Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat....

John Piper on the Upcoming Election

John Piper talks about some main issues when approaching this upcoming election:
1. Womanhood
2. Race
3. Abortion
4. Prophetic Perspective
5. God's Sovereignty
6. Gospel

Watch this video, whatever side you are on! Let the truth he speaks sink in and may it change how we approach Tuesday!


Already and Not Yet According to Martin Luther

"This life, therefore,
is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified."

The Day that Shook History

Today in 1517 a small German monk, named Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg's castle church. That spark transformed the landscape of Christianity that whether you realize it or not has had profound impacts on today. You can read about it here

Also Below is a cool video:

Props for Video: Cranach

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

David Powlison on the War Against Lust

"The war is longer, wider, deeper, more subtle than we might imagine. It is no accident, therefore, that the height, depth, length, and breadth of the love and work of Jesus is more wonderful than we understand at first. What is God after in remaking our lives? Is his purpose merely that we would just stop sinning? That we would become more involved in religious
activities? Yes, stop sinning. Yes, use the means of grace. But neither is an end in itself. The point is to become more like Jesus." (Sex and Supremacy of Christ, pg. 102)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Joy for the Sexually Broken

The 2004 Desiring God National Conference had the title, "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". One of the speakers at this conference was David Powlison, a Biblical Councilor, the title to his message was "Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken". I just finished reading an chapter from the book that was inspired by this conference, the book is titled the same as the conference. Powlison's chapter is such a great read for all those who deal with sexual temptation and sin, which is everyone reading this. The answers given in this chapter are not the run of the mill 10 steps towards victory. Instead the chapter goes at the heart of the problem, sin and the heart. I found this chapter refreshing, encouraging and very convicting. It is amazing how books that bring such light to an issue often times illuminate the dark corners of sin that exist in our own hearts.
Powlison also did not deal with just lust or internet pornography, but showed how this sin is usually accompanied by many others. A metaphor that Powlison used was that of a movie theater. While lust is often playing in the main screening room, often there are many other screening rooms that are playing other sins that we often do not see. Looking at sin in this light, and seeing that it is wider and deeper than believed makes us rely on a bigger God whose grace is infinitely wider and deeper than we could ever have imagined.

Below are a few quotes from this chapter:

"The bold-print sins point in the direction of the fine-print versions of the same sins. Many varieties of flirtation, self-display, foreplay, and entertainment don't necessarily 'go all the way' or orgasm: dressing to attract and tease the lust of others, looking voyeuristically, suggestive remarks, crude humor, erotic kissing, petting, and the like. All these actions suggest an intention toward immoral sexual intercourse, whether the intention is consummated or not. Such behaviors (whether occuring in daily life or portrayed on film or page) cross the line of love. Whether or not our cultural context views such things as acceptable, or even as entertaining, they are evils. Love considers the true welfare of others in 'the eyes of Him with whom we have to do' (Heb. 4:13)." (page, 69)

"Jesus Christ looks better and better the more we see what he is about. He is not simply in the business of cleaning up a few embarassing moral blots. Deepening the battle deepens the significance of the Savior. He alone sees your heart accurately. He alone loves you well enough to make you love him." (page, 94)

I strongly encourage you to
Listen to the conference message here
Watch it Here

You can buy the book here

Joel Osteen on Sin, Fearing God and Speaking in Tongues

How can we embrace the love of Jesus and God's amazing grace, if we do not know the seriousness of what we have been saved from. Joel is not loving or caring when he skirt around the issue of sin, or the wrath of God, just like a doctor does not care for his patient when he gives him a cough drop for his lung cancer. Joel is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Props: Pure Church

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prayer of Gregory the Great

“O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord, Savior of all who trust Thy word, to them who seek Thee ever near, now to our praises, bend Thine ear. Thou didst create the stars of night; yet Thou hast veiled in flesh Thy light, hast designed a mortal form to wear, a mortal’s painful lot to bear. When Thou didst hang upon the tree, the quaking earth acknowledged Thee; when Thou didst there yield up Thy breath, the world grew dark as shades of death. Now in Thy Father’s glory high, Great Conqueror, nevermore to
die, us by Thy mighty power defend, and reign through ages without end. Amen.”

Support Obama?? Watch This...

Props: Dr. Bradley

How Majestic...

Psalm 8

8:1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Picture from Astronomy Pic of the Day

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Death By Love: Letter to Thomas

I have been reading portions of Mark Driscoll’s new “Death by Love: Letters From The Cross”. It is a very good book that deals with serious pastoral issues and how the cross of Jesus has comfort and hope. The format of the book is rather interesting; it is made up of letters from Driscoll to people in his church dealing with specific issues in their life. The issues dealt with are real and sometimes very painful things people face. The letter I read today dealt with Thomas a middle-aged man, married with kids. On the outside Thomas seems pretty put together and devoted to his family, but “there hasn’t been one day that Thomas hasn’t looked at porn on the computer”. Thomas approached Mark in counseling appearing broken over his sin, but Mark soon found out that he wasn’t. Thomas wanted to confess his sin, feel better and never change. This is not repentance as the bible states, instead it is guilt avoidance, Thomas had no intention to biblically repent. Thomas did not want anyone especially his family to know, but Mark being a loving pastor, told Thomas that he had to tell his wife and work towards reconciliation.

Mark’s letter to Thomas deals with the hope of reconciliation and freedom from sin found at the cross of Jesus. Mark delivers a hard rebuking letter that is passionately gospel filled. Mark shows Thomas how he is in slavery to sin, and that his heart is hardening much like Pharaoh’s did in Exodus. Thomas’ only hope for freedom is found in the power of the cross and God’s transforming grace. Mark gives Thomas a list of things needed and while doing this is emphatic to show that this list is not works for salvation. This is what Mark tells Thomas about the power of the gospel:

“The good news is that God is more powerful than anything, including your sinful desires. If you turn from sin and trust in Jesus, God the Holy Spirit will indwell you. As a result, you will receive a new power by which to say no to your sinful desires and yes to the holy desires of God. Unless you become a Christian, your sin will continue until it leads to death and the wrath of God being poured out upon you eternally in hell.” (pg. 63)

Mark ends the letter in humility. Mark sees a lot of himself in Thomas and admits to Thomas that apart from God’s amazing grace would be in the same boat Thomas is in. this letter does not come across as a mean, arrogant pastor just wagging his finger at one of his sheep. This letter shows the love of the under shepherd who loves his sheep enough to use the rod when needed.

I highly recommend this book to all, especially those that often find themselves doubting and wondering about God’s love.

To buy “Death By Love” click here

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

J.D. Greear on Multi-Site Churches

The "short answer" is that satellite campuses are NOT an alternative for church planting, but they ARE a good substitute for multiplying services on one campus.

I believe each church should capitalize on the growth God is bringing them. The way that they do that is to a) build a bigger facility; b) multiply services on the campus or c) plant new campuses. Of those 3 options, c is the most efficient.

Some say, "Do none of the above! Instead, plant a church." But numerous studies show that planting new churches, even if very close to the home church, makes no significant reduction in how many people will come to the home campus. It is a good "theory" to say that when you get full in your sanctuary you should just plant a church. But it usually does not do what we designed it to do on paper--i.e. free up space at a campus or provide for maximum growth.Thus, you should multiply services and campuses AND plant churches.

Ecclesiologically, there is no substantive difference I can find between multiple services on one campus or services on multiple campuses throughout the city.

Churches that do this should also be planting churches IN THEIR OWN CITY, as they will capitalize on new leadership and reach a whole new set of people. We want to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years, and I hope that at least 20 of those are in the Triangle.

To say it briefly, satellite campuses are an alternative to multiple services and bigger sanctuaries, not to church planting.

One small word of caution to critics of the multi-site movement--make sure that you're not doing the same thing the traditional church did to Luther (who put the Bible in the vernacular so farmers could read it) and Wesley and Whitfield (who had the audacity to preach outside of the church in the open field)--criticize the new medium just because it's not what we're used to...!

J.D. Greear gives his thoughts as his church is a multi-site church. Click here to read whole entry.

Multi-Site Campuses have been a topic of discussion among our staff here at Desert Springs. Although I do not see us doing a multi-site deal anytime in the future it is interesting to think about. There are many pastor who we respect who do multi-site campuses via video messages, such as John Piper, Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll to name a few. I guess the only big dilemma I see with this, is the tendency for it to become about the pastor. While this is an issue I think it is one regardless of whether you do multi-sites or not.

What do you think?

Francis Schaeffer: Purity of Self and Church

“Purity, however, goes even deeper than a lack of internal coveting. Purity is about the positive reverse of coveting; it is about love, loving God with my whole being and loving my neighbor as myself. The same is true with purity of the church. Purity of the church is not simply about discipling those who teach false doctrine, or who are morally disobedient, or separating oneself from them when discipling is no longer possible. The end of the purity of the visible church must not be purity itself, but rather love for the Lord and a desire to please Him.” (Jerram Barrs in the introduction to “True Spirituality” by Francis Schaeffer, xx)

Purity is often times seen as something that is external, and often only thought of in terms of sex. In "True Spirituality" Francis Schaeffer offers a different view of purity that deals with the internal rather than the external. Schaeffer offers that all purity that is internal will manifest itself in external acts, but can never be done the other way around. In other words one cannot be pure outside and then inside, that is not purity and often times will lead to pride. Internal purity for Schaeffer starts and stops with love for God then neighbor, to 2 great commandments Jesus gives the Church. Christianity here in America today needs these wise words more than ever. Churches today are often filled with moralist deism that works to purify the external with little regard for the internal. Part of the reason for this trend is that the internal is something that only God can do, and thus takes away any of our boasting in our morality. Once we are saved, though, this is not a passive pursuit of purity. We are to seek God above all else and give thanks to Him for everything. By having our devotion aimed at God this will then overflow to a love for neighbor that is pure and true. Our love for neighbor will no longer be conditional upon what "we can get out of it", but rather one that seeks his/her good.

Jerram Barrs, professor at Covenant Seminary, wrote out the introduction to "True Spirituality" and is worth the price of the whole book.

Click here to purchase this Schaeffer classic.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Driscoll on Sex being the Largest Religion

Mark Driscoll the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, in his introduction to his new series "The Peasant Princess" a study in the "Song of Solomon" reads off some very startling stats of how lust-saturated our culture has become. This Saturday here at my church Desert Springs we are having a Seminar dealing with Sex and the Song of Solomon, and over the next 2 weeks at The Well (college gathering at DSC) we will be dealing with the topic of sex too.

Growing up in this culture has in someways desensitized me to the world around me, as well as made the fight against lust and temptation a constant thing, whether on the internet, watching football or even driving down the road, the images put out by marketers, advertisers and the media in general makes everyday a run through a land mine field. This truth however does NOT excuse me to give into temptation or to think that I am just a innocent victim. The Lord will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13. We are commanded to daily to take ever thought captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5, this is active wartime language, in other words we are not to wait till that pop up shows itself, or we pass by that billboard, but we are to know it is coming and be ready for any lustful, sinful thought that comes into our minds and take it captive. Pastor Mark's list here is not one to make us wave the white flag of surrender, but is like a list of enemies that we must fight and we know they will stop at nothing to destroy us. The beauty of this war though is that it is already won, at the cross of Christ. Jesus went to the cross and died and rose again, so that porn, and lust can never destroy us again, sin will never have the final victory. We are fighting a defeated enemy that is desperate, we must press on with confidence knowing that even if we get shot, we cannot be defeated, we cannot be overtaken, and that our new commander and general has gone before us and won the battle, so we must press on to follow Him, and trust daily on His victory that becomes ours through faith.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31-38 ESV

What a thought, and what motivation to press on in this war! We do not fight to win the battle, we fight BECAUSE the battle has been won!

A New Look, A New Purpose

As you can tell the blog has a new look about it. There are many reasons for this, the main purpose is to signify hopefully a new direction for this blog.

Over the past couple of months I have realized that while I do read a lot, it seems that I have a very tough time retaining what I read. I will sit and read a couple of chapters of a book, then put the book down and unless I write out or go back through to highlight and take notes over what I just read I will forget much of what I have read. This makes reading often times frustrating and almost pointless. I have also found that my writing abilities that I once had in college have gone out the window, this I believe is due to a lack of practice and use.

So the direction I hope to take with this blog will be more focused on writing out my thoughts as well as sharing what I am reading, sort of like mini book reviews and devotions. I will continue to hopefully share videos I find along with anything else, but hope to use this blog as a forum to refine my writing and reading retention skills.

So there it is, the blog break is over, and hopefully with some direction this blog will serve those who read it, all 3 of you, unto the Glory of God!!!