Archives For _samp

Around-the-Horn[1]The Op-Ed (Oprah Edited)
As the weeks passed, Starbucks continued printing Oprah quotes trumpeting a Disneyfied gospel of self-actualization. Then I realized that the solution was right in front of me. Oprah’s quotes weren’t that bad; they just needed a little editing.

Crash the Chatterbox
His message seems to be less about what Jesus has done for you and is doing in you, and more about what you are doing to unlock, release, and call down God’s blessing and realize your life potential.

9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence
The issue of intimate partner violence has been in the news recently after the National Football League suspended Ray Rice for hitting his finacee. A video from an elevator camera surfaced in which Rice is seen punching Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious. Rice and Palmer were wed the day after he was indicted on aggravated assault charges.

Why I Am An Amillennialist
From Sam Storms: 10 reasons.

“Joan Plays Heaven!” Really?
The inescapable fact is that the western world simply assumes the truth of universalism. The suggestion that those who left this life in unrepentant denial of Jesus Christ are eternally separated from God and subject to his judgment is regarded as elitist and inexcusably insensitive.

What I’ll Tell My Daughters About Modesty
Our culture is becoming increasingly comfortable with a highly sexualized version of womanhood. The pornification of society is showing up everywhere, from Miley Cyrus performing in front a national audience, to the magazines that show up in grocery stores. As my daughters grow older, they will be increasingly encouraged to use their bodies in ways which don’t please the Lord. So what will I say to my daughters when I talk to them about modesty?

The Abomination Of Desolation?
What is the abomination of desolation referred to in Matthew 24?

Africa Needs A Whole Lot Less Of Joel And A Whole Lot More Of Rick
Two very different people who call themselves Christians have gotten a lot of media time recently.

Act Like Men: What It Means To Fight Like A Man
One of the reasons many churches struggle is they’re not a friendly place for men.

Should Christianity Try To Be Cool?
Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity,  argues that there are intrinsic contradictions inherent in the various attempts to make Christianity “cool.”

Around-the-Horn[1]The Danger of Measurable Outcomes
From Os Guinness.  Brilliant: Every age is fooled by its own fashions, and it is time to subject this modern idolatry of opinion and numbers to decisive Christian thinking. For modern people, numbers are the key to control, but humans are more than aides de camp to the almighty computer. We would of course scorn anyone who put their half-baked preferences, momentary whims, and brazen desires above serious concerns for truth. So why do we bow to opinion polls that are mostly just such emotions gathered with statistical scientific precision and expressed under the halo of grand numbers?

Windowless Airplanes?
Imagine being on a flight where, in place of windows, screens lining the cabin project images of the sky outside. New technology that could help reduce the weight of an aircraft could soon see windowless planes take to the air.

The Wrong Kind of Christian
I thought I was an acceptable kind of evangelical. I’m not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement. We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice. Being a Christian made me somewhat weird in my urban, progressive context, but despite some clear differences, I held a lot in common with unbelieving friends. We could disagree about truth, spirituality, and morality, and remain on the best of terms. The failures of the church often made me more uncomfortable than those in the broader culture. Then, two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being the wrong kind of Christians.

Ten Notes on the Driscoll Dogpile
In what follows I want to make some observations about what has clearly become the Driscoll dogpile. But in this, I don’t want to say anything that might come off as though I am privy to any back room information. I am not part of the private reconciliation or accountability processes, and so I want to compose myself as one who is not (Prov. 18:17).

Satan Does Not Hold the Keys of Death
Jesus holds the keys to death, and Satan cannot snatch those keys out of His hand. Christ’s grip is firm. He holds the keys because He owns the keys. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. That includes all authority over life and death. The angel of death is at His beck and call.

Tangled Up In Blue: Depression And The Christian Life
The reason we don’t know what to do with depression is twofold. We don’t like complexity, and we don’t know what to do with sadness. We want things to be simple, and we want things to be happy. Depression is neither. There’s typically no quick fix, no magic formula. 

The Death of Courageous Faith
The West is dying. The poet Archibald Leach once said, “An era dies when its symbols, although seen, no longer mean.” Do we believe what our fathers in the faith believed? Many will say yes. And of course, in one sense, they are right. The creeds, confessions, theologies, hymns, and liturgies, are repeated and taught. But faith is more than mental ascent. True faith requires courage. “Courage” comes from the root word which means “heart.” In other words, the life of faith must have its roots both in our hearts and minds together. 

Why Corporations Move
Always amusing to watch liberals wax indignant over the consequences of policies they themselves promoted.

Who’s Who In Church History?
Each of us would instantly recognize the pictures of scores of prominent people living today, whether political leaders, sports figures, Hollywood celebrities or others. Just for the fun of it, let’s see how well we do at identifying a number of eminent Christian servant-leaders from the past few centuries of Church History.

Around the Horn :: 8.7.14

August 7, 2014

Around-the-Horn[1]Fact-Checking Your Pastor’s Sermon
Good sounding lies you’ve been told by well-meaning people.

Why Do You Live Like Tomorrow Is Promised?
Do I truly believe my life is a vapor that will potentially vanish tomorrow? If so, has anything changed since those thoughts crossed my mind? 

The Tragic Death of the Funeral
The bereaved need, and deserve, something better. They deserve a service that speaks frankly and honestly about death, while anchoring the survivors in a hope that extends beyond this world. If any life is to be celebrated, let it be the life of the One who alone can lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, and who shines a ray of his life into the gloom of death.

What Drives Tom Brady?
Lessons to be learned for all leaders: “Tommy had a very specific vision of how he wanted you to run the play,” Fauria explained. “Charlie Weis would put the play up on the board, and Tommy would say, ‘No, don’t run it like that. Run it like this.’ He’d show me exactly how he wanted me to turn — and I mean exactly, because you couldn’t send mixed messages. You couldn’t have him show you, then do it 80 percent of the way he said. No. It had to be exactly how he wanted it.

The Fallacy of Outward-Focused Ministry
From Bill Easum: Whether we call it “Social Justice,” Social Action,” or “Mission-oriented” ministry, too many congregations are wearing themselves out and, worse, missioning themselves out of existence.

Church of New York Times Keeps Preaching Its Own Faith
It’s time for another “Kellerism” update, as The New York Times continues its efforts to highlight religious institutions with doctrines that are unacceptable to the newsroom’s theologians and, perhaps, the U.S. Department of Justice. This time, the drama shifts out West, where another Christian college community is trying to find a way to live out its faith commitments.

Kneel Before Zod: On Celebrating Obama’s Birthday
This is really not the biggest deal in the world, but every year on August 4, I’m reminded of something kind of creepy in the Cult of Obama. That, my friends, is the obsession with his birthday.

Around-the-Horn[1]The Parable of The Lawn Mower
Here’s a wonderful parable about why we must proclaim the Gospel, not simply display it.

Third World Osteen
Where Third World poverty and Joel Osteen’s tweets collide, or, applying Osteenisms to the poorest of the poor.

The Emerging Reality Facing Clergy
A good article from The Atlantic asking, what is the church willing to do support its pastor?

America’s Udder
We have two presenting issues on our southern border. One is the border security itself, and the other is all the stuff we are doing that creates the need for border security in the first place.

A Haunting Peace
Islamic scholars must stop the self-deception which claims that Islam is 100% peace, and with honesty, recognise the violence that continues to exist within their religion today.

N is For Nazareth
Christians around the world are changing their social media avatars to the arabic letter “n.” In so doing, these Christians are reminding others around them to pray, and to stand in solidarity with believers in Iraq who are being driven from their homes, and from their country, by Islamic militants. The Arabic letter comes from the mark the ISIS militants are placing on the homes of known Christians. “N” is for “Nazarene,” those who follow Jesus of Nazareth.

Am I In Trouble?
It’s not just a question from the mouth of a disobedient toddler.  It’s the same question that many of us ask when we think about opening God’s word after an absence of days, weeks, or months.

Build Your Character, Not Your Platform
Words like “platform” and “influence” are important.  But if we aren’t careful, in our desire to build our platform and influence, we can end up building our ego.

Short-term Missions, Long-term Impact
The trip was undeniably a PowerPoint success story. We had secured a cornucopia of colorful photos with pithy captions to document our accomplishments. We delivered a sterling report to our supporters back home who has all been holding vigil, waiting for the bottom line: how many souls from Botswana would will be in heaven because of our cash?

What Not to Say at My FuneralAround-the-Horn[1]
Because I do care now, and will care even after I’m with the Lord, here are some things I hope and pray are not said at my funeral. I care about those who will be there, about what they will hear. I want the truth to be spoken, the truth about sin, the truth about death, and, above all, the truth about the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Three Reasons You Should Not Try to Bind Satan
There is a pernicious paranoia that permeates churches today: folks think Satan can hear them speak. Some people unwittingly pad Satan’s résumé to include God’s unique attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. Yes, Satan certainly is ambulant (1 Peter 5:8), but he is confined to one place at a time. He can’t read your mind, and he doesn’t perk his ears when he hears his name mentioned in your prayers.

J.R.R. Tolkien Reveals True Meaning of The Lord of The Rings in Recently Found Audio Recording
Over 20 years ago, a lost recording of J.R.R. Tolkien was discovered in a basement in Rotterdam, but the man who found it kept this important reel-to-reel tape hidden away. Until recently, only he had heard the recording. But now, I am one of those lucky Middle-earth lovers who has listened to this magical magnetic tape, and I happily declare that it is awesome. For it proves once and for all that Professor Tolkien was, in fact, very much the hobbit that we all suspected him to be. What’s more, we get to hear Tolkien reading a lost poem in the Elven tongue which he translates into English. And to top it off, he states in unambiguous terms (cue Rohirrim war trumpets) the real meaning of The Lord of the Rings!

Pastors Are Not Born But Formed
Cruising through Bruce Gordon’s masterful biography on Calvin, I’ve been struck to see that pastors aren’t born but formed. It’s easy when reading the final edition of the Institutes or the later commentaries, at such a historical remove, to forget the development and the formative influences involved in turning the proud young legal scholar into a mature churchman and theologian.

Should A Theologians Life Affect How We Regard His/Her Theology
Over the decades of studying and teaching about not only the theologies of Christian theologians past and present but also their biographies I’ve run into a common question. How should we relate their lives to their theologies? To be specific, if there’s something negative in their life story, should that affect how we value their intellectual contributions?

Religious Freedom In Peril
From the NYT: Religious freedom is one of the most basic of human rights, and one in peril in much of the world.

A Chilling New Front In The War On Religious Liberty
What does this mean? It means that the ACLU and company are pursuing a zero-sum strategy against religious groups and individuals. They have declared an all-out culture war and will offer no quarter to sincere religious dissenters. They are ready to use the coercive power of the state to trample the religious consciences of their countrymen. This is radical and chilling. Let’s hope and pray this intolerant strategy does not become the new orthodoxy among the American Left. It is toxic.

Wrestling With That Old Anglican Timeline, In South Carolina 
Anyone who follows news on the religion beat knows the drill when it comes to reporters framing the global, national, regional and local conflicts between Anglicans: The battles are about homosexuality, period, and all heck broke loose in 2003 when the tiny Diocese of New Hampshire elected an openly gay and non-celibate bishop.  The problem with that news template is that it’s simplistic.

Christian Eschatology and the Planet of The Apes
A Christian vision of the future proves the dystopian movies to be right, in some sense. There’s a fire being kindled somewhere, and not even the Statue of Liberty can withstand it. But, after that, there’s the kind of new creation that makes everything new.

A Company Liberals Could Love
From the NYT: For a generation now, liberals have bemoaned the disappearance of the socially conscious corporation, the boardroom devoted to the common good. Once, the story goes, America’s C.E.O.s recognized that they shared interests with workers and customers; once wages and working hours reflected more than just a zeal for profits. But then came Reagan, deregulation, hostile takeovers, and an era of solidarity gave way to the age of Gordon Gekko, from which there’s been no subsequent escape.  There are, however, exceptions: companies that still have a sense of business as a moral calling, which can be held up as examples to shame the bottom-liners.  One such company . . . .

Get With the Program – The Church of England Votes to Ordain Women Bishops
Writing about the age of John Milton, the British author A. N. Wilson once tried to explain to modern secular readers that there had once been a time when bishops of the Church of England were titanic figures of conviction who were ready to stand against the culture. “It needs an act of supreme historical imagination to be able to recapture an atmosphere in which Anglican bishops might be taken seriously,” he wrote, “still more, one in which  they might be thought threatening.”  Keep that in mind as you read the news that the General Synod of the Church of England voted yesterday to approve the consecration of women as bishops of the church.

Arminianism 101: An FAQ
From Roger Olsen

Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border
From the NYT: The killings are a major factor driving the recent wave of migration of Central American children to the United States, which has sent an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors across the Texas border.

When the Bricks Start to Fall
It is worthy noting that the Lord Jesus describes one of the features of hypocrisy as being manifested in an inability to read the culture. A hypocrite does not know what is coming down because it does not suit him to know what is coming down. It is always handy to say, when things are comparatively calm, “well, that’s not my interpretation.”

Around-the-Horn[1]Six Lies College Grads Will Be Told
Most graduation speeches follow the same format. And they are filled with inspirational quotes and silly sayings that somebody’s mom will post on Facebook three years later with pretty little flowers and a demand to share. Or maybe the saying will be really good and you’ll see it on one of those overpriced placards that people buy to put in their storage sheds.  Usually the graduates are just lied to. Here are six lies they’ll likely be told:

I Was A Victim of Bad, Bigoted Parenting
From Carl Trueman: In light of this story, about a girl who became a boy at the age of five, I resisted the temptation to rearrange the word ‘lunatics,’ ‘asylum,’ and ‘have taken over’ to make a well known phrase or saying, and instead spent a moment or two reflecting on my own childhood . . .

What I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Marriage
From Russell Moore: My grandmother wisely asked one night when I was finally going to ask “that girl from Ocean Springs” to marry me. I answered, “When I can afford it.” She laughed. “Honey, I married your grandpa in the middle of a Great Depression,” she said. “We made it work. Nobody can afford to get married. You just marry, and make it work.”

The Dangers of Theological Controversy
In recent years, there has been a growing debate over the doctrine of sanctification. Some of the questions involved in this debate include: Does justification produce sanctification? Is sanctification “getting used to your justification?” What role does sanctification play in the subjective assurance of salvation in the life of a believer? Does justification make union with Christ possible, or does union make justification possible? In addition to these questions, a myriad of others have been–and ought to be–raised for the sake of clarity and the defense of truth. There are, however, several dangers that come with controversy.

Laverne Cox Is Not A Woman
I have little or no desire to police how Cox or any other man or woman conducts his or her personal life. But having a culture organized around the elevation of unreality over reality in the service of Eros, who is a sometimes savage god, is not only irrational but antirational. Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

There Is No Third Way
From Albert Mohler: For some time now, it has been increasingly clear that every congregation in this nation will be forced to declare itself openly on this issue. That moment of decision and public declaration will come to every Christian believer, individually. There will be no place to hide, and no place safe from eventual interrogation. The question will be asked, an invitation will be extended, a matter of policy must be decided, and there will be no refuge.

The Ten Most Asinine Things About #YesAllWomen
From Mollie Hemingway: What a sad state of affairs. Rather than seeing each other as men and women with inherent dignity, #YesAllWomen encourages a war where we see each other as enemies to be fought.

Holiness by J C Ryle 2For the past few years the SAMP staff has been reading and discussing primary source theology during our summers.  My reasons are manifold: There is the simple an practical matter of equipping and encouraging.  While I am the bishop of a diocese and the rector of a parish, I am still the pastor to my staff.  Secondly, I find that the languid days of summer parish life allow for a more considered and reflective pace of reading, thought and discussion – things which the pressing needs of parish life and ministry are too easily eclipsed during the ministry year. And thirdly, I want to expose our staff to the richness of the Christian faith.  So, we tend to read “old dead guys” – often because they are unknown and neglected.  I especially prefer to read old books of theology. I find in these books a fresh perspective as the writers are both free from the spirit of the age in which we live and the errors of their age are now plain to us.

Two summers ago we read The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.  We created a .pdf of the original document and broke it down by weekly readings, including discussion questions.  This resource is still housed on the SAMP site and may be accessed here.

Last summer we read A Treatise on Grace and Free Will by Augustine.

This summer we will be reading Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  As I told the staff, Ryle has much to say of perennial importance regarding Christian living here and now.  Holiness speaks strongly to our contemporary shallowness and superficialities; laying out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms the true fundamentals of Christian sanctity.

I’d love to have you read along with us.  You can click the link above to read the book online.  Alternatively, I’ve had Catherine Guerry, the Manager of our bookstore, Common Grounds, stock a few books.

 

 

Around-the-Horn[1]Is It God’s Will For All Christians To Be Wealthy?
More and more Christians, all over the world, believe that material prosperity is the right of all Christians. They believe that God expects them to ask for it and to anticipate it as a sure fulfillment of his promise. There is no doubt that both the Old and New Testaments teach that the faithful will be blessed by God.  But does that blessing necessarily always include material prosperity?

The Measure of Successful Ministry
If you are truly preaching God’s Word, God may choose to use your ministry to build up the Church and bring many souls to salvation in your midst. But He may also choose to use your ministry as an instrument by which to shame the wicked, force out the false prophets, and cause the institutions of the Church to collapse around your head. Either one is a holy calling if it comes from God.

Let the Separation Begin
From Michael Brown at Charisma Magazine: Without a doubt, this issue [homosexuality] will become a great dividing line in the church, and I, for one, welcome it, since it points to a much deeper divide in our approach to God, His Word and the people He wants to redeem. Ultimately, it will separate those who put God first and ask, “How can I fulfill His desires?” from those who put themselves first and ask, “How can He fulfill my desires?”

Fire On The Mountain
From Michael Horton: And now the law does something else. It not only announces the threat; it guides us in safety.  There are still “dangers, toils, and snares.” After we fled our San Diego fire, we were glued to our TV set for ongoing reports of danger. We were also reminded to prepare for loss of power and to stock up on water and provisions. Instead of announcing a threat, these reports gave us important information. It was still different from good news (“The fire is out!”), but it was also different from pure threat (“Evacuate!”). 

Dear Class of 2014: Thanks for Not Disinviting Me
From Stephen Carter (Yale Law Professor): Given your generation’s penchant for shutting down speakers with whom you disagree, I am assuming that you have no intention of playing any serious adult role in mediating those conflicts. And that’s fine. We should leave the task of mediation to those unsophisticated enough to be sensitive to the concerns of both sides.

What Do You Mean By Unconditional Love?
It is common today to hear people say, “God loves us unconditionally.”  When people say that God loves us unconditionally they usually mean something like, “After conversion God loves you no matter what. Isn’t that great?” In one sense this is true, God’s love for his people is not based upon what they do or do not do. But this does not mean that God loves us unconditionally. If God loves anyone he loves them conditionally. What is the condition?

To Whom Else Would We Go?
I’ve grown more and more weary of blogs and articles and tweets and opinions on every matter, more and more thirsty for the words of life.

Around-the-Horn[1]The Silence of Jesus and the Voice of the Apostles
From Wesley Hill: Robinson’s answer here suggests that Jesus knew of many same-sex couples and remained silent on the ethical status of their relationships. The implication, it seems, is that if Jesus saw no need to carry forward Leviticus’ explicit prohibitions of same-sex sexual behavior, then neither should Christians today. Leaving aside the myth of a sexually tolerant Jesus that Robinson’s answer conjures, we have here—again—a misunderstanding about how traditional Christians form their ethical convictions.

A Letter from C.S. Lewis On Christian Piety and Homosexuality
An interesting letter from C. S. Lewis to Sheldon Vanauken, who had written for counsel on how to counsel students with questions about Christianity and homosexuality.

Sexuality and Personality
This is the reason that sexual issues are controversial. Deconstructions of the meaning of our digestive systems don’t phase us. The new-found “origin of the species” is fairly boring. Anti-Christian potshots are largely humorous. But watch us freak out over sexuality. It’s personal. Let’s consider one way in which this is true: Sexuality recapitulates the essentially relational nature of the person.

Simplicity and the Sensate
From Doug Wilson: Cultures pass through aesthetic phases as they rise and fall, and the last phase is the phase of decadence. It is the phase in which sensate spectacle is glorified, and it is a sign, not of glory but of decrepitude. Our generation is in the thick of this last phase. Our culture is attracted to the sensational and insists upon spectacle.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Future
From Russell Moore: The Bible tells us that the king of Israel once wanted to hear from the prophets, as to whether he would be victorious over his enemies. All the court prophets told him exactly what he wanted to hear.  When it comes to what people want to hear, it seems to me that the church faces a similar situation as we look to the future of marriage in this country. Many want the sort of prophetic witness that will spin the situation to look favorable, regardless of whether that favor is from the Lord or in touch with reality.

God, The Gospel, and the Gay Challenge – A Response to Matthew Vines
From Albert Mohler: Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question.  The question is whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over two thousand years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage.

How “Cis” Killed Gender Theory
Modern gender theory is dead, and we have killed it. Weep — we were really onto something.  We wriggled out from a dichotomy of a “normal” sexual orientation (heterosexuality) and deviations from that norm (homosexuality and lesbianism, largely), to a world of “alternative lifestyles” (homosexuality and heterosexuality as equally valid “life choices”), to a world excited and exploding with the hundreds of labels we are growing fond and familiar with today (sapiosexual, omnisexual, pansexual, trigender, bigender — you know the drill).  This evolution is easy to trace. If there is no “norm” to sexual attraction, then every form of sexual attraction is its own norm.

 

Around-the-Horn[1]Weakness is the Way
J.I. Packer delivers a powerful blow to the rampant triumphalism that has infected much of the Bible-believing world.

Illiterate People of the Book
69% of adult Americans consider themselves Biblically literate according to a study conducted in 2013 by the Barna Group. But the same study found that 58% of American Christians are not interested in Biblical insight on how to live their lives.

Concern for the Prodigal Son
Doing a little study this afternoon, I came across this illuminating section from B. B. Warfield on the parable of the prodigal son, and the danger of make it a definitive statement of the gospel.

If A Student Says Homosexuality is Wrong in School, Is it Bullying?
From the Atlantic: What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings, and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. On Thursday, Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones.

A Christian Country?
From the Archbishop of Canterbury: “Christian faith is much more vulnerable to comfortable indifference than to hatred and opposition.”

Firing Rome’s Canon
I can’t fathom how anyone could believe the silliness we’re all supposed to be celebrating. Rome actually insists that we believe that when these popes died, they wrote a check for more than they owed and calmly told God He could keep the change.

Can Blessings Be A Trial?
Blessings are a trial that can lead to pride or gratitude. Which is it for you right now?

Why We Need Dinosaurs Like C.S. Lewis
Who could be against “progress” or “development”? Only someone, like Caspian, who has realized that some things progress and develop in the wrong direction. And one of the great gifts of C. S. Lewis was his well-honed suspicion of progress.