Thursday, July 30, 2009


Last night after watching Deadliest Catch (seriously the only episode I missed this season was during Vacation Bible School and since they show the previous weeks episode before the new one I got caught up last night) I saw the first half of a new show showed called the Colony. It’s like some kind of post apocalyptic Survivor. They are put into a fake environment set up as if the whole world has been decimated by a viral epidemic and now these ten people have to try and find a way to survive for ten weeks. I found several problems with this show that I think will keep me from watching it, but also from even taking it seriously.

First it felt like environmentalist propaganda. They acted like the catastrophe is so close now that we have to be taught how to survive when it happens, you know, next week. I get all kinds of suspicions when people do this sort of thing. It reminds me of that movie that came out a couple of years back called The Day after Tomorrow, and another new show called Life after people. I always get the feeling that the people behind these sorts of things like the environment a lot more than they like people. Like we’re parasites destroying something beautiful rather than people made in the image of God obeying His command to multiply, fill, subdue, and have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1.28)

Second the blatant fakeness of the show just annoyed me. They were given this huge building to live in. In this building they found all kinds of stuff that they needed. As they searched the building they found working motors, brand new power tools, tons of car batteries, a shiny new alternator, oh and a truck. What are the odds of finding all this stuff in an old abandoned warehouse? Then there are the people themselves. Everyone one of them was handpicked for a specialty they have. For example they have three different kinds of engineers, a machinist, and a handy man who is the handiest handy man I’ve ever seen. These are just the ones I noticed in the thirty minutes I watched.

Lastly, I want to mention the only thing that I found interesting in the show. This was the way the handyman and the engineers relate to one another. The three engineers started working on what seemed like rather implausible projects while the handyman voiced some concerns. An argument ensued and the handyman was told to leave the work space. Then the handyman refused to help them when he saw a problem, he just let them fail out of spite. What I found intriguing was that even on a show about surviving after a catastrophe this kind of class bickering would set in. The handyman clearly has issues with people who have letters after their name, and the engineers were dismissive and condescending to anyone who didn’t have letters after their name. Pride and resentment make it into even desperate situations.

No matter what our conditions happen to be out hearts remain broken and sinful. Our only hope is not found in fixing the environment (although I think we should be wise stewards of the environment) but rather in finding redemption and transformation in Christ. No change in our world or the condition of that world will change the fact that we will remain sinful and selfish and destructive, only Jesus can change that. We are far more broken than our world. Learning how to make a wood gasifier won’t help much.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quotes for the Week

“Whatever your circumstances, and however difficult they may be, the truth is that they are ordained by God for you as part of His overall plan for your life.”
- Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 74.

"If you're a Christian, you've been radically transformed from the inside out. Your disposition, your desires, and the entire direction of your life have been essentially altered. You man not yet be completely changed, but you're already fundamentally changed. You've been lifted to new heights."
- Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable, 108.

"In and of itself, your longing for acceptance isn't a bad thing. God, in fact, created you for acceptance. This longing, however, was meant to be satisfied by God alone."
- Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable, 170.

"It is true, many ministers of God meet with hard things which might discourage them, and trouble and grieve their spirits; but this consideration, that God is pleased to employ them in such a service near to Himself, that though they cannot do good to themselves, yet they may do good to others, this should quiet them."
- Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 174.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


What would it feel like to be the only fallen man in an unfallen world? This was the experience of Lewis’s hero Dr. Ransom. He landed on Malacandra and during the story discovers that there are three intelligent species there that look very little like him, but are intelligent creatures nonetheless.

As the story unfolds, he learns that our planet is called Thulcandra, the silent planet. In this story due to the rebellion of our angelic ruler (eldil in the book) we have been in a state of siege in the universe. Our dark angels (eldila in the book) are not speaking to the light angels. Dr. Random discovers that he is from a broken world but has landed on a world not broken. As they ask him questions about his world he doesn’t tell the whole truth out of shame. They don’t know about war or greed or lust or division. I can’t imagine what that would be like.

To look upon people who are whole while knowing that I was broken is the opposite of Jesus’ experience during His earthly ministry when He was the unbroken perfect in the midst of the broken and sinful. Jesus suffers occasional frustration (like when He would cry out how long must I put up with . . . or when He would weep over our hardness of heart). But for us, the broken, to be in the presence of the whole would be a deep shame in our best moments and a deep resentment and jealousy in our worst moments. Like Isaiah’s vision when he is taken into the throne room of God and he cries out “woe is me, for I am lost,” for the sinner to see the absolute holy must lead to despair.

But this turned me to thinking in another direction. There will be a time when we stand in the presence of the perfect unbroken (unbent in Malacandrian terms), after all is said and done in the world. We will all be reembodied in the resurrection and there will be the New Creation where all the redeemed will live forever in the presence of our redeemer. Those who remain broken, who were never redeemed, will be sent into the terror of hell, but those who remain will live forever in the presence of God.

This is where the difference comes in. The question that we started with will never have to be answered because in the New Creation, when we see God face to face we will have been changed. In John’s language ‘when He appears we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is’. There will never be a time when we see Jesus as the broken, since we are already clothed in His holiness and will be remade in His image. When He comes again for us, we will be changed. What a day to long for, when we can gaze into the face of the One who is perfect in holiness, and do it not only without perishing, but also without despair or shame. Lewis’ question is an intriguing one but praise be to God we will never have to experience it or answer it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I’m one of those weird guys who gets most emotionally moved when watching sports movies. For some people its chick flicks or epic movies. But not me I’m that special kind of nerd that cries every time he watches Rudy (I can’t believe I just admitted that). Well anyway, tonight I had that experience again. I watched For the Love of the Game, again. And I get the same weird response every time. I wonder if I’m spending my life in the right way.

You see in this movie Costner is playing this aging pitcher who in what turns out to be the last game of his career begins throwing a perfect game, and interspersed all throughout the game are his memories of his interactions with people but mostly with a woman. Who turns out to be the love of his life. And as we learn in the movie he has managed to mess up this relationship pretty royally.

Finally at the end of the movie he finishes the perfect game, he gets what he thinks he really wanted in life. However, once he gets it realizes that it isn’t really what he wanted after all. After putting his catcher to bed he goes to his room, and cries out of sheer misery. Later, there is of course the happy ending where she forgives him for being an idiot and pushing her away. He discovered that what he thought that he really wanted most of all was all wrong. What he really wanted he had pushed away and never recovered. This is the part that always gets me wondering and reflective.

This guy figures it out when its almost too late. But what if I’m spending my life pursuing the wrong thing thinking that I’m doing what’s best. What if I’m deceived or confused and I’m truly wasting my life. What if I’m not really using the life that God has given in the way that He desires, that will most please Him, and most bring me joy? What if I’ve missed the boat and unlike Costner it’s too late to get it back. What if I’ve really blown it?

This may be the experience of those who when they see Jesus in the judgment and hear that they did not feed Jesus or clothe Him and they wonder when they were supposed to have seen Him. And He responds that when did they did not do it for the least of the brothers they did not do it for Him. They missed the boat; it appears they thought that they were serving Jesus, that they were true disciples, that they were being faithful. But they were wrong, and they pay eternally for it. Now occasionally in a really dark moment I wonder about where I am in Matt 25. But usually when I get into this kind of mood (how on earth does a Costner baseball movie do this to me) I wonder/fear if when I see Jesus He will simply say that I wasted it. I wasted my life, my ministry, my witness, and my opportunity. I want to be found faithful; I want to hear the Well done of my savior. I want to hear that how I used the life He gave me pleased Him. I want to know that I spent it all on what really mattered most.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Father of a Nation and the Fruit of the Spirit

George Washington was an external stoic because he was raging internally. This was a recurring undercurrent throughout Joseph Ellis’s biography of Washington. There were constant references to his aloofness. One phrase that really stuck out as an odd thing to say about a person is that he was comfortable with uncomfortable silences. This was said a couple of times in various ways. Have you ever known one of those people who just hates those long silences and simply must fill them up with chatter no matter how inane or nonsensical? Washington wasn’t one of those people.

But the question is why. Ellis doesn’t really try to explain why until near the end of the book. There he points to a published eulogy where the speaker was reminiscing on seeing a mass of powerful emotions behind the famous controlled exterior. He was famous for being aloof, and he frequently referred to striving for self-mastery. On the surface it would be very easy to say that Washington was simply an introvert, but that’s clearly not the case. I think Ellis has gotten it right in that Washington was internally a raging inferno of passions that he sought his entire life to master and bring under self-control. He became obsessed with control, driving his estate managers insane and his tailors to madness. So he seemed to have swung too far in the other direction, from unrestrained passion to overly restrained stoicism.

This got me to thinking about two different passages of scripture. The first was the list of the fruits of the sprit where self-control makes the cut. The second was in Hebrews 4.15 where Jesus is tempted in every way as we are but without sinning. So Washington wasn’t crazy to seek to control his emotions, especially if they were as strenuous as it appears. This self-control (self-mastery Washington would call it) is not a bad thing to seek after, however it seems pretty clear that Washington is not a balanced model for us.

This is where the second passage came into the picture because Jesus was a man of strong passions. Jesus was no stoic, he was not trudging through Israel with a grim face and a stiff upper lip betraying no emotion. No, we see Jesus in a holy anger turning the money changers table, we see Jesus weeping over the hard heartedness of Jerusalem, we see Him in the garden sweating blood and pleading with His Father in a kind of terror over the horror to come, we see Jesus with righteous indignation rebuking the Pharisees for their erroneous leadership of the sheep of Israel. But that last phrase in Hebrews 4.15 is the key. He did all this without sin.

What Washington failed to show us, only Jesus can. It is possible to have strong emotions but to have them without completely subduing and controling them and to use them without sin. Only the perfect Savior could show us this, and this is one more way that we need to behold Christ in order to become like Him.

PS - Ellis also argues that only a person like Washington was suited to play the pivotal role that he did in winning a very difficult and gut-wrenching war and in the very difficult second term of his presidency he was well served.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quotes for the Week

Have you ever forgotten anything, well I have and I did. Last weeks quotes to be exact. I could make up some excuse about being incredible mind numbingly busy, but that wouldn’t be the actual truth. The truth is that I just forgot and since I know that you (alll both of you) wait with baited breath each week for the quotes here is my heartfelt I’m sorry. Here are a few of my favorites from this week.

“This is no reciprocation by God, meeting a person halfway because he has shown some desire to be right with his master. The initiative is entirely God’s. He decided to manifest His love to those who do not love Him and who do not want to love Him, to enemies and rebels armed to the teeth against Him, to a world of lost sinners. Let us acknowledge once and for all that if it were not for the fact that God is love, we would have no expectation of mercy or forgiveness, no hope and no future.”
- David Jackman, The Message of I John, 120

“It is not our love that is primary, but God’s free, uncaused and spontaneous, and all our love is but a reflection of His and a response to it.”
- Stott, The Letters of John, 164.

“We will never appreciate the love of God until we know the startling truth about ourselves apart from Him and about His wondrous grace.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in Christ, 433.

- “I cannot understand the hardness of my own heart. How could any of us look at all this and believe it and not be lost in love to God? How can we contemplate these things and not be utterly broken down? How can any hatred remain in us? How can we do anything but love one another as we contemplate such amazing love? How can we look at these things and believe them and not feel utterly unworthy and ashamed of ourselves and feel that we owe all and everything to Him and that our whole lives must be given to express our gratitude, our praise, and our thanksgiving? Oh, let us resolve to together to meditate more and more everyday upon this amazing love.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in Christ, 439

Friday, July 17, 2009

Unfashionable Christian Counterculture with Tullian Tchividjian

I have never suffered the temptation to sacrifice or compromise to be cool or fashionable, since as one of the worlds preeminent nerds being cool has always been permanently out of my reach. Yet I do remember envying the cool. Wishing I had a smile that would make girls melt, or having such charm that I was universally beloved. Yet as a socially awkward teenage book nerd cool was an impossibility.

Tullian Tchividjian sees a similar problem with much of the church in America. (However I appreciate that he’s not a church basher who delights in exposing the churches flaws, rather he loves the church and wishes to see her strong again) He sees the church trying to become like the world because they believe that if we become acceptable to the world then the world will hear our message. There are a number of problems with this kind of thinking, but first we need to hear Tullian’s counter:

Christians make a difference in the world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.”

His argument throughout the book is that if we blend in we lose all our power to change or influence this world. I think he makes a powerful case. And combine these insights with David Wells arguments in The Courage to be Protestant where he argues that to become acceptable to the world we have to give away the store (the Gospel itself) leaving us with nothing left to proclaim or to influence anyone with. To critique or influence the world we must stand outside of it as a kind of counterculture.

Basically seeking relevance makes us irrelevant. Seeking cool leaves us with nothing left to say. We must remember that we serve a CRUCIFIED savior. One whose cross is foolishness to the world. Tchividjian closes his book with a call for us to live for an audience of one, pointing out that the need for acceptance isn’t wrong, we just have to seek it in the right place, with our loving heavenly Father.

The church must not be like me, the book nerd looking at the cool people across the cafeteria with a twinge of envy; because it is simply an impossibility for us, the cross of Jesus is foolish and strange to a fallen world. Lets live and strive not to be fashionable, but rather to be faithful to our audience of One.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

John is departing but we still love him

Well today we have to say sayonara (hope I spelled that right) to John who has decided that this blog is no longer good enough and has started his own blog, which is fine or whatever.

Listen I'm just joking but I really do want you to go and read John's new blog, he shared with me his concept, his theme, and where he plans to go with his blog, and listen I got excited about reading it. So please if there are any of you who actually read this blog go to John's new blog.
It's called Food From Ravens and John's first post is up explaining the title. I have already added it to my feedreader and you should too.


Wednesday's Quotes - July 8, 2009

“Is not this one of our greatest sins as Christians today? We may talk a lot about loving God, we may express it in our worship with great emotion, but what does it mean when we are so critical of other Christians, so ready to jump to negative conclusions about other people, so slow to bear their burdens, so unwilling to step into their shoes? Such lovelessness totally contradicts what we profess and flagrantly disobey God’s commands.”
- David Jackman, The Message of I John, 131.

“What an unsuitable thing might a believer think it, to hate someone in this world whom he must love eternally; and to contend and strive with those, even for matters of small moment, with bitterness and rigidity, with whom he shall have an eternal, uninterrupted unity and fellowship.”
- Hugh Binning, Christian Love, 27-28.

“Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.”
- Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable, 9.

“We need to remember that God has established his church as an alternative society, not to compete with or copy this world, but to offer a refreshing alternative to it. When we forget this, we inadvertently communicate to our culture that we have nothing unique to offer, nothing deeply spiritual or profoundly transforming.”
- Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable, 15.

PS - I know I'm a day late, sorry.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday's Quotes - July 1, 2009

When you share the Gospel, you share “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Sharing the Gospel is like walking around in a thunderstorm and handing our lightning rods. You don’t know when the lightning is going to strike or who it will strike, but you know what its going to strike - the lightning rod of the gospel. And when it does, that persons lightning rod is going to be charged with the power of God and he or she is going to believe.”
- Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 102.

It may well be questioned whether a man knows the value of the Gospel himself, if he does not desire to make it known to all the world.”
- J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 410.

Surely you have all things, because you have Him for your portion who has all things: God has all things in Himself, and you have God for your portion, and in that you have all, and this is the mystery of contentment.”
- Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 68.

The perspective of the Bible, by contrast, that God’s patience and forbearance will one day run out. The time will come when He acts in judgment because of His holiness. And when He does, He will place truth forever on the throne and evil forever on the scaffold. All that has broken and defiled life will be finally, and irrevocably, overthrown.”
- David Wells, The Courage to be Protestant, 130.

Our lives, though are nourished not by spiritual experiences we can seek, but by God applying to us the truth of His Word.”
- David Wells, The Courage to be Protestant, 182.

There has never been a ‘good old day’ since the Great Thud in Eden. Every age is filled with sin, sinners, God’s love, and work to be done. Each generation has its resistance to the Gospel, and each culture is equally far from God because of sin and equally close to God because of His love. As Solomon repeatedly says, there is nothing new under the sun.”
- Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, 51.