- Prophetic perspective
- Sovereignty of God
Friday, October 31, 2008
Sowell's main idea is that the ideological origin of political struggles and worldview is a conflict of competing visions about humanity. These visions provide the answers to our worldview questions: e.g., whether or not we are generally selfish, the value and limits of human reason, the role of planning in societal growth, whether we should prefer "trade offs" or "solutions," whether we should prefer "procedural fairness" or "results-based fairness," etc.Peter Robinson at Uncommon Knowledge recently did a video interview with Sowell about these matters, as applied to the current election. The five parts of the interview are linked below:
Thomas Sowell describes the critical differences between interests and visions. Interests, he says, are articulated by people who know what their interests are and what they want to do about them. Visions, however, are the implicit assumptions by which people operate. This idea elevates to politics, where visions are either “constrained” or “unconstrained.”
Sowell describes the constrained and unconstrained visions of the law, noting that the former applies to John McCain and the latter to Barrack Obama.
Speaking of the differing visions of war, Sowell says the constrained vision is never surprised by war, while the unconstrained vision almost always is.
Is John McCain’s the constrained vision of the economy, and is Obama’s the unconstrained? According to Sowell, the distinction is sadly not that clear.
Thomas Sowell discusses the dangerous unconstrained vision of Barack Obama and other elites. And what will happen if this vision scores a three-house sweep on Election Day? Sowell says we may have reached “a point of no return.”
Here is the closing section:
How should we respond to The Shack? My first response was to run away as quickly as I possibly could. But then I realized that The Shack gets one thing right when it encourages us to meet God in the difficult issues. ‘The shack’ functions as a metaphor for two things: it is the place where we stuff the things that are too hard to think about, and the place where we meet with God face-to-face. Young is dead right to suggest that we need to get to know God in the midst of the hard questions. The problem is that he brings us face-to-face with a God who is not God at all. In his zeal to ‘free’ God from the chains of misunderstanding, Young has shackled God beyond recognition.
The solution, though, isn't to run away from ‘the shack’; the solution is to spend more time there—not in William P Young's ‘shack’, of course, but in the place where the living God speaks for himself about the big issues of life. We need to spend more time gazing into the face of the God who reveals himself in the Bible. We need to think about the big questions of suffering and obedience and truth while we sit at the feet of our Lord. In fact, if we have been reading our Bibles, we will have found that these are issues that he is only too willing to discuss. Indeed, it is the triune God of Scripture alone who is both sovereign enough and good enough to deal with evil.
I am not pretending that there won't be difficult questions. Nor am I suggesting that the answers will be totally satisfying for everyone. We may even need to accept that God is not willing to answer some of our questions right now. But we will certainly be better off hearing from the God who sent his Son to die for us, than listening to the god of our imaginations.
If western Christianity had spent more time in ‘the shack’ with the true and living creator, and less time wallowing around in our felt needs, then, just maybe, less people would have been fooled. We might have recognized The Shack for the empty shell that it is. Our churches might even have become places where people could meet face-to-face with the holy God of Scripture. Only when we come into the presence of the loving, holy, majestic, glorious, gracious, judging, rescuing, creating, sustaining and redeeming God, who holds the future in his awesome hands, will we have a real message to offer a world obsessed with pain.
Session 1: The Call to Formative Instruction
Session 2: Giving Kids a Vision for God’s Glory
Session 3: Helping Kids Understand Authority
Session 4: Helping Kids Understand the Heart
Session 5: Overview of Corrective Discipline
8:40-9:00 A.M. — Maridel Sandberg, President of Christian Alliance for Orphans
9:00-9:50 A.M. — Dan Cruver (T4A Director), "Adoption in God's Story of Redemption"
10:15-11:30 A.M. — Richard Phillips, "The Good News of Adoption"
1:10-2:20 P.M. — Carl Robbins, "Adoption and the Multi-Ethnic Family of God"
2:50-4:00 P.M. — Tullian Tchividjian, "Our Adoption and Visiting Orphans in Their Affliction"
- What's at Stake?
- The Question of Character
- To Defend the Nation
- Governing Philosophy
- National Party Platforms
- The Party in Power
- Iraq and Afghanistan
- The Question of Experience
- The Issue of the Family
- Human Life in the Balance
- A Matter of Priorities
- A Fundamental Responsibility
- Determine the Major Issues
- Determine Which Candidate Understands the Guiding Principles of Those Issues
- Consider Leadership Ability Last
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Catholics in Alliance recently released a study questioning the effectiveness of pro-life legislation and arguing that greater spending on welfare programs was a better strategy for reducing abortion. Unfortunately, their study is seriously flawed. Rigorous analysis of their own data indicates that increased welfare spending only has little to no impact on abortion. Public funding restrictions and informed-consent laws, however, are effective at reducing abortion rates.On a different, though related note, Steve of the Fat Triplets blog argues that the supply and demand curve virtually guarantees that Obama's abortion plans (which involve subsidizing abortion) will lead to an increased abortion rate.
Pastors and seminarians in particular will benefit from Ryken’s outstanding meditation on what it means to suffer in ministry while in union with Christ. Speaking quite honestly, I found Ryken’s lecture on this topic one of the most helpful and realistic (yet hopeful!) talks on pastoral ministry I’ve ever heard.
There’s an equally dangerous form of self-righteousness that plagues the unconventional, the liberal, and the non-religious types. We anti-legalists can become just as guilty of legalism in the opposite direction. What do I mean?
It’s simple: we can become self-righteous against those who are self-righteous. Many younger evangelicals today are reacting to their parents’ conservative, buttoned-down, rule-keeping flavor of “older brother religion” with a type of liberal, untucked, rule-breaking flavor of “younger brother irreligion” which screams, ”That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I know I’m not good and you think you are good. That makes me better than you.” See the irony?
In other words, they’re proud that they’re not self-righteous!
Listen: self-righteousness is no respecter of persons. It reaches to the religious and the irreligious; the “buttoned down” and the “untucked.” The entire Bible reveals how shortsighted all of us are when it comes to our own sin. For example, it was easy for Jonah to see the idolatry of the sailors. It was easy for him to see the perverse ways of the Ninevites. What he couldn’t see was his own idolatry, his own perversion. So the question is, in which direction does your self-righteousness lean?
Thankfully, while our self-righteousness reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. And the good news is, that it reaches in both directions!
For a Christian perspective on fairy stories, I know of nothing better than Tolkien's essay, On Fairy-Stories.
HT: Chris Bruno
Update: As noted in the comments, here's the essay in PDF.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Russell Moore's sermon manuscript, Joseph Is a Single-Issue Evangelical: The Father of Jesus, the Cries of the Helpless, and Change You Can Believe In, is now online. Here's how it closes:
The question for us, then, of whether we are truly pro-life or not, has very little to do with how many signs are in our yards or what bumper stickers we put on our cars. Indeed, it may be the case that after this election the abortion debate will be over in this country politically.You can also listen to the MP3 online.
But even if that's the case, it's not over. Our churches are to follow in the walk of faith, which means that--like Joseph walking away from stability and comfort--our churches must be different, they must be counter-cultural, the kind of place where the teenage mother is welcomed and loved, where abandoned children are received, and where a culture that is in love with death can come and hear a message saying that life is better than death because there is a man, an ex-corpse, a former-fetus, who is standing as the ruler over all the nations and the universe. And he is not dead anymore.
What we must have is a church in which the gospel we give is the kind of gospel that leads people out of death and despair and toward the kind of life that is found in confessing a name--a name that was first spoken by human lips by a day-laborer in Nazareth, "Jesus is Lord."
If we follow this kind of pure and undefiled religion, it doesn't mean we will be shrill. It doesn't mean we will be culture-warriors. It doesn't mean we'll be belligerent. It will mean that we will have churches that are so strikingly different, that maybe in ten or fifteen years the most odd and counter-cultural thing a lost person may hear in your church is not, "Amen," but is instead the sounds of babies crying in the nursery.
And hearing the oddness of that sound, when they look around at the place in which all of the Lord Jesus' brothers and sisters are welcomed, protected, and loved, the place in which the lies of a murderous and appetite-driven dragon are denied, the lost person might say, "What is the sound of all these cries?" And maybe we'll be able to say with our forefather Joseph, "that's the sound of life. That's the sound of hope. That's the sound of change."
You might even say, it's "change you can believe in."
We do the Kendrick brothers no favors when we grant them a “pass” based on good intentions. I learned this lesson as a writer many years ago. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but (I assure you) I am much better than I was last year, and I am much, much better than I was a decade ago. I improved because of tough feedback from teachers, mentors, and—sometimes—critics.Amen to that. Giving and receiving constructive, truth-in-love criticism can be painful, but it's necessary in the pursuit of excellence for the glory of God.
The artist’s life, a helpful college professor once told me, is a vocation, a calling. It should be engaged in to tell the truth about the world, and not just to make money or even to propagate a message. It takes discipline, perseverance, and mastery of the tools of that particular art. Most of all it takes an unsentimental view of what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing. And it takes the courage to hear the truth about your work. Tough feedback is not a discouragement—it is a gift.
If we truly want to encourage the Kendricks, let’s say: “Congratulations. Making a movie, even a bad one, is no easy task. This one is an honorable ‘next step’ in the process, but is it really your best?”
If the Kendrick brothers have any artistic integrity at all, they will not be discouraged by such feedback, and—in the end—they might one day make that great Christian movie we all have longed to see.
HT: Tim Challies
Update: Quick additional thoughts:
1) I haven't seen the movie (though I'd like to).
2) If Mr. Smith is going to critique artistic integrity, I would suggest he needs to apply integrity to the task of movie reviewing. Writing (and publishing) a critical review after only watching 20 minutes is simply inexcusable (see this).
4) I think we should avoid being elitists (who will criticize any movie like this, no matter the quality) and enablers (who will criticize any critic, no matter the criticism).
4) I don't agree that it necessarily takes a huge amount of money to make a good artistic film with a good story. Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of the movie Saints and Soldiers. It was made for under $1 million. (For snow they used mashed potato flakes from a local grocery store!)
5) I also don't agree that good content trumps artistic excellence. We should strive for both-and.
Because I love the Bible and I want the people I care for to love the Bible, this Saturday I'm launching Year of the Bible. Building upon the release/momentum of a resource that trumps my seminary education--the ESV Study Bible, I'm encouraging my peeps to read through the Bible in a year (November 1st 2008-October 31st 2009). Many are committing to Year of the Bible.He also gives "5 directives": (1) Set aise a specific time and place for enjoying your daily Bible reading. (2) Make Year of the Bible a joy, not a job. (3) Keep moving forward when you fall behind. (4) Talk about and apply your discoveries. (5) Major in the text, minor in the notes.
To enrich our individual reading, each week we will have a different person share publicly for 2 minutes about a "discovery" they make (about God, the gospel, the Christian life, etc.) during their Bible reading for that week. We're also working to create a culture where it's normal for people talk with one another (when gathering in our weekly community groups and while doing life throughout the week) about how they're being affected by this journey through the Scriptures.
Are you looking for a Bible reading plan? You might want to join us for Year of the Bible.
Here's the reading plan: Year of the Bible Reading Plan.pdf
Each directive is unpacked a bit here--and it looks like this could also be printed as a bookmark.
Stephen Dempster recently posted some interesting reflections on the protology and eschatology of some events in Exodus at the Biblical Theology blog, particularly the relationship between Sinai and Zion. The short end of it is that the events connected to Sinai are at the same time a return to the Garden paradise in Eden as well as a looking forward to the great gathering of the nations (Isaiah 25) as the walls that divide the nations are broken down through the ministry of Jesus. Very good stuff. It made me want to pay the $120 for the book he referenced! Read his whole post here.
"Chief Justice John Marshall said it all in one sentence: 'The power to tax is the power to destroy.' It is not the money that is taxed away that is destroyed. What is destroyed is the wealth that does not get produced in the first place, because high taxes make its production not worthwhile."
"The economy is not a zero-sum game where someone gains what others lose. The whole economy can lose when ill-considered policies gain political popularity and stifle economic growth."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
If I were a betting man, I'd go with proposition 1. But despite nearly everything going against McCain these days, I can't shake the weird sense that this one is going to be pretty darn close.
On Wednesday feel free to leave comments either mocking my foolishness or praising my foresight!
I'm told that starting next Wednesday, November 5 (the day after the election), Grace to You will announce a new policy, effective immediately, that all of their mp3 downloads of John MacArthur's sermons will be completely free.
That's 3500 sermons for free--with no strings (like required registration) attached.
Hats off to Grace to You for this generous move!
Make sure to visit the site next Wednesday.
It's never been a more dangerous time to be a black baby. While overall rates of abortion have declined to the lowest level since 1974, the Guttmacher Institute recently reported alarming increases in racial disparities between the rates of abortion for black and white women. Analyzing more than 30 years of data collected directly from abortion providers, Guttmacher found that black women's abortion rates are now five times greater than those of white women.I would say read the whole thing, but I haven't yet. I simply couldn't move beyond that devastating line: "Nearly half of all African American pregnancies end in abortion."
Currently, white women's rates of abortion have declined to 10.5 abortions per 1,000 women while black women's rates are an alarming 50 abortions per 1,000 black women. Put in terms of actual pregnancies, the figures are shocking: Nearly half of all African American pregnancies end in abortion. Since 1973, the number of abortions by African American women has totaled more than twelve million.
May God have mercy, and may he give each of us fresh resolve to do something to stop this black genocide.
When Jason Kovacs and his wife Shawnda were newly married, they developed a strong passion for adopting. "We were convicted by James 1:27, which said that 'true religion' involved looking after orphans," Kovacs said. But as a young couple on the staff at a church—Minneapolis' Bethlehem Baptist Church—the estimated $20,000 needed to adopt a child was simply beyond their means.Read the whole thing.
So they turned to the Abba Fund, one of a small but growing number of organizations that provide matching grants and interest-free loans to Christian families that want to adopt. Now, nearly 10 years and two adoptions later, Kovacs is the executive director of the Abba Fund.
Adoption funds are, in concept, simple: They provide grants and interest-free loans to couples who want to adopt but cannot afford the up-front costs associated with adoptions. "Most adoptive couples are relatively young," said Kovacs. "This is a great way for the church to come alongside these young couples to help with the adoption process."
There's now a website--Friends of Northwestern College & Radio--that seeks to provide some explanation and documentation of what's going on there. The most recent posting, I believe, is a letter from five former Trustees.
There are other documents as well, explaining serious doctrinal and theological concerns, as well as very significant misgivings regarding managerial style and decision making (including heavy-handed intimidation, bullying tactics, manipulation, and suppression). I would probably not post on this publicly, except for the fact that I know--and have the deepest respect for--some of the key leaders who are raising these concerns: Drs. Paul Helseth, Tim Tomlinson, and Doug Huffman. These are bright, godly, careful men. And when they write what they have written, I think it demands to be taken seriously.
In one document, Tomlinson writes:
The bottom line is this: much damage has been done to this college in the last five years. We are moving away from our historic niche and we have adopted an approach to going about our business that is not God-honoring. Because of these things, a significant and increasing number of faculty and staff do not have confidence or trust in the leadership of this administration. This is the present reality at Northwestern College. To the trustees: the financial and numerical dashboard may look okay right now, but that is akin to a cancer patient who appears fine on the outside, but on the inside is dying a painful death.In another document, Tomlinson writes:
. . . [T]here is clearly a new operating ethos here at the college. Pragmatism over principle. Image over substance. Political Correctness over Biblical correctness. Little by little, these values, fueled by the encroachment of postmodernism into our ethos, will undermine the authority of the Bible, and therefore Christ, over the affairs of the college.Why should outsiders care about all of this? One reason is that it seems to be an unfolding example, before our eyes, of the pattern documented in James Tunstead Burtchaell's book, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches.
May God mercifully open eyes and stop the biblical and moral drift.
Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:Read the whole thing.The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Let’s take these one at a time and compare them to voting.
Monday, October 27, 2008
ESV Hear the Word Audio Downloads—the audio found at the ESV Online Study Bible—are now available.
Prices are $29.99 for the complete Bible, $19.99 for just the Old Testament, $14.99 for just the New Testament, $4.99 for Psalms and Proverbs, and $4.99 for the Gospels.
The complete Gospel of John is available for free download, as are a few other samples. As always, the ESV Online Study Bible lets you stream any passage you’d like.
This recording is by David Cochran Heath. Heath is a veteran stage actor, performing in more than one hundred productions. He has recorded many audio books, including Christian classics by Thomas a Kempis, Francis Schaeffer, and John Piper.
If you’re technically inclined, after you buy, you can choose the bitrate that best meets your needs: 128 KBps (4 GB for the complete Bible), 64 KBps (2 GB for the complete Bible) or 32 KBps (1 GB for the complete Bible). Unless you’re an audiophile, we recommend 64 KBps as the best balance between file size and audio quality.
The ESV Hear the Word Bible is also available as a physical product: on 59 CDs ($99.99) or 7 MP3 CDs ($49.99).
A few years ago he wrote a pamphlet on the disease that ultimately took his life: The Plucky Young Kid with the Fatal Disease: A Life with Cystic Fibrosis.
Update: Hugh remembers Dean.
Read the whole thing.
On a related note, see this anonymous parable, Barstool Economics, making the round on the internets.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Read the whole thing. Here, I think, is the upshot: "if we truly understand that King's lesson was that black people are whites' equals and not eternal poster children, then we must confront the fact that race is not the only reason Obama could lose."
Speaking of Obama and race: this summer I read Shelby Steele's A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. (Unfortunate subtitle!)
For a summary of the book, see Alex Chediak's review (part 1, part 2).
The book, I think, has its flaws. Obviously Steele's intuitions about Obama's electability (which is not a major focus of the short book) was wrong. The biggest problem with the book, in my view, is that Steele never gets around to telling us precisely how Obama could/should avoid being a "bargainer" on the one hand and a "challenger" on the other. And it seems to me that an "elephant in the room" with the book is that Steele himself is biracial--but he never quite answers the question of whether he is a bargainer or a challenger, or whether there is a middle way.
With that said--and really quite apart from the Obama issue--I found it to be an eye-opening, fascinating exploration of the personal and social psychological ambiguity of being biracial in America. It is definitely worth reading.
In January 2008 Steele was on Bill Moyers Journal talking about the book. The show is a half hour in length. You can read the transcript, or watch the videos below:
Saturday, October 25, 2008
HT: Jeremy Monteith and Zach Nielsen (the latter of whom says, "This made me cry." Yep--me too.)
For more resources on the altar call--origin, history, evaluation--see this helpful post by Andy Naselli.
Update: Ryan Kelly, pastor at Desert Springs, gives ten reasons why his church doesn't do altar calls.
Regardless of how one votes on election day, it is important to be aware of how this presidential candidate interprets Scripture to fit his political views and what kind of impact this will have on his policies regarding government endorsement of, and incentives for, homosexual practice should he become president. Obama's record is clear:
- Obama wants to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which he has called “abhorrent”, even though the Act's main purpose is merely to prevent “gay marriage” adopted in one state from being foisted on all other states. Even Hillary Clinton did not come out in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act. In Obama's own words: "Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether."
- Obama strongly opposes
’s Proposition 8, which merely limits the definition of marriage to a “marriage between a man and a woman.” California
- Obama has stated that he “respects” the California Supreme Court decision foisting “gay marriage” on the state.
- Obama opposes any federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
- Obama strongly endorses granting every single marriage benefit to homosexual unions, not to mention every “sexual orientation” special protections law imaginable. Such legislation will make civil and cultural bigots of everyone who espouses a male-female prerequisite to sexual relations, in the workplace, at school, in the media, and throughout the public sector.
In discussing the battle to end racial preferences in Colorado and Nebraska, Ward Connerly notes that “the establishment is always at odds with the people on issues involving race.”
How has Proposition 209 fared since it went into effect in California in 1998? Very well, says Ward Connerly: “Once you remove that artificiality of race preferences,” as Prop. 209 did, “kids are going [to school] where they can compete.”
A dozen years after the enactment of Proposition 209, Ward Connerly keeps at it, fighting, now, for anti-preference measures on the ballot in Colorado and Nebraska.
According to Connerly, the Supreme Court is moving in the right direction on race, which is toward “a Constitution that is colorblind.”
Connerly says Martin Luther King would likely have supported affirmative action back in the 1960s. But if he were alive today, he’d say, “We’re beyond that now.” Would a President Obama agree? Connerly weighs in.
Prosperity preachers are neither new nor unique in America, but the Osteens' version seems especially self-serving. Victoria's book betrays her interest in the kind of small gratifications that rarely extend to other people, let alone to the larger world. She recommends that women take "me time" every day, and indulge occasionally in a (fat-free!) ice cream. She writes repeatedly about her love for the gym. Her relationship advice is retrograde dross: submit to your man, or at least pretend you're submitting, and then do what you want anyway. "I know if I just wait long enough," she writes, "eventually my idea will become Joel's idea, and it will come to pass." When I asked her how she kept her two children interested in church, she answered that even though they were a broccoli and lean-meats household, she gave them doughnuts as a special treat on Sundays. All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?Read the whole thing.
Update: Links fixed.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Below are a number of print interviews done with the teachers at CCEF (Christian Counseling
and Education Foundation).
Looking at the Past and Present of Counseling
An interview with David Powlison
Can biblical counseling draw from the Puritans? How are churches today doing at counseling? What is CCEF doing that's unique?
Cultivating a Culture of Counseling and Discipleship
An interview with Tim Lane
Tim Lane talks about counseling from the pulpit, the ideal church, recovery groups, promoting discipleship, and more.
Sorting Out the Spiritual and the Physical in Counseling
An interview with Michael Emlet
Former medical doctor and now CCEF instructor Michael Emlet discusses his own background and what pastors should make of the mind-body connection in their counseling.
Premarital Counseling, Pornography, and Marriage
An interview with Winston Smith
Today's buzzword for marriages is "compatibility." But counselors and couples need more wisdom than that, especially as pornography attacks marriage like never before.
What Should Pastors Do with Fear, Medication & Addiction
An interview with Ed Welch
Welch considers questions like, Should pastors give more thought to fear? Are psychiatric medications unbiblical? Should pastors keep their hands off the psychiatric issues?
The problem is that this is not true. Michael New has a helpful post showing the evidence that successful pro-life legislation--like public funding restrictions, informed consent laws, and parental involvement laws--have been effective at reducing the number of abortions in America.
Read the whole thing.
Peggy Noonan, a few weeks ago, on Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin:
We must take happiness where we can. Tina Fey's Sarah Palin has become, in that old phrase, a national sensation, and Ms. Fey is becoming, with her show "30 Rock," and now the Palin impression, one of the great comic figures of her generation. Her work [impersonating Palin]. . . was so astoundingly good—the hand gestures, the vocal tone and spirit—that it captured some of the actual heart of the Palin story. . . .Here's the latest:
To spoof someone well takes talent, but to utterly nail a political figure while not brutalizing him takes a real gift, and amounts almost to a public service. After all, to capture someone is a kind of tribute: it concedes he is real, vivid, worthy of note. We are not as a nation manufacturing trust all that well, or competence, or leadership. But some things we do well, and one is comedy. Ms. Fey plays characters who are sour, stressed and who, on "30 Rock," live in a world that is cynical, provisional and shallow. But to observe life so closely takes a kind of love.
The book is illustrated by Justin Gerard of Portland Studios.
It's a beautiful story--because it's a retelling of the biblical story of Christ atoning for our sins by drinking the cup of God's wrath. Dr. Sproul is a gifted storyteller, and the art wonderfully complements the story.
I recently had a chance to ask Dr. Sproul a few questions about the book.
You’ve written a number of children’s stories now. Can you tell us the origin of these stories? Do you think of them on the spot and tell them to your grandkids?
For years prior to starting to write children’s stories I used to ad lib stories for kids. When I would be around them, they would want me to make up a story on the spot so I would create a character and tell a story.
I have a number of ideas for children’s stories written down that I review from time to time. These stories are designed to teach significant biblical concepts using foundational biblical texts that ultimately end up as the framework of a story. The Prince’s Poison Cup refers to the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus had to drink. This story is about Gethsemane and about the Cross. I am attempting to communicate the terrible price that Jesus had to pay for our redemption by being willing to drink that awful cup.
Kids will relate to the story of The Prince’s Poison Cup because they have all tasted yucky medicine and had to learn that the ugly-tasting medicine will help them to be made whole. We jump from there into the concept of being ultimately made whole.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’ve heard you say that The Priest with Dirty Clothes is among the most important books you’ve written. You are a gifted theologian and a prolific author of books for adults—what compels you to write books for kids restating biblical truth in an imaginative way?
Yes. I have said that several times. Ultimately, my target audience in a children’s story is the parents who are reading the stories to their children. My children’s stories are designed to teach significant biblical concepts using foundational biblical texts that ultimately become the framework of a story. To communicate difficult abstract concepts like imputation in The Priest with Dirty Clothes, and to do it in a parable-like way, makes it easy for people to understand. The exchange of clothes as the climax in that story is a very effective image to communicate what imputation means.
You are enormously gifted at explaining complex truth in a compelling way. Do you have any counsel for parents and teachers for how to do this well?
I usually like to build a story on real life situations. The Lightlings, for instance, talks about a child who is afraid of the dark; afraid to go to bed at night. That becomes the springboard into the book.
What age group is targeted in this book?
The Prince’s Poison Cup is written for children ages 3-7, though older children will also benefit. And as I’ve already mentioned, I’m really interested to reach the parents of those children.
Is it easier or more difficult to write for children than adults?
It’s easier. You can let your imagination roam completely free. Fairy tales and fantasy stories mesmerize children, much like what C.S. Lewis has done by telling simple stories to communicate complex truths. It’s something I like to do.
Who is the character Ella Ruth in The Prince’s Poison Cup?
She is my great-granddaughter. I try to include my grandchildren or great-grandchildren in all of my stories because it has a particular significance to them.
What is the message that you would like to give to parents who purchase this book to read to their children?
In this day and age, the whole need for atonement is being ridiculed widely, not just in the liberal church, but it has made its way into the evangelical community as well. People are saying that satisfaction involves God in cosmic child abuse. They ask why we can’t just rely on the love of God — that there is no need to satisfy His justice and His wrath. Through this story I want people to understand that the wrath of God is real. It was necessary to satisfy God’s righteousness in order for people to be healed. Instead of our receiving the cup of wrath, it was to be drunk by Jesus in His people’s place. That is absolutely central to the gospel.
Here is audio from Victor Davis Hanson’s recent speech at Biola.If you want more VDH, he also gave a lecture at Biola on "Thucydides: Understanding the Pellopenessian War and the principles which translate from a study of this ancient Greek historian to the modern political-cultural sphere."
Following the news day by day can kind of beat up your mind, especially right now with the election, the war, and the financial crisis. These are all big stories that don’t fit daily updates very well. Every now and then it’s nice to hear from someone with a longer memory, who can provide some commentary on current events in greater perspective.
Victor Davis Hanson is that kind of commentator: He’s well informed and stays on top of current events, but everything in today’s headlines reminds him of something around the time of the Peloponnesian war. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, has taught classics and history at several prestigious schools, mainly in his native California. . . .
In an hour of lecture and a half-hour of questions and answers, Hanson wove together classical wisdom, the lessons of history, and his distinctive political philosophy. Though he made several comments about the current election and the state of play between the candidates as we move into the final weeks of the campaigns, he mainly explored what he called “other issues that reflect the fundamental differences in the way these candidates view the world.” So if you listen to the lecture this week, his description of the election will be relevant. But even if you listen to it a year after the fact, you’ll get vintage Hanson insight on American history and Western culture.
VDH is that rare analyst who is as good with the past 24 hours as he is with the past 24 centuries.
- Can you earnestly do all the parts of this job "to the glory of God,” that is, in a way that highlights his superior value over all other things?"
- Is taking this job part of a strategy to grow in personal holiness?
- Will this job help or hinder your progress in esteeming the value of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord?
- Will this job result in inappropriate pressures on you to think or feel or act against your King, Jesus?
- Will this job help establish an overall life-pattern that will yield a significant involvement in fulfilling God’s great purpose of exalting Christ among all the unreached peoples of the world?
- Will this job be worthy of your best energies?
- Will the activities and environment of this job tend to shape you or will you be able to shape it for the Christ-magnifying purposes of God?
- Will this job provide an occasion for you to be radically Christian so as to let your light shine for your Father’s sake, or will your participation in the vision of the firm tend by definition to snuff your wick?
- Does the aim of this job cohere with a growing intensity in your life to be radically, publicly, fruitfully devoted to Christ at any cost?
- Will the job feel like a good investment of your life when these “two seconds” of preparation for eternity are over?
- Does this job fit with why you believe you were created and purchased by Christ?
- Does this fit together with the ultimate truth that all things exist for Christ?
Over at Boundless Alex Chediak has a new article related to all of this: Vocation Plans.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Grace Reformation Church of Woodland, CA, is hosting a very interesting event: the Unity and Diversity Forum (November 21-22).
Four distinct Bible scholars are coming together, David M. VanDrunen, Thomas Schreiner, Gary DeMar, and Barry E. Horner to discuss how Christians may disagree and still be united over issues of Infant Baptism, Believer's Baptism, Eschataology, and Evangelical Feminism vs. Complementarianism. Each has a unique perspective and will help us learn and grow in Christ.For more information you can download a brochure in PDF.
Here's the schedule:
Friday, November 21
7:00pm – Forum: Thomas Schreiner and David VanDrunen - What Should be Practiced: Infant or Believer’s Baptism?
Saturday, November 22*
8:30am – Presentation: Thomas Schreiner - The Now & the Not Yet: Holding to the Biblical Tensions
9:30am – Forum: Gary DeMar and Barry Horner - Matthew 24: Is it Future or Fulfilled?
12:00am – Lunch
1:00pm – Presentation: Gary DeMar - Replacement Theology, Promises Fulfilled, or Future Israel?
2:00pm – Break
2:15pm – Presentation: Barry Horner - Replacement Theology, Promises Fulfilled, or Future Israel?
3:15pm – Closing Thoughts: Ron Poarch - Wise Thoughts for Unity
* An offering will be taken to help cover costs.
Sunday Morning Service at Grace Reformation Church
10:30am – Preaching: Thomas Schreiner - Men & Women in Christ’s Church: Who Does What?
A Closing Prayer
Gracious and glorious Father,
because you are rich in mercy,
and great in love,
and sovereign in grace,
we ask that you would make this little book
a window onto the panorama of your glory,
and a skylight to your supremacy in all things.
By the truth-loving power of your Holy Spirit
grant that the glass pane would be clean—
that what is faithful to your word would be confirmed,
and what is not would be forgiven, not confusing.
We ask that your cloud-banishing illumination
would be given to our minds,
and that spiritual understanding would fill our hearts,
and that according to the command of your apostle,
we would grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May we see the spectacular sins of the world
as horrible as they are.
And may we see the holiness of God
as pure as it is.
And may we see the rule of God over the sin of man
as righteous as it is.
And thus grant the steel of ultimate reality
to strengthen the spine of our faith,
and sweeten our lips for the bruised heart.
Put the ballast of biblical truth
in the belly of our little boats,
lest the crashing waves of calamity
in these changing times
cause us to capsize in the sea of trouble.
And according to your apostle’s warning,
forbid that the increase of our knowledge
would cause the increase of our pride.
Rather, O God of infinite wisdom,
reveal, with all our understanding,
the unfathomable sinfulness of our hearts without Christ,
and the infinitesimal smallness of our strength
in comparison to yours,
and the absolute dependence of our life on you,
and the unfathomable depths of your judgments,
and how dim is the mirror in which we see.
Grant to our minds and hearts
new and deeper capacities to see and savor
the glories of Jesus Christ.
With every new glimpse of his glory in your word,
let there awaken new affections in our hearts.
Ignite our souls to treasure Christ in a way that
destroys our sinful lusts
and delights the deepest recesses of our being
and displays his truth and beauty
to a world that does not know
that this is what it needs more than anything.
And from this all-satisfying treasuring of Christ
may there flow a liberation from selfishness,
and a triumph over bitterness and anger,
and a freedom from worry and fear,
and victory over depression and discouragement,
and the severing of every root of sensual lust.
All this freedom, Lord, we seek for the sake of love.
Grant that our contentment in Christ would be a
eager to expand by including others.
Grant that the joy of the Lord would not be a solitary joy,
but the strength to sacrifice
for the good of others,
even those who hate us.
May brokenhearted boldness
and contrite courage
attend all our deeds of compassion
and all our commendations of Christ to a lost world.
Awaken in us tender affections
for those who hurt,
and self-forgetful attentiveness
for those in our presence.
And in this treasuring of Christ for his supreme glory
and this overflowing love for others,
may Jesus be exalted above all things—
honored, admired, adored, esteemed, enjoyed,
praised, extolled, thanked, and worshiped.
May our light shine in this world
so that people see you in our sacrificial deeds of love
and our uncompromising words of truth
and give glory to your hallowed name,
Through Jesus Christ,
At Culture11 Cheryl Miller has an article about the phenomenon: Twittering the Day Away. The teaser: "Bye-bye blogs: The net's cool kids are all on Twitter now -- and they use it for everything."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Audio for The Total Church North America Conference 2008 have now been uploaded. Total church is a way of thinking about church and mission in the 21st century which sees the local Christian community as integral to Christian living and Christian mission. The Christian life is ‘total church’ - our identity is communal.Below is a list of all the sessions--or go here to see descriptions along with listening options.
- A Community-centered Gospel – Steve Timmis (Q&A)
- A Gospel-centered Community – Steve Timmis (Q&A)
- Rethinking Attractional Church – Tim Chester (Q&A)
- Remodeling Attractional Church – Steve Timmis (Q&A)
- Making Disciples for Missional Church – Tim Chester (Q&A)
- Making Disciples in Missional Church – Tim Chester
- Being Neighbors: a Gospel Strategy (Steve Timmis)
- Forming a Gospel Community (Jeff Vanderstelt)
- One-Anothering: A Communal Gospel (David Fairchild)
- Story & Rhythm of Soma Community (Caesar Kalinowski)
- Reading Cultural Texts (Mike Gunn)
- Out of the Frying Pan… (David Fairchild & Mark Moore)
- Beyond Total Church – Sowing the Seeds of a Movement (Tim Chester)
- Communication in a Post-Christian World (Drew Goodmanson & Caesar Kalinowski)
- The Everyday Rhythms of a Gospel Display People (Jeff Vanderstelt)
- True Gospel Community in a Truly Big Metroplex (Mark Moore)
- Reaching the Domains of Society (Drew Goodmanson & Caesar Kalinowski)
- Panel Q/A Session
- Wrapping up Total Church (Tim Chester)
- Developing Missional Leaders (Jeff Vanderstelt)
- Urban Discipleship (Mike Gunn)
HT: Lee Irons
Anthony Bradley writes:
If there's one lesson from the "war on poverty" programs the US government instituted in the 1970s it is that government programs were the primary source of the destruction of the black family and the erosion of the dignity of the black men in particular in low-income urban areas. Good intentions ain't enough. The federal programs pushed out the church and destroyed many black communities. It took about 20 years to see the effects of well-intended but stupid government programs. The crazy notion that "we just need to get the right government program" is fantasy.HT: Z
"Together, Minneapolis and St. Paul are big enough to sustain diverse expressions of Christian theology, but small enough to bring those expressions into contact. In many ways, the Twin Cities are a microcosm of the current tensions in American evangelicalism."
Hansen talked to Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, John Piper, Leith Anderson, and Greg Boyd for the article.
Here are five key questions:
- Is sensus plenior an appropriate way of explaining the NT use of the OT?
- How is typology best understood?
- Do the NT writers take into account the context of the passages they cite?
- Does the NT writers’ use of Jewish exegetical methods explain the NT use of the OT?
- Are we able to replicate the exegetical and hermeneutical approaches to the OT that we find in the writings of the NT?
I know I keep saying it in my reviews, but it's true: if you miss the late great Rich Mullins, Andrew Peterson is carrying his torch about as well as anyone. One track he's an evocative poet, the next a storyteller, and before long he's singing praise to the Lord—all within the same album. Though he resides in the same folk-pop vein throughout, he varies his scope from song to song (like Mullins) and thus more fully articulates Christian living than most of today's faith-based artists.HT: Challies (again)
Listening to a song like "Hosanna," I'm struck by Peterson's rather gutsy approach, contrasting and confessing sins, then giving praise to the One who forgives all: "I have cursed the man you have made me/I have nursed the beast that bays from my blood/I have run from the One who would save me … See the long-awaited King, come to set his people free/Won't you tear the temple down, raise it up on holy ground?/Hosanna!"
"Love Is a Good Thing" is equally provocative. Think about how many Christian artists have sung about love by lazily reciting 1 Corinthians 13. Now consider Peterson's mastery of language to express the power and potency of love: "It knocked me down, it dragged me out, it left me there for dead/It took all the freedom I wanted and gave me something else instead/It blew my mind, it bled me dry, it hit me like a long goodbye/Nobody knows here better than I that it's a good thing/Love is a good thing."
1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit.Read the whole thing for explanations behind each of these points.
2. Spend all your time working on the music, not the words.
3. Spend all your time working on the words, not the music.
4. Don’t consider the range and capabilities of the average human voice.
5. Never let anyone alter the way God originally gave your song to you.
6. Make sure the majority of your songs talk about what we do and feel rather than who God is and what he’s done.
7. Try to use as many Scriptural phrases as you can, and don’t worry about how they fit together.
8. Cover as many themes as possible.
9. Use phrases and words that are included in 95% of all worship songs.
10. Forget about Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Commenter "GloriousRuin" passes along this imaginative dialogue by political philosopher J. Budziszewski that I think is quite helpful. There's probably no better way to get a quick introduction to the distinction between formal and material cooperation than this dialogue!
If I may be permitted one additional comment: I don't like the label "single-issue voter" and don't use it to describe my position. I'm not sure there's a better term--but the fact remains that there are many issues that are of concern to me. By using the term "single issue," I think we suggest that an issue like abortion is the only issue of serious consequence in this election. Some may believe that, but I don't.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that abortion is the great moral outrage of our day--and no one, for example, in the mainstream media (or in many churches) makes a peep about the daily slaughter of the weakest members of the human race.
The following video is very painful to watch--but I believe it is necessary as a reminder that we are not discussing abstract policies and arguments but rather innocent lives being systematically killed:
I commend to you his careful, insightful discussion. Professor Bradley uses the Golden Rule to think through "the three best arguments that 'pro-life' voters voting for 'pro-choice' candidates have made to justify their decision": (1) we should instead attack the root cause of abortion; (2) the pro-choice candidate is better on other issues than the pro-life candidate; (3) the laws allowing "choice" on abortion are instrumentally essential to ensuring the equality of women and men.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The LEAD Conference takes place Tuesday and Wednesday this week in St. Louis. The purpose is to explore the theological and practical implications of ministry in an urban context.
Kevin Cawley writes:
For those unable to attend the conference, you can listen to the conference via Live Stream. All the main sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday will be streamed live on the Planting Channel. Check out the schedule below and tune in.
Tuesday, October 21
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM: Darrin Patrick on "Gospel Centered Repentance"
10:45 AM - 11:30 AM: Eric Mason on "Hybrid Leaders"
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM: Dr. Bryan Chapell on "Christ-Centered Preaching"
Wednesday, October 22
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM: Randy Nabors on "City Leaders"
1:45 PM - 2:30 PM: Matt Carter on "Broken Leaders"
4:45 PM - 5:30 PM: Jonathan McIntosh on "Missional Leaders"
Moody is the author of a helpful book on Edwards: The God-Centered Life: Insights from Jonathan Edwards for Today.
Here are some of the blurbs for it:"The God-Centered Life is a graced prescription for truly engaging today's culture...."
-- R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, College Church in Wheaton
"Tremendous. Extremely well-written. It will be a blessing for many. . . . I heartily commend this work as a timely and valuable resource. . . ."
-- David S. Dockery, President, Union University
"Josh Moody is uniquely qualified to bring the reader along the path of a greater joy of knowing God and loving God through a person whose life was ablaze for this Triune God of glory and grace."
-- Paul Lim, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity, Vanderbilt University
"Potent, thoughtful, and constructive. . . ."
-- R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"At last, someone who stands in the tradition of Edwards as a pastor-scholar, interpreting and applying the lessons from Jonathan Edwards for today...."
-- E. David Cook, Holmes Professor, Wheaton College, Fellow, Green College, Oxford
"I recommend this book most highly, praying that Josh Moody's labors will encourage the kinds of `Edwards influenced' lives and congregations that our world so desperately needs. . . ."
-- Douglas A. Sweeney, Associate Professor of Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Carolyn McCulley's latest book is now available: Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World.
Here are just a few of the blurbs:
"Few voices are speaking the truth contained in these pages—but so many need to hear it. Amidst our culture's radical confusion about womanhood, Carolyn teaches the radical truth of God's wise and gracious design for women...Women young or old, married or single, will be instructed and inspired by this book."
- C. J. and Carolyn Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries
"As a young woman, Carolyn McCulley eagerly embraced many of the tenets of our 'feminist world.' A personal encounter with Christ radically changed her life and led her to pursue what it mast to live as a redeemed woman. This book is the fruit of her journey."
- Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Host, Revive Our Hearts radio program
"Like an intravenous drug coursing through the vein of an unconscious patient, feminist thought has thoroughly permeated our culture. In this insightful, engaging, and relevant book, Carolyn McCulley encourages us to wake up and become radical —to live as biblically savvy women in the modern world. It's and excellent read and a stirring challenge!"
- Mary A. Kassian, author of The Feminist Mistake
You can pre-order the book, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian.
From the foreword to the book, by Tim Keller:
Here you will learn how we must contextualize, how we Christians should be as active in Hollywood, Wall Street, Greenwich Village, and Harvard Square (if not more) than the halls of Washington, DC. And yet, there are ringing calls to form a distinct, ‘thick’ Christian counter-culture as perhaps the ultimate witness to the presence of the future, the coming of the Kingdom.