morning. The team my dad leads there once or twice a year will be there for some time, helping a local church with evangelism, doing some construction, ministering to children, etc.

Please pray for fruitfulness in their efforts, wisdom from the Spirit, and of course safety given the recent cultural rumblings taking place there.

Also, friends of ours Ben and Jess Mulvaney, who are both Elementers and members of Journey Church, are on their way to Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa. They will be helping with some safehouse and orphanage construction and ministering to many orphans, most of whom have AIDS.

Jess has begun blogging through their trip here.

Please pray for their fruitfulness and energy, and for their safety as well.—

If anyone is interested, my thoughts on why short-term missions are important is here.

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