Archive for November, 2010

Linkathon 12/1, part 1

November 30, 2010 1 comment

Jon Acuff and Erik Raymond on Steve Johnson’s ‘blame God’ tweet that’s gone viral

Carlos Whittaker on the reaction when he posted a mild profanity on Twitter after one of his kids broke her arm playing on monkey bars

Bart Barber on the Southern Baptist Convention, the local church, and his critique of multi-site churches (HT: Dave Miller at SBC Voices)

Fr. Ernesto Obregon on the need for swift and decisive pastoral discipline of wayward priests.

John Samson on the perseverance of the saints

Si Cochran: NIV 2011 = bad

Wow. David Sessions at Patrol takes on Christian media “hacks”, including Albert Mohler. Here’s part 1 (No. 6-10)

Desiring God online chat with Darrin Patrick available for download 

Tim Brister’s five books every Christian should read. Here’s Michael Dewalt’s version.

Greg Laurie on Billy Graham’s last crusade

Ed Stetzer on Mars Hill Seattle within American evangelicalism.

Matthew Lee Anderson clarifies the young evangelical elitism.

Michael Patton on the anatomy of belief

Jared Wilson: The gospel is awesomer than awesome

Emily Timbol’s day at a gay pride parade in Jacksonville

Tom Gilson on the Manhattan Declaration app getting kicked out of the iTunes Store

Carl Trueman on keeping a church on the rails (part 4 of his 4-part series on churches ‘losing the plot’)

Christopher Hitchens debates Tony Blair on religion (click through to watch video)

Mike DeLong’s intro to his series on his visit to James White’s church

Trevin Wax on N.T. Wright’s early view of the atonement

Jim Hamilton on the NIV 2011’s treatment of Psalm 4

Mike Wittmer’s last question for N.T. Wright

Tim Lane talks with Dustin Neeley on the importance of Biblical counseling













Linkathon 11/24, part 2

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Kevin DeYoung on the hole in our holiness.

Christianity Today on young doubters leaving the church. Dan Kimball comments.

Mike DeLong on visiting churches and a BBC radio program’s episode on Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

Michael DeWalt on seminary.

Mike Wittmer on N.T. Wright’s terms for becoming right with God.

Does struggling with p0rnography disqualify a pastor from ministry?

Phil Johnson on whether there has ever been an orthodox Christianity (HT: Thabiti Anyabwile).

Desiring God interviews Jerry Bridges (this is part 3; click on the link for links to parts 1 and 2).

Phil Johnson on homophobia.

J.D. Greear on Sam Harris’s list of Bible ‘contradictions’.

Nate examines why Jesus was baptized.

Joe Carter’s best blogs of 2010 (HT: Gene Veith).

Wade Hodges’ 10 lessons from a failed church plant (HT: Matt Dabbs).

Julie Clawson on Barna and the new Calvinists.

Carl Trueman on how churches lose the plot, part 2.

The Christian and his books (HT: Eric Redmond).

Linkathon 11/24, part 1

November 23, 2010 3 comments

Linkathon 11/17, part 1

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Sam Harris and Fast Company tell us all what the Bible got wrong. Matt Perman (HT: Tim Challies) and Justin Holcomb tell what that chart got wrong.

Matt Chandler update (HT: Zach Nielsen)

Ben Witherington on the decline and fall of the American empire.

Todd Rhoades asks if you are a three-strike pastor.

NO REFORMED MOVEMENT says Barna! Ligon Duncan comments.

Skye Jethani on whether the new Reformed movement is grassroots or astroturf.

Trevin Wax reviews Chris Seay’s The Gospel According to Jesus.

Scott Clark says it’s all about eschatology and history.

Mark Lamprecht on evangelical identity.

Dane Ortlund on how to qualify: know you don’t.

Darryl Dash on how the church changes social conditions.

Gene Vieth on the two different NIVs.

Ed Cyzewski on surviving church burn-out.

Bob asks for an end to Christian romanticism.

Petra is back…classic Petra, that is (HT: Challies, link at the very top of the page)

If you live in or visit England, there’s now at least one restaurant exclusively for dogs.




Mere Churchianity, part 4

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Chapter 4 of Michael Spencer’s book Mere Churchianity, titled A Christianity Jesus Would Recognize, is where the author defines what he means by the phrase Jesus-shaped spirituality.

Here, he gives a definition. It is a “way to talk about three things that deeply matter, even to people outside the church:

  1. Jesus
  2. Having a genuine experience of God
  3. Figuring out how a life gets transformed”

Spencer then asserts that people who have left the church are not ones who have completely left the faith. Jesus is still attractive to them, to know God would be the greatest gift one could receive in this life, and the church is no reason to become “hopelessly cynical about God.”

He talked and wrote about Jesus-shaped spirituality, he says, “to help people stop being sabotaged by religion and start thinking about Jesus again.” To the point where he “press(ed) Jesus as the center of the conversation.”

Moving on, Spencer returns to his idea of what someone would be life after spending three years of their life with Jesus. Here, he does so by asserting that “most Christians” aren’t comfortable with the concept of Jesus defining pretty much everything we think, are and do.

Spencer brings up illegal immigrants – who very much remain in the news even now – as his example of the different ways that Christians “invented a spirituality that has Jesus on the cover but not in the book.” The various ‘answers’ he gives as representative of the evangelical church fit it almost perfectly; his answer to that is simply, look at Jesus.

Yet, the church doesn’t look to Jesus. Instead, it looks to “political pundits shock jocks, and culture warriors to tell us what to do.”

This leads into Spencer’s question of whether the church we are a part of looks like the church of Jesus’s day and reflects His example…or if it reflects what those who profess to be His disciples want it to be.

He clearly does not believe that the church reflects Jesus, though he reminds us that we have myriad examples of Jesus teaching and guiding His disciples, how he developed them into leaders, what they did in His presence and away from it, and on and on.

After giving more examples of how the church interprets the teachings of Jesus in the modern day (all of which reflect the self-centered view Spencer believes evangelicalism holds), Spencer speaks to those who have left the church. And he gives a couple of provocative quotes:

I seriously doubt that what you are walking away from resembles the movement Jesus started….I (guess) what you walked away from bears a superficial resemblance to the way of Jesus…(and) bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the religious systems that Jesus repudiated.


For many of you, leaving the church may have been the most spiritually healthy thing you ever did.

Please keep in mind a couple of things:

  • Spencer is referring to the church at large here in the U.S., not necessarily to your church.
  • He himself was a member of a church in his last few years on earth, so it was not as if he stopped going to church.

His critiques here are of the evangelical world in general, the one where Jesus junk and superstar pastors preaching on beds about sex in massive auditoriums that look like the Christian version of the mall seemingly eclipse the Lord they claim to serve.

Sunday 11/14

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment

From David Hayward's site

Hopefully, if you get pricked today it won’t bring you down…try to remember the One who loves you regardless of what the haters think, and Whose opinion ultimately counts the most.

God’s love does something incredible. It gives those without worth a worth that nothing can measure. It isn’t the worth of their own worthiness and value. It is the worth measured only in the love of the one who loves you. — Michael Spencer

Christian radio

November 12, 2010 5 comments

Last week I learned of something that brought me a little personal distress.

I went to sleep not too long after getting caught up, and I tried to deal with my frustrations by listening to Internet audio.

Usually when I go to sleep and I’m streaming audio, I’ll stream one of seven things:

  • BBC World Service/BBC 4
  • Classical music
  • Comedy (preferably G/PG-rated, like Foxworthy or Cosby)
  • Acoustic guitar music
  • Smooth jazz
  • ESPN/Fox Sports Radio
  • on occasion, soft Christian music or classic CCM

That night, I thought that hearing the gospel might be most helpful, hence my looking for streams from various Christian radio stations.

The first station, from Alaska, was playing that day’s episode of Insight for Living, the radio/audio ministry of pastor Chuck Swindoll. Swindoll’s voice was soothing to my troubled mind, and as I remember he was preaching something about Jesus or the gospel (sorry, I don’t remember the details). All I know is I fell asleep with Swindoll playing in the background…and woke up later to hear Russian music.

Nothing against the Russians, but I went looking for another station 😉

I heard Christian music loud and energetic enough to get you moving during the day and waaaaayyyy too energetic to fall asleep to.

I heard David Jeremiah giving a history lesson on either money or the economy…or was he talking about giving?…as part of his radio program’s series based on his book about the alleged coming global economic collapse.

Yeah. I thought that was soothing and comforting too 😯

I kept trying to find an acceptable station, and kept coming up empty each time. More loud Christian music. John MacArthur screaming about something (okay, he wasn’t screaming, but this was the middle of the night and I was trying to get some rest).

No Swindolls to fall asleep to, no one preaching the good news of Jesus, just more of what seemingly passes for programming on Christian radio today: talks on the economy, talks on politics, talks on the end times, preachers finding their inner evangelist, family-friendly imitations of mainstream pop/rock radio stations.

Very few preachers talking about the good news of Jesus that comforts people like me who are damned by default and saved only by the grace of God.

That is why I have embraced the podcast, and paid music services like Slacker and Rhapsody (and their limited offerings of Christian music that appeals to me).

I used to listen to a lot of Christian music, and grew tired of the political rants and the pledge drives and favorite programs being replaced by those I didn’t like.

I’m sure these radio stations are still providing a great service for a large number of people, but I haven’t been able to find much gospel on them for quite awhile.

Certainly not enough gospel to help remind a man with a troubled mind of the good news of Jesus and the peace He brings that passes all understanding.

Categories: Church life


November 11, 2010 10 comments

The Bible says Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us.

He’s the only one, then.

Throughout my entire life I’ve felt the sting of rejection…from when I was a kid to the night I’m writing this short blog post.

How do you fight…how do you carry on…when, one more time, you are rejected for whatever reason and all of the memories of the past, when you’ve been mocked, laughed at, insulted, marginalized…rejected…come pouring in?

Faith in Jesus is one way, I suppose, and perseverance is another.

But darn, is it hard sometimes.

Categories: Faith, General, Life Tags: , ,

Linkathon 11/10, part 1

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Linkathon

Mere Churchianity, part 3

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Wherein the author, Michael Spencer, asks in the title of chapter 3, What If We’re Wrong About God?

Not to worry…iMonk stayed true to Jesus to the very end.

What he gave up was wrong beliefs about God that he was, and many of us are, encumbered with.

Those of you who have a copy of the book will read in this chapter Spencer’s ideas on false gods, including the ones of our own making that we call God.

Here’s an interesting quote by Spencer: “My project to clean out my God closet and start over with the essentials leads me to Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate and amazing self-description.”

Starting over apparently involves losing perceptions you had of the Savior in your early years, in favor of true ones that you realize over time. It also involves tearing up your preconceptions of how God would act in given situations, just as Jesus Himself acted in ways contrary to how the religious figures of His day thought the Messiah would act.

In fact, He tore up those preconceptions and replaced them with his truth: “Jesus wouldn’t leave their ideas of God alone until he was their idea of God.”

Imagine that. It’s like He was saying, Don’t look to what other people think I Am, look to Me to know Who I Am.

Following Jesus, Spencer says, was embracing the “life of a man who enlisted in an ongoing God revolution.” A revolution that blasted through His followers lives “like a tornado” until “Jesus. The Tornado himself” was the only one left standing.

The disciples, Spencer argues, had a difficult task in throwing away all of their preconceived ideas of the Messiah in order to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the real deal. But if they had to do this, why would we not?

Moving on, Spencer argues that we as followers of Jesus have a mission to “remove all idols, repent, renew our minds, and reform our lives.” Spencer then goes into asking what would his reaction to anything be after following Jesus for three years…and if Jesus reflects what it looks like to follow Him, “then what should the Christian life look like?”

Basically, Spencer argues that Jesus is the one and only standard for the Christian, and if we want to know what the Christian life should look like, and what a follower of Jesus should do in a given situation, we have to look to Jesus, and only to Jesus.

We live the Christian life in community, with other Christians, and we are dependent on personal transformation by Jesus Himself to live out His way of life.

Spencer’s subsequent comments make me think of the messed-up, very human Christians famously referred to by Brennan Manning as Ragamuffins. People who need a holy and radical God to empower them for a holy and radical life, and other like-minded, human, broken people who know they’re messed up and broken and know they need a powerful Savior.

Spencer is looking for a place where he can follow Jesus and not get kicked off the island when (not if) he messes up. He needs the church, to live life with and to learn from as he follows Jesus. He needs other followers of Jesus who themselves look to Jesus for His example, and not to religion. He needs great grace to start over again after he messed up the day before.

All the while keeping his eye on Jesus, and becoming like Jesus.