Archives For September 2011

Quote: Bound

September 30, 2011 — Leave a comment


Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.

— G.K. Chesterton


Podcast updated.

Continuing in the crisis of faith:

The repercussions of the Reformed movement, hating on the religious, and why I was called a lying witch abortionist. Eight minutes.

A Coward Is Easier

September 26, 2011 — 2 Comments



My church asked me years ago — demanded me — not to get too involved with my own people. Don’t give rides to the youth. Don’t do that program, it’ll be out of control. Don’t have outings after church, they’ll get home late (on a Friday). Don’t do anything that will diminish your authority.

I really cared about my reputation with the church leaders and the parents. I always wanted to obey; of course that’s the right thing. But the trade-off was that I played it safe, never got into the gutter with these kids, never got into the trenches with their lives, and had my hands tied. Well cut off. I let them.

Almost any time I tried new things, I’d get in trouble. Too radical. Too novel. Too much. I’d back off instantly. I was the King of Deference. In seminary they teach you to lower your head and throw your vision under a bus. Being a coward is easier. I’m reminded of Francis Chan’s youth pastor, who was fired for raising disciples. That made an impact on Pastor Francis: that sometimes pursuing God’s vision means abandoning manmade protocol.

Having a breakdown made sense: I was feeling impotent, powerless, fruitless, ashamed. I did not do anything God called me to do in fear of reprimand. I feared man. So inevitably I imploded.

When I come back to ministry, I think I’ll have to ask for forgiveness later instead of permission now. I’m dealing with youth who might never go to church again after graduation. These parents don’t see much at stake. I see eternity. I see life trajectories turning to glory or destruction. Is that too dramatic? The Bible says no.

Please pray that I would do this out of conviction and not rebellion. I want to push the boundaries of a safety-obsessed church: not for me but for Him. It’ll be exhausting, I could run myself into the ground again, I could be fired, but at least I won’t have regrets. I’ll be doing it how God wants me to. It’ll be a joyful struggle.

Originally posted on my Tumblr.


Angry, Honestly

September 26, 2011 — Leave a comment



Last night in the car on the way to buy groceries, I flew into an obnoxious rage. I’m still pretty raw since the breakdown and emotions have been spewing off every hour. I cursed out everyone I had ever helped who threw it away. I cursed them out for stealing life from me. I cursed out the two guys who I let stay in my house to get their life back on track, who are now worse off than before and have completely cut me off without a single explanation.

I cursed out all the prodigals, who only days before they left the church had been texting me about how awesome God was. I gave these people my time, my money, my heart, my guts. And for what.

I thought about Jesus, who gave his life so that people could reject him, ridicule him, revile him. Scholars write books about how he didn’t exist. Atheists (like I once was) openly desecrate him in every venue possible. He’s studied like geology. He’s a joke on t-shirts. Two-thirds of the world refuse him.

In the worst part of my heart, I called Jesus a fool. That he would save a people like us. He could’ve — should’ve — left us to bleed on our own. He didn’t. And for what?

I was angry that such grace cannot allow me unforgiveness. If I have been shown such mercy, I can’t stay bitter for long. It’s easier to stay angry, honestly. But it’s also living a lie: it is dishonest in the face of the Son who died for us.

I asked my roommate to pray for me. We wept together: about a God who is so merciful to save us thieving morons. My roommate said, “Jesus already finished the hard part.” So he did. As much as I feel people have stolen from me, we have stolen infinitely more from God and He offers forgiveness. Somehow that makes me even more mad. But maybe mad in the right direction. Mad enough to forgive them.


Originally posted on my Tumblr.


Quote: Astonishment

September 26, 2011 — Leave a comment


The Christian saint is happy because he has verily been cut off from the world; he is separate from things and is staring at them in astonishment.

— G.K. Chesterton


Quote: Worship

September 23, 2011 — Leave a comment


“Worship is about what we love. What we live for. It’s about who we are before God.”

— Bob Kauflin


I Rejected Jesus

September 21, 2011 — 1 Comment

At a gas station, a young black brother asked me for ten dollars. He needed a black pair of shoes to work at Wendy’s or they would tell him to go home on his first day. He said, “I’m just stepping out in faith, man. Please.”

These kinds of things happen in Tampa all the time. Addicts begging for change. As a reflex, I said no. He thanked me and walked off defeated. I suddenly remembered: I had exactly ten dollars in my wallet.

I should’ve stopped him, but I didn’t. I drove off and spent the ten dollars on something probably much less important.

Maybe someone else gave him ten dollars, I thought. Maybe Wendy’s gave him a break. Maybe he was lying. Maybe he would’ve spent it on drugs. Maybe.

I know one thing for sure: I turned down Jesus that day. In Matthew 25:40 he said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” The truth is that whether or not this guy would do the right thing with the money, I know I did not. I wish all Christian stories ended in victory with the pastor smiling and church clapping. Sadly many of them end up like this one, regretful over a ten dollar bill that was worth eternity.

I’m sorry young brother. You won’t read this but forgive me. Next time the shoes are on me. And I’ll tell you about the one who will wash your feet, the same one who washed mine.

Quote: Strangers

September 21, 2011 — Leave a comment


“The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret … At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door … but all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

— C.S. Lewis


Quote: Hope

September 19, 2011 — Leave a comment


“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”

— C.S. Lewis


Quote: Relentless

September 16, 2011 — Leave a comment


“But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to him.”

– C. S. Lewis


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puppy no

bear dance

room lights

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lion lol

study

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Continue Reading…

Quote: Neighbor

September 14, 2011 — Leave a comment


“A Christian does not live in himself, but in Christ and in his neighbor … He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends himself into his neighbor. Yet he always remains in God and in his love.”

– Martin Luther


Simple Things Daily

September 12, 2011 — Leave a comment

1. Tip your server generously, even if they sucked.
You could turn around the server’s day or even make them a better server, and it only costs you a couple extra bucks.

2. Don’t text other people while talking to a real live person in front of you.

3. In the middle of something extremely important on your computer, stand up and go outside. It’ll break the electronic spell and remind you there are more important things out there.

4. Skip the soda for once and drink some ice cold water.

5. Pray for someone you’re not too crazy about.

6. Organize one part of your house perfectly at all right angles and parallel lines. You might end up cleaning the house.

7. Dance for ten seconds. Feel your mood change.

8. Call a random person. Say you called for no reason but to say hi. Let them talk about their day. And listen.

Quote: Riches

September 12, 2011 — Leave a comment


“The only way to deal with remaining sin long-term is to develop a distaste for it in light of the glorious riches we already possess in Christ.”

– Tullian Tchividjian


Quote: Evil

September 9, 2011 — Leave a comment


“Evil is anti-creation, anti-life, and the force that seeks to oppose, deface, and destroy God, his good world, and his image-bearers. Simply put, when someone defaces a human being — God’s image-bearer — ultimately an attack is being waged against God himself.”

– Justin S. Holcomb


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Continue Reading…

Forgetting the self

September 8, 2011 — Leave a comment

Earlier today I was listening to the radio and Deputy J. Jonas shared his story about 9/11.  He was a firefighter running down the stairs telling people to exit the building.  At nearly every floor there was a fellow firefighter helping people, replying, “I have to stay. I can’t leave them. I have to help.”  It was an intense retelling, every floor, people dying and screaming.  No matter what J. Jonas said, his co-workers would not leave.  Most of them — the firefighters and the people they were helping — perished when the building collapsed.

He said, “They were in imminent peril, but they had to help people who needed help.” They disregarded their own safety, even their own families. They stayed even when it was hopeless.

I was fighting tears listening to this.  I was immediately reminded of Galatians 2:20 –

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

It’s not a verse that many people would connect, but I remembered: I no longer live.  The truly selfless person who understands love no longer lives, but lives for others — just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.

The unsung heroes of 9/11, whether they knew it or not, embodied this sort of love to the fullest. Their sacrifice was not in vain. Love keeps going, even when it looks hopeless: and that is hope.


Recently Matt Chandler preached through fifty verses in one sermon about God’s Self-Centered Glory.  He mentioned he got the list from his mentor, John Piper.

Here is the list from John Piper.

Here is Matt Chandler’s blog post about it.

Here is the sermon by Matt Chandler (it’s dated 8-14-11, titled Village Identity Part 1).

The following is an excerpt from John Piper’s list:

“Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,

For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

I have found that for many people these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world:

For my name’s sake!
For the sake of my praise!
For my own sake!
For my own sake!
How should my name be profaned!
My glory I will not give to another!

What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in his own affections. The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name.”


I am a certified sermon junkie: I probably watch and listen to a dozen hours of sermons per week.
This will be a ten or twelve part blog series of my favorite preachers. Please note that I don’t necessarily endorse all of them or everything they say.
Pictures are taken from random Google searches.


Mark Driscoll
Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington

Perhaps the quintessential face of the YRR Movement — the Young, Restless, and Reformed — Pastor Mark Driscoll is popular because he’s not. The mainstream think he’s too mainstream and the evangelicals don’t think he’s evangelical. Early in his ministry, he was known as the “cussing pastor.” He stirred up some controversy with the entire Song of Solomon debacle, in which he graphically described oral sex (the sermon has since been removed at the request of many pastors). He has condemned Avatar as a demonic movie, has commended MMA as a legit sport, and has publicly ripped up Joel Osteen. He’s called out video games, yoga, Twilight, The Shack, Oprah, and thirty-year old man-boys. He’s called cessationism “worldly.” He has written the dirtiest book ever about Jesus (Vintage Jesus). Obviously he’s a bold pastor, if a bit brash and brawny. And that voice of his allows him to get away with so many of the things he says.

When I first saw him speak at the Resurgence Conference, it’s easy to tell he loves people and is quite sincere in all he says and does. Some may write him off as a vulgar obscene showman who goes for the shocks, but he does preach total theology without skipping over the fine print. He’ll pause to go over the tenets of faith that may bore people, including the Trinity, sacraments, baptism, stewardship, church membership, church discipline, and every nuance of Jesus’ nature. It’s Driscoll’s hard commitment to the truth that sets him apart from other entertaining preachers. His sermons typically go an hour long because he doesn’t cut the Bible out of the Bible. He preaches the It-is-written. I still can’t believe he writes a sermon in forty-five minutes.

Driscoll is also furiously witty. I thought maybe this was all preprogrammed humor (I usually write my jokes in my sermons and try to make them natural: come on pastors, you do it too), but having watched the Elephant Room DVD with the seven megachurch dudes debating on semi-important things, Driscoll always had a hilarious one-liner that brought the house down. And somehow his jokes always serve the message. He’s a lot more intelligent than his critics will admit.

Despite the hype and hate surrounding him, Driscoll is the real deal. Yes, he can be arrogant. He admits that. Yes, he’s ridiculously Calvinist. He defends it. He says things that many church folk disagree with. He calls it “fighting like brothers.” And he goes for the shocks. I’d say it’s just good preaching.


For sermons from Mark Driscoll, click here for his website.

For my review on the Elephant Room DVD, click here.

For my blog post about Matt Chandler, click here.






2 Corinthians 5:17

September 6, 2011 — Leave a comment



Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! — 2 Corinthians 5:17.

When Apostle Paul wrote this in the original Greek language, he was so excited he forgot all the verbs (he was normally an eloquent writer). So literally it reads, “Any of you Christ? He new creation.”


Originally posted on my Tumblr.