Friday, May 16, 2008

New (B)lo(g)-cation

Well, I've finally made the long-contemplated switch from Blogger over to Wordpress. Wordpress just seemed easier and more customizable, so I eventually had to do it if I am to get more serious about my blogging.

Check it out at

I look forward to seeing you there!


I Enjoy Children

They're just so much fun, and God uses them in so many amazing ways. That's probably why I now teach middle school and have chosen to work with children most of my life. It reminds me of two Scriptures.

Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
And Matthew 21:16 (where Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2)
and they said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

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Sovereign Grace Worship Songs

Short clips of really, really God-centered music. Enjoy. I sure did tonight.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

8.5 Lives

Up a little later than I usually am, I went to the kitchen to close up shop for the night. When what did my wondering ears hear, but a growling, yarling cat on my front porch? So away to the back I went to grab a bat. Now I banged on the door - and a yarl and a meowr and a klikkity-clank later, the demon-possessed cat was gone. Or so I thought.

Seconds later I heard now two cats, hissing and fighting in my driveway, running this way and that. I peeked out the window to see them racing up our street at breakneck speed.

So listen here, you blog-reading, demon-possessed cats:
Don't come up around my house, late at night or any time, because I will wear you out with one of my bats and take 8.5 of your lives. This is my house, and I will rule this little part of the earth and subdue it. You might run over here, but you'll bleed back.

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Rediscover the First Things

Of First Importance is a wonderful Gospel blog which quotes famous writers, in heaven and on earth, on the beauty and wonder of the good news of the gloriously happy God. It is based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Check out:

  • Loving Jesus Like His Father Does
  • Continual Gospel Re-discovery
  • Our Only Comfort in Life and Death
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    A Gospel-less Sermon is No Christian Sermon

    Nathan Finn, church history professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, blogs poignantly on whether the SBC has a future:
    Some have suggested that Southern Baptists have not lost the gospel. Normally what they mean is that their church has not lost the gospel, which may or may not be true. I suspect that most of our pastors really believe the gospel. Unfortunately, many of them don’t preach it. Sometimes they actually preach sub-Christian sermons that are really just baptized versions of moralism, New Age spirituality, or especially self-help platitudes. I have heard gospel-less sermons in chapel services at all of our seminaries, either live or online. I have heard gospel-less sermons at our pastor’s conferences and evangelism conferences, either live or through other media. I have heard gospel-less sermons in our churches. And yes, I have heard many of them at the SBC annual meeting itself. Maybe these men are just taking it for granted that their audiences already understand the gospel and so they don’t have to articulate it. Maybe. But I know this much: a sermon that does not include the gospel is not a Christian sermon, no matter who preaches it.
    HT: Founders

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    I Love Tom Ascol's Heart

    I love Pastor Tom Ascol's heart for a truly regenerate-by-God's-Spirit church, and I love how faithful he is to present his resolution on the issue every year to the Southern Baptist Convention.

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    Funny, Creepy

    I have a beloved family member who works for the Boy Scouts, but this . . . is . . . creepy.

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    Late Night Bojangle's, Sweet Tea, and a True Friend

    My love for Bojangle's is well-known throughout the city of Raleigh. During my college days, I was found at a certain Jo-Bangle's location no less than four times a week. Yes, that's four times each week at the same location.

    But as I look back, I realize something about my time spent at my favorite restaurant - it wasn't in vain. It wasn't just about chilling out (though that was fun) or great, greasy food (my arteries hurt) or even the heaven-approved sweet tea (mmm, like syrup); it was about the friendships. The friends who sat around with me at Bo's taught me and let me teach them, they built me up in the Lord Jesus and in His written Word, and they sharpened and encouraged me regularly. I love those guys.

    Tonight was a recollection of many such nights. A true friend, who sticks closer than a brother, accompanied me for some basketball then Bojangle's, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Nearly two hours were spent at Bo's, and it seemed nary five minutes. Such is the fellowship between two brothers.

    Through his faithful practice of brotherhood, my friend reminded me tonight of Proverbs 10:11 and 13:14, "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence . . . The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death."

    I praise God for placing His fountain of life in the mouths of my righteous-by-the-grace-of-God-in-the-cross-of-Christ brothers. He has so often revived me through them. Revive me again, Lord Jesus, I need You again and again and again.

    "For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."
    Psalm 36:9

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    God's Grace in a Bicycle Crash

    So I was rolling down my neighborhood street the other day on my bicycle, just going for a cruise and trying to get some exercise - then the chain comes off, my foot slides off into the asphalt, my leg bends, my knee collides with the ground, the bike falls on my leg, and my entire upper body slams into the road. It was a whole lot of "Yaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!" and not a lot of fun.

    As I sat on the curb of the road, bleeding from several joints, I was able, by the grace of God, to see how much worse that crash could have been. This blog is often spent on polemical (argumentative) theology that I wanted to tell you, dear reader, about the abundant, simple, personal grace of God in my life. In this case, it was in a bicycle crash.

  • I could have gotten a concussion from slamming my head into the asphalt, but I didn't. God protected me with a bike helmet.
  • I could have broken my glasses, shattering the glass into my eye and forehead, but I didn't. God protected me with my bike helmet.
  • I could have broken a shoulder or an elbow, but I didn't. God protected me by choosing a safe, slow-riding time for the bike chain to come off.
  • I could have broken my knee or ankle, but I didn't. God protected me by causing me to fall in a safe manner.

  • God has tons of grace - grace that does much more than protect His people from bike crashes! - grace that saves and enables and strengthens and sustains and forgives and redeems and keeps and brings us to Himself forever. So the other day, I thanked the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for such a small display of His all-controlling power and grace.

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Basketball Bullets

    I might as well go ahead and admit on here that I love basketball. I love playing basketball, watching basketball, watching playoff basketball, reading about basketball, talking about basketball, and coaching basketball. I love Jesus so much more than basketball, but, from reading this blog, you already know that. So this post is dedicated to basketball - the sweet sport of b-ball.

    Here are a few bullets that I have found interesting and/or funny (obviously, if you don't love basketball, don't bother reading these):


    Keller on Christ in all of Scripture

    More sermons for you. Tim Keller at the Reform & Resurge Conference 2006:
    Is the Bible basically about you and what you need to do, or is it basically about Jesus and His salvation? Which is it?

    For example, when you're preaching about David and Goliath, what is it basically about? Is it basically about 'the bigger they come, the harder they fall;' 'if you have faith, you can move mountains;' 'God and you can handle anything;' 'you can face the giants in your life'? That's the way it's usually preached - in which case, it's basically about you.

    But, now, if you come with a bias that says every theme, every single theme, eventually comes out in Jesus Christ. You can trace all the threads, whether it's the thread of the temple, or the covenant, or the hero, or every prophet or every priest or every king - every thread, if you run all the way through the Bible, in the end, is Jesus.
    We would do well to digest that kind of Christ-centered theology.

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    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Driscoll on the Cross of Christ

    (I'm watching a bunch of sermons for a class at seminary, and I get to pick which ones I watch. So, of course, I pick my favorites. And I may have posted on this sermon before, but it's worth quoting again.)

    Mark Driscoll, in his 2006 sermon, "Death by Love: Reflections on the Cross":
    At any point that we deviate from the cross, or we diminish the cross, what we do is end up destroying ourselves and our church."

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    Your Child, Your Imprint

    About a month ago, I began teaching 6th grade math at a local middle school, and I noticed something very quickly - my students are not nice. They are not respectful. They do not like to put much work or thought into anything.

    So, I figured, I should do something about this as a teacher. So do something I did. I put in rules and regulations, punishments and rewards, grades and tests that would ensure that my students would abide by our school's rules. Those that command the students to be respectful and courteous, prepared for class and waiting their turn to talk.

    But then I realized something: my laws can only go so far. If these children do not have a change of heart, they will only obey me so far as they are required to. So I looked to the parents. They are the ones who hold the most authority, and the most opportunity, in their child's life. Some of them, I found, are caring and nurturing; others could care less about their child's misbehavior.

    The Bible tells us that it is primarily your job, parents, to educate your children. The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Now many parents may deny it and pass it off, but the truth of God's Word stands. I have the opportunity and privilege to teach them about math and some of life, but it is your calling to raise them up for the glory of God.

    Your child, beloved parents, is often an accurate reflection of your parenting. Your understanding of God, your teaching of His ways, how much time you spend with them, the way that you talk to them, the kind of behaviors you do and do not tolerate, whether or not you discipline them - all of these things are reflected every single day in my classroom and in the world.

    This is a sobering thought as I look at my own children. What will their character say about mine? Where have I failed before God? Have I taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ well or poorly? Have I modeled it well before them?

    Thankfully, the God of grace is full of mercy and grace for poor sinners who call on Him for help. We are beset all around with sins that try to drag us down - and laziness in parenting is one of them - but He is full of loving strength, fully able to uphold you when you feel too weak, too tired, too sinful to be able to love your children in His ways. Run to Jesus - He is able. Admit your sins and fall at His feet. Beg for mercy and He will answer. Amen.

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    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    The Glory of the Infinitely Happy God

    I was encouraged today by a wonderful essay on the blessedness of God by theologian-writer Fred Sanders. He explains:
    All that God is and all that he does, he is and does blessedly. What God’s attribute of glory is outwardly, his blessedness is inwardly... Rather than being one of the many attributes on the list, it seems to be more like the tone or timbre of all God’s attributes at once.
    And near the end, he critiques the loss of this doctrine:
    Various theologians have argued against God’s blessedness in order to establish a doctrine of God more oriented toward the world and its salvation. But this is short-sighted, because only by first establishing the blessedness of the creator can we be assured of any blessedness for the creature.
    What a gloriously happy God we must have who promises so much for those who hope in Him! He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly! He promises fullness of joy and pleasures forever! Let us enjoy this God by faith in Jesus Christ! And let us remember that over and in and through all things, God is infinitely, gloriously happy in Himself.

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    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    The Grip of Fear and the Power of the Gospel

    Recently, a beloved friend has been writing me about his fear of terrorism. He related that he believes we ought to "prepare our families to die in mass" at the hands of "Islamofascists." I want to be very clear here, I do not agree with labeling people like that, so I am simply responding to an error here in the kindest, truest way I can. I pray that you read it for your growth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Beloved friend,

    It seems that you're not seeing the fear in your own words. I know that when I am afraid, it is because I am not trusting God to take care of me as He sees fit. Look at the early church of Acts 1-4, or the persecuted believers of Hebrews 10:32-39 - they trust God and actually are happy in Him in the midst of heartache and pain and suffering and death. They don't obsess over the pain and the suffering. They feel it and it hurts, so they trust in God and direct their thoughts and prayers and praise toward Him, not toward the persecutors or the persecution.

    Hebrews 10:32-39, in fact, is very sobering when it points out that suffering for Jesus can either make us press on in "confidence" or "shrink back to destruction." Then the writer says, "but we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." This is a powerful message, because it tells us that pain can lead us to turn away from God forever or turn to Him forever.

    So you say that Islam and murder and death are the "greater evil"? Biblically, that is ridiculous. The greatest evil in the world is hatred and unbelief . . . toward God. The Bible says that when you and I hate someone in our hearts, we have already in our hearts committed the murder that you speak of. We ought to take this very seriously, because it tells us that the ugliest evil is within the human heart, not outside in human hands. The greatest evil is disregarding God and worshipping idols, any idols - including our own comfort, which is what we may be worshipping when we obsess about pain.

    [Note - he had said I had advised a poor plan of action.] I have not "advised" any plan of action except believing the Gospel first and foremost. All who trust in Jesus have their minds in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3), so if we're not in perfect peace then our minds are not fixed on Him. You and I should start with Jesus and stay on Jesus and look forward to meeting Jesus - whether death and disease and famine come or not.

    I for one will not be teaching my family or anyone else to live in fear of Muslims, and neither should you. There are two good reasons for this:

    #1 This "fear" of Muslims is just another excuse for hatred toward them. God teaches us to love all people, even our enemies, even when they kill us.

    #2 This fear of Muslims ends up being an idol in many hearts that will keep people away from truly trusting in Jesus Christ for their salvation, now and forever.

    You and I simply do not have the promise that God will keep us from physical harm in this life - it's simply not true. In fact, He
    promises persecution for all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:12)
    , as all Christians do desire. So let's not kid ourselves that death and destruction won't come to us - they surely will, but not forever. That is the Gospel, not that we escape pain and sin in this life but that we escape it through Jesus forever in the next life. Our pain in this life makes our redemption in Christ all the sweeter. Praise Him who saves us forever!

    Trust Him tonight, tomorrow, and forever, dear friend; I love you,


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    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Preaching the Gospel at Work

    Here is a wonderfully real reminder of the Gospel at work in our work from Timmy Brister, who writes of a conversation with one his UPS trainees:
    He came to the point where he asked, “So Timmy, what else is there worth living for other than myself and my children?” I replied, “When I came to Jesus, and that cross became a reality to me, I died, and from that moment on, I live everyday of my life for the one who died for me.”
    It's worth a full read.

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