Friday, August 29, 2008

The Best...Interview

Last week I introduced you to the best book I read this summer. I thought I'd continue that theme with the best recorded interview I heard this summer. It's a Q & A session with CJ Mahaney (of Soverieign Grace Ministries) and his wife Carolyn reflecting on Christian parenting priorities which put the gospel of Christ's grace first. Lord willing you'll benefit from this interview as much as Terri and I have.

Click HERE to listen!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Best...Book

The summer is quickly coming to a close, but before it does I'd like to recommend to you the best book I've read in recent months: Stephen Nichols' Jesus, Made in America.
Nichols deftly takes us on a 400 year tour through American history, revealing how the general populous thought of, responded to and 'used' Jesus at various key points along the way. It is a tragic story which begins with a God-glorifying, biblically grounded view of Christ by the New England Puritans of the 17th century but ends in our own day with the wholesale highjacking of Jesus by Christian retailers, political activists, evangelistic film makers and the Christian music industry.
Using his skills as a professional historian and keen cultural analyist, Nichols conclusively topples, among others, the popular notions that our nation was founded upon the Christ of the Bible, that Veggie Tales presents an accurate Christology or that wearing Christian clothing and jewelry (or promoting Christian music or movies for that matter) makes for a church where Jesus is truly understood and worshipped and the true gospel is extended compelling the world to follow Him.
The upshot of the Jesus subculture we've made as American evangelicals is a trivialized Christ, a manipulated God and the creation of a Savior who itches us where we scratch rather than the God of the Bible Who brings us to our knees in repentance, hope and worship. If the American Christian ghetto has ever left you mesmerized or cynical due to its consumer-driven hypocrisy and obsession with 'cutting edge Christian culture,' then this book could prove a healing agent of hope in your life. On the other hand, if you happen to be one of the many Christians who swims so deeply in our evangelical subculture that you assume all its trappings are God-honoring and good, then perhaps you need Nichols' book most of all.
Will the real Jesus (not the 'American Jesus') please stand up! This book carefully, graciously and biblically helps us find Him in the crowd.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Trinity From Hell...In Us

[Truly] Trinitarian thinking/praying before Holy Scripture cultivates a stance and attitude that submits to being comprehensively formed by God in the way God comprehensively and personally reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Holy Scriptures.

The alternative to that is taking charge of our own formation...a divine self in charge of myself...[where] the three-personal Father, Son and Holy Spirit is replaced by a very individualized personal Trinity of my Holy Wants, my Holy Needs and my Holy Feelings.... My needs are non-negotiable. My so-called rights, defined individually, are fundamental to my identity.... My wants are evidence of my expanding sense of kingdom. I train myself to think big because I am big, important, significant. I am larger than life and so require more and more goods and services, more things and more power. Consumption and acquisition are the new fruits of the Spirit. My feelings are the truth of who I am. Any thing or person who can provide me with ecstasy, excitement, joy, with stimulus, with spiritual connection validates my sovereignty....

We might suppose that the preaching of this new Trinitarian religion poses no great threat to people who are baptized in the threefold name of the Trinity...and daily get out of bed to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.... But this rival sovereignty is couched in such spiritual language, and we are so easily convinced of our own spiritual sovereignty...and the new Trinity doesn't get rid of God or the Bible, it merely puts them to the service of needs, wants and feelings.

What has become devastatingly clear in our day is that the core reality of the Christian community, the sovereignty of God revealing Himself in three persons, is contested and undermined by virtually everything we learn in our schooling, everything presented to us in the media, every social, workplace and political expectation directed our way as the experts assure us of the sovereignty of self.... And don't we still attend Bible studies and read our assigned verse or chapter each day? As we are relentlessly encouraged to consult our needs and dreams and preferences, we hardly notice the shift from what we have so long professed to believe.

- Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, pp. 33-34

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here's the church, here's the steeple...

I recently read that the reason church attendance is declining in some churches is because those who attend on a regular basis are not inviting their friends, neighbors and family members.

What do you think? If we are not inviting people to church - who is? Who or what are we relying on to bring people through the doors of our church?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nature-Deficit Disorder

In less than two weeks I will be heading off into the great outdoors of Glacier National Park for a time of retreat. I enjoy backpacking, hiking and anything else that has to do with mountains. I have jokingly said that my responsibility as a father is to teach my boys what to like at an early age. Out of responsibility I am trying to teach them how to enjoy backpacking, hiking and anything that has to do with mountains. They will come around eventually.

All joking aside - I do believe it is my responsibility as a father to train our boys to enjoy God's good creation. This happens best in the context of being out in God's good creation. I don't want our boys to grow up with the understanding that all good and fun things happen inside with electricity.

Albert Mohler recently wrote on this topic. He says

The troubling development is that many children never play outside. They prefer to play computer games, surf the Internet, or update their Facebook pages. Their parents are increasingly afraid to let them play outside, scared by the constant barrage of news stories about crimes against children. These children and teenagers are accustomed to air conditioning, sophisticated entertainments, and lack of physical activity. They are aliens in the outside world...

...God reveals His glory in creation. How can we read the Psalms with insight if we never look and see that the heavens really are telling the glory of God? Something precious is lost when children -- or adults -- are alienated from the created world. This choice for alienation is a choice to cut ourselves off from what God has given us to enjoy and to appreciate.

Here's some good news. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to provide your children with experiences in nature and outdoor play. Just open the door and point them into the back yard or take them to a local park. Take a walk in the woods or go fishing in the lake. Go where the light does not obscure and see the wonder of the night sky.

Who knows? Your children just might forget to look for the nearest electrical outlet.

So here is my challenge. Go outside. Stay outside. Enjoy, or learn to enjoy being outside and worship God for His unique work of creation!