Monthly Archives: December 2009

Joy to the World

I know I’m gonna catch grief for posting another Sufjan song, but here’s Mr. Stevens with “Joy to the World.”

Enjoy the song and images. Ignore the Sartre quote at the end.

Have a very merry Christmas, friends.

Blessings in the gospel always,


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Revolutionary Ageism and the Church

There’s a reason, I think, the Bible makes it a commandment to honor our parents and the New Testament commands us to care for the old folks in our family: God knows we tend to hate them.

Yes, I know that sounds harsh. But can anyone doubt that the modern evangelical church has marginalized seniors and the elderly into ecclesiological inconsequence?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine had on his Facebook status some “rah rah” status about how all the “old people” are gonna hate heaven if they think the worship music in churches is too loud. You know, because heaven’s worship is going to be exactly like the laser light rock and roll concerts we got goin’ on in evangelicalism right now. Buncha poo, that is.

Stupid old people and their lame musical tastes. They don’t get “real” worship, do they?

Oddly enough, I thought about the youth-idolatry and pushing of our elders to the margins — and my friend’s Facebook status — two weeks ago while watching the end of The Lord of the Rings. At the end, after the king has been crowned, the entire procession — men, elves, and dwarves — bow a knee to the fat, furry-footed, diminutive hobbits. Why did it make me think of the ageism in the church? Because I think when we do get to heaven, we are going to find that we are honoring the people we wouldn’t think to honor in real life (with any meaningful consideration).

Look around the average …

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3 Things I Know About Myself and Others

1. Hurt people hurt people.

2. If Satan can’t get me to be despondent through recall of my past sins, he will try to get me bitter and graceless by reminding me of others’ sins against me. I may not always agree with his condemnation of myself, but he knows it’s really easy to get me to say “Yeah!” to condemnation of others.

3. The key not just to appreciation of what I’ve got but to thankfulness in all things is recognizing I don’t deserve anything good.

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God Save Matt Chandler. God Save the Bible Belt.

Please continue praying for Matt. Latest update is that the pathology report reveals his brain tumor is malignant and not all of it was removed during the first surgery. More rehab and the commencement of chemotherapy treatment to come.

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The Lord, Who is Rich With Encouragement, is a Big Spender

My friend and mentor Ray Ortlund, Jr. had a stellar post today on encouragement. It knocked my socks off. It’s aimed at pastors, but it is Jesus-sized, so it fits all.

“If there is any encouragement in Christ . . .” Philippians 2:1

Tomorrow many of us will be preaching. What is our goal? Not bashing people over the head with the law. That may make us feel better about ourselves, as if our opinions were needed, but it is not the ministry of Christ. What do we find in him? Encouragement. It’s so obvious to Paul, it’s the first thing he mentions when he inventories our wealth in Christ here in Philippians 2.

Do we find encouragement in one another? Sometimes. But that supply is limited. We come together at church not to amass the encouragement we bring in but to receive the encouragement he is pouring out. If we come to church only to draw strength from one another, that’s all we’ll get. And we will end up empty and angry at one another. Putting community first destroys community. Our encouragement is in Christ, and he is inexhaustible.

Those of us who are preachers — tomorrow, through the gospel, let’s lavish on our fellow-sinners the endless encouragement that is right now exploding out of the glorious risen Christ. If attendance at your church is down because people are out of town for Christmas travels, that doesn’t …

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You Only Need to Know One Great All-Embracing Thing

You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to makea lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know thefew great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willingto live for them and die for them. The people that make adurable difference in the world are not the people who havemastered many things, but who have been mastered by onegreat thing. If you want your life to count, if you want theripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves thatreach the ends of the earth and roll on into eternity, you don’tneed to have a high IQ. You don’t have to have good looks orriches or come from a fine family or a fine school. Instead youhave to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple,glorious things—or one great all-embracing thing—and beset on fire by them.

– John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

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O Come Let us Accordion

Pomplamoose gets all over “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Love the song, but I can’t watch the video. That chick freaks me out.

(HT: Steve McCoy)

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It’s the Linkin’ Weekend

Been a while since I offered up some linkage. Here are some posts that have interested, edified, and/or inspired me recently.

How Jonathan Edwards got kicked out of his church. Really interesting. I am not well informed when it comes to Edwards’ work and life, but this story deepens my admiration of him, knowing his focus on the rapturous glory (and devastating wrath) of God was the fruit of real-life ministry with its often petty pitfalls.

A minister reflects on getting that second-hand criticism. It’s frustrating. A snippet:

“I got a call saying some people are concerned about this kind of thing,” he explained. “Youth group happens in the youth room. Even if there’s only one kid. That’s where you do your Bible study.”

Who called? How many people are concerned? Which ones? And would it be okay to teach them to worship Satan as long as we did it in the youth room?

“I appreciate the concern,” I told him. “If someone else calls, be sure to remind them of my phone number.”

The next day, a friend called, pretending to wonder what the young people did on Sunday night. “Some people are concerned . . .”

The Great A&W Incident, as it’s known around our house, baptized me into the murky waters of church ministry and the sideways, backhanded, upside-down channels we use to communicate with one another in the family. Before The Incident, I assumed we would all talk to each other. Not around each other.

What a naive dork I turned out …

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Holy Holy Holy

A rather affecting version of “Holy Holy Holy” by Sufjan Stevens. Has a reflective tone to it befitting Advent, I think.

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Don’t Waste Your Calvinism!

Calvinist drones are a big waste of Calvinism.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow pastor who was concerned about some folks getting sucked into “that Reformed theology.” I knew his feeling.

Not fear of the theology. I’m a Calvinist myself, the whole five yards. I’ve got the membership card laying around here somewhere . . .

Cold-hearted rigidity is not limited to those of the Reformed persuasion. You find it in Christian churches and traditions and cultures of all kinds. But it’s never as big a disappointment, to me anyway, as when it’s found among those who call themselves Calvinists.

Why? Because it’s a depressing irony that many who hold to the so-called “doctrines of grace” are some of the most graceless people around. The extent to which your soteriology is monergistic — most Calvinistic nerds know what I’m talking about here — is the extent to which your pride is a vomitous affront to God. Darn tootin’.

Here’s the deal, I think: The problem is not the Reformed theology, as many free-willers suspect, not the Calvinism. No, the problem is gospel wakefulness (which crosses theological systems and traditions). Or the lack thereof.

A joyless Calvinist knows the mechanics of salvation (probably). But he is like a guy who knows the ins and outs of a car engine and how the car runs. He can take it apart and put it back together. He knows what each part does and how it does it. A graceless Calvinist is a guy who knows how …

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