To Tithe or Not to Tithe…

Sunday, June 14, 2009

…that is the question. Andreas Kostengerger and David Croteau search the Scriptures to answer it. You may find their answer provocative. You can find links to their study (in two parts) below:

  1. “Will a Man Rob God?” (Malachi 3:8): A Study of Tithing in the Old and New Testaments
  2. Reconstructing a Biblical Model for Giving: A Discussion of Relevant Systematic Issues and New Testament Principles

Thanks go out to a wiser brother for pointing this study out to me.

Something Satan Fears

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Organic Church (p 211-212) by Neil Cole.

While doing some teaching in Japan, I had a dream that Heather, my daughter, started a church. In the dream, a room was full of young people who were all seriously worshiping God. When I returned from the trip, I mentioned it to her just to let her know that she was on my mind and in my dreams while I was away.

The next day she said, 'Dad, my friends all want to do it!' 'Do what?' I asked. 'Start a church.' I told her that she would have to do most of the work, and I would coach and lead only a little. She said that was fine. The next day she arranged a house to meet in, picked a night of the week, and found a worship leader; flyers were soon being passed out to friends on campus.

After the church had been meeting for several months, I met with these students and we all sang praises to the Lord. I felt the Lord's pleasure. I asked the students what was the biggest church they had ever been to. Living in Southern California there are many options of megachurches, and a number of churches were mentioned, ranging in size from two thousand attendees to more than fifteen thousand.

I then told them that I think Satan is more intimidated by this little church of fifteen high school kids than by any of those Godzilla-sized churches. They all sort of chuckled and looked around the room at one another with smiles.

I showed them why I thought this way: 'How many of you think you could start a church like one of those megachurches?' No one raised a hand. I asked, 'How many of you think you could start a church like this one?' and all raised their hands. I asked them to look around the room at all the raised hands, and I said with a new found soberness, 'I assure you, Satan is terrified by this.'

via: Crowded House

Pretty Words or Powerful Condemnation

Monday, June 01, 2009

Here is a good article by Bill Mounce on 1 Corinthians 13.  In the season of weddings, the question of reading 1 Cor. 13 may come up.  What do you think?

Active Vs. Passive Hospitality

Monday, April 20, 2009

Here is a good post on why we should seek to be hospitable rather than just falling into it.

Jesus: The Way, the Truth, the Life

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

D.A. Carson, in his remarkable commentary on the Gospel according to John, shares a poem of his on

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6

I am the way to God: I did not come
To light a path, to blaze a trail, that you
May simply follow in my tracks, pursue
My shadow like a prize that's cheaply won.
My life reveals the life of God, the sum
Of all he is and does.  So how can you,
The sons of night, look on me and construe
My way as just the road for you to run?
     My path takes in Gethsemane, the Cross,
     And stark rejection draped in agony.
     My way to God embraces utmost loss:
     Your way to God is not my way, but me.
Each other path is dismal swamp, or fraud.
I stand alone: I am the way to God.

I am the truth of God: I do not claim
I merely speak the truth, as though I were
A prophet (but no more), a channel, stirred
By Spirit power, of purely human frame.
Nor do I say that when I take his name
Upon my lips, my teaching cannot err
(Though that is true).  A mere interpreter
I’m not, some prophet-voice of special fame.
     In timeless reaches of eternity
     The Triune God decided that the Word,
     The self-expression of the Deity,
     Would put on flesh and blood – and thus be heard.
The claim to speak the truth good men applaud.
I claim much more: I am the truth of God.

I am the resurrection life.  It’s not
As though I merely bear life-giving drink,
A magic elixir which (men might think)
Is cheap because though lavish it’s not bought.
The price of life was fully paid: I fought
With death and black despair; for I’m the drink
Of life.  The resurrection morn’s the link
Between my death and endless life long sought.
     I am the firstborn from the dead; and by
     My triumph, I deal death to lusts and hates.
     My life I now extend to men, and ply
     Them with the draught that ever satiates.
Religion’s page with empty boasts is rife:
But I’m the resurrection and the life.

D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, Pillar (Eerdmans, 1991), 492-93.

This poem alludes to many of the themes in John.  When studying, it can be easy to let intellect rule and headiness prevail.  It is the mark of a useful commentary to meld intellect and emotion.  I recommend Carson’s commentary wholeheartedly.

The Horror of Holy Wrath

Friday, April 10, 2009

There had never been a display like that before, and there never will be again.  The whole of life is to be spent in understanding the truth displayed that day.  The unparalleled mixture of grace and justice resonates throughout all eternity.  It is the echoes of this divine display that is to  fill the words and lives of Christians centuries later.

Here are resources that I have used to help me to dwell on what occurred on that Good Friday.  I suggest that they be watched in this order.

 

‘And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,  saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"  And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.” ‘ (Rev 5:9-14)

Gaffin on Justification

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Justified in Christ“Late medieval Roman Catholicism left the future verdict at the final judgment the ever anxious and uncertain outcome of the Christian life.  In contrast, the Reformers grasped that the verdict, belonging at the end of history, has been brought forward and already pronounced on believers in history, and so, constituting the certain stable basis for the Christian life, provides unshakeable confidence in the face of the final judgment.”

- Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. from “Justification and Eschatology” in Justified in Christ:  God’s Plan for Us in Justification

Christ’s Command & the New Calvinism

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recently, Time’s David Van Biema wrote an article highlighting the things we should be watching for in 2009. Many have already noted that it is quite interesting that the third item on this list is The New Calvinism. I am not sure why the author decided to dub this resurgence as “the new Calvinism.” I do not believe it to be anything different than has been taught before. Rather than critique the article’s portrayal of this resurgence, it would be of greater importance to highlight one sentence:

It will be interesting to see whether Calvin's latest legacy will be classic Protestant backbiting or whether, during these hard times, more Christians searching for security will submit their wills to the austerely demanding God of their country's infancy.

It is astonishing that there are some in the secular world watching us. What will they see? It is of paramount importance to heed the words of Christ:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-25 ESV)

For this reason, we should:

  1. Stand for our biblical convictions on sovereign grace.
  2. Love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  3. Work to share an accurate vision of our Holy God and the saving work of Christ.

It should not escape our attention that in one of Christ’s last petitions for the Church we see him say

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 13:34-25 ESV)

I thank God for those who are displaying this love.

Who Defines the Relationship? DTR’s

Friday, January 30, 2009

Many young people are searching frantically for dates and romance.  In the process, they rarely guard their hearts and are devastated.  God is not central to their search for their latest love interest, i.e. their crush.  Of course, we don’t use the term “crush” once we leave junior high because it sounds childish.  Well, “a rose by any other name…”.

There is a way to approach these things maturely, but it is counter-cultural. Requesting permission from the father to pursue a young woman is rarely admired.  It is perceived as antediluvian.  Even some Christian brothers scoffed at me when I pursued my wife this way.  Notwithstanding, God blessed the pursuit, and I am still baffled at how he brought everything together.

My wife is my sister and my bride (cf. 1 Tim 5:1).  She doesn’t have the same earthly parents.  She has been adopted by God into the covenant family.  God has done the same for me.  Therefore, she is my sister.  She was my sister before my wife.  I had to account for that in my pursuit of her.  She did not belong to me but God.  I had to answer to him for my treatment of her.  Then she became my bride.  The relationship has been defined by God from start to finish.

Recently, I have heard the term “DTR”.  This means “Define the Relationship”.  This term is for little boys who want to play with girls without commitment.  It is for unguarded girls who allow themselves to become attached to a little boy without thinking.  After the little boy and the little girl have a friendship that is too close to be just friendship, one of them wants to have a DTR:  “Are we just friends; what are we?”  This is a mess.  This little boy is not treating this woman like a sister.  This little girl is not holding him responsible for being her brother.  Instead, selfishness wins out.  They want to define the relationship.  However, God has defined it: brother & sister.  Boys, quit test-driving your sisters.  Girls, quit acting like the closest used-car dealership.  Then you might one day be men and women.  Until God defines the relationship as man and wife,  you are siblings only.

God is not honored when Christians use each other.  God is honored when they serve each other.