Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Little Tozer for Your Thursday

A brother in the church just sent me this one from A.W. Tozer:

"The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."

Not sure where it's from. Anybody out there got a specific reference?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Way I Know Ireland Really Impacted My Daughters

They keep writing lymricks. Like these (which together tell the story of my life):

A pastor, a dad is Thabiti
Each Tuesday he goes to a meeti
Preaching two times a week
May sound rather bleak
But with God there is no defeati

He goes by the name Pastor T
He winds down at night with the wii
He loses in boxing
But for a little detoxing
Eats ice cream and plays with Small T

Daddy loves Afiya and Eden
Next year he may take them to Sweden
It ain’t for sure yet
But you better bet
The girls keep askin’ each evenin’

A preacher, a pastor, a dad
The best jobs he’s ever had
Takes a lot of work
So he eats lots of jerk
And that makes him even more glad

Afiya and Daddy for fun
Like reading and writing and gum
They play some Civ IV
Then read even more
But they don’t like to sit in the sun

Dad and Eden like to compete
So each night on the wii they shall meet
Eden knocks him out twice
That ain’t even nice
‘Cause you know after that Dad’s dead meat!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Depth of Mercy

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

I have spilt His precious blood,
Trampled on the Son of God,
Filled with pangs unspeakable,
I, who yet am not in hell!

I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
And profaned His hallowed Name,
Put Him to an open shame.

Whence to me this waste of love?
Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus' face,
Now before the throne of grace.

Jesus, answer from above,
Is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget,
Permit me to kiss Thy feet?

If I rightly read Thy heart,
If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Pardon and accept me now.

Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father's mercies move,
Justice lingers into love.

Kindled His relentings are,
Me He now delights to spare,
Cries, 'How shall I give thee up?'
Lets the lifted thunder drop.

Lo! I still walk on the ground:
Lo! an Advocate is found:
'Hasten not to cut Him down,
Let this barren soul alone.'

There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Pity from Thine eye let fall,
By a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert,
Cast a look, and break my heart.

Now incline me to repent,
Let me now my sins lament,
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

By Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Do You Want a Friend?

I just stepped out of my office to take a short break from sermon prep. One of the joys for me is to walk by my mail box and find large shipping envelopes that usually include books!

I had one in my box today, and it contained Noel Piper's new children's book, Do You Want a Friend? Before getting back to Proverbs 3, a sermon series we've titled, "Teach Your Children Wisdom," I read Noel's book.

I love children's books. And I really enjoyed taking the few minutes to read through this. I want to recommend the book to every parent and to every church with a bookstore and to every uncle/aunt or godparent or friend of parents for several reasons:

1. I appreciated that every aspect of friendship highlighted in the book pointed to the Savior and to a specific passage of Scripture highlighing His character.

2. I appreciated that most of the faces in the book are some shade of brown. You can read this book with every ethnicity or phenotype and the reader can see themselves in it.

3. I appreciated that the main family was an intact brown family. Don't see that enough in children's books.

4. I appreciated that this brown family was socially and economically mobile.

5. I appreciated that people with disabilities are plentifully included--even in the background family photos hanging on the walls.

6. I appreciated that tears and empathy are taught in the book.

7. I appreciated that people of every age play meaningful parts in the book.

8. I appreciate that the book not only points to Jesus as Friend, but to Jesus as the only Savior, Friend of sinners. That it ends with the gospel and doesn't shy away from telling children that sin is dangerous but Jesus is greater.

9. I appreciated the hymn that concludes the book, "One There Is, Above All Others." The book ends in doxology. Praise the Lord!

Thank you Noel and Crossway for this wonderful addition to Titus' library and our reading time with him. Thank you for making the gospel plain to children with out making it childish. Praise the Lord.

One of the Reasons I LOVE Tony Carter

When I'm around him my face and heart do this A LOT!

In a couple weeks' time, it'll be a joy to be with bro's Carter, Louis Love, Hensworth Jonas, our wives, and all the saints at the New Life Fellowship Bible Conference. This year's focus is on evangelism in the book of Acts. Six expositions combined with a lot of fellowship and iron-sharpening-iron dessert conversations at fancy restaurants like Denny's.

If you're in the Vernon Hills, IL or greater Chicago area, come check us out. For my wife and I, it's a highlight to our year. You'll find your soul lifted.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"A Theist"

My man, Curtis "Voice" Allen has a new album out called "A Theist." It's available at iTunes. Here's the list of songs:

A Chair Is Not a Throne
Best Kept Secret
Identity Crisis
Cultural Jesus
So Far to Go
Still Pardoned
What Do I Get
When It's All Said and Done
More Secrets
Still I Stand
I'm a Theist

Curtis is a very gifted and humble brother. Thus far, my favorite album from him is Process of the Pardon. His music is a smooth blend of sound theology and life. Listen and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Angels and Demons

The closing lines from Ross Douthat's NY Times opinion column on Dan Brown and the fascination with his novels turned films (HT: JT):

The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they’re far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.

For millions of readers, Brown’s novels have helped smooth over the tension between ancient Christianity and modern American faith. But the tension endures. You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.

That about sums it up. In the case of Brown, fiction is stranger than truth. Just give me Jesus.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Pop-Culture Prediction

This movie will give rise to a new generation of Trekies! Thoroughly enjoyed it! I thought it kept the integrity of the original characters while adding some depth. And there is one relationship that makes you want to go back and watch all the originals.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Around the Blog in 80 Seconds

Eric Redmond interviews Bryan Chappel about his forthcoming book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice.

Colin posts a list pdf's and audio of Bryan Chappel's preaching classes here. [Link Fixed] Colin comments: "Much of what I’ve learned about the theory behind sermon-preparation is a series of lectures I listened to from Bryan Chapell. These introductory lectures give you an excellent starting point from which you can adapt your own approach. One thing I really like about Chapell’s homiletics course, is that it is a course on preaching taught by someone who can really preach! Amen?" Amen!

Matt Schmucker takes about six minutes to explain biblical church discipline on Moody Radio. Worth the listen.

Piper wrestles with the question: Should a pastor continue in ministry if he has an unbelieving child? (HT: JT) Feeling like he wants to take a crack at all the tough questions today, Piper also answers, "What should I do if my wife says she doesn't love me?"

Pray for the Cayman Islands

"Free and democratic elections" is a phrase typically volleyed about when some country is under military occupation or a "regime change" is in order. Significant numbers of countries around the world do not know either free or democratic political processes. And many others who attempt it seem only to vent violent opposition.

The Cayman Islands has known free and democratic elections for most of its history. By God's grace, it's a stable democracy with the great privilege of voting. Next Wednesday, the country holds its next round of elections. Election Day is a public holiday in the Cayman Islands, making it all the more possible for people to enjoy this remarkable God-given privilege. Not all the residents of Cayman are eligible to vote, but all should pray for the country and her leaders.

I don't know all the political players and issues at stake. Turns out, I'm as ignorant of politics in the Cayman Islands as I was in the United States! But there are a couple things that occupy my prayer beyond the scriptural command to pray for those in authority over us (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

First, the country has for some time been working to modernize its constitution. That's been a fascinating process to observe. In Cayman, unlike many other Western democracies, churches and pastors have a prominent role in such discussions. So the Cayman Ministers' Association has given tremendous input to this important, life-shaping process. Please pray for the continued discussions and referendum/vote on the modernized constitution. Among the important issues addressed is the definition of marriage as consisting of one man and one woman. The battles over marriage have made their way in some measure to these Caribbean shores, and the pressures mount as not only much of Europe but now a growing number of States abandon traditional definitions and protections. Pray for the Lord's word and will to reign in these decisions.

Second, about half the country's residents are expatriates. Someone said that there are over 100 nationalities in Cayman. This is a tremendously diverse place, and has been since it's founding, really. As wonderful as this diversity is, it brings its challenges in terms of the maintenance of cultural identity, immigration balance, equity and justice, and community cohesion. What could be a tremendous opportunity for the gospel, making Cayman an excellent export station for the kingdom, could become a culture war of sorts. Please pray for the unity of the country in this election and for the blessing of all its people--native and expat.

What a marvelous privilege to live in a society where the future of the society resides in the hands of those ordinary people standing in small polling booths. Praise the Lord for the grace of freedom.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Use Reason and Intellect, Trust God

Challies is blogging the Basics conference this week. I appreciated this nugget from the first plenary talk given by Oxford mathematician John Lennox:

Paul used reason and intellectual abilities, but he didn’t trust them. It is too easy to trust intellect and use God. Paul used every ability God gave him to the full but he trusted God. We must not find a theological reason to be intellectually lazy. God has no more patience for intellectual slackers than he does for any other slacker.

Check out the summaries from session one and two.

If I Were in Toronto...

I would attend this conference:

With this guy speaking...
... and this guy, too.

There will be a lot of edifying study of the Scriptures and practical wisdom for pastoral ministry. If you're in leadership, hoping to be in leadership, or serving in your local church, or wanting to better understand your pastor and support them, this will be well worth your investment. Find more details here.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Muslim Christian Dialogue Q&A

Here's the q&a exchange between Bassam and myself. The longer audience Q&A are available at YouTube as well. And a question for you: After watching the opening comments (here and here), what would you have asked either Bassam or myself?

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Things I Miss About North Carolina

A dear friend and fellow North Caronlinian sent this to my family. As a North Carolinian, these are things I miss about my home state.


1) A possum is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road.

2) There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 of them live in NC.

3) There are 10,000 types of spiders, and all 10,000 of them live in NC.

4) If it grows, it'll stick ya. If it crawls, it'll bite cha.

5) "Onced" and "Twiced" are words.

6) It is not a shopping cart, it's a buggy.

7) "Jaw-P?" means, "Did y'all go to the bathroom?"

8) People actually grow and eat okra. (Although, the best fried okra I've ever had was in Birmingham, AL with Harry Reeder and some of the saints at Briarwood Presbyterian!)

9) "Fixinto" is one word. (Now, there is a regional variant of this word. If you're from my neck of the woods, it's "finto." No need to bother with the 'x'. It means I'm about to do something.)

10) There is no such thing as lunch. There is only dinner and then there is supper... (Actually, there is lunch. Extra credit: which word is used for lunch, dinner or supper?)

11) Iced tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you're two. (Now my mama's iced tea is the best in the world! People come from all over the city to get a glass. For real)

12) Backwards and forwards means, "I know everythin' about you."

13) The word "jeet" is actually a phrase meaning, "Did you eat?"

14) You don't have to wear a watch, because it doesn't matter what time it is. You work until you're done or it's too dark to see.

15) You don't PUSH buttons, you MASH em.

16) You measure distance in minutes.

17) You switch from heat to A/C in the same day. (We've been known to ride around time with the heat on and the windows down to get the temperature in the car just right)

18) You know what a "Dawg" is. (There are two varieties--four-legged and two-legged)

19) You only own five spices: salt, pepper, Texas Pete, Tabasco and ketchup.

20) You find 100 degrees only "a bit warm." (That's because North Carolinians are born with gills. You need them to breathe in the humidity during the summer!)

21) Going "off to Wally World" is a favorite past time.

22) We don't need no dang Driver's Ed. If our mama says we can drive, we can drive, dag-nabbit.

23) You understand these jokes and forward them to your NC friends and those who just wish they were from North Carolina !!!!!

When I was a boy, there was actually a public ad campaign called "I like calling N.C. home." And we learned to dag-nabbit. I guess it's the southern, polite equivalent to "Don't mess with Texas," without all the cowboy macho stuff. Or it could just be a little insecurity about being "from the country" or the south. I didn't feel insecure about that, though. I identify with that commercial where the cowboys cry out incredulously, "New York City!" Can anything good come out of Gotham?

But I do like calling N.C. home, after heaven and Grand Cayman. We're sojourning, and picking up a few cultural laughs along the way. But hasten the day Lord!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Listening for the Soul

A clear, compelling, and life-giving sermon on John 3:14-17.

Allistair Begg on gospel ministry. Typical, clear Begg. And laugh out loud funny at about 18 minutes.

Together for the Gospel
Registration is open for T4G '10--The (Unadjusted) Gospel. See here.

The (Unadjusted) Gospel. That’s a topic worth thinking about for several days together with several thousand other pastors and church leaders. Don’t you think?

The good news does not adjust. It’s always the same and it’s always good. Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, proclaims a message that’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. So should we.

We hope you will join us in Louisville April 2010 to think about that message and why it’s the heart of ministry.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Five Things Christians Do That Other Religious Adherents Don't

1. Turn their sacred Scripture into coloring books for children, or bedtime stories with full color sketches.

2. Reduce the central message or teachings of their religion to a T-shirt slogan.

3. Tweet that central message or those key teachings.

4. Wear sandwich boards with their messages placarded on them.

5. Record sacred music that sounds like cheesy love songs.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Two Year Olds Are Sneaky Little Sinners

Titus (2.5): "I'm hungry."
Afiya (11): "Let's look in the refrigerator to see if there's something to eat."
Titus: "Ooh, there's a cupcake."
Afiya: "Cupcakes sound yummy, but we have to ask Mommy first."
Titus: "There's no sugar! There's just flowers and eggs."