Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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This and That, Favorite Quotes and Books

This and That

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • What is Your Greatest Fear? Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “But the Bible brings the good news that if we truly knew the depths of our desperation in sin and the heights of God’s delivering love for us through the cross, we’d never have to be afraid of anything. That is a solid, secure place to stand when your circumstances feel anything but safe.”
  • Can We Really Be Free From our Excessive Fears? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Living free from our excessive fear is not only possible for you; it’s available to you. All it requires is faith. And it doesn’t require heroic faith. It requires only a child’s faith. All you need to do, according to Jesus, is, “do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
  • Mindful of Our Busyness: Notes on Another Epidemic (and Its Relief). David Zahl writes “We are hearing more and more about the busyness epidemic, and I’m glad of that. If only the root issue could be fixed by analyzing or understanding it deeply enough! Alas, the most effective means of relief right now seems to have little if anything to do with information or even self-knowledge. Instead it has to do with finding the space/time to stop and just be.”
  • Lazy Busy. Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes “The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort. It is epidemic in our day.”
  • Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine. Gavin Ortlund of The Gospel Coalition interviews Randy Alcorn about Heaven.
  • What is a Kind Husband? Using Boaz as an example, Douglas Wilson provides five characteristics of a kind husband.
  • Too Busy to Lead Family Worship? Don Whitney writes “You may know of no one as busy or as burdened as yourself, but can you honestly say you have more responsibilities than Charles Spurgeon? Despite his innumerable and important responsibilities, Spurgeon made the privileges and delights of family worship a priority. How about you?
  • Spiritual Joy vs. Worldly Joy. David Murray uses the writings of the Puritan Thomas Watson to outline eight important differences between Christian joy and the joy of the world.
  • In Bondage to Pornography. Carl Trueman writes “The ethics, and increasingly the laws, surrounding sexual behavior are coming to rest exclusively on the idea of consent”
  • Parenting Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies offers some tips on parenting well. He looks at 3 things you need to put off or reject, and 3 things you need to put on or embrace. Watch Tim’s message “Purity in a Digital Age” from the recent Ligonier National Conference.
  • Don’t Follow Your Heart. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.”
  • What Makes a Man a Hero? R.C. Sproul Jr. writes “In our day you become a hero by becoming the best in your field. The high virtues of the Christian hero, by contrast, have precious little to do with accomplishment.
  • “And such were some of you.” Jonathan writes “This gospel testimony, true of all believers, is clearly seen in the life of Christopher Yuan. Christopher lived as a promiscuous gay man until he met Jesus in prison, where he was serving time for dealing drugs. Listen to the story of God’s great mercy in his life and be encouraged by God’s amazing grace.”
  • Should I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member? Denny Burke writes “…attendance at a wedding is not like attending a concert, where attendance suggests nothing about your own views on the proceedings. A wedding is a public recognition of a union, and those in attendance are there to help celebrate and add their assent to the union.”

CHURCH LIFE:

IN THE NEWS:

  • New York City Adds Two Muslim Holy Days to Public School Calendar. New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days.
  • An Evangelical Church ‘Comes Out’ for LGBT Rights. Heidi Halls writes “Pastor Stan Mitchell’s announcement that his evangelical GracePointe Church would fully affirm gay members met with a standing ovation from some, stunned silence from others, but everybody prayed together quietly at the end of it.”
  • Congratulating Wesleyan. Carl Trueman, after hearing that Wesleyan University had “taken the ever-expanding list of initials used to refer to sexual identities to new heights of absurdity or sensitivity, depending on one’s perspective. We are now apparently up to fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM”, writes “Wesleyan University is not to be criticized but congratulated, at least in terms of the transparency and consistency of its vision. It is simply an honest and consistent example of the moralizing amorality of this present age.”
  • Franklin Graham: Obama, Holder guilty of ‘anti-Christian bias’. Franklin Graham states ““There is an anti-Christian bias that is now in our government, has permeated our government, that’s also permeated Washington but [also] at the state and local level.”
  • The Kids are not All Right. Daniel James Devine of World Magazine writes “Many children raised by gay parents are now young or middle-aged adults. Some say their upbringing was positive, but a growing number are beginning to speak out against what they feel is a dysfunctional parenting model.”
  • Florist Rejects Washington Attorney General’s Offer and Risks Everything. Denny Burk writes about Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year old grandmother. She is a florist being sued by the state Attorney General for the state of Washington for refusing to participate in a gay wedding. The attorney general is trying to compel her to ignore her Christian faith and to participate in gay weddings. If she refuses, he is threatening the full coercive power of the state to force her to do it. She stands to lose everything—her home, her savings, her business, her livelihood—if she does not comply.
  • Making a New Argument for Marriage. In the new issue of ByFaith magazine is an interesting article, “Making A New Argument for Marriage” by Susan Fikse.  Fikse writes “In his late-June dissent to the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Justice Samuel Alito described the debate in this case as a battle between two views of marriage. As Alito describes, the real issue at stake is not expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, but redefining the very core of the institution.”
  • Wedding Costs. The average cost of a wedding excluding a honeymoon was $31,213 in 2014. Wow.

MUSIC:

  • FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers Interviews Third Day. In this interview, Mac, David and Mark sit down with FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers to talk about their new worship album “Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship,” which is the first Worship album they’ve released in 12 years.
  • Passion - Even So ComePassion 2015 Live Album. Featuring some of this generation’s most acclaimed worship leaders – Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker – the new live Passion album Passion: Even So Come is set to release on March 17. The album was recorded in front of over 30,000 college students at three separate Passion gatherings in Atlanta and Houston. The standard edition will feature twelve songs, while the deluxe edition will feature eighteen songs, including two videos.
  • Anomaly Tour 2015. Are you going to see Lecrae and Andy Mineo in St. Louis. Check out this short tour promo video.
  • NEEDTOBREATHE “Brother” Video, Featuring Gavin DeGraw. The video was directed by Jared Hogan.
  • Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon Beatbox. Did you see them recently on The Tonight Show?

BOOKS AND RESOURCES:

  • Five Books Christians Should Read on Islam. Aaron Armstrong offers these five books we need to read to give us a better idea of what Muslims actually believe, the questions they are really asking, and the objections they hold about Christianity.
  • Finding Truth. Tim Challies writes “Nancy Pearcey’s bestselling and award-winning book Total Truth made quite a mark on my life. It was, to my memory, the first book I had ever read on worldview, and its explanation of the way our world divides the sacred and the secular has not only stuck with me, but has helped me better understand and explain the culture around me.”
  • Pass Down the Truth. Check out this promotional video for the newly revised and updated Reformation Study Bible.
  • Review of the NIV Proclamation Bible. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “The NIV Proclamation Bible from Zondervan was made to give readers the most relevant information they need to teach and/or preach through each book of the Bible.”
  • Why Jerram Barrs Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Six Times in Six Months. I had the pleasure of taking a class from Dr. Barrs at Covenant Seminary. Watch this video to hear why explains below why he deeply loves the book.
  • Shepherds’ Conference 2015. The video from all of the messages from the recent Shepherds’ Conference Inerrancy Summit, hosted by John MacArthur, are now available.
  • Liberate 2015 Conference Messages. You can watch all of the conference messages, featuring Tullian Tchividjian, Scotty Smith, Paul Tripp, Steve Brown and more.
  • Andy Crouch: The Return of Shame. Check out this article from the author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. See our review of the book here.
  • 7 Women by Eric Metaxas7 Women by Eric Metaxas. One of my favorite authors follows up his 7 Men book with 7 Women: And Their Secret of Their Greatness, to be published September 8.
  • Living Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies writes “Zondervan has just released a second edition of my book The Next Story and it comes complete with a few updates, an added chapter, and a new subtitle: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World. It covers some of this material, plus a whole lot more.”
  • Heaven, How I Got Here. Our friend Kevin Halloran reviews the new book by Colin Smith Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross.
  • Beauty for Ashes. Tim Challies looks at Iain Murray’s new biography of Amy Carmichael. I’m reading the book now and will run a review soon.
  • New Book from Ashley Cleveland. Ashley, one of the best and most honest singer/songwriters you are going to find, is working on her second book. She writes that this one on loss—and the unexpected life that fills the open spaces. You can find our review of her first book Little Black Sheep, here (just page down until you find it).
  • New Book Addresses the Growing Problem within Youth Sports. Andy Andrews discusses The Matheny Manifesto with Mike Matheny’s co-author Jerry Jenkins.

MOVIES:

THEOLOGY:

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite QuotesFavorite Quotes of the Week 3.15.2015

Here’s a sample:

  • No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. C.S. Lewis
  • If the depths of everyone’s sin was made public, we would all be much more gracious to each other. Tullian Tchividjian

Currently Reading

 

Check out what I’m Currently Reading

 

book reviews

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely ConvertThe Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Crown & Covenant Publications. 128 pages. 2012. Audiobook read by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
****

I first started hearing the name Rosaria Butterfield a few months ago, and then got to hear her tell her story last month at the 2015 Ligonier National Conference. You can watch her conference message “Repentance & Renewal” here.

This is not your typical Christian testimony/autobiography. For one, it is very well written. Rosaria is a very intelligent and opinionated individual, earning a PhD at Ohio State and then serving as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, where she taught courses in Women’s Studies, specializing in Queer Theory and was a popular conference speaker. She gives insights – often painful – about how gays and lesbians perceive evangelical Christians.   Read the entire book review on the blog….

Reading Together Week 2

Counter Culture by David PlattCounter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at Chapter 2: Where Rich and Poor Collide: The Gospel and Poverty

 


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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith-and-Work

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 7 – Leaders Are Thinkers:

  • You can be certain that the quality of your actions will never exceed the quality of your thinking.
  • Careful attention to thinking is what first sets the leader apart.
  • Like everyone else, leaders operate out of capacities such as instinct, intuition, and habit. But what sets the leader apart is the commitment to bring these very things under the control of active intellect and right patterns of thinking.
  • We lead out of authenticity and the open acknowledgment that we are doing what all leaders must do—face the facts, lean into the truth, apply the right principles, acknowledge the alternatives, and, finally, make the right decision. In other words, the leader leads by conviction.
  • The conscious denial of reality is a central danger of leadership, and the leader must defend against this temptation.
  • The leader must be unafraid of data and facts, and he must surround himself with people who know the information he needs and will give it to him.
  • The Christian leader is, by definition, committed to living in truth. This is one of the most distinctive and essential elements of Christian leadership, for it is foundational to the Christian life.
  • The Christian leader leans into truth, knowing that the truth always matters and that nothing less than the truth will do.
  • The leader is committed to the development of a comprehensive worldview based in truth and to the consistent application of truth to decision making. This is the essence of convictional leadership and the faithful operation of convictional intelligence.
  • If the right decision were always clear to everyone, we would not need leaders. Leaders must know the way the organization should be directed and the course that must be taken, but they also need the skill to motivate others to follow that lead.
  • The most effective leaders make the right decisions over and over again and develop credibility even as they gain experience.
  • Some people seem to have little or no confidence in their decision-making ability. Are they missing a decision-making gene? No, they lack the courage of their convictions, the discipline of critical thinking, or the confidence of steady leadership.
  • The leader who faces the facts, leans into truth, applies the right principles, and acknowledges the alternatives will then be ready to make the decision—the right decision.


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Movie Review ~ The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, rated PG
**

In the sequel to the 2011 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel) is back as the owner of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, which Muriel (Maggie Smith) is now helping Sonny to manage. There are two primary storylines for the film:
• Sonny wants to expand his “empire” by purchasing a vacant building and turning it into the Second Best Exotic Hotel. He and Muriel travel to San Diego to seek funding for the project. Throughout the film he embarrassingly and increasingly irritates and caters to one guest that he is sure is there to check them out and make his recommendation on funding.
• Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are preparing to get married, but Sonny almost completely ignores the preparations while putting all of his energy into getting funding for the expansion. He’s also extremely jealous of an attractive and talented male friend who is helping Sunaina prepare her wedding dance.
But the film is really about the many relationships between the characters staying at the hotel, most of whom return from the first film. Joining them are the attractive Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). And the relationships are complicated indeed. Many of the characters, none of whom are married (to each other), are having sex. That’s the biggest problem I have with the film – an open acceptance of sexual immorality. And if some of the characters aren’t having sex yet, they are in relationships, or wanting to be in relationships before they are divorced from their current spouses.
A theme that runs through the film, and it makes sense due to the age of the characters, is that time is running out.
Though the film has a strong cast – led by Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, and also including Bill Nighy and Richard Gere – I found it to be quite slow, up until the fun closing wedding scene. John Madden is back as director and Ol Parker as screenwriter. I had looked forward to the film and wanted to like it, and the film wants you to like it. However, as discerning viewers, we have to reject the immorality that is celebrated here.


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Movie Review ~ Cinderella

CinderellaCinderella, Rated PG
****

Before the feature film, we saw the entertaining seven-minute short Frozen Fever, which reunites the characters and song writers from Frozen, the highest grossing animated film in history, generating $1.3 billion since its release in November, 2013. The plot focuses on Anna’s birthday preparations that are complicated by Elsa catching a cold. Yesterday Disney officially announced the sequel to Frozen, with directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck once again on board for the new full-length film.

Disney’s new live action version of its 1950 animated Cinderella classic is directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit). It is a triumph, stays close to the original, is beautifully filmed and features a good cast and wonderful costumes.

Young Ella (Eloise Webb) is very happy, living with her loving parents and animal friends in a country mansion. But Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell) suddenly gets ill and dies. After a number of years Ella’s father (Ben Chaplin) marries a widow, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) who has two daughters Ella’s age, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera, Daisy from Downton Abbey). The older Ella/Cinderella is well played by Lily James, who also plays Lady Rose on Downton Abbey.

When Ella’s father dies while away on a trip, Ella is no longer treated as a daughter, but instead, after all of the staff are released, Ella is treated cruelly, being forced to live in the attic and clean and cook for her stepmother and stepsisters. However, instead of turning bitter, she lives by what her dying mother told her – to have courage and be kind.

From there, you know the rest of the Cinderella story. Ella is renamed Cinderella by her stepsisters after one day she is seen covered in ashes (cinders). Helena Bonham Carter portrays Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, the Scottish actor Richard Madden (Robb Stark on Game of Thrones), portrays the prince and British classical actor Derek Jacobi his father, the ailing king.

I very much enjoyed this film which is appropriate for all ages.  This film has a wonderful message of courage, kindness and forgiveness in the face of cruelty, but also that your identity is not defined by other people.  Character matters and (along with being beautiful inside and out) will help to win the heart of the prince.


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This and That …

This and That
THEOLOGY:

  • How Can You Know the Bible Is True? John Piper writes “How can average people, with no scholarly training, and little time to invest in historical studies, know for sure that God has spoken in the Bible? Historically and biblically, one answer that has been given is: “the internal testimony of the Spirit.”
  • What Difference Does an Inerrant Bible Make? Last week, John MacArthur hosted an Inerrancy Summit (read Tim Challies articles on the Summit here). R.C. Sproul writes “Does it matter whether the Bible is errant or inerrant, fallible or infallible, inspired or uninspired? What’s all the fuss about the doctrine of inerrancy? Why do Christians debate this issue? What difference does an inerrant Bible make?”
  • Three Final Reflections from the Inerrancy Summit. Tim Challies shares his final thoughts on last week’s Inerrancy Summit at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church. Watch the videos of messages from the conference here.
  • Mohler on Inerrancy. Mike Riccardi shares helpful quotes from Albert Mohler from the book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy.
  • Francis Chan Sermons. You can listen to almost all of his sermons on his website.

MUSIC:

  • New NEEDTOBREATHE Live Album. Live from the Woods will be released April 14.
  • 2015 Ravinia Festival Schedule Released. The Ravinia Festival tucked away in Highland Park, Illinois, is hands-down my favorite place to see a concert. They recently released their 2015 schedule, which includes shows by Switchfoot and NEEDTOBREATHE, Amos Lee, Brian Wilson and many others. And fans of The Good Wife will be interested in the June 19 concert. Check out the entire schedule.
  • Winter Jam Coming to Peoria. Just a reminder that Winter Jam is coming to the Peoria Civic Center, Sunday, March 29 at 6:00pm. Doors open at 5:00pm. Tickets are only available at the door and only cost $10! Artists include Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Skillet, For King & Country and others.
  • New Mumford and Sons Album. Wilder Mind won’t be released until May 4, but it is currently sitting at #1 on the iTunes album charts.
  • Kelly Clarkson and Jimmy Fallon “History of Duets”. Did you see Kelly Clarkson and Jimmy Fallon perform the history of duets recently on The Tonight Show?
  • Video of “The Night We Called it a Day” from Bob Dylan. From his album Shadows in the Night.
  • Postcards from Paradise. As a Beatles fan, I enjoyed trying to pick out all of the references to Beatles songs in Ringo Starr’s new song, the title track from his upcoming album.

IN THE NEWS:

BOOKS:

  • New Charles Spurgeon Biography from John Piper. Read about how to download it for free or purchase the physical copy. Jonathan Parnall of Desiring God writes “Drawing on the life and work of Spurgeon, John Piper delivered a message on this topic to a group of pastors twenty years ago. We recently edited that message into a more readable format, and release it to you as the small book, Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity. In this book, Piper presents an inspiring vision of gospel ministry and offers practical counsel for how pastors keep going when the times are toughest.”
  • Spurgeon’s Sorrows. Here’s a good review of Zack Eswine’s new book Zack Eswine. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression by Jeff Robinson. Here’s our review of this excellent book. And here’s an interview with Zack about the book on the Confessing Baptist podcast.
  • On My Shelf: Life and Books with Tim Keller. On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers. Matt Smethurst talked with Tim Keller about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, biographies that have shaped him, and more.
  • Adopted for Life, Ten Years Later: What I’ve Learned Since. Russell Moore, who spoke at the recent Ligonier National Conference, writes about what he has learned since his book Adopted for Life was published.
  • ESV Following Jesus Bible. Crossway has announced the forthcoming ESV Following Jesus Bible––a new edition to help kids ages 8–12 understand and enjoy God’s Word. Ideal for the years between a children’s Bible and the more advanced ESV Student Study Bible, the Following Jesus Bible will help kids learn more about the Christian faith and teach them what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  The ESV Following Jesus Bible is scheduled for publication on March 31, and is available now for pre-order.
  • A Bestselling Book On Tidying Up! David Murray writes “The top-ranked book in the self-help section of the New York Times bestsellers list is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That’s right, a book on tidying up has become a bestseller. I suppose anything with “life-changing” in the title is going to attract attention, but that doesn’t fully explain its popularity. I believe that the book’s success is more about the “tidying up” part of the title than the “life-changing” bit. Like all best-selling books, it reveals something about our culture, about our personal lives – that we are in a mess!

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Facebook Obsession and the Anguish of Boredom. Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes “For many users, Facebook is the object we turn to, to satisfy our Boredom-Induced Distraction-Addiction (BIDA). This is when it becomes problematic. Unhealthy Facebook addiction flourishes because we fail to see the cost on our lives. So what are the consequences of boredom-induced compulsive behaviors? Here are three to consider.”
  • How to Persevere in Prayer When You’re Really Stressed Out. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t shake your anxiety? No matter what you do, you can’t get your mind off of what is bothering you. You try to pray, but the only words that come out are short, anxiety-soaked cries for help. Right after those short prayers you go right back to worrying. I’ve been there. Truth be told, this article was birthed from an anxiety-ridden prayer session. That prayer session reminded me of a very important truth.”
  • The Top Ten Most Fiercely Defended Traditions in Churches Thom S. Rainer writes “Of course, by “traditions,” I am referring to those extra-biblical customs that become a way of life for many congregations. A tradition is neither inherently good nor bad. Its value or its distraction in a given church really depends on how members treat the traditions. With that in mind, I began noting the most frequently defended traditions in churches. As a corollary, these traditions can also be a potential source of divisiveness. They are ranked here according to the frequency of the comments.”
  • God Wants His Children to Enjoy Creation. David Murray writes “Becoming a Christian means giving up bodily pleasures for spiritual pleasures, right? Wrong. In fact, according to Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon “The Pleasantness of Religion,” Christianity increases pleasure through our bodily senses. He explains how in eight ways.”
  • You Cannot Have Two Masters. Kevin DeYoung writes “You can have two friends. You can have two hobbies. You can even have two jobs. But you cannot have two masters.”
  • We Are All Messy’: Rosaria Butterfield on Loving Our Gay and Lesbian Friends. Enjoy this video of Rosaria Butterfield’s interview with Mark Mellinger. Rosaria spoke at the recent Ligonier Ministries National Conference. You can listen to her message – and all of the other ones – here.
  • Should we have and use credit cards? Randy Alcorn takes a page out of Dave Ramsey’s playbook in this article, but doesn’t go quite as far as Dave who only recommends debit cards, not credit cards.
  • Pray for Those Who Abuse You. John Piper writes “The place to start in praying for our enemies is the prayer that the Lord taught us to pray.”
  • Josh Hamilton and the Monster that Hunts Us All. Jeff Robinson writesThe sin that has hunted Hamilton since he was a teenager found him, again. I whispered a prayer under my breath: “Father, lavish your mercy on Josh Hamilton and his family. And have mercy on us. Let us never forget what hunts us.”
  • Why the Reality of the Resurrection Means You Don’t Need a “Bucket List”. Randy Alcorn writes “But the “bucket list” mentality, that this life is our only chance to ever enjoy adventure and fun, is profoundly unbiblical. It disregards the teaching of the resurrection”.
  • Divine Happiness Superior to Disney Happiness. David Murray writes “While attending the Ligonier National Conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort recently, I couldn’t help asking, “What is happiness?” Here I was at the world center of happiness and not many people looked that happy. Admittedly the weather was unseasonably cold, but even so, I didn’t see many smiles among the multitudes of Mickey Mouse-eared children and their stressed-out parents. In contrast, when I walked into and through the Ligonier conference venue, I saw a lot more happiness, I sensed a lot more joy, and I heard a lot more laughter. Who would have thought that there would be more happiness in God’s Kingdom than in Magic Kingdom?”
  • Worship is More Important Than Your Small Group. Here’s an excellent article from guest blogger Jason Helopoulos on Kevin DeYoung’s DeYoung, Restless and Reformed blog. Speaking of DeYoung – who is only 37 years of age – I’m convinced will be a leader in Reformed circles for many years. Watch Kevin’s message “Do Not Love the World” (and all of the other messages) from the recent Ligonier Ministries National Conference here.
  • Do Women Look at Porn? Yes. If there ever was a time when porn was an exclusively male habit, that time is long gone. Matt Fradd talks about some of the most recent statistics.
  • A Prayer for Greater Release from our Shame. Here’s another wonderful prayer from our friend Scotty Smith.

Blog Updates

Music Review: Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship – Third Day

Book Review: The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield by Steven Lawson

Recommended Resource: Reformation Study Bible – R.C. Sproul, General Editor

Reading Together Week 1: Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

I’m Currently Reading

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 3.8.2015

  • We must show sympathy with sinners, but not with their sins. Charles Spurgeon
  • Worldliness is what makes sin look normal in any age and righteousness seem odd. David Wells
  • God’s graciousness is not totally removed from any individual during this lifetime. In hell, it is. R.C. Sproul
  • Character isn’t who you are when life goes your way. Character is who you really are when the bottom falls out. Lecrae
  • Doctrine causes joy, which in turn is the fuel for good works. Matt Perman
  • The Gospel is good news not good advice. Advice=what we should do. News=report of what was done for us. Tim Keller
  • Don’t work for recognition but do work that is worthy of recognition. Ken Blanchard
  • If there is a God, you owe him far more than a morally decent life. Tim Keller
  • Everything before Jesus is preface. Everything after Jesus is appendix. Jesus is the story. Kevin DeYoung
  • The saved man is not a perfect man, but his heart’s desire is to become perfect. Charles Spurgeon
  • The gospel is good news to those who know they don’t measure up. It’s offensive to those who think they do. Tullian Tchividjian
  • There are no ‘little sins’, because there is no little God to sin against. John Blanchard
  • Let us always be more bothered by our sin than our suffering. Burk Parsons
  • A loving God who has no wrath is no God. He is an idol of our own making as much as if we carved Him out of stone. R.C. Sproul
  • If your theological convictions are not producing a deeper love for others, then it’s time to rethink some stuff. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Anyone claiming all religions are the same betrays not only ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even best-known ones. Ravi Zacharias
  • If you love anything in this world more than God, you will crush that object under the weight of your expectations. Tim Keller
  • Ambitions for self may be quite modest. . . . Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere. John Stott
  • Man was never meant to be a god, but he is forever trying to deify himself. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • As a strategy for missions, Ready, Fire, Aim, is a better strategy than Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim. John Piper
  • Because of Jesus the sin we cannot forget God does not remember. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Christianity is so much more than getting your doctrine right, but it is not less. Kevin DeYoung
  • The supreme form of cursedness is for the Lord to turn His back on you and bring judgment on you. R.C. Sproul
  • Today, let’s love to the glory of God, laugh with the merriment of God, weep with the tears of God, and encourage with the grace of God. Scotty Smith
  • The first service that one owes to others consists in listening to them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • God’s willingness to clean things up is infinitely greater than our capacity to mess things up. Tullian Tchividjian
  • God put enough into the world to make faith in Him a reasonable thing. But He left enough out to make it impossible to live by reason alone. Ravi Zacharias
  • How do you change your behavior? Change what you worship. Tim Keller
  • I’ll tell you what’s more important than all the commentaries in your library: prayer. Mark Dever
  • Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. Corrie ten Boom
  • Scripture doesn’t need to be denied for apostasy to begin: all that is needed is that Scripture takes second place. Iain Murray
  • It is not our believing of the Gospel that makes it true. It exists as independent, true Truth. Alistair Begg
  • A little flattery makes people feel good about themselves. When you notice someone looking great, give them a compliment. Ken Blanchard
  • The simple fact is that only if I love Jesus more than my wife will I be able to serve her needs ahead of my own. Tim Keller
  • Do you understand that it’s impossible to please God in any way other than wholehearted surrender? Francis Chan
  • The gospel is not only about what God has accomplished for us in the past, but what he promises still in the future. Michael Horton
  • It would be easier to grow oak trees by planting marbles than for someone to be saved without the seed of the word. Steven Lawson
  • You can’t be in love with the world, impressed by the world, and hate worldliness at the same time. Burk Parsons
  • Are you smiling when you talk? Try it today, and I guarantee you will notice a difference in your life. Andy Andrews
  • Bosses push, Leaders pull. Real leadership is servant leadership. Dave Ramsey


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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

integrating faith and work

  • “My First Hope Is That We Can Change the Default around Work”. Here’s an interview with Missy Wallace of the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work. The Institute ministers to professionals by providing them with resources to integrate their faith and work.
  • Opportunities to Show Love at an Aluminum Sheet Mill. Trilla Newbell interviews Joel Baker, who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and works for Alcoa as a senior operating manager, about his vocation.
  • Staying In Your Gift Zone, But Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone. Dave Kraft writes “We should be open to the challenge of moving out of our “comfort zone,” but careful about moving out of our “gift zone” into the “danger zone.”
  • Becoming a Balanced Leader? Impossible? Dave Kraft writes “Attaining balance is a hopeless dream…it will never happen…why strive for it? Is this really true? Is living in balance as a disciple of Jesus, a leader, a biblical concept? Is the current leadership “rat race,” that most leaders I know find themselves in, a capitulation to our fast-paced culture or should it be embraced as normal and acceptable? I believe the answer is found in making a distinction between two types of balance.”
  • 16 Ways to Lead Through Sadness. Dan Rockwell writes “Some of the world’s great leaders held hands with sadness, Lincoln and Churchill for example. It wouldn’t surprise me if you do too. Sadness isn’t the end of leadership. It may be a beginning.”
  • More Encouraging Videos from the Faith@Work Summit. Some more great talks from the Faith@Work Summit have now been posted. (Here’s the first set , here’s the second set, and here’s the third set.).
  • John Maxwell on Respect. In this “Minute with Maxwell” video, leadership expert John Maxwell discusses respect.
  • Making Change Happen. Andy Stanley talks about three things you have to do if you are going to bring about organizational change.
  • Wondering How God Works in Our Ordinary Lives? Titus 3:14 Has Answers. Kathryn Feliciano asks “Where is God working in your daily routine?”
  • Teenage Temptations, Old and New. Becca Benson writes “Sexual immorality is not a new topic. The world has known of it since the days of Genesis. This generation of teens is not the first to experience the temptation and pressures of sexual immorality. But are they walking in a time of different and maybe even greater pressure?”
  • Wisdom on our Work and Vocations: Two Great Anthologies. Chris Armstrong, in looking at two books, writes “Both books provide ample food for thought on this important topic of vocation, including reflections both on what the Puritans, modifying an idea of Calvin’s, called our “general” vocations (to be disciples of Christ) and on our “particular” or “special” vocations (to do whatever work we end up pursuing). Most illuminating to me is the wealth of material on how secular work can be understood as divine vocation.”
  • What does the Wall Street Journal know about the meaning of work? Will Messenger writes “So maybe the Wall Street Journal is on to something after all, even if the true source of meaning at work is not the corporate mission statement, but the Lord of heaven and earth.”
  • 3 Reasons a Leader Should Never Respond to Criticism in Anger. Leaders receive criticism every day. Ron Edmonson write “While I believe we should always speak truth in love and correcting false statements against us may have a place, I do not believe responding to criticism with immediate anger is ever appropriate.”
  • How Leaders Should React When Someone Disappoints. Peter Bregman writes “High performing leaders expect a lot of themselves and the people around them, as they should. But when people fall short of those expectations, the way leaders handle their disappointment can mean the difference between a return to high performance and a downward spiral of failure.”
  • 20 Quotes from “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders. Eric Geiger writes “Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders is a classic book, one of the greatest leadership books in print today. Its depth and breadth of biblical wisdom and practical application are nearly unmatched in a single volume.”
  • The One Thing Your Leadership May Be Missing! Dave Kraft writes “I am personally fascinated by people’s sleeping habits and their corresponding productivity or lack thereof. Leaders are notoriously poor sleepers trying to convince themselves that they can do just fine (and get more done) on 4-6 hours sleep despite all the study and research that says otherwise. If you doze off while reading this, you may be guilty! Here is Michael Hyatt on the subject.
  • Living the Gospel at Work. Bill Peel writes “The workplace is filled with spiritually hungry people.  Most of them, however, won’t connect their gnawing emptiness with their need for God unless they can see the difference He makes in us.”
  • Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career. Unless… Matt Perman writes “This is a fantastic TEDx talk by Larry Smith. In a very compelling way, he shoots down all the excuses people make not to go after what they are truly passionate about in life.”
  • You May Be the Only Bible They Read. Bill Peel writes “The workplace is filled with spiritually hungry people. Most of them, however, won’t connect their own emptiness with their need for God unless they can see the difference Christ makes in a Christian’s life.”
  • Four Little Known Qualities of Godly Leaders. C. Patton writes “I would like to share what I learned about great, godly leaders from Dr. Crawford Loritts, a pastor in Atlanta, GA. Loritts talked about four qualities or characteristics of great, godly leaders during his segment in Dennis Rainey’s Stepping Up video series. Even these are not commonly found in leadership books, I believe we all need to seek these qualities. If we do, I believe God can better use us to point others to Him.”
  • Is the gap between pulpit and pew narrowing? New research conducted by the Barna Group for the Center for Faith & Work at​ LeTourneau University shows a substantial uptick in the number of pastors who say they preach on the topic of work. However, most church-goers still doubt the significance of their work to God.

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice Book Club

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book by Tim Keller. This week we look at Chapter 4: Justice and Your Neighbor

  • The text that most informs Christians’ relationships with their neighbors is the parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • Do you love God with every fiber of your being every minute of the day? Do you meet the needs of your neighbor with all the joy, energy, and fastidiousness with which you meet your own needs? That is the kind of life you owe your God and your fellow human beings.
  • What was Jesus doing with this story? He was giving a radical answer to the question, What does it mean to love your neighbor? What is the definition of “love”? Jesus answered that by depicting a man meeting material, physical, and economic needs through deeds. Caring for people’s material and economic needs is not an option for Jesus. He refused to allow the law expert to limit the implications of this command to love. He said it meant being sacrificially involved with the vulnerable, just as the Samaritan risked his life by stopping on the road. But Jesus refuses to let us limit not only how we love, but who we love.
  • By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need—regardless of race, politics, class, and religion—is your neighbor.
  • I have preached this parable over the years, and it always raises a host of questions and objections, many of which sound like the kind of questions that the law expert would have asked. No one has helped me answer these questions more than Jonathan Edwards. In 1733 he preached a sermon entitled “The Duty of Charity to the Poor.” The word “neighbor” is found in the sermon nearly sixty times, and the discourse stands as one of the most thoroughgoing applications of the parable of the Good Samaritan to a body of believers that can be found anywhere. The heart of the sermon is a set of answers to a series of common objections Edwards always heard whenever he preached or spoke about the duty of sharing money and goods with the poor.
  • We don’t wait until we are in “extremity” before doing something about our condition, he argued, so why should we wait until our neighbor is literally starving before we help?
  • We ought to have such a spirit of love to him that we should be afflicted with him in his affliction.”
  • Another objection comes from people who say they “have nothing to spare” and that they barely have enough for their own needs. But one of the main lessons of the Good Samaritan parable is that real love entails risk and sacrifice. Edwards responds that when you say, “I can’t help anyone,” you usually mean, “I can’t help anyone without burdening myself, cutting in to how I live my life.” But, Edwards argues, that’s exactly what Biblical love requires.
  • In dealing with the objection that many of the poor do not have upright, moral characters, he counters that we did not either, and yet Christ put himself out for us.
  • When answering the objection that the poor have often contributed to their condition, Edwards is remarkably balanced yet insistently generous. He points out that it is possible some people simply do not have “a natural faculty to manage affairs to advantage.” In other words, some people persistently make sincere but very bad decisions about money and possessions. But what if their economic plight is more directly the result of selfish, indolent, or violent behavior? Christ found us in the same condition. Our spiritual bankruptcy was due to our own sin, yet he came and gave us what we needed.
  • Edwards says that we should not continue to aid a poor person if that person continues to act “viciously” and to persist in the same behavior. Yet Edwards has a final blow to strike. What about the rest of the person’s family? Sometimes, he says, we will need to give aid to families even when the parents act irresponsibly, for the children’s sake.
  • Your neighbor is anyone in need.
  • Jesus is the Great Samaritan to whom the Good Samaritan points. Before you can give this neighbor-love, you need to receive it. Only if you see that you have been saved graciously by someone who owes you the opposite will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need. Once we receive this ultimate, radical neighbor-love through Jesus, we can start to be the neighbors that the Bible calls us to be.


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Music Review, Book Reviews and Recommended Resource

 Music Review

Lead Us Back - Third DayLead Us Back: Songs of Worship – Third Day
****

This is Third Day’s fourth Offerings album, comprised of three worship music albums and Christmas Offerings, released in 2006. While the previous Offerings albums were a mixture of live tracks, new songs and covers, the standard release contains all new worship music written specifically for this album (the Deluxe edition contains at least one cover).

One of my favorite songs of the year – “Soul on Fire” featuring All Sons and Daughters – is the first single. Third Day is an excellent live band that we have seen in concert a few times. I purchased the Deluxe edition of Lead Us Back, which features three additional new songs and eight songs, including “Soul on Fire” recorded in concert, for a total of 22 songs, well worth the extra few dollars.

Any discussion of a Third Day album starts with the powerful voice of lead singer Mac Powell, and his voice is in top shape on this release. The album also features excellent backing vocals from guest artists including not only All Sons and Daughters, but also Michael Tait (formerly of DC Talk and now the lead singer of the Newsboys), Michael W. Smith, Natalie Grant, David Crowder, Sarah MacIntosh, Daniel Bashta and others.

Here are a few comments about and lyrics from each of the new songs:
Spirit a song that could be used as a call to worship in church, with Powell and background singers pleading for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, Lord, fill us with Your Spirit
Guide us by Your presence
How we need You, God

Soul on Fire – the first single, co-written with Matt Maher, is an upbeat catchy song that you’ll have stuck in your mind, featuring the vocals of All Sons and Daughters. The song had its origins with South African worship leader/songwriter Brenton Brown who allowed the band to change the arrangement and add a verse. The band performed a great version of the song live on Fox and Friends on March 7.

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Your Words – a song about God’s Word that features female worship artist Harvest Parker and begins with a hammered dulcimer.

Let me hear Your words
Above all other voices
Above all the distractions in this world

Your words give us life that’s never ending
Your words bring us love that never fails
Everything else will fade away
But what will remain
Are Your words

Our Deliverer – one of the songs that was released early if you pre-ordered the album. The song looks forward to the second coming of Christ.

Our Deliverer is coming
With salvation in His wings
Our Deliverer is coming
Here to set His people free
Our Deliverer is coming
Coming back for you and me
Our Deliverer is coming

He is Alive – this would be an excellent song for churches to sing this Easter:

He is alive
Death is defeated
Sin has retreated
From the power of the Son
And He is alive
The enemy is faded
The battle still rages
But the war has been won

In Jesus’ Name – features vocals from Michael W. Smith, Natalie Grant and Michael Tait.

Name above all names
Savior and our Lord
Every knee will bow
And every tongue confess
No other name is given
By which we can be saved
Let us find our life and love
In Jesus name

Lead Us Back – a short song that contains the following lyrics:

Lead us back where we belong
Call us as Your very own
Lead us back
Safe into to Your arms

Maker – an easy-going acoustic song about the creator of all things.

Maker, there is none like You
Savior, no one else will do
Lord, there is no other God
Lord, there is no other God
Maker, there is none like You

Victorious – another of the songs that was released early if you pre-ordered the album. A piano driven song that will sound great in worship services.

Victorious, You reign victorious
Over sin, over death, over all, over us
Victorious, You reign victorious
In Your mighty name we trust
Let all proclaim You reign victorious
You reign victorious

I Know You Can – a song about trusting completing in our sovereign God that has a modern country sound to it.

Give me the words to say
Bring me the strength to stand
Take all the doubt away
Jesus, I know You can
For if I’m to follow You
It’s only by Your hand
Help me to make it through
Jesus, I know You can

Father of Lights – this song has very much a Crowder feel to it.

Father of truth, Father of grace
Be with us now fill this place

The One I Love – available only on the Deluxe edition. An acoustic guitar driven song.

Oh, you of little faith
Oh, how quickly and how often you have forgotten
Oh, you of little faith
Aren’t you tired of all the wars and battles you have fought in
And when all your world is gone
And you cannot sing your song
I will help you carry on
The one I love

Praise the Invisible – a cover of the Daniel Bashta song available only on the Deluxe edition.

Praise the Invisible, praise the Immortal One
Praise God Incarnate, praise Father, Spirit, Son
For He is God, for He is holy
For He holds the keys to the grave
And forever He will reign

Arise – the closing song is available only on the Deluxe edition.

Arise O God, lift up Your hand
Bring freedom and forgiveness
Arise O God, Help us to stand
For mercy and for justice

I’m a long-time Third Day fan. I look forward to hearing these songs on the radio and hopefully in concert.

Book Review

The Evangelistic Zeal of George WhitefieldThe Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield by Steven Lawson. Reformation Trust Publishing. 178 pages. 2013
****

I’ve enjoyed reading a few of the books in the Long Line of Godly Men series – books on Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, John Owen and now George Whitefield. I look forward to reading Steven Lawson’s books on John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards in the future. About the series, the series editor Lawson writes:

This Long Line of Godly Men Profile series highlights key figures in the age-long procession of sovereign-grace men. The purpose of this series is to explore how these figures used their God-given gifts and abilities to impact their times and further the kingdom of heaven.”

This book focuses on the great English evangelist George Whitefield. Lawson writes: “In the eighteenth century, a day plagued by lifeless orthodoxy, Whitefield burst onto the scene with power and passion. In a day marked by great spiritual decline, Whitefield preached with a supernatural unction and intense boldness that became the primary catalyst in ushering in two major revivals simultaneously, one in the British Isles and the other in the American colonies.”

Lawson indicates that if he could be anyone in church history it would be Whitefield, because of his consuming evangelistic zeal. Whitefield has instilled within him a passion for preaching.

Lawson begins with a brief biography of Whitefield. A few highlights of which are:

  • Whitefield was the force behind the British Evangelical movement and the First Great Awakening. Not since the first-century missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul had such evangelistic preaching been taken so directly to the masses of the world.
  • In his thirty-four years of ministry, Whitefield preached some eighteen thousand sermons, often to multiplied thousands. If informal messages are included, such as in private homes, this number easily increases to thirty thousand sermons, perhaps more. Three sermons a day were common; four were not uncommon. Conservative estimates are that he spoke a thousand times every year for more than thirty years. In America alone, it is estimated that eighty percent of the colonists heard him preach. This means Whitefield was seen by far more American settlers than was George Washington. Whitefield’s name was more widely recognized by colonial Americans than any living person’s except for those of British royalty. It is believed that Whitefield preached to more than ten million people over the course of his ministry, a staggering number.
  • Making seven demanding trips to America, Whitefield crossed the Atlantic Ocean thirteen times for the express purpose of preaching the gospel. He spent almost three years of his life on a ship en route to preach. In all, about eight years of his life were spent in America. He made fifteen trips to Scotland, two to Ireland, and one each to Gibraltar, Bermuda, and the Netherlands.
  • Near the end of Whitefield’s first year at Oxford, Charles Wesley (1707–1788), the future hymn writer, introduced him to a small group of students known as the “Oxford Holy Club.” Included in this group was Charles’ brother, John Wesley (1703–1791), and ten others who met to pursue religiously moral lives. Despite their rigid discipline in Bible reading, study, prayer, fasting, and service, not one of these young students was converted. So stringent was Whitefield in his self-righteous efforts to earn salvation that his severe discipline caused him to suffer a lifelong physical weakness.
  • At age twenty-one, Whitefield was regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and placed his faith in Christ.
  • The Wesleys, still unconverted, departed for the mission field in the American colony of Georgia, leaving Whitefield the leader of the Holy Club. With flaming zeal in his soul, he evangelized his fellow students and placed new believers into small-group Bible studies. This strict discipline in Bible study led many to label the members of the Holy Club with the derisive term “Methodists.”
  • Unexpectedly, correspondence came from John and Charles Wesley in Georgia, urging Whitefield to help in their new missionary work.
  • Whitefield at last arrived in Savannah, Georgia, on May 7, 1738, only to discover that John Wesley had left the colony under indictment by a grand jury. The mission work was in complete shambles. As Whitefield surveyed the scene, he saw a great number of orphans and felt compelled to build an orphanage.
  • Upon his return, Whitefield discovered the Wesleys had been converted and had assumed the leadership of this new, emerging movement known as Methodism.
  • Vicious pamphlets were circulated in opposition to them and rumors spread, smearing Whitefield’s name. Church doors were closed to him, forcing a bold new strategy. He would bypass church buildings altogether and preach in the open air. This first success in open-air preaching proved to be the turning point not only for Whitefield’s ministry but, in many ways, for evangelicalism in general.
  • During this one summer, it is estimated that in London and the surrounding counties Whitefield preached to as many as one million people. Astonishingly, this success occurred while Whitefield was but a mere twenty-four years old.
  • But at the very height of this ministry, Whitefield made a daring decision. Rather than ride this wave of popularity, he determined in August 1739 to board a ship and sail for America. This young evangelist was determined to enter the large cities of the colonies and bring this same evangelistic preaching and revivalist spirit to the New World.
  • After a two-month voyage, Whitefield landed at Lewes, Delaware, ready to launch a new preaching campaign. This evangelistic tour through the colonies is considered by many the greatest preaching campaign ever undertaken.
  • Benjamin Franklin was a close friend of Whitefield. Franklin set out to make Whitefield famous in the colonies. He printed ten editions of Whitefield’s Journals, and secured the assistance of eleven printers in making them bestsellers. During 1739–1741, more than half the books published by Franklin were by or about Whitefield.
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), the recognized leader of the first wave of the Great Awakening, invited Whitefield to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he preached four times in October 1740. This would be the only time that the leaders of this powerful movement would meet.
  • Not since New Testament times had the world witnessed such explosive energy and extensive outreach in evangelistic preaching.
  • Having left England at the height of his popularity, he returned a year later to dwindling support. This decline was due to a crisis created by John Wesley over Whitefield’s belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation. Before Whitefield’s return, Wesley had distributed a tract titled Free Grace, a bitter condemnation of the doctrines of grace aimed directly at his old friend. Whitefield responded by defending the biblical teaching of God’s election and predestination. However, the damage was done. The painful separation of these spiritual leaders resulted in a division that affected countless people.
  • En route, four-month-old John was overtaken by the cold and died. In strange providence, Whitefield’s son died in the very home in which George himself had been born, and as he confided, “laid in the church where I was baptized, first communicated, and first preached.”
  • Further difficulty came when Whitefield survived a well-orchestrated assassination plot in which he was attacked while in bed at night.
  • Sorrow came in 1768 when his wife, Elizabeth, unexpectedly died.
  • On September 16, 1769, Whitefield preached his final London sermon from John 10:27–28. Soon afterward, he sailed for America in what would be his last trip across the Atlantic.
  • Whitefield preached his last sermon in Exeter, New Hampshire, on September 29, 1770. It was a soul-searching exposition that would last two hours, and was titled “Examine Yourself,” from 2 Corinthians 13:5. On Sunday morning, September 30, 1770, at approximately six o’clock a.m., George Whitefield breathed his last and entered into the presence of Him whom he had so faithfully proclaimed. As per his instruction, Whitefield was buried under the next pulpit in which he was to preach. Appropriately, his body was laid in a subterranean crypt under the pulpit of the Old South Presbyterian Church. In London, John Wesley preached Whitefield’s memorial service at one of Whitefield’s churches, Tottenham Court Road Chapel.

I highlighted a number of passages in this short book and would like to share some of them with you below:

  • His unparalleled effectiveness as an evangelist cannot be grasped until one sees the depth of his close communion with the Lord.
  • He was consumed with a fervent desire to know God Himself, which ignited a contagious fire within his soul to lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ.
  • Whitefield was, as Lloyd-Jones identified, “a pietist, that is, one who saw practical personal devotion to the Father and the Son through the Spirit as always the Christian’s top priority.”
  • Whitefield’s spiritual devotion was established upon his immovable commitment to the Bible.
  • The Word of God became so all-consuming in Whitefield’s daily life that he confessed to having little time to read anything else: “I got more true knowledge from reading the Book of God in one month, than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men.”
  • As Whitefield lived for Christ, the Word of God became the ruling authority over his life.
  • Moreover, Whitefield was devoted to God in earnest prayer. Whitefield understood that prayer was a necessary spiritual discipline for the grounding and growth of his soul.
  • Further, Whitefield’s devotion meant he maintained a singular focus upon Jesus Christ.
  • The magnifying lens through which Whitefield saw Christ was Scripture. Above all, Whitefield’s desire was to know Jesus Christ.   In addition, Whitefield’s piety was evidenced in his remarkable humility.   Whitefield never lost sight of the fact that he was a wretched sinner saved by grace.
  • This gifted preacher would not allow a Christian institution to be named after him. The more he looked upon Christ’s holiness, the more he became aware of his own sin. He was willing to concede the error of his ways whenever he discovered he was wrong.
  • But perhaps the supreme example of Whitefield’s humility concerned his theological differences and strained relationships with the Wesley brothers. For the sake of peace, he chose to resign his leadership role in the Methodist movement, which he had helped to start.
  • Finally, Whitefield’s godliness was witnessed in his constant pursuit of personal holiness.
  • Moral perfection, he contended, was not ultimately attainable until he entered the heavenly realm. This understanding was diametrically opposed to the perfectionism taught by the Wesleys, who asserted that a believer could cease sinning. Whitefield countered that perfect holiness could never be fully realized upon this earth.
  • George Whitefield was arguably the most prolific evangelist since the time of the Apostles. Yet, at the same time, he was also a staunch Calvinist. Undergirding his passionate gospel preaching was an unwavering belief in God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation.
  • Some argue that these two realities—sovereign grace and evangelistic zeal—cannot co-exist. But nothing could be further from the truth. They meet perfectly in Scripture, and they existed side-by-side in Whitefield’s ministry.
  • “I embrace the Calvinistic scheme, not because of Calvin, but Jesus Christ has taught it to me,” Whitefield said.
  • Whitefield drank deeply from the well of the doctrines of grace, and it proved to be the spring of all he believed and preached. Each tenet of Calvinism shaped and molded him into a zealous evangelist.
  • Whitefield held to the biblical doctrine of total depravity. This is the scriptural teaching that the original sin of Adam was imputed to the entire human race, condemning all subsequent generations. Likewise, the sin nature of Adam was transmitted to every person at the moment of their conception.
  • Every faculty of every person—mind, affections, and will—is fatally plagued by sin. The entire fallen race cannot, by its own moral efforts, save itself. Neither does any sinful creature have faith to believe in Christ. Whitefield believed that man is utterly dead in sin, and his will is held captive in bondage.
  • Whitefield believed that man rejects the teachings of original sin and total depravity due to inherent pride.
  • Whitefield’s understanding of total depravity indelibly marked his preaching. Virtually every sermon Whitefield preached pointed man to his desperate condition in sin.
  • Whitefield likewise embraced the biblical doctrine of sovereign election. He maintained that before time began, God the Father freely chose those whom He would save out of the whole of the fallen race. These chosen ones were elected not on the basis of anything good foreseen in them, and certainly not for any foreseen faith in Christ. God chose to set His sovereign love upon certain individuals for reasons known only to Himself.
  • Whitefield firmly held to the Reformed position on predestination. In this biblical view, from all eternity God decrees some to election and intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a divine act of grace, bringing them all to Himself in eternity future.
  • Whitefield was also convinced that the doctrine of election has great converting power.
  • God withholds from the non-elect this work of saving grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves, a biblical truth known as reprobation.
  • Whitefield also championed the doctrine of definite atonement, also known as particular redemption.
  • This is the teaching that the Father’s election, the Son’s redemption, and the Spirit’s application of salvation are all coextensive; that God planned to save a certain people, His sheep…and sent His Son explicitly to achieve this goal.” God the Father designed the death of the Lord Jesus Christ with the specific purpose of saving His elect.
  • Definite atonement was an essential element in Whitefield’s explanation of the gospel.
  • Whitefield further preached that all those chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son would be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The saving work of Christ on the cross is applied by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit. He held that the third person of the Trinity would convict the elect sinner, efficaciously draw him to Christ, and grant the gifts of true repentance and faith.
  • Whitefield believed that regeneration is monergistic, an exclusive work of God in the human heart that both precedes and produces saving faith.
  • Finally, Whitefield upheld the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Whitefield was convinced that God brings all His chosen ones to future glory. Those whom God elects and brings to salvation will be preserved by grace, both in time and eternity. Those whom God saves, He saves forever. They will never fall away. They will never perish. This doctrine brought great joy to Whitefield throughout his Christian life and ministry.
  • The focus of his extraordinary ministry was the simple proclamation of the gospel and the appeal to the unconverted to enter through the narrow gate.
  • He purposed not to be with anyone for more than fifteen minutes without confronting them with the claims of Christ.
  • Whitefield was convinced that any presentation of the gospel must begin by exposing the listener’s sin and his dire need for salvation.
  • Only when confronted with their sinfulness, Whitefield insisted, would unbelievers seek to embrace Christ as their Savior and Lord.
  • Whitefield’s sermons were filled with vivid warnings of the horrific dangers of remaining in a state of sin.
  • Whitefield understood that gospel preaching must include the threat of hell, which is intended to drive men to flee to Christ and escape His terrors.
  • Whitefield next proceeded to the saving death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The message of sin is dark, but by it the truth of salvation through the cross shines that much brighter.
  • Whitefield set before sinners Christ’s death and His atoning blood as the only means of salvation.
  • Whitefield preached best, he perceived, when he proclaimed the glories of the cross.
  • Whitefield, moreover, was continually expounding upon the necessity of regeneration, as a “great theme” in his preaching, according to Lloyd-Jones.
  • At the heart of Whitefield’s preaching was this doctrine of the new birth. Regeneration had not been a central focus for the Reformers, but Whitefield made it a dominant emphasis in his preaching. Standing behind the truth on regeneration is the doctrine of election.
  • Whitefield pressed the hearts of his listeners for an immediate response. It was not enough for him that people knew the truth of the gospel. They must fully commit themselves to Jesus Christ.
  • It could be argued that Whitefield’s favorite word in preaching was the word come. He repeatedly urged his listeners to come to Christ by faith.
  • It is quite clear that Whitefield believed an invitation must be offered to the lost to come to Christ. Still, he did not practice an “altar call,” nor did he encourage emotional excitement among his congregation.
  • Whitefield further impressed upon his listeners the certain reality of eternity that lay before them.
  • In nearly every sermon, Whitefield affirmed that the day of eternity was close at hand.
  • With graphic words and an arresting voice, Whitefield had the keen ability to dramatically represent the horrors of hell. His vivid language in describing the lake of fire caused people to feel as if they might drop into the bottomless pit at any moment.
  • The evangelistic zeal of George Whitefield flowed out of his love for the glorious gospel of grace. It was this supreme love and devotion that drove him to pursue the lost, expose sin, exalt the cross, summon the will, and point to eternity.
  • Arnold Dallimore wrote, “His ministry presents an unparalleled example of declaring the sovereignty of God combined with the free offer of salvation to all who would believe on Christ.”
  • Whitefield provides the quintessential example of one who held the doctrines of grace in one hand and the free offer of the gospel in the other hand.
  • In a day when pulpit delivery had degenerated into dry ritual, involving nothing more than a monotone reading of a sermon manuscript, Whitefield burst onto the scene with intense preaching.
  • Whitefield’s passion arose from the depth of his biblical convictions. Whenever he stood behind an open Bible, Whitefield was thoroughly convinced that he was delivering divine truth.
  • Whitefield so elevated the importance of preaching that he stated, “May I die preaching.” Again, “I hope yet to die in the pulpit, or soon after I come out of it.” In God’s providence, Whitefield realized this very desire. On a balcony not far from his deathbed, he preached his last sermon to a large crowd that had filled the street in front of the parsonage. He died within hours of extending the invitation for all to embrace Christ.
  • Whitefield’s soul was ignited with fiery zeal in his preaching. Whitefield’s intense passion was kindled by his own deepening love for God and Jesus Christ, which in turn ignited his compassion for lost sinners.
  • Whitefield’s affection for God was stoked by reflection upon the greatness of His character. Moreover, his heart of love was fueled by his personal communion with Jesus Christ. This intimate knowledge of Christ was the consistent theme that filled his soul and increased his affections.
  • Whitefield often wept as he preached. Deep compassion for unbelievers moved Whitefield in his preaching.
  • An understanding of Whitefield’s ministry must recognize his relentless pursuit of the lost.
  • Whitefield is remembered as one of the first to preach to African slaves in the colonies.
  • Whitefield believed God had sovereignly called him to preach the gospel.
  • The relentless drive of Whitefield’s herculean effort was fueled by power from on high. Consider the unparalleled pace of Whitefield’s itinerant ministry.
  • He founded three churches and one school, and founded and assumed responsibility for an orphanage in Savannah, Georgia, often preaching five or six times a day, for as much as forty hours a week.
  • The only way Whitefield could endure all he did, travel as much as he did, preach as much as he did, and exert the energy that he did, was through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
  • Whitefield’s deep love for the souls of men and women did not originate in himself. It was God who gave him an uncommon love for those to whom he preached.
  • Time and again, Whitefield attributed his effectiveness, influence, and scope in ministry to the quickening effect of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Spirit also gave Whitefield resilience in the face of opposition to the message he preached.
  • Whitefield was inwardly consoled in the midst of many demanding circumstances in his life and ministry.
  • At times, Whitefield felt abandoned by the Lord. It was then that the Lord came in great power to shore up his weakness.
  • As he faced these many trials in his life and ministry—the conflict with the Wesleys, the financial burden of the Bethesda Orphanage, the long ocean voyages, the premature death of his newborn son, the loss of his wife, and the growing hecklers in the crowd—this valiant soldier of the cross found supernatural solace in the Lord, mediated by the Holy Spirit.
  • Whitefield understood that the effects of his preaching were sovereignly determined by God. His responsibility was to deliver the message and leave the results entirely with God.
  • The same Spirit who indwelled Whitefield has taken up His royal residence within the heart of every believer in Christ. The same Spirit who called Whitefield from obscurity to worldwide influence has placed the same call upon every Christian’s heart to bear gospel witness. The same Spirit who empowered Whitefield in his numerous endeavors will propel every follower of Christ to service in His name. The same Spirit who energized Whitefield will give divine energy and supernatural power today to accomplish all He wills.
  • Among his many qualities worth emulating, we see the primacy of the gospel in his preaching. He lived to proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ.

Lawson concludes by writing:

“May the Lord raise up a new generation of zealous evangelists who will never lose sight of the need to preach the gospel with urgency and passion.”

Reading Together ~ Week 1

Counter Culture by David PlattCounter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Here’s our first installment, covering the material through chapter 1 of the book. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website (CounterCultureBook.com) where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

Platt starts out by talking about the Gospel. If someone asked you to clearly describe the Gospel would you be able to do it? Platt writes: “The good news that the just and gracious Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the resurrection, so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever.

In the Introduction, Platt writes:

  • On popular issues like poverty and slavery, where Christians are likely to be applauded for our social action, we are quick to stand up and speak out. Yet on controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion, where Christians are likely to be criticized for our involvement, we are content to sit down and stay quiet. It’s as if we’ve decided to pick and choose which social issues we’ll contest and which we’ll concede. And our picking and choosing normally revolves around what is most comfortable—and least costly—for us in our culture.
  • And what if Christ’s call in our lives is not to comfort in our culture? What if Christ in us actually compels us to counter our culture? Not to quietly sit and watch evolving cultural trends and not to subtly shift our views amid changing cultural tides, but to courageously share and show our convictions through what we say and how we live, even (or especially) when these convictions contradict the popular positions of our day.

Chapter 1: The Greatest Offense: The Gospel and Culture

Platt writes:

  • The gospel is the lifeblood of Christianity, and it provides the foundation for countering culture. For when we truly believe the gospel, we begin to realize that the gospel not only compels Christians to confront social issues in the culture around us. The gospel actually creates confrontation with the culture around—and within—us.
  • One of the core truths of the gospel is that God will judge every person, and he will be just. This puts us in a position where we desperately need his grace.
  • Tell any modern person that there is a God who sustains, owns, defines, rules, and one day will judge him or her, and that person will balk in offense.
  • Do you see the role reversal here? It all begins when the command of God is reduced to questions about God. Is God really holy? Does he really know what is right? Is God really good? Does he really want what is best for me? Amid such questions, man and woman subtly assert themselves not as the ones to be judged by God but as the ones who sit in judgment of him.
  • Godless worldviews thus leave us with a hopeless subjectivity concerning good and evil that is wholly dependent on social constructs. Whatever a culture deems right is right, and whatever a culture deems wrong is wrong. This is precisely the worldview that prevails in American culture today, where rapid shifts in the moral landscape clearly communicate that we no longer believe certain things are inherently right or wrong. Instead, rightness and wrongness is determined by social developments around us.
  • For even as the gospel grounds the definition of good and evil in the character of God, it also claims that evil is not limited to certain types of sin and select groups of sinners. Evil is unfortunately inherent in all of us and therefore unavoidably a part of any culture we create.
  • The essence of what the Bible calls sin is the exaltation of self. God has designed us to put him first in our lives, others next, and ourselves last. Yet sin reverses that order: we put ourselves first, others next (many times in an attempt to use them for ourselves), and God somewhere (if anywhere) in the distant background. We turn from worshiping God to worshiping self.
  • When you put all these truths in the gospel together, you realize that the most offensive and countercultural claim in Christianity is not what Christians believe about homosexuality or abortion, marriage or religious liberty. Instead, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in his love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from his lordship will suffer everlasting death.
  • I envision three categories of readers for this book. The first category includes readers who don’t believe the gospel. You don’t currently profess to be a Christian, yet for any number of reasons you’re reading this book.
  • The second category of reader is similar to the first in that you don’t believe the gospel. The difference, however, is that you currently profess to be a Christian.
  • The final category of reader includes those who do believe the gospel. I assume this comprises many of those reading this book, and this is certainly the main audience for whom I am writing.
  • In addressing each of these issues, I want to call Christians to conviction. Ultimately, may it be said of us that we not only held firm to the gospel, but that we spoke clearly with the gospel to the most pressing issues of our day. In addition to calling us to conviction, I want to call us to compassion. Based upon his love, I want to call us to action.
  • The goal of this book is not information about the gospel and social issues; it is application of the gospel to social issues.

Next week we’ll look at Chapter 2: Where Rich and Poor Collide: The Gospel and Poverty. I recommend that you purchase this book and read along with us.

Recommended Resource

 Reformation Study BibleReformation Study Bible – R.C. Sproul, General Editor

In April 1995 I first saw the New Geneva Study Bible (later renamed The Reformation Study Bible) at the book table. We were in Springfield to hear Dr. John Gerstner (R.C. Sproul’s mentor), speak near the end of his life (he would die less than a year later on March 24, 1996). I had my copy on order so couldn’t purchase a copy that day.

I am so excited that The Reformation Study Bible has been thoroughly revised and carefully crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul and the contributions of 75 distinguished theologians and pastors from around the world. It was released at the recent 2015 Ligonier National Conference, and will be available publicly this month.

Over 1.1 million words of new, expanded, or revised commentary represent 40% more content faithfully presented to emphasize the need for the grace of God to lead out of darkness and into the light of Scripture.

Trustworthy Scholars & Commentary

  • New theological notes from general editor, R.C. Sproul
  • Commentary from 75 faithful theologians from around the world
  • New topical articles to enrich additional study of Scripture

Thoroughly Revised & Expanded Study Aids

  • Over 1.1 million words of verse-by-verse and topical explanations
  • Over 20,000 new, revised, or expanded study notes
  • Historical creeds and confessions from 2,000 years of church history

New Study Tools & Visual Helps

  • Includes over $400 of digital resources (eBooks, videos) from Ligonier Ministries and 6 months of Tabletalk Magazine
  • 16 pages of high-resolution full color maps at back of Bible
  • Embedded maps provide quick references as you read
  • Concordance, table of weights and measures, and more

I was told at the conference that the e-book edition of The Reformation Study Bible would be released (for the first time) in about a month from now, and that when you buy the physical copy you will also receive the e-book version.

There are many excellent study Bibles available – I used the ESV Study Bible, Gospel Transformation Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible for example. However, once the updated Reformation Study Bible is released in e-book format, it will be the Bible I’ll use each day.