Monday, November 30, 2009

Why New Yorkers Are Flocking To Hear Keller

New York Magazine recently put out a pretty good article on Tim Keller entitled Why Are So Many New Yorkers Flocking to Evangelical Christian Preacher Tim Keller?. Here's a couple of paragraphs from the beginning:
Keller is a 59-year-old bald, large-framed man, dressed today in a blue blazer and gray slacks. For those expecting hellfire and brimstone, the first surprise is the voice. Keller doesn’t speak in theatrical, over-the-top tones but in a soft, conversational manner, as if he’s sharing a confidence with a friend. For today’s sermon on a passage from the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk, in which a minor Jewish prophet rails about the misery brought on by the Babylonians in the seventh century B.C., Keller jumps to the recession and what he sees as shameful finger-pointing by both liberals and conservatives. “The Bible doesn’t let you do that,” Keller intones from the pulpit. “The Bible is nowhere near as simplistic, dare I say it, as either the New York Times’ or The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. You can write that down. Put it on your blog, I don’t care.”

Now Keller takes Habakkuk’s rap against the Babylonians—their “need to clothe themselves with glory”—and aims it straight back at his ambitious, striving Upper West Side congregation. He notes that tennis legend Chris Evert once admitted in an interview that she was driven to win because “winning made her feel pretty” and that Madonna confessed she felt special only when she was breaking through to new levels of fame. Whether we’re athletes, artists, businesspeople, or preachers, Keller says, we all suffer from the same malady—trying to fill our empty spaces with achievement when only accepting God’s grace can do the job. “We want to feel beautiful, we want to feel loved. We want to feel significant and that’s why we’re working so hard and that’s the source of the evil.” In another sermon, on another Sunday, he asks the congregation point-blank: “Why are you in New York? Deep down, you think something is wrong with you."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trusting in God's Wisdom Brings Rest to our Hearts

A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God, "The Wisdom of God", p.63:
"To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.

There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him. Here is His promise:'And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.'"
I picked up this book again this past weekend. These words were very timely. I insist often on seeing what's in front of me. Whether I see clearly or through a fog, I often worry and fear what's in the future. My heart is often in a state of unrest because I do not trust my heavenly Father's provision in my life.

The last part of the quote comes from Isaiah 42:16. This verse meant a lot to me my 5th year of college as I was approaching graduation. As I faced uncertainty about what I would be doing when I graduated, I held on to the truth that God will not forsake me and will lead me where He wants me to go. These verses again resonate with me as I wrestle with God over what He has for me tomorrow, next week, and in 50 years. And it's in His perfect wisdom that I find rest.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rapping the Story of the Bible

I posted a video about a year ago of Shai Linne bringing the gospel in an incredible way through rap. Here's another video of him at the WorshipGod conference doing a rap of the story of the Bible in four mintues:

And here are the lyrics:

It’s the greatest story ever told.
A God pursues foes whose hearts turned cold.
The greatest story ever told.
Restoring all that the enemy stole.
The greatest story ever told.
The glory of Christ is the goal, behold.
The greatest story ever told.
It’s the greatest.

Alright check it: let’s go back in time, brethren. Divine lessons always keep your mind guessing. The glory of the Triune God is what I’m stressing. The origin of humankind was fine. Blessings were plenteous. God is amazingly generous. Crazy benefits in a state of innocence. God told the man what he could taste was limited. Not long after came our nemesis in Genesis. He scammed well, man fell, damned to hell. The whole human race—he represented it. Fooled by the serpent, man through his work, woman through birth—even the earth ruled by the curses. But instead of a wake immediately. God said her Seed would be the One to crush the head of the snake. Yo, wait what is this? Whoa, a gracious gift! In Jehovah’s faithfulness He clothed their nakedness. This was so they would know their Savior’s kiss and bliss. But first, many growing pains exist suffering in the worst form, ugly deeds. Eve’s firstborn seed made his brother bleed. Indeed things got progressively worse. Every section of the earth is been affected by the curse. And though God’s judgments against sin were gory, praise the Lord! It’s not the end of the story.

Next scene: man’s sin was extreme. God gets steamed, man gets creamed. The Lord is so Holy that He drowned them in the water. Fire in the valley of slaughter – Sodom and Gomorrah. But at the same time, He’s so gracious and patient that from one man He created a whole nation. Eventually enslaved by the mentally depraved, they cried out to the only One with the strength that He could save. He brought them out with signs and wonders – satisfied their hunger. Then He appeared on Mount Sinai in thunder. Where He laid down the law for God-ruled government. Commonly referred to as the Mosaic covenant. Sin was imputed. So for man to know he’s unrighteous, God instituted animal sacrifices. This was to show our constant need for atonement. And when it came to sin, the Lord would never condone it. And when His people disobeyed and went astray, He raised up prophets and kings to lead them in the way. But they would get foul with their idolatry—wet and wild prophecy—send them into exile. To take their punishment like a grown man. Then with His own hand He placed them back in their homeland. And while in their forefather’s land they dwelt, they awaited the arrival of Emmanuel.

After 400 silent years filled with sighs and tears. In Bethlehem the Messiah appears. God in the flesh—Second Person of the Trinity. At thirty begins His earthly ministry. Baffling cats with accurate, exact facts and back-to-back miraculous acts. A stumbling block to the self righteous. But the humbled—His flock, said “There’s no one else like this.” He came from heaven to awake the numb. Demonstrated His power over nature, son. A foretaste of the Kingdom and the age to come. But the reason He came was to pay the sum for the depths of our wickedness, our wretched sinfulness. Bless His magnificence! He is perfect and innocent. Yet He was wrecked and His death. He predicted it. Next He was stretched, paid a debt that was infinite. He said that He finished it. Resurrected so the elect would be the recipients of its benefits. Through faith and penitence we get to be intimate. His grace is heaven sent, it never diminishes. Now the Holy Spirit indwelling is the evidence for heaven’s future residents who truly represent Jesus, the Author, Producer, Director, and Star of a story that will never, ever end!

(HT:Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Carson on God, Evil, and Hell

These three short videos are excellent. In them, Don Carson briefly (under 5 minutes) answers three weighty questions:

1. How do I know God exists?
2. How can allow suffering and evil in the world?
3. How can God be loving and send people to hell?

(HT:Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Distracting Ourselves...From Ourselves

Justin Taylor recently posted some great quotes on the subject of diversion and being busy. The first is one from Blaise Pascal, French mathematician turned Christian. He says:
"I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room."
Wow. That is worth reflecting on. How well are you, how well am I able to sit in my room without TV, music, Twitter, Facebook, texting, browsing the internet, etc. and just think? Why are we constantly trying to fill in the gaps of silence in lives?

The second quote is by Peter Kreeft. It comes from a book that he wrote reflecting on the things Pascal had to say. He has some interesting and convicting observations:
"We ought to have much more time, more leisure, than our ancestors did, because technology, which is the most obvious and radical difference between their lives and ours, is essentially a series of time-saving devices.

In ancient societies, if you were rich you had slaves to do the menial work so that you could be freed to enjoy your leisure time. Life was like a vacation for the rich because the poor slaves were their machines. . . .

[But] now that everyone has slave-substitutes (machines), why doesn’t everyone enjoy the leisurely, vacationy lifestyle of the ancient rich? Why have we killed time instead of saving it? . . .

We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hold in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.

So we run around like conscientious little bugs, scared rabbits, dancing attendance on our machines, our slaves, and making them our masters. We think we want peace and silence and freedom and leisure, but deep down we know that this would be unendurable to us, like a dark and empty room without distractions where we would be forced to confront ourselves. . .

If you are typically modern, your life is like a mansion with a terrifying hole right in the middle of the living-room floor. So you paper over the hole with a very busy wallpaper pattern to distract yourself. You find a rhinoceros in the middle of your house. The rhinoceros is wretchedness and death. How in the world can you hide a rhinoceros? Easy: cover it with a million mice. Multiple diversions."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Youth Mentoring

For the last couple of years, my roommate Scott has been a mentor to a young kid whose father passed away several years ago. Check out this video of the two of them talking about their experience. You can find out more about the youth mentoring program at our church here

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Best Movies of the Decade

Here are Paste Magazine's picks for the top 50 best movies of the decade.

And here are their top 10:

10. The Royal Tenebaums
9. No Country For Old Men
8. The Son (Les Fils)
7. Lost in Translation
6. Beau Travail
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
3. Almost Famous
2. Amelie
1. City of God

Like my previous post, I'll probably do my own picks towards the end of the year. Of these 10, I haven't seen #1, #6, #8. And I didn't really like Lost in Translation. The rest are top notch. Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Best Albums of the Decade

I love Paste Magazine. And I love their Lists of the Day. Check out their latest list, the top 50 albums of the decade. Here are their top 10:

10. M.I.A., Arular
9. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
8. Outkast, Stankonia
7. Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
6. The White Stripes, Elephant
5. Bright Eyes, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
4. Radiohead, Kid A
3. Arcade Fire, Funeral
2. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
1. Sufjan Stevens, Come on Feel the Illinoise

I'll probably make a list towards the end of the year for my picks. Sufjan's album might be the only album on this list to make mine. Though #3, #4, #8, and #9 are great albums. What do you think?