June 30, 2010

What is the Gospel?

What Is the Gospel? (9marks)I just finished reading another book on my summer reading list. This one was called, What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. I heard about this book on several different blogs, had heard such good things about it that I mentally added it to my list. When an opportunity to purchase a few books came up, this one made it on that list.

This book falls right in line with my renewed love of the gospel message. Most of what I have been reading lately has lined up with that, whether I have done that purposely or not. Greg Gilbert, does a great job of lying out the elements of the gospel message, while helping his readers do the same thing. This book is about the message of the Cross of Christ and it would be a great book to buy in bulk and hand out to people who are interested in hearing about that message.

I have learned not to write long drawn out posts on this blog, but I do want to share at least one quote from the book. The one I chose isn't a quote that is in any way a summarizing quote on what this book is about, but it is a realistic quote as to the response we face when sharing this message.
"But really, we should just face it. The message of the cross is going to sound like nonsense to the people around us. It's going to make us Christians sound like fools, and it most certainly is going to undermine our attempts to "relate" to non-Christians and prove to them that we're just as cool and harmless as the next guy. Christians can always get the world to think they are cool -- right up to the moment they start talking about being saved by a crucified man. And that's where coolness evaporates, no matter how carefully you've cultivated it."
What is the Gospel? is a worthwhile read. If you have the extra cash, I absolutely recommend this purchase.

part 3 in the downright creepy saga

Here is a great post that I just read regarding the Twilight Saga. Tim Challies linked to it, describing it this way, "Mary Kassian interacts with the first two Twilight movies, suggesting what it is about them that has drawn in so many girls (and women)."

In the article, Mary Kassian also gives 7 Danger Signs of a bad relationship and shows these signs in the storyline Edward and Bella's relationship. If you click through to read the article, try to pick out your favorite of the danger signs. My personal favorite is "neediness and obsession". After she points out these two signs in Bella, she also mentions how Edward shows these signs. She then says, "Edward is also needy. He stalks Bella and watches her continually. He even sneaks into her room and watches her while she sleeps. He shows up in her head in visions and speaks to her. (In my opinion, it’s downright creepy.)" I agree, downright creepy.

Anyway, click on through and read this article.

In the meantime...



"Let's go eat some people!"

June 29, 2010

The Power of Time

Every once in a while, you will hear something and thing, "Wow. That is so true." That is what happened in this video.




I need to go get my boys off of their video game.

[HT: Challies.com]

June 28, 2010

the bitter cup

Just read a great article at Randy Alcorn's blog.  The article is titled, Nourishment for the Soul, and you can read it by clicking here.  The article has to do with suffering and the goodness of God.  If you have a few moments you should click through to read it.  In it he mentions the sufferings of Joni Eareckson Tada, Sono Harris, and himself.

There is also a Spurgeon quote that I found to be less difficult to read than it used to be.
“It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”
Seeing that we have done so much talking about suffering at church lately, I knew that I needed to post this quote.

June 24, 2010

This week's Edgewood Update

Every week... well, almost every week... I try to send out an e-mail update to the members of Edgewood that have signed up to be a part of the list.  I would like to share this week's update with you.


I have seen God's hand of providence as He steered us towards the Book of James.  Many at Edgewood have been enduring trials these last few weeks and that is the exact topic that James begins with.  The original recipients of that letter were also enduring trials.  But, as we learned last week from verse 12, enduring in our faith holds great promise for today, tomorrow, and for eternity!
In 1967 Joni Eareckson Tada was in a diving accident that left her as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.  You may have heard her on the radio, as the host of her own show, which I believe is called Joni and Friends.  If you didn't know, she is also a singer, an artist, an author, and an advocate for disabled persons.  (Go to http://www.joniearecksontadastory.com/ for her full story and the struggles she has had.)  I am mentioning Joni Eareckson Tada because of her amazing example of endurance in trials, but I also wanted to share a quote.  You see, she was recently diagnosed with cancer, and even though she is hopeful in what the doctors are going to do, I wanted you to hear the bigger hope in her response:  “I’ve often said that our afflictions come from the hand of our all-wise and sovereign God, who loves us and wants what is best for us. So, although cancer is something new, I am content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me,” she said. “Yes, it’s alarming, but rest assured that Ken (her husband) and I are utterly convinced that God is going to use this to stretch our faith, brighten our hope and strengthen our witness to others.”
Amazing.
I am looking forward to seeing all of you this coming Sunday!
Keeping at it,
Matt Harmless

What I allude to in that update are the trials that many of the individuals in our church have been facing.  We have many in our little church that are facing the loss of loved ones, cancer in the family, marriage challenges, the imminent loss of loved ones, broken cars, surgery, finances, the need for employment, family members who are without Christ, you name it!  But I see God building endurance in these people, and it is exciting!

June 22, 2010

Lightning Storm

Last night there was a lightning storm passing just south of us.  I didn't realize it was going on until I looked outside because there wasn't any thunder.  As soon as I saw it, I grabbed the boys and took them outside.  We marveled together at this minuscule display of God's infinite power.  Just another example of how God has given us his creation to enjoy Him!

The video quality isn't good, but the lightning is amazing.



Keep in mind that the lightning had already been going on for quite some time before the segment and it continued on for quite some time after I quit recording. I told my boys that I had never seen an ongoing series of lightning like this before.  They, of course, said the same thing.  :)

Theology of Suffering

Because we've been going through the Book of James at church, that means we have been studying trials, tribulations, and suffering.  The relevance of this topic has increased since the beginning of our study, which I believe shows the providence of God in His direction to start studying James.

Though the topic of suffering has been tackled by many great men, I believe that the reality of the dilemma of suffering might best be understood through the eyes of Charlie Brown at the hand of the great theologian Charles Schulz.


Comic can be found at comics.com/peanuts/1967-09-17/

In the midst of suffering we can feel a little bit like good ol' Chuck can't we?  From the cry to heaven at the beginning to the looking both ways at the same time feeling in the next to last cell.  The truth is, our theology is important to our suffering.  Whether you are in the middle of a trial or you are in that lull between trials, seek ways to build your faith today.  You don't need to go to seminary to become a suffering theologian.

Cross Centered

Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main ThingI just completed the book Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney.

When I was considering books for my summer's reading, I tried to pick books using two basic criteria.  One, I wanted to pick books that I had heard (trusted) people talking about, and two, I wanted to pick books that focus on the gospel.  This book almost defines those two criteria.

To be absolutely honest, when I write about a book on this blog, one of my goals is to keep a record of books that I have read since I started this blog.  I haven't done a very good job of that, there have been quite a few books that never made it to the blog.  The other reason why I make a point of mentioning books on this blog is to promote the book.  When I read a book that I believe has a message that is worth hearing, I try to talk about it in such a way to get you to buy it and read it.  As evidence of its quality, I want to include that I started it last Friday, I believe, and finished it today.  So, with this book, I am simply going to say, buy it and read it.

This book is about the gospel.  It is about the cross of Christ.  It is about the central point, not only of the Bible, but of all of human history.  It is about the thing that should be the central point in your life.  I will leave you with one quote:
The gospel isn't one class among many that you'll attend during your life as a Christian -- the gospel is the whole building where all the classes take place!  Rightly approached, all the topics you'll study and focus on as a believer will be offered to you within the walls of the glorious gospel.
Click the link and buy the book.  It is worth the read.

Keep At It!

Keep at it!

Don't stop!

Keep going!

Stay strong in your faith!

Persevere!

Remaining steadfast in your faith is the call of James 1:12.  His reason to remain steadfast, given in the second half of this verse, will be reassuring and encouraging for some but alarming for others.  You see, perseverance holds promise, not only for today and tomorrow, but also for eternity!  So, keep at it.

Right click here and choose save to listen to this sermon.  (You can find the entire series on James by clicking here.)

June 19, 2010

Why your church doesn't feel like family...

Here is a great little clip of Pastor Mark Driscoll discussing the realities of Church Family. I would like to encourage you to watch it, especially if you have had some difficulties getting and/or feeling involved in the church that you attend.



[HT: Josh Harris]

P.S. If you are looking for a Church Family, and you live in or near Danville, IL, I have a great little Church Family that you might be interested in. Contact me if you live close.

Hairless Kitten

Here is our little sphynx kitten in action... I wanted to get a little clip of her so that all of you who are not accustomed to these little guys might get a better idea of what they look like.


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

As a kid, this was my favorite book in the series... Either this one or the Magician's Nephew... Anyway, here is the movie. I am looking forward to seeing it, but I don't know how they will be able to do the book justice.



Why don't you read the book first...

June 18, 2010

it might be a little pool...

I love the first 10 seconds of this video!

Point Man

Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family
Next Friday (hopefully) I am going to start a Point Man group.  I was part of a Point Man group in the past, but it failed miserably.  The idea was good, but the participants weren't as genuine and transparent as necessary... including myself.  Since that time, more than 6 years ago, I have wanted to be a part of one again, but things weren't pointing that direction, so the desire and the idea remained on the back burner.  Now that I am a pastor, and feeling very much like a missionary to Danville, the Point Man concept has moved back up to the front.

I casually mentioned the idea to a guy that I know, hoping that I might work it into an offer to start one with me.  I showed him the book, Point Man by Steve Farrar, and before I even got to the idea, he asked me, "hey, do you think I could buy one of these right now?"  We hopped on the computer, steered towards Amazon.com and he made the purchase.

Like I said, I am hoping to have the first get-together next Friday (a week from today).  If you are a guy and you are interested in getting with us, let me know.  I have at least two other guys that are interested, but we haven't bought any extra books or anything yet.

Well, I can't end the post without at least one quote from the book, so I picked two that gave me a little kick when I first read them.  This first quote is actually a quote from another guy names Richard John Neuhaus:
Millions of children do not know, and will never know what it means to have a father.  More poignantly, they do not know anyone who has a father or is a father...
It takes little imagination to begin to understand the intergenerational consequences of this situation.  It is reasonable to ask whether, in all of human history, we have an instance of a large population in which the institution of the family simply disappeared.  It is reasonable and ominous, for the answer is almost certainly no.  There is no historical precedent supporting the hope that the family, once it has disappeared, can be reconstituted.
 Do you get what this is saying?  The deconstruction of the family is unprecedented.  At no time in history has it fallen at this magnitude, and the concern he poses is... since the deconstruction is unprecedented, the reconstruction also has no historical examples.  In other words, can it be fixed?

Here is another quote from page 86 that is even more personal.
Righteousness must not only be found in our pulpits, but in our homes.  The home is the church in miniature, and every Christian father has been appointed pastor of his own home.  Christian men, whether they are leading a church or in the home, must seek after righteousness.
Men, are we pastoring (shepherding) our own homes?

If you live in Danville, and you want to get together with us, let me know.  Click the picture of the book to go to Amazon and buy a book, or let me know and I will see if I can get one for you.  I would love to connect with some more men in Danville that want to be God's kind of men.



June 15, 2010

The Prodigal God

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian FaithI am almost finished with the book The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller.

I had heard of this book through several different sources: I had seen it mentioned on blogs, talked to people who had read it, seen it mentioned on Christian websites and magazines and had a few friends who kept recommending it. So, when I had an opportunity to purchase a few books, this one had to make it on the list.

I started reading it yesterday morning, and I am almost done.  I am in the last chapter right now, and only paused to give it a mention on the ol' blog.  I don't want to mention too much from the book, because I want you to purchase it and read it!  But... I will give you at least one quote, but before I do, let me give you a little intro, so that the quote might make sense.

Timothy Keller is writing about the gospel and is using the parable of (what we commonly call) the prodigal son as the conveyor of the gospel message.  Much of the book is dealing with the two lost sons... yeah two... not one.  Here is an excerpt:
The hearts of the two brothers were the same.   Both sons resented their father's authority and sought ways of getting out from under it.  They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do.  Each one, in other words, rebelled -- but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good.  Both were alienated from the father's heart:  both were lost sons.
He goes on to say:
Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching?  Neither son loved the father for himself.  They both were using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake.  This means you can rebel against God and be alienated from him by either breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently.  
It's a shocking message:  Careful obedience to God's law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God.
I'll say no more and quote no more (for now), but I absolutely recommend this book!

June 13, 2010

Transitory Wealth

Just posted the next in the series on the Book of James.  This week's title, Living Faith: with transitory wealth.

Ella Mae

I am not sure on the spelling of the name, but here are a few pictures of the new kitten.
Sitting on Sam's lap.

A little hungry.
Getting tucked in for a nap.
All snuggled in.

June 12, 2010

My Daily Need

A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love
The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my conscience), and so incredible (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.
Quote by Milton Vincent in A Gospel Primer.

June 8, 2010

this is your brain on computers

From a NY Times Article:

This is your brain on computers.

Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.

These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.

How true is that?!?

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Thanks to Challies for pointing me that way.

June 6, 2010

June 4, 2010

Weekend to Remember!

My wife and I are getting ready to have a weekend to remember.

Ok.  Now that I lost 50% of my readers... What I am talking about is the Family Life Weekend to Remember. I have had several different people trying to talk me into going on one of these for quite awhile, and I finally gave in!  

I have heard great things about this conference, and in an age when marriage is being attacked on all fronts, something that supports marriage is a good thing.  I will let you know what I think about it when I get back.


June 3, 2010

Wisdom

Last Sunday I preached on Wisdom.  It was fun.

That might sound weird, but I just had a good time preaching on this topic from the Epistle of James.  God brought some challenges into my life this week to help me learn, and those experiences flowed into this message.  I would go into more detail, but I don't want to spoil it!

Give this message a listen and let me know what you think.

Right click here to download.

June 2, 2010

Listen

Please go visit Justin Taylor's blog.  He just posted the audio from the NEXT Conference 2010.

As a pastor, who sidelines as a full-time high school math teacher, the posting of this audio is a major blessing to me.  I don't have the time or the funds to go to a conference like this one, but I always wish I could because I know that the speaking is going to be worth while!  Here is a list of the speakers and their topics:


Joshua Harris, What Are You Built On?
Mark Dever, The Doctrine of Christ’s Work Accomplished and Applied
Kevin DeYoung, Scripture
C.J. Mahaney, Sanctification
D.A. Carson, God
Kevin DeYoung, The Church
Jeff Purswell, The End Times

Go visit his blog for the links to each of the audio files.

Mom, I spilled the oil...

Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster
From IfItWasMyHome.com, a website to help you visualize the size of the oil spill by comparing it to your hometown.  When I loaded the website, I wasn't shocked at the size, because I have been following the story in the news, but I still don't think that I can wrap my mind around the immensity of the oil in the ocean.  I guess this is what should be called a "man made disaster."

click to go to the site

[HT: Free Tech 4 Teachers]

Free Book

I am a big fan of Christian Audio.  Their books that I have downloaded and listened to are very well done.  Their readers, whether it is the author of the book or one of their readers, are always enjoyable to listen to, and the books that are offered are always worth the time.

Each month they offer a free audio book.  This month's free book is Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time, and now I have the chance to do it for free!

The great thing about audio books is that if you are busy, like me, then those times in the car traveling to and from work suddenly become a little more mentally productive.   Especially if you have a passion for reading, but the main barrier is the spare time to do the reading that you want to do.

Anyway, I have heard great things about this book and I am looking forward to reading it.  I will let you know what I think.

OR... you could go there and download it for free, and let me know what YOU think...  (Just follow the instructions).

June 1, 2010

On Reading

I am definitely not the first to say it, but reading is important.  And I mean good, deep reading.

I have been pondering ways to promote this concept with my family, my church members, my friends, acquaintances, and possibly even with complete strangers.  I haven't come up with anything substantial yet, but the thought keeps moving closer and closer to the front of my mind.  I feel the need to do something, but I am just not sure what that something is going to be.

In the meantime, just to prove that I am not alone, here is a C.H. Spurgeon quote on reading:
We will look at Paul’s books. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them.

Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot and talks any quantity of nonsense is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains – oh, that is the preacher!

How rebuked they are by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching for at least thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet wants books!

He had been caught up into the Third Heaven and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy, and so he says to every preacher, “Give attendance to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13).

The man who never reads will never be read. He who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own.

Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers and expositions of the Bible.
[HT: Trevin Wax]

I also ran across a blog post from Douglas Wilson.  He is talking about being a writer in this post, but his main point is Read until your brain creaks.  Here is a snippet:
Read. Read constantly. Read the kind of stuff you wish you could write. Read until your brain creaks. Tolkien said that his ideas sprang up from the leaf mold of his mind. These are the trees where the leaves come from.
Read the rest of the article here.

Well, if you have any ideas on how I could promote reading, let me know.

Against Sin

Quote from Billy Sunday:
I'm against sin. I'll kick it as long as I've got a foot, and I'll fight it as long as I've got a fist. I'll butt it as long as I've got a head. I'll bite it as long as I've got a tooth. And when I'm old and fistless and footless and tootheless, I'll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!
That is an awesome quote! Anyone who has seen the destructiveness of sin in their own life and has then picked up the battle against that sin can feel that quote!

[HT: Challies.com]