Showing posts from February, 2008

Don't Shoot Me - Part 2

You can see Part 1 of this post here.
I don't really want to work back and forth defending my Arminianism vs. someone else's Calvinism. Rarely are minds changed. Again, this is the problem - we spend too much time on this vs. fighting the fight of faith together. But I do want to highlight some of my thoughts as I worked my way through Piper's Message How I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels. I think this will help others determine if Arminians/Wesleyans are close to promoting a "false" gospel.
We don’t usually think about Arminianism as a threat to the atonement. It usually comes in at the point of the accomplishment of the gospel and the offer of the gospel, not the point of the plan of the events of the gospel. But here we see that there is an intrinsic incompatibility between the basic Arminian presupposition and the gospel as including a set of planned sins against the Son of God. That presupposition is that for humans to be morally account…

Don't Shoot Me - I'm On Your Side.

Friendly Fire.

That's what I would call John Piper's Message, How Do I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels.

Let me start by saying that I am amazed by John Piper and his teaching. I enjoy reading his works and his sermons. He has made an impact upon my life that is probably greater than any other "high profile" minister. I also truly believe that he is the most humble Calvinist that I have ever read or heard. I would hold him in the line of Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, Finney, & Moody. Some would probably even call me a "fan." I hope that I am not a fan, but someone who appreciates a person who is wholly given to Christ and to His Kingdom.

And maybe that is why I am so troubled. As I was reading How Do I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels, I couldn't help but feel as though my military comrade in the Lord's Army was turning his weapon on me. I think I am probably being over sensitive, so please understan…

Ordinary Work

Do any of you take a sabbath rest?

I was really convicted when I read the Desiring God Minister's Accountability Survey. I've heard Rob Bell takes a day of rest. I've heard some of my friend's state that they have a "day off" each week. Then lo and behold, my reading yesterday is dealing with Sabbath.

I've not really made a habit of taking a day off, but I do take days off from time to time. I try to let Fridays be "fun days" - basically on those days I try to spend time doing the things I really enjoy - so maybe that is my Sabbath. But often I end up doing other things as well. To be honest, it's hard to distinguish my "days off" from my "days on." I try to do what I love to do as often as I can. I love to play music. I love to read God's word. I love to work with computers and websites and blogs. I love to read blogs. I love to be part of Bible Studies. I love to help people. I love to be with my kids and…

Friday is for Photos - Anybody Heading North?

Anybody Heading North?
(Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture)

I missed a good opportunity for a "field of geese" shot this past week, but I did have one from a couple years back at the Salem Reservoir. I think the geese may be a little confused, last week we were in the middle of ice and snow and tomorrow is supposed to be close to 60 degrees.

My favorite thing about this shot is the lighting. I'm still not sure how it happened, but for me it makes this photo. Maybe if it snows again I'll still get a chance for my "field of geese" shot.

Accountability Survey

I found this accountability survey thanks to the Desiring God Blog. It is meant for pastors, but I think much of it can and should apply to all believers.

Here's the survey...
1. How are you doing in the following areas?
Your consistency in satisfying personal devotions.
Your battling against ungodlythoughts (unbelief, bitterness, resentment, lust, pride, jealousy,covetousness, racism, etc.)
Your energy for the week ahead.
Your feelings of effectiveness in your pastoral role.
2. Weekly R&R modules* invested:
3. Did you work on the Fighter Verse early in the week?
4. Did you take a day off this past week (three consecutive R&R modules*)?
(If no, how to you plan to compensate for it in the near future?)
5. Have I been with a man or woman in the past week in a way that could be viewed as compromising?
6. Have any of my financial dealings failed to be filled with integrity?
7. Have I viewed sexually explicit material?
8. Have I neglected to give appropriate time to my family?
9. Is there an…

I Just Don't Understand...

I don't understand...

I don't understand why God would take the life of my friend's wife when she was doing so much for the kingdom. I don't understand why He couldn't have let her leave home a minute later.

I don't understand...

I don't understand why God is allowing my cousin to battle cancer at such a young age. She has kids that need her, and husband that needs her, and a mom and dad that are suffering just trying to sort all this out.

I don't understand...

I don't understand why the neighbor kid on my block is facing cancer as a 5th grader. He's dealing with things like chemo and radiation instead of playing ball. Why?

I don't understand...

I don't understand why my wife's grandmother has a body that has been tormented and twisted for many years, and yet she is the one left to continue in her suffering.

I don't understand...

I just don't get it sometimes.

But I do "get" this...

Isaiah 55:9 As the heavens are higher than t…

Losing Faith?

The Blog world is a buzz today with the latest findingson Americans switching faiths. Christianity Today has a piece on why it is really hard to count Christians.

Al Mohler has a good summary about the findings...
Evangelical Christians and churches should look at this report closely. There is a wealth of data here that helps to define the mission field we face in America. There are danger signs. Here are several points of concern:Our evangelism is not keeping pace with growth in the population.

Evangelical churches are growing, but falling behind in the task of reaching Americans with the Gospel. We are losing many young people and many of those who switch from evangelical identity switch to "nothing in particular."Evangelicals are accustomed to being part of a Protestant majority, but that majoritarian posture is about to be taken away (and already has been in some communities).
All this reminds us of the complexity of our context and the immensity of our challenge. We cannot …

Preaching Into Evangelicalism

Usually I leave good posts for Saturday's Links of the week, but this one can't wait. I just read the notes on Matt Chandler's message at Resurgence, Preaching Into Evangelicalism, from Abraham Piper over at Desiring God.Here's a few quotes that caught my eye...But even if this difficulty arises from the way the church acted over the last decades, we must still diligently love fundamentalists. Without them we wouldn't be here. If they hadn't stood up to liberalism like they did, we would be Europe...

On the flipside of being a stubborn fundamentalist, you don't have to be the guy who drinks beer and cusses to engage culture...When you start to see a bunch of messages and books on how to—"If you do this, you'll get a large church."—it is a sign that the movement is failing. What makes it even scarier is that it actually works...It has created a fear of fanaticism. And, strangely, it's not so much a fear of fanatics as it is a fear of being l…

Music Tuesday - Jadon Lavik

Talk about hot off the presses - Jadon Lavik 's latest is released today.

Sometimes you just need something a little bit "lite." Many of you may be familiar with Jadon's What If. It had a lot of radio play. I also enjoyed his version of Nothing But the Blood.

This album - Roots Run Deep - has a great feel to it. Just listen to the songs on his website. He has a very interesting rendition of Amazing Grace and I love his version of Blessed Assurance.

If you've had a little too much Switchfoot or United, (can you have too much United?) this might be a nice change of pace.

I also found some free music downloads this week thanks to Tony Morgan. You can get the downloads over at You will have to give away all your personal information and your firstborn. (Why do they insist on taking so much info?) Anyway, if you want to walk through the form, you can then login and download some free music.

A local worship leader put me on to the Afters - HT: Jeremy from Grace

Puppy Crumbs

This story never grows old to me. I want to have the faith of this woman...
Mark 7:24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Poor and Pathetic

When we were first forming our praise team at church one of the kids gave our new "band" a name -- Poor and Pathetic. Unfortunately, I think it may have been appropriate at the time. Our team has gotten a lot better since then, but we still identify with that name. (Some Sundays more than others!)

In yesterday's reading, I found a similar idea...
Psalm 40:17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
What a great thought! I truly am poor and pathetic, yet the Lord takes thought for me. I don't understand it. But I'm so thankful for this truth.

Lord, thank you for loving us even though we are poor and pathetic.

Commandment or Tradition?

I think this passage points to one of the questions I hoped that the conversations on this blog would help to answer. "Sweetest Frames" can be "traditions of men." They may be beautiful and meaningful, but when they are taken as God's commands they can cause us to misplace our trust.
Mark 7:6 ...“‘This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me,teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
What things do you see today that are simply traditions, but they are being taught as the commandments of God?

Is It Really Important to Have a Pro-Life President?

JT has shared another good post about the importance of life in the coming elections. You can read the Evangelical Outpost story Why Pro-Life Presidents Matter and see what you think.

I'm still interested in hearing perspectives from people who are "Pro-Life" and voting for Obama. Please feel free to add to the discussion. I'd really like to hear from people on both sides of this.

Also found this link to an older Piper document about "one-issue voters" in the comments about JT's post. I think it adds to the discussion.

Links of the Week - Feb 23, 2008

Got this Dave Barry article via Tony Jones and it has to be the funniest thing I've read in months. I was crying, I was laughing so hard.
Still lovin' the Old White Guy Blog - here's another health related post.
Swerve has a great article about pastors and friendships.
What is required to be a Christian counterculture? Check out Doug Groothuis' top ten. Good stuff.
Kruse has the stats on Global Cooling. Yes, I said Global Cooling!
Karsten Piper has a poem with a "killer" ending.
A couple of good articles on the frustrations of youth ministry. ChurchGeek & Joe Troyer via Marko
Tony Morgan shares his 10 Stupidest Leadership Mistakes.
Forbes put out an interesting post on America's most sinful cities, highlighting the Seven Deadly Sins. I found this via Tall Skinny Kiwi. We did a Series on the 7 Deadlies back in the fall of 2007.
Quote for the week: "Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes." -- Edgard Varese A good di…

Friday is for Photos - Lunar Eclipse

A Beautiful Night (Lunar Eclipse - February 20th, 2008)
(Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture)
On Wednesday evening we found ourselves stargazing after church. It was a clear night and cold too! The lunar eclipse over Salem was stunning. I stayed until about 9:30 and took a bunch of pics, but I have got to get a tripod! I took one of the small lecturns and made a makeshift tripod, but most of my shots were handheld.This picture is actually 3 shots that I just joined together in Photoshop. One of these years I might actually try a time lapse, but I doubt I'll ever have conditions this good again.Here's a tighter crop photo...If you took any shots of the eclipse, I'd love to see them.

Marko: Pro-Life and voting for Obama

A while back I was looking for people who were "Pro-life" and voting for Obama. Mark Oestreicher, known to the blogging world as "Marko," has come out today with this type of position... (This is only His position and not that of Youth Specialties)
and, while this could very easily come off as johnny-come-lately jumping onto the bandwagon of popularity: i’m an obama supporter. i can’t be a single-issue voter anymore; and while our country and republican leadership haven’t done anything (or been able to do anything? place the blame where you will — it’s not critical to this point) significant about abortion, i’ve found myself embracing a broader view of the value of human life, which includes all the other aspects of valuing human life and god’s creation that seem to be much more inline with democratic values.
I am making some assumptions here, but from his full article you can get a glimpse of some of his reasoning.
He doesn't want to be a single issue voter. He f…

Shocking Jesus.

What amazes the Lord? What causes the one who is all-knowing to marvel or to be surprised?

Mark 6:5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
What amazes Jesus is the fact that He has done amazing things in our lives, and yet we do not fully trust Him.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

1981 - The Worst of Times...

Michael Kruse has been doing a great series on American Social Indicators. In today's post he came up with 1981 as the worst year in the last 50. He has all kinds of science to back up his thoughts, but I found the real reason ... MTV started in 1981. :)

Here's a quote of some of the indicators: The property crime rate hit its high in 1975 but violent crime was at its worst in 1981. The highest murder rate was in 1980.
The suicide rate peaked in 1977.
The abortion rate peaked in 1981.
The divorce rate peaked in 1981.
The highest rate for illicit drug use for high school seniors was in 1979, and for illicit drug use excluding marijuana was in 1981.
The highest rate of cigarette use for high school seniors was in 1975, and for alcohol was in 1978.
The rate for all (combined) sexually transmitted diseases was highest in 1977.
The high school dropout rate declined steadily in the years prior to 1973. It flattened out and then peaked in 1979, before continuing the historical pattern of decl…

Music Tuesday - Karine Bauch

Karine from Tanner Trails church sends in her setlist...

Here are the setlists that we have done so far this month at Tanner Trails Community Church:

February 3
Opening: You Are Good
Your Love Feeds My Soul
Lord, Reign In Me
Nothing Without You
Communion: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us and Lord, You Have My Heart
Closing: Before the Throne of God Above
February 10
Opening: Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)
Every Move I Make
I Could Sing of Your Love Forever
You Alone
Closing: The Power of Your Love
February 17
Opening: Rise Up and Praise Him
Rock of Ages (chorus, not hymn)
I Stand in Awe
Closing: Show Me Your Ways (Hillsong)

Simple by Rob Morgan - Baptism Part 2

I think chapter 4 - Why Should I Get Wet? - has been my favorite so far. Rob deals with 9 Questions about Baptism.

1. What Am I Saying Through Baptism?

You are identifying with ChristYou have been washed from your sinsYou have been united with the body of ChristYou have decided to live a separated lifeThis chapter would be great to share with someone considering baptism. The answers to the first question will help people get a grasp on just what they are telling others through their baptism.2. Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
Short Answer: No. But I love how Rob Says that though baptism is not necessary, it is not optional either. Why is it that the Baptists are the ones who sometimes seem to de-emphasize the importance of baptism?

3. Is Immersion the Only Form of Baptism?
Rob doesn't specifically answer this question with a yes or no. He says that immersion is the "preferred" form of baptism. When you see how baptism represents the gospel - the death, burial, and resurrec…

Afraid of Change

It's amazing what happens when Jesus comes into the picture...

Mark 5:15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
This community sees one of the most amazing examples of life-change in history, and instead of feeling joy for this man, they are afraid of Jesus. When Jesus comes into lives, he will bring tremendous change. This passage is a reminder that people don't always respond positively to that change.

But we should follow the…

Atonement - Questions or Answers?

We've been discussing the atonment of Christ on Wednesday Evenings in Romans chapter 3. Here is a video clip from ER that is moving pretty rapidly around the blogosphere. So I'll add to the fury...

What do you think?

I hope he finds the beautiful feet of a gospel-bearing chaplain. But I'm afraid that in the show he does not.

Music Tuesday - Chris Truett

A friend of mine from college, Chris Truett, sent me an email with some book recommendations and also his church's setlist from this past week. He does an excellent job leading worship for our National Association and serves at Bethel Free Will Baptist Church in North Carolina. Here are his suggestions and setlist...
BTW - Great book I'm reading right now!!! "When God Comes To Church" -Steve Gaines (Pastor of Bellvue Baptist Church in Memphis) A MUST READ!!!!

The BEST book on worship right now that is in ALL the seminaries is "Engaging with God" by David Peterson

Here are 3 of my set lists from Sunday:
1 Let The Redeemed
He Has Made Me Glad

2 And Can It Be (Choir on chorus only)
Come Into His Presence
Sing To The King
Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone
Grace (trpt solo v. 1)

3 Only A God Like You
In the Presence of Jehovah
Oh, To Be In Your PresenceThanks for sharing this Chris.

If any of you other worship leaders want to share your setlists from time to tim…

Music Tuesday - Led Like a Lamb

One of my favorite websites for learning new music is Vineyard's Songteach. You can download instructional videos that teach you how to play the songs, and they have chord charts for every song they teach through the videos. And of course it is all free! It doesn't get much better than this.

This past week they came out with a new song entitled Led Like a Lamb. After you sign into the website, you can watch the video. You can download the chord chart here . There is also a free .mp3 of the song, but I didn't like the mp3 as much as I liked the video. If you want, you can download the video, the mp3 and the chord chart all in one resource pack.

Tuesday Giveaway:
This week it's your choice. Since this mp3 is already free, let me know if there is another song you like and the first person to email me will receive and iTunes gift song. If you need some recommendations, here are some vineyard songs I really like...

Hungry - Rachel Milstead
Sweetly Broken - Jeremy Riddle

Why On Earth Would I Want To Go To Heaven?

I'm really excited about our next series. I'm going to be using N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope, and Randy Alcorn's Heaven (you can get the book summary for Heaven here) to help me deliver this series of messages. I've really enjoyed Scot Mcknight's review of N.T. Wright's book on Please pray for this series that God will use it to impact our church and our community. Here's the initial graphic.

If you have any ideas about how to enhance this, let me know.

Guitar Hero

I was able to try Guitar Hero for the first time in my life this week. My friend J.D. introduced it to me and he is unbelieveable on this thing. I made it through a few levels and I was addicted. It's not really anything like a real guitar, but it is a ton of fun.

I didn't care too much for most of the imagery. Maybe someone can come out with "Praise Band" for Guitar Hero. :)

I have to admit I had one of those surreal moments when you know that your doing something that will be one of those things that categorizes a certain decade. Remember Rubik's Cube, or Intellivision?

No Power, Just Praise.

This weekend I added a new blog from Collide Magazine to my reader. In one of the articles they discussed the local church service and its dependence upon electricity. Well today it happened, the power cycled off and on about 5 or 6 times.
The first time we were singing "How Great is Our God" with mics, electric guitars, and Easy Worship projecting the words. When the power went out we just kept singing. It was one of those aha! moments when you realize that you don't need all of the "extras" to glorify your Maker.
The power cycled back on at the end of the song, so we went with it. As I hit the last chord on the electric guitar the power went away again, and cycled back on again. My pedal reset to the 1 setting which is a crunchy loud distorted sound. I kind of let it ring out and then just smiled and everyone laughed. (We usually don't have much "crunch" in our service)
The power cycled back off and on again while we had our soldier who was back …

Bible Text Clouds

Bible Text Clouds.

This is a really great idea. Tag clouds are ways of visualizing the frequency of tags and keywords on particular sites. Text clouds is a way of measuring the frequency of text in a particular document. Craig Goodwin (I found this through started putting some Bible texts into and came up with some great visualizations of text frequencies in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John & Romans.

I gave this a shot with 1 John from the NIV. (If you are viewing this page in a reader, you may need to visit this link to actually see the graphics.)
antichristanyoneappearedbeginningbelievebloodbornbrotherchildrenchristcomescommandscompletedarknessdeardeatheternaleveryoneevilfatherfriendsgivengodhatesheardheartsjesusknownleadliarlifelightliveslovemanobeyovercomeremainsrighteousseensinsonspirittestimonytruetruthwalkwaterwhoeverworld created at
You can also show the frequencies if you like...

Links of the Week - February 16th

Tons of great posts this week. But before we get to the links, I still have 2 songs to give away from the Passion Album if anyone wants one of them. They will disappear on Tuesday if no one claims them!Jon Leeman thinks Piper should meet U2...Jake found this post about some really cool structures being built around the globe. Some of these ideas are simply amazing!Kruse says prices are going down not up...Mr. Conn points out that my favorite Bible software is going online. You can check out the beta at http://beta.e-sword.netGilbert really is on a roll with the music posts. These questions are great! (By way of JT from Between Two Worlds)Mahaney discusses Rob Bell and a Pastor's Discernment. I have shown some Nooma videos in our church and I will probably show some more, but they usually come with a disclaimer. Rob Bell is one of the most intriguing speakers of our time. But his focus on the here and now over and above the hope of heaven has been troubling me lately.Pasto…

Forgetting Evil Men

The NIU tragedy touches so many emotions in me. I'm angry, confused, sympathetic, wishing to make things better. In yesterday's reading I find some words that bring comfort, but also make me ask some questions too.
Psalm 34: 5 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hearsand delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
David says the Lord is against evil men to cut off the memory of them from the ea…

Friday is for Photos - John Deere Green.

A Field of Cake
(Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture)

My nephew is currently in his John Deere phase. He loves everything John Deere. We had the privilege of attending his birthday party a few weeks ago and I couldn't take my eyes off of the cake. It may not be Ace of Cakes, but this is one of the better theme cakes that I have ever seen. And it tasted good too!

Here's a sky view of the farm...

Fair Minded Words

The following quote is from an address from Barack Obama entitled the Call to Renewal from June of 2006. The article is very long, but quite interesting. It goes along with my Pro-life and voting for Obama post.
"Congratulations on your overwhelming and inspiring primary win. I was happy to vote for you, and I will tell you that I am seriously considering voting for you in the general election. I write to express my concerns that may, in the end, prevent me from supporting you."

The doctor described himself as a Christian who understood his commitments to be "totalizing." His faith led him to a strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage, although he said that his faith also led him to question the idolatry of the free market and quick resort to militarism that seemed to characterize much of the Republican agenda.

But the reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had pos…

Dead Men Walking

Here's a passage in the New Testament that we don't often hear much about...
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
What do we know about these that were raised after the resurrection of Christ? I have lots of questions...

1. Did they receive new bodies?
2. Did they ascend into heaven when Christ ascended?
3. Why were only some of the saints raised?
4. Why is Matthew the only one who mentions this?

Simple by Rob Morgan - Baptism Part 1

In our ABC's of Simple B=Baptism and this chapter was insightful. Here are a few of the highlights...

Baptize or Baptism occurs 100 times in the New Testament. It's a frequent subject. Rob begins with some of the origins of baptism and tells us that mikvahs were around even before the traditions of John the Baptist.

Jesus, the only person in the history of the world who didn't need cleansing from sin, was baptized. After the baptism of our Lord, the gospels don't really mention it again until the Great Commission. There we are commanded to go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Rob also shares the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch.

He then proceeds to tell us that the Bible tells us 3 things about baptism. It is biblical, basic and beneficial. He asks the question, "Why did Jesus not select some other symbol?" His answer... There is only one real baptism.

There is Only One Real Baptism
The one real baptism he is sp…