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Showing posts from August, 2009

Tour the temple mount

Have you always wanted to travel to Jerusalem and see where the temple once stood? Here's the next best thing (and much cheaper). A virtual tour of the temple mount.

Todd Bolen writes, "The creators did a fantastic job with this. The photography is superb, the narration is helpful, and the location is one of the most religiously (and politically) important in the world." He notes the focus of the tour is on the Islamic structures presently on the mount, though the tour does not deny the earlier existence of the Jewish temple, porticoes, etc.

When I had the privilege of studying and traveling in Israel nearly 10 years ago with the IBEX program, I journaled about my experience on the temple mount:

We then made our way to the present day Temple Mount, which is only open to the general public a couple hours a day. Due to the Arab presence, we were instructed to keep our Bibles in our backpacks. In the south of the large courtyard was the El-Aqsa Mosque, and further to the nort…

The irony of the cross

He hell, in hell, laid low;Made sin, He sin o’erthrew;Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,And death, by dying, slew.*Poem by S. W. Gandy, cited in D. A. Carson’s commentary, The Gospel According to John, p. 622.

Loving the cantankerous people

Jim Eliff shares some good thoughts on why love is the proper way to handle the “cantankerous” people in our church:Love is the highest mark of maturity. Love is the perfect bond of unity (Col. 3:14) Love is the way of blessing because it is grounded in humility (Phil. 2:3-4) Love is the reasonable return for what God has given you (Col. 3:13) How should we love this kind of person practically? Eliff offers four ways:Invite him to your home. Try to find out what drives him. Within reason, give him some servant responsibility. Confront him if he continues to cause problems. You can read the whole article here.(As a side note, Eliff’s ministry, Christian Communicators Worldwide, is currently offering a free book to seminary students and first-time pastors. See below.)We occasionally like to give away resources to seminary students and first time pastors. Students or first time pastors may currently ask for one of the following: Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View, OR Wasted Faith,…

Obama-Antichrist video

Many of you have probably seen this video, connecting Barack Obama with the Antichrist. I’ve had two people in the last week ask me about it, so here’s my response:The biggest problem is equating Satan (Lk. 10:18) with the Antichrist. These are two different people, not the same (See Rev. 13:2) This should make us immediately question the integrity of the rest of the video. Another problem is that Jesus explicitly told us the end would come unexpectedly (Mark 13:32-33). He would not have disclosed any specific details, even encrypted, to tell us when it’s about to appear.It elevates the oral, speculative words of Christ above the inspired, written word of Christ. The NT was not written in Aramaic. (We don’t even know for sure that Jesus spoke regularly in Aramaic. He may have chosen to teach in the more cosmopolitan language of Greek.) It is highly speculative to assert what Jesus would have said in Aramaic, and then to draw conclusions from this. It opens up a Pandora’s box of hermen…

Book review – The Back of the Napkin

Have you ever wrestled with a subject that was hard to understand or explain? Maybe it was a concept in school, a project at work, or even a matter of theology. Visual thinking may have been just the tool you needed.Dan Roam introduces us to visual thinking in his excellent little book The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures. Say goodbye to clumsy PowerPoint slides, complicated spreadsheets, and endless bullet point lists. It’s time to return to the good old-fashioned pencil and paper or whiteboard.In The Back of the Napkin, Roam opens with a series of intriguing questions…What if there was a way to more quickly look at problems, more intuitively understand them, more confidently address them, and more rapidly convey to others what we’ve discovered? What if there was a way to make business problem solving more efficient, more effective, and – as much as I hate to say it – perhaps even a bit more fun? There is. It’s called visual thinking, and it’s wha…

Christ’s faithful care

Last Sunday, in our study of John 19:23-27, we met nine eyewitnesses to the murder of Jesus and learned an important lesson about Christ’s care for us.Four soldiers (Jn. 19:23-25). These men were carrying out orders and dividing the spoils of their victim. But in their morbid game of lots, John tells us they were fulfilling the prophetic words of David written 1,000 years earlier (Ps. 22:18). Even a detail as trivial as the casting of lots for a tunic was foretold by God. Matthew 27:54 tells us that these men later admitted truly this was the Son of God! Four ladies (Jn. 19:25). Jesus mother, aunt, Mary wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were all present on the dreadful day Christ died. Their love for Christ overshadowed any fear they may have felt by staying near Him and incriminating themselves. A new son (Jn. 19:26-27). John concludes this section with a personal testimony about his own memory of that day. Jesus had looked him in the eye and entrusted Mary to him. And he was adopte…

Collision – the movie

An upcoming movie called Collision looks to be an excellent introduction to philosophy and apologetics. It traces a series of debates between Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson. Both men show respect for one another while defending antithetical beliefs.But this is no ordinary documentary. It is apologetics on steroids. The smart editing and lively sound score make it a movie even many teenagers will enjoy - and need to see.
From the Collision website:The documentary COLLISION pits leading atheist, political journalist and author Christopher Hitchens ("God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything") against fellow author and evangelical theologian Pastor Douglas Wilson on a debate tour arguing the topic “Is Religion Good For The World?”. Lives and worldviews collide as Hitchens and Wilson wittily and passionately argue the timeless question, proving to be perfectly matched intellectual, philosophical, and cinematic rivals. COLLISION is directed by prolific independen…

A note to those who reject organized religion

“I believe in God, but not in organized religion.” I can't tell you how many times I've heard that statement. And in a way, I can't blame the people who say it.

If, by “religion,” you mean a cold list of duties and ceremonies, I completely agree. This kind of religion is despicable. In fact, Jesus reserved His strongest words for the outwardly “religious” people of His day: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). These religious leaders knew how to act and talk and worship a certain way, but their hearts were proud and self-righteous. They didn't love God. And needless to say, their good works didn’t impress Him either.

However, if by “religion,” you mean a system of beliefs, then the fact is, everyone has a religion. Everyone believes something about God; why we are here; how we determine right from wrong; w…

Where are all the men?

Look around you on an average Sunday morning. You'll probably notice a disproportionate number of women. Who is singing in the choir? Who is helping in the children's ministry? Who is stepping onto the mission field? More often than not, it's the women. To be sure, I praise the Lord for these women, but men, where are you?? Even as I think of counseling issues and spiritual lethargy in homes, most problems stem from a lack of male leadership. Gender Blog reports today on the urgent need for male leadership in our homes and churches...
While the influence of evangelical feminism is harmful, John Piper helpfully points out that there is an even greater danger lurking in most evangelical churches and homes - men abdicating their responsibility to lead. If I were to put my finger on one devastating sin today, it would not be the so-called women's movement, but the lack of spiritual leadership by men at home and in the church. Satan has achieved an amazing tactical victory …

Many sides to health care debate

Here's an article by Fox News I found helpful in understanding the different sides of the national health care debate. It will be quite a challenge to find any true bipartisanship among such opposing views:

Liberals -- They insist that a government-run health insurance plan, or "public option," that will compete with private insurers is essential to health care reform.

Blue Dogs -- These fiscally conservative Democrats are concerned about the costs of overhauling the health care system and the potential harm it could have on small businesses.

Gang of Six -- This group of bipartisan lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee is trying to forge a consensus deal that will appease both political parties and pass a divided Senate.

Conservatives -- All of them are opposed to a "public option," saying it will lead to a government takeover of health care because private insurers will be unable to compete.

Health care industry leaders: They want health care …

Mohler on the future of the SBC

Al Mohler held a forum this morning at Southern Seminary on the "Future of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Mohler observed that the world has changed dramatically in the last 60 years, and that the SBC is at a crossroads. If we continue to embrace a corporate mentality, the SBC will quickly become extinct. But if we return to a more biblical model of doing church, our brightest days may lie ahead. The Great Commission Task Force has been given a unique opportunity to talk about denominational structure and efficiency, but this conversation must be founded upon a strong theology and unflagging commitment to the Great Commission.

Here are my full notes from his message:

The President's Forum on the Future of the SBC
Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary
August 19, 2009

Introduction
What does it mean to be a Southern Baptist in the 21st century?
First, an expression of gratitude to all those who have been faithful over the years, and to all those who have been giving, praying…

Free copy of Finally Alive

Logos is giving away John Piper's book Finally Alive in Libronix format for FREE.
As we were thinking of ways to promote the John Piper issue, we discussed giving away a free download of Finally Alive for Logos Bible Software to everyone who subscribed this month. The more we thought about the book and John Piper’s commitment to make as many of his resources available for free as possible, we decided to give it away to everyone, not just to those who subscribe. This book is a brand new addition to the Logos format, and you get to be one of the first to receive it! Be sure to download it now, because this offer will expire September 14, 2009. While we hope that you enjoy this free book and the above copy of John Piper’s cover story, we also hope that you will subscribe to Bible Study Magazine and receive an entire year’s worth of great Bible study articles and resources.Click here to download the book in Libronix format.

In case you're not aware, all of Piper's books can be d…

Harvey Milk day

Baptist Press recently reported the following:
California lawmakers are discussing the possibility of setting aside May 22 each year as a "day of special significance" honoring Harvey Milk, an openly homosexual San Francisco alderman whose murder in 1978 made him an icon of the "gay rights" movement.

While the observance would not be an official holiday, the bill encourages schools to teach about Milk's legacy -- a fact that hasn't escaped California citizens concerned about the agenda homosexual activists have for California public schools. The proposal would not require parental consent for mandatory student participation.

The text of SB 572 states: "On Harvey Milk Day, exercises remembering the life of Harvey Milk and recognizing his accomplishments as well as the contributions he made to this state" should be conducted; specifically, "all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe ... and ... conduct suitable comme…

An urgent plea to protect life

Here's a short film that links the reasoning behind abortion with both slavery and antiSemitism. All three of these tragic movements have exalted the "choice" and "convenience" of a superior race against those who were considered sub-human. But something within us says this is terribly wrong.

The film is not graphic, but the mature theme makes it inappropriate for young children. I was moved to tears as I watched and realized afresh how urgent the pro-life movement is.

Every boy and girl, man and woman, born or unborn, is created in God’s image and should be vigorously protected (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; Ex. 20:13). Yet just yesterday, I read an article that reported Obama wants to redirect 100 million dollars away from abstinence programs to fund erotic sex education for young teens. This will surely lead to only more abortions. God have mercy.

Never too early to teach gender roles

Courtney Reissig has a good article over at the CBMW blog today. Even Sunday School teachers need to begin instilling within boys and girls an appreciation for their distinct identity and roles as male and female.
When we walk down the halls of our church we need to know that the authority of the Bible is at stake in our Sunday school classrooms. What we teach the next generation about God should include what he says about who he made them to be. When you are teaching the creation story to children, I encourage you not to gloss over the fact that there is a man and a woman being created by God with different roles to play. When you are closing your time with your class, you can teach the little ones to thank God that he made them as little boys and little girls—and that these genders are not interchangeable. If you are a parent, you can be working even now to train your little boys to protect little girls, not react against them. And you can teach your little girls that it is good tha…

Norman Geisler library at a ridiculous price

Now through August 19, you can buy the entire Norman Geisler Library on Libronix for only $22.95 (90% off the list price, $7 off the normal Rejoice Software price).

This set includes the following volumes:
Answering IslamBaker Encyclopedia of Christian ApologeticsChristian ApologeticsCome, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical ThinkingIntroduction to Philosophy: A Christian PerspectiveMiracles and the Modern Mind: A Defense of Biblical MiraclesRoman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and DifferencesWhen Critics Ask: A Handbook of Bible DifficultiesWhen Cultists Ask: A Handbook on Cultic MisinterpretationsWhen Skeptics Ask: A Handbook of Christian EvidencesWhy I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They BelieveWorlds Apart: A Handbook on World ViewsJust the Encyclopedia of Apologetics alone sells for $34 at Amazon.

Click here if you would like to add to your cart with the discount.

I hope this new "fad" catches on!

David Platt is the 30 year old pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, a growing congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. He was recently interviewed by Collin Hansen in Christianity Today, and his remarks are very encouraging. It's obvious from his sermons and from this interview that Platt loves the Word of God, and that many young people are hungry for it.
Hansen: All good evangelicals affirm the centrality of the Word. Still, we have a severe problem of biblical illiteracy. How do we go from knowing the Word is important to knowing what the Word actually says?Platt: [Churches] have severely dumbed down the Word, and shown a lack of trust in the sufficiency of the Word in the way we preach. We find it necessary to supplement it with entertaining stories and quips or good practical advice for living the Christian life that are not based in the Word. This deficiency transfers into people content with a little "Word for the Day," in a devotional book at best, as opposed to deep …

Faithfulness and the Kingdom

On Sunday, we concluded a four-week study on the Kingdom of God. Having already seen that Christ postponed His earthly reign and will be coming again soon, we asked three very important questions:
What will you do in the Kingdom? Not only will believers be citizens of Christ's kingdom (John 3:3), but you will actually reign together with Christ! (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6; Dan. 7:27) The Bible indicates you will rule over people, over towns, over nations. There will be learning and building and law-making and innovation. As Randy Alcorn says, "All of us will have some responsibility in which we serve God...We think that faithful work should be rewarded by a vacation for the rest of our lives. But God offers something very different: more work, more responsibilities, increased opportunities, along with greater abilities, resources, wisdom, and empowerment. We will have sharp minds, strong bodies, clear purpose, and unabated joy." (see Alcorn, Heaven, chs. 20-22)
How should you…

Failure to count the cost

Why are there 16 million registered members in the SBC, yet only 6 million can found in our churches on Sunday? I believe many of these members responded to an "easy believism" gospel invitation, but sadly, they never truly counted the cost of becoming a disciple of Christ.

Jesus warns, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Lk. 14:27-28).

Over 100 years ago, J. C. Ryle described this tragic phenomenon:
For want of counting the cost, the hearers of powerful evangelical preachers often come to miserable ends. They are stirred and excited into professing what they have not really experienced. They receive the Word with a “joy” so extravagant that it almost startles old Christians. They run for a time with such zeal and fervor that they seem likely to outstrip all others. They talk and …

Scenes from Afghanistan

I found this photo journal of the war in Afghanistan very interesting. Our troops and allies are facing some unique challenges there. Michael Yon seems to be doing a good job of reporting on a war the mainstream media has largely ignored.

Here's an excerpt:
RPGs are small, cheap and can defeat most vehicles other than our most heavily armored. In the race between armor and bomb, the bomb eventually always wins. This has been true for centuries and shows no signs of changing. In the Sangin area, we are better on foot wearing only body armor. British citizens today are concerned about the same things that Americans were concerned about during the early phases of the Iraq war: armor. Fact is, we can drive down these roads in the best tanks in the world, and be blown upside-down on and set ablaze. The enemy is increasingly good at blowing vehicles into ditches or rivers to drown the occupants. They did this to the Soviets, too. In many places, such as Sangin, the roads can be a …

Adoption resources

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27
In this culture of death, I see a growing effort by Christians to celebrate life and care for the worthy poor. Here are some great resources on adoption:
ABBA fund assists Christian families with adopting and help churches establish funds
Financial assistance for adoptionOrphan Care OrganizationsAdopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Dr. Russell MooreTogether for Adoption Conference, Franklin, TN, Oct 2-3rd, 2009You can read more on adoption by Justin Kovacs here.HT: Jeff Mooney

New GCR website has launched

The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recently launched a new website, prayforgcr.com. I encourage you to pray regularly for this team and for the Holy Spirit's awakening in each of our churches. No amount of meetings can bring success if we do not humbly seek the Lord's face and find His blessing.

On the site, the task force explains why a "Great Commission Resurgence" is needed for such a time as this:
The churches of the Southern Baptist Convention are yearning for a new day of Great Commission awakening and commitment. They sense both a need and a rare opportunity to come together to reclaim the missional vision that brought us together from the first.A new generation of Southern Baptists is ready for deployment in the service of the Great Commission – and waiting to see if Southern Baptists are ready to send, support, and propel this generation out to the nations. Will we do what it takes to send those God is calling?Many of our churches –- perhaps 70% — are …

A frightening thought

"It's frightening to think about how many people have not tasted the goodness of God and his salvation, not because Christians have not had opportunity to share, but because we have been so shallow in what we did share."

- Thabiti Anyabwile, What Is a Healthy Church Member?, chapter 5.

The Kingdom of God in the New Testament

Two weeks ago, I preached a survey of the entire Old Testament and showed that its unifying theme is the Mediatorial Kingdom of God. But does this theme also appear in the New Testament? Indeed it does, as we saw together on Sunday.

I believe the New Testament reveals three stages to the kingdom:
The Kingdom is Presented (Matt. 3:2; 4:23-24; 10:5-8). With the arrival of the promised Messiah, the establishment of His Kingdom was immanent. John, the disciples, and Jesus Himself all announced that the King had come, and called the people to repent and embrace their Messiah. Throughout His teaching and miracles, Jesus affirmed the exact same aspects of the Kingdom foretold in the Old Testament: spiritual, moral, social, religious, political, and physical. In sections like the Sermon on the Mount, He certainly emphasized the spiritual realities of His kingdom, but He never redefined the kingdom as something exclusively spiritual. He was building on all the Old Testament had already revealed …

Jews begin work on bronze altar

You may not have heard about this, but a group of Jews called the Temple Institute have been diligently working for the last three decades to reconstruct all the furniture for the Temple. (I actually got to see the menorah when I visited Israel ten years ago.) Their hope is to one day rebuild the temple and reestablish sacrifices. Hmmm. Sounds like something I read in Revelation.
The Temple Institute will begin building the sacrificial altar on Thursday, Tisha B’av, a fast day when Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple some 2,000 years ago.The sacrificial altar was located in the center of the Temple, and upon it the Kohanim (priests) offered the numerous voluntary and obligatory sacrifices commanded in the Bible.The Temple Institute, which has already built many of the vessels for the Holy Temple, such as the ark and the menorah, has now embarked on a project to build the altar. Construction begins Thursday in Mitzpe Yericho (east of Jerusalem) at 5:30 p.m. “Unfortunately, we canno…