Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twittering in Church

There's been a few reactions to Time Magazine's article entitled Twittering in Church, with the Pastor's OK. The article explains how some churches in the US are encouraging their members to twitter during the worship service. By doing this, some pastors agree that it creates a healthy level of community as well as stimulate thought around a specific message that is being preached.

Will Mancini, author and church vision extraordinaire, weighs in here about how he agrees with the usefulness of Twitter in church as well. I know Will through my roommate Roy and between the two of them, they helped me see the usefulness of Twitter in general.

On the other side of response to this article, Josh Harris wrote a blog post of his own that includes six reasons why he would not encourage his people to twitter during the services. Here are those reasons, briefly stated:
1. Playing with my iPhone (or cell phone or Blackberry) during the sermon will likely distract me.

2. Even if I didn't look at anything else, the mere act of "tweeting" some quote or question or thought from the sermon would be several minutes in which I wasn't actively listening to the sermon.

3. The most important thing I can do while I'm sitting under the preaching of God's word is to listen to what God is saying to me. I need to actively engage my heart and mind to receive. Twitter, takes the focus off of hearing and receiving and and makes it broadcasting and sharing.

4. I think we all need to ask what our example says to other people we're worshiping alongside. Can a person look at me during the worship and see from the way I sit, listen and engage that the Bible is worthy of honor, that preaching is valuable?

5. Just because something is incredibly popular in culture doesn't mean we have to accommodate it in our worship...When the church gathers and the Word of God is opened, God himself is speaking again. Everybody else can shut up. Lost people in this world don't need to see that we're current with the latest trend, they need to hear God's unchanging truth. They need to understand that God's word makes a demand on their life.

6. You can tweet about the Sunday service after church.
John Piper also adds to the discussion here. His basic thoughts are:
"...when you are in corporate worship, Worship! There is a difference between communion with God and commenting on communion with God. "
Taking all these thoughts into consideration, I probably will be less likely to use Twitter during a worship service. I can easily see how it can be a distraction for myself as well as for others as I type on my phone during someone preaching God's Word. What do you think about all this?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Every page of the BIble is meant to point us to Christ

One significant idea that I've been learning a lot more about these last few months is how the redemption of Christ is THE central theme running throughout the ENTIRETY of the Bible. If you're a Christian, you might be thinking to yourself that this is obvious. I thought myself that I understood this point as well. But through two main avenues this spring, namely my Systematic Theology class as well as Paul Tripp's book Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, I have become convicted that I really have not fully grasped this idea.

My RTS professor did an outstanding job in my class, showing us that the Bible is not merely a collection of stories interdependent of one another. From the most obscure laws in Torah to the mysterious visions in Revelation, all of Scripture is pointing to the person and work of Jesus Christ. This means the more we understand the obscure, rarely studied portions of the Old Testament, the more we really understand who Jesus was and the significance of what he did. This is meant to have a profound impact to us individually as we grow in the understanding of the beauty of the gospel.

Additionally, through Tripp's book, I have seen the way in which we minister the Word to others should be radically different than the way that I have always been taught. In the 2nd chapter of his book, he says:
"Many Christians simply don't understand what the Bible is. Many think of it as a spiritual encyclopedia: God's complete catalog of human problems, coupled with a complete list of divine answers...What we think of as ministering the Word is little more than a spiritual cut-and-paste system. This kind of ministry rarely leads to lasting change...But a truly effective ministry of the Word must confront our self-focus and self-absorption at its roots, opening us up to the vastness of a God-defined, God-centered world. Unless this happens, we will use the promises, principles, and commands of the Word to serve the thing we really love: ourselves."
I am quite guilty of using God's Word this way, as a spiritual encyclopedia. I love to systematize the verses in order to have a handful ready for unloading on any problem. Although, that's not necessarily bad, if I stop there I miss the big picture. Tripp goes on to say it this way:
"If I handle Scripture topically, I will miss the overarching themes at the heart of everything else God wants to say to me. These themes give me a sense of identity, purpose, and direction that will fundamentally alter the way I think, desire, speak, and act. They will go to the root of my problem, producing change that lasts...Being biblical does not mean merely quoting words from within its pages. Being truly biblical means that my counsel reflects what the entire Bible is about. The Bible is a narrative, a story of redemption, and its chief character is Jesus Christ. He is the main theme of the narrative, and he is revealed in every passage in the book.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Huxley vs. Orwell

Check out this interesting illustration looks at the opposing worldviews of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. I agree with the conclusion, that according to Huxley, we just might be amusing ourselves to death.

(HT:Tim Challies)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Flannery O'Connor shedding light on grace

I started to read selections from "The Complete Stories" by Flannery O'Connor a couple of days ago. I had heard from several different people that her short stories were really good. And I saw Scott had started reading some of her stories as well, so that gave me the last push I needed to begin. A Good Man is Hard to Find" is the first story that I read and I believe is her most famous one. It was indeed a good story and it brought me into a world that I don't really know much about. She wrote in the 1940s and 1950s and it seems most of her stories are about the racial tension of that day.

"Revelation" is one of the stories that I just finished, also dealing with this racial tension. It's about a large white woman named Mrs. Turpin who feels very good about her lot in life. She thanks God that she has a cheery disposition, wants to help others, and that she is not black or is not white trash. After being belittled by a stranger, she rises up in anger and pride. In the midst of this, she sees a vision:
"A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away."
In that moment, Mrs. Turpin realized that her virtuous acts made no difference in heaven. The pride that she felt about being better than other people was met by the grace of God, that strips away every ounce of arrogance of those who believe they deserve to go to heaven. I'm struck by this story, because I think and act like Mrs. Turpin a lot of the time. And it's only by the grace of God that I can be humbled to realize the truth of the gospel, that I deserve only hell, but that by Christ's blood, I have been offered peace with God and true life with Him.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Political sway in movies

Adbusters has an intriguing article analyzing the movie industry and how much politics have to do with the movies that come out. The article focuses on movies like Pearl Harbor, United 93, Australia, and a few others. It mentions how business gurus like Rupert Murdoch have more to do with what movies come out than you might think. Here's the conclusion:
"To understand what might happen if big business interests were less prevalent in the film industry, consider the independent distributor Lions Gate Films. Lions Gate was formed in Canada by an investment banker, but is not beholden to a multi-billion dollar parent corporation with multifarious interests. The result has been some of the most daring and original popular political cinema of the past ten years: American Psycho, which criticized corporate capitalism; Hotel Rwanda, which highlighted the failings of US foreign policy and Lord of War, which focused on the arms trade.

As we peer up from our popcorn, it is worth remembering that behind the magic of the movies lurks the darker power of corporate public relations."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mike Tyson on humility

Mike Tyson was recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live. The interview was pretty interesting. Tyson definitely seems like a different guy than he used to be. He attributes the change to humility and thinking less of himself. I'm not sure if it's Christ wrought humility, but it at least shows how humility affects our lives.

Kimmel comments that over the recent years Tyson seems happier and jollier. Tyson responds:
"I have a great deal of gratitude and I think that put it all in perspective. I'm trying my best, and it's hard, I'm trying not to be so self-absorbed any more. Because when it's all about me, that's when all the problems- when I allow my will to run riot- out here, when it's all about me, when nobody else's feelings matter, that's when it doesn't associate with anything good."
He goes on:
"If I continue to think I'm some great, megalomaniac fighter guy, then I'll fall back into that rut again. I try desperately hard to be humble. Because I'm humble doesn't mean I'm weak by any means. I'm still a man. But I try, because I know when my ego and my being self-absorbed, I know where that will take me, it will take me to a very dark place. I'm really not willing to go there any more. This is the first time in my life where I've been truly responsible to take care of myself"
Check out the video here

Personal ministry

Recently, I've been reading Paul Tripp's book, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands. I've really been helped by it. It stresses the importance of dealing with people's hearts as you minister to them as opposed to behavior modification. I feel like I've understood that concept for a while, but have become convicted that I still focus on outward behaviors when I ask questions and give my own insight to situations. The book also helps me see that people need to see Jesus in me more than just hearing truth from me.

Here's a helpful quote concerning personal ministry:
"Personal ministry is not about always knowing what to say. It is not about fixing everything in sight that is broken. Personal ministry is about connecting people with Christ so that they are able to think as he would have them think, desire what he says is best, and do what he calls them to do even if their circumstances never get 'fixed.' It involves exposing hurt, lost, and confused people to God's glory, so that they give up their pursuit of their own glory and live for his."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting what we don't deserve

My roommate Scott recently posted this blog about his cousin, Autumn. As a single mom, her church decided to step in and provide for her in some pretty incredible ways. I'm not gonna lie, I cried watching it. I know it's because the story is a great picture of the gospel. Jesus lavishes us with blessings and grace that we don't deserve. And if we really understood that, we would weep for joy like Autumn does.

Check out the video:

Greenville from Jiggle Snort on Vimeo.

George Constanza

Paste Magazine compiled a list of seven classic moments of one of the best characters from one of the best TV shows of all time. The following comes from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes: "The Opposite."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Piper, Obama, and abortion

This video is a recent production from a sermon given by John Piper back in January. I agree with Piper in that I am thankful in many ways for Obama becoming president. But, he is wrong in a devastating way as he supports the killing of innocent life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The weariness of hiding our sin

My friend Whitney just posted a transcript of something that Derek Webb has said many times before in his concerts. It is an absolutely amazing, gospel-centered idea that I can't help but post. How would you feel if all your most hidden sins were broadcasted on the evening news?
I think that we often believe, if we’re really honest with ourselves, that the Christian life is about how well we can learn to hide our sin. I mean, honestly, I think a lot of us, and I do this all the time, we think that we are able to measure the growth of our spirituality by how little we are sinning. Or maybe at least how little we can convince everyone, ourselves included, that we are sinning. But the Christian life is not about hiding! It’s not about living in fear! Gosh that’s what we all do, though, is it not? I mean, we just live in fear all the time that we’ll be found out…I’m telling you, the best thing that could happen to any one of you in this room, the best thing, is that your sin would literally be exposed on the five o’clock news. Your deepest, darkest, most embarrassing sin, the one you work the hardest to hide would be broadcasted on the five o’clock news; best thing that could ever happen to you, best thing that could ever happen to me.

Because I am so weary, I am so tired of hiding my sin from people. I’m deceiving people of who I really am. I’m tired of it! I just wish my sins could be exposed! I wish there were huge screens that would just show you the truth about me. All the way down to my core. In order that you would know me for who I really was. And that I could not, I, … I did not even have the option to hide from you anymore. In order that I would have nothing but Jesus to grasp on to because that’s all I’ve got anyway! Cause the truth is, your sins have been exposed as if they were on the five o’clock news. They’ve been exposed to Jesus. He knows you better than you are even willing to admit to yourself. But He’s forgiven you! Take joy in the fact not that your sins are not real but that they are real and that your Savior is real. I cannot tell you this enough times in hopes that any of us, one of us, even me might believe this. I’ll never tire of saying this to people! I’ll never tire of hearing this myself because by the time I go to sleep tonight I’m not going to believe it again. I’m going to be thinking of ways to hide my sin from people in hope they might like me, or something. But that’s not what my Christian life is all about. That’s not what sanctification is all about. That’s not what growth as a believer’s all about. It’s about coming to grips with who you really are and being willing to admit that to each other!

In order that that might happen in your community that others might come and say, “You know, I heard you talking about this sin and that was bold of you brave of you to admit that! You know what, I,… It’s kind of leading me to repentance as well, I, I… I want to tell you something… I want to invite you into where I hide in hopes that I might not hide there anymore. Make it harder for me to go back there. Because the light switch has been turned on.” Please, please begin preaching the Gospel to each other in a way that you might actually believe it, a way that you might come out of hiding and that it might change our communities. I mean, am I the only one sick of living in American, sub-culture Christianity where we encourage each other to hide, encourage each other to put on these faces? That is not what the Christian life is all about! It’s no wonder statistically our church is losing relevance by the day. It’s no wonder we’re so stagnant! We don’t believe the Gospel. It has not failed us, we have just failed to believe it.

Prayer Causes Things to Happen

In this video, Piper reminds me of the wonderful privilege that prayer is. God has sovereignly allowed for our prayers to change things. That's hard to believe. I'm the squirming Calvinist that he talks about. I need more of the Bible in my head and heart, so as to knock away all my silly "logic" about what I think makes sense.

(HT:Ray Ortlund)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Confessions of an approval addict

Regarding this blog, a friend recently encouraged me to add some more of my own comments and insight when I post quotes from other sources. I agree with him. Actually, my original intention for this blog was to have an outlet to write and give my thoughts in an environment where others could read and possibly disagree with me. I did want to update people on my life and as well as point people to quotes and resources that were helpful. But, I really wanted to force myself to write in a public venue.

You see, I'm an approval addict. I have been for a long time. I want to make everyone like me and I don't want anyone to disagree with me. I also don't want anyone to dislike the thoughts that I put out there. That's the reason that my own words have become less common here. Instead of embracing the disagreement and possible dislike of my posts, over time I've shielded myself by just not writing much.

So, the goal is start putting more of my own thoughts out there. By doing this, and possibly getting disagreement and disinterest from others, I'll face that fact that I don't need to make everyone like me. I have the approval of the only being in the universe who's opinion ultimately matters. In Christ, God has set his affection on me as a son and has given me the approval that my wayward heart longs for.

Obviously this blog is just one avenue in the many ways I interact with the world around me, so I hope in all areas of my life I continue to rest in the knowledge of His love for me. But, specifically with this blog, my goal is to have more of my thoughts out there.

And by the way, thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

It's moving time

My friends James and Garrett came together to make a video for some friends of theirs who are moving soon down to Decatur. If you've seen Flight of the Conchords, you should find this video simply amazing.

video link

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Creation pointing to God the Creator

These last few weeks in my Systematic Theology class, we've dealt with the subject of creation. My professor has made clear that the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 is not meant to explain how or when God created, but why. He's also mentioned that the creation narrative is such a mysterious thing that people used to have to wait until they were thirty years old to read it!

Calvin, in his Institutes (I.XVI.XXII), does a great job at directing our hearts to what is important when we see God as Creator:
"whenever we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us at the same time bear in mind that the dispensation of all those things which he has made is in his own hand and power and that we are indeed his children, whom he has received into his faithful protection to nourish and educate. We are therefore to await the fullness of all good things form him alone and to trust completely that he will never leave us destitute of what we need for salvation, and to hang our hopes on none but him! We are therefore, also, to petition him for whatever we desire; and we are to recognize as a blessing from him, and thankfully to acknowledge, every benefit that fall to our share. So, invited by the great sweetness of his beneficence and goodness, let us study to love and serve him with all our heart."

Countries Coming to America

This infogrpahic looks at the top 20 countries that America received people from in 2008. It's pretty interesting. I'm surprised the Philippines had as many as they did.

(HT:Tim Challies)

Monday, May 04, 2009

At the derby, the last shall be first

I never watch horse racing, so I missed the big news this weekend at the Kentucky Derby. A horse named Mine that Bird, with 50-1 odds to win, comes back from dead last place to actually win it. Scott told me about this pretty unlikely story. Here's a couple pics from The Big Picture (in the first picture, Mine that Bird is the one at the end):

Presenting the Gospel on Twitter

Greg Gilbert at 9 Marks posted a blog about being able to present the gospel Twitter style in 140 words or less. He asks readers to post their best efforts. Here's some of his thoughts:
"I realize some might have questions about the propriety of "tweeting" the good news of Jesus. Honestly, I don't. Rob Bell's statement 'You can't really tweet the gospel' notwithstanding, I actually think you can, and I also think it's not a bad thing to do so. For one thing, it's no bad thing to be able to articulate the core truths of the Gospel in a very concise form. Of course there's more to the gospel than can be confined to 140 characters; but that's not the point. If we were to say everything there is to say about Jesus and the good news, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. But there are some simple, easily articulated, easily understood truths at the center of it---truths that can be expressed even in 140 characters."
(HT:Justin Taylor)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Jesus is the new and better Moses

"Jesus is presented not as a new Moses but as one who utterly transcends Moses. Jesus, like Moses, provides for his followers and leads them in the way; but Jesus is himself the provision-the true bread from heaven and water of life, and Jesus is the way. Like Moses, Jesus offers the covenant sacrifice, but Jesus is himself that sacrifice. Moses lifted up the serpent on the pole as a symbol of divine judgment; the death of Jesus was that diving judgment in antitypical finality. Jesus, like Moses, builds the house of God, but Jesus also is himself the temple. - Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority"

Friday, May 01, 2009

Swine Flu in perspective

Hershael York has a great blog post to give perspective on the hysteria over the swine flu. He mentions some stats like "every year 2.1 million children five years old or younger die of diarrhea caused by the rotavirus" yet we don't really bring much attention to that. I thought these few sentences were pretty profound:
"We often care more about the dramatic than we do about the truly perilous. New dangers shock our sensibilities more than grave dangers. Threats that we have learned to live with for a long while fade from our consciousness, even though the risk may not be reduced."
(HT:Tim Challies)