Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Review - Audrey Bunny

Audrey Bunny is a beautifully illustrated childrens book about a bunny with a smudge over her heart that she is ashamed of. This story teaches children a valuable lesson about how God has created everyone and loves us - imperfections and all! My three year old daughter loves this book and I enjoy reading it it her. It's a great childrens book and I highly recommend it!

I have a copy that I'll give away. Just leave a comment with your name and I'll pick a winner.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned below for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally use and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR; Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John Piper, Racial Reconciliation, and Disappointment


I'm disappointed. I feel very strongly about the need for racial reconciliation in the Church. I'm the pastor of a church in Birmingham Alabama - a city that is not known for positive racial relations. However the church I pastor feels very strongly about being a multi-ethic church. While at this point we are still largely white, we do have many African-Americans who attend and we hope to someday reflect our community which, according to the 2010 Census data, is 52.3% African-American. Our church has chose to stay in our community in order to "bloom where we're planted" and reach the community we are a part of.

Back to why I'm disappointed. I was thrilled when I learned that John Piper was writing a book on race and the Church. As most of you know, Piper is a Calvinist but despite this I have enjoyed reading several of his books and he has influenced my thinking in numbers of ways. I would consider him my favorite Calvinist =). When Piper's book was released I could not wait to purchase it. I love my Kindle but this was one book that I wanted in hardback to I went to the local Christian bookstore and paid full price for it (something I very rarely ever do). I knew Piper was a strong proponent of racial reconciliation and integrated churches so I was excited to read what he had written. 

Here's why I'm disappointed. Piper has a lot of good things to say in this book. Much of which I agree with. However, Piper's answer to the racial problems seems to be Reformed (Calvinist) theology. Essentially he takes the grid of the 5 points of Calvinism and tries to put it over the issue of racism as the answer to our racial problems. I, of course, expected to have to chew on the meat and spit out the bones of Calvinism when I purchased the book, but unfortunately Calvinism is the bulk of the book! Apparently we are to believe that the only way to love the whole world is to believe in a God who doesn't! To suggest that the answer to our racial problems is loving everyone by believing in a God who has chosen some to be saved and some to be damned is mind-boggling to me. Why should I love everyone, if in your view, God apparently doesn't (if He has chosen to damn some to Hell)? I come away from this book wondering if Piper thinks I'm racist since I don't believe in Reformed theology. If Reformed theology is the answer for racial reconciliation, and I don't believe in it, apparently so. 

So, I'm disappointed. There is a lot of good in this book. Much of what Piper says I agree with. However, I'm disappointed because what could have been a great book was spoiled by bad theology.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Too anxious to get to the Gospel?

Francis Schaeffer once was asked the question, “What would you do if you met a really modern man on a train and you had just an hour to talk to him about the gospel?” He replied, “I have said over and over, I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma that he is morally dead, and then I would take 10-15 minutes to preach the gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt in the presence of God.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old and New

"...some people see the religion of the Old Testament as legalistic and mainly concerned with punishment and see the New Testament as full of grace and forgiveness. This is nonsense, of course, because God has not changed: he was no less forgiving in the Old Testament than he is now, though the basis of his forgiveness - the death of Jesus - is a New Testament event." - David Instone-Brewer

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Don't Assume

"Don’t assume you know all the facts after hearing one side of the story.

Don’t assume the person is guilty just because strong charges are made against him.

Don’t assume you understand a blogger’s heart after reading one post.

Don’t assume that famous author, preacher, athlete, politician, or local celebrity won’t read what you write and don’t assume they won’t care what you say.

Don’t assume the divorced person is to blame for the divorce.

Don’t assume the single mom isn’t following Jesus.

Don’t assume the guy from the Mission is less of a man or less of a Christian.

Don’t assume the pastor looking for work is a bad pastor.

Don’t assume the church that struggles or fails is a bad church.

Don’t assume you’d be a better mom.

Don’t assume bad kids are the result of bad parents.

Don’t assume your parents are clueless.

Don’t assume everyone should drop everything to attend to your needs, and don’t assume no one will.

Don’t assume the rich are ungenerous.

Don’t assume the poor are lazy.

Don’t assume you know what they are all like after meeting one or two of their kind.

Don’t assume you should read between the lines.

Don’t assume you have interpreted the emotions of the email correctly.

Don’t assume everyone has forgotten about you.

Don’t assume they meant to leave you off the list.

Don’t assume everyone else has a charmed life.

Don’t assume a bad day makes her a bad friend.

Don’t assume the repentance isn’t genuine.

Don’t assume the forgiveness isn’t sincere.

Don’t assume God can’t change you.

Don’t assume God can’t love you.

Don’t assume God can’t love them."

- Kevin DeYoung

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prayer of a Minor Prophet - by A.W. Tozer

This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him. And he said: O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant. My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfitted ness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done. Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live. It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils, which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee. Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them. And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven. Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure. Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen. AMEN.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jesus, Canon, and Theology

In the video below Darrell L. Bock, Daniel B. Wallace, and Ben Witherington discuss various controversies and misunderstandings made about the canon of scripture. They also deal with Bart Ehrman's books (such as Misquoting Jesus). If you have read any books which citicize the Scriptue or are interested in textual criticism, or if you are just interested in how the Canon of Scripture came about I think you'll find this video interesting. I recently took a master's level class which covered much of this same material.