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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

Trying out Posterous

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2010 at 3:46 pm

For now I’m switching my blog posting to Posterous. My posts will now be here. I may change back to WordPress eventually, but for now, this seems like a better option for me.

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Another great quote from Hoekema (You need to read this book)

In books, loving jesus, quotes, recommendations, theology, you need to read this book on February 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Boom.

“Being a citizen of the kingdom, therefore, means that we should see all of life and all fo reality in the light of the goal of the redemption of the cosmos. This implies, as Abraham Kuyper once said, that there is not a thumb-breadth of the universe about which Christ does not say, “It is mine.” This implies a Christian philosophy of history: all of history must be seen as the working out of God’s eternal purpose. This kingdom vision includes a Christian philosophy of culture: art and science reflect the glory of God and are therefore to be pursued for his praise. It also includes a Christian view of vocation: all callings are from God, and all that we do in everyday life is to be done to God’s praise, whether this be study, teaching, preaching, business, industry, or housework.”

Seriously folks, The Bible and the Future is a goldmine. Eschatology matters, and the more I think about what God has done, is doing, and is going to do in history, the more I’m led to worship.

Anthony Hoekema on total cosmic renewal

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, theology on February 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

First of all, Patty Griffin’s new album Downtown Church is great and you should go buy it right now. Second of all, in doing some reading for my Eschatology class, I came across this excellent quote from my good friend Anthony Hoekema (He’s not really my good friend, but if he were still alive and teaching at Calvin Seminary, I’d say we’d probably be buds) in The Bible and the Future.

While Jesus dying on the cross in our place for our sins is certainly the blazing center of the gospel, many of my fellow evangelicals leave it at just that, forgetting the essential eschatalogical hope of the redemption of the entire cosmos.

“Fully to understand the meaning of history, therefore, we must see God’s redemption in cosmic dimensions. Since the expression ‘heaven and earth’ is a biblical description of the entire cosmos, we may say that the goal of redemption is nothing less than the renewal of the entire cosmos, of what present-day scientists call the universe. Since man’s fall into sin affected not only himself but the rest of creation (see Genesis 3:17-18; Rom. 8:19-23), redemption from sin must also involve the totality of God’s creation.”

Which Jesus do you worship?

In books, loving jesus, quotes, recommendations on February 2, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Today I started reading Your Jesus Is Too Safe by Jared C. Wilson, pastor and blogger at The Gospel-Driven Church. I’ve been looking forward to starting it for a while now and I would highly recommend it (even by just reading the introduction!).

We live in in a culture that has many different pseudo-Jesuses (macho-Jesus, buddy-Jesus, therapist-Jesus, flowing-product-in-hair-Jesus, etc.). Unfortunately, these are just as present within the church as without. So, with the hope that you’ll see who Jesus really is, which Jesus do you worship?

“The great irony is that, despite being the most discussed and confessed figure in all of history, no historical figure has been more marginalized and commoditized than Jesus. For many today he is a generic brand, a log0, a catchphrase, a pick-me-up. He’s been fictionalized by The Last Temptation of Christ, and humanized by The Passion of the Christ, and satirized by South Park. He’s been romanticized by countless admirers, and sanitized by the Christian consumer culture.

Yes, even the church itself is guilty when it comes to the marketing of Jesus. We’ve put our own gloss on him, our own spin. It’s no wonder the world doesn’t get Jesus, because we’ve spent decades selling a Jesus cast in our own image. Even our religious ancestors feared the stern taskmaster Jesus. This quasi-Puritan Jesus liked to smack you on the knuckles with a ruler when you got out of line. Later, we received Postcard Jesus–the Coppertoned, blond-haired, blank-stare Jesus of the gold-framed portrait, a bland, two-dimensional figure occupying moral tales that help us to be better people. This flat portrait evolved into the Get-Out-of-Hell-Free Jesus, and this Jesus has inspired millions to say a prayer to get his forgiveness–and then go on living lives devoid of his presence….

…You’d think if anyone’s got a handle on Jesus, it would be the Christian church. But we’ve settled for the glossy portrait. We’ve used him and abused him, made him into types and stereotypes, taken his message out of context and made it about being a better person or being cool or helping us to help ourselves. Consequently, what we have today–in a world where Jesus is most cited, most recognized, and most admired–is a generation of people who don’t know the Gospels very well–which means we don’t know Jesus very well.”

Jared is a guy worth listening to. He was even nice enough to give me a copy of his book through a contest on Twitter. Check him out, but more importantly, check Jesus out. The real one. The one who is King.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis on “gospel intentionality”

In books, loving jesus, quotes, recommendations, you need to read this book on February 1, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Yesterday, my chapel coworkers and I had a great conversation about how important it is for the church to be both a gathered and sent people. There is no church where there is not a people gathered around the proclamation of the Word and the administering of the sacraments (Acts 2:41-42, 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Titus 1:9, etc.). However, the church is also a sent people. We live as citizens of the Kingdom that was inaugurated in and through the person and work of Jesus and will eventually be consummated at his second coming. We are on mission with Jesus, preaching the gospel, making disciples of the nations, and demonstrating the mercy and grace we have been shown in Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20, John 15:12, Galatians 5:13-15, etc.). This calls for living with gospel intentionality. In their excellent book Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis give us some words of wisdom as to how this might play out.

“Western culture has become very compartmentalized. We divide our lives into work time, leisure time, family time, church time, and mission or outreach time. We want to spend more time in evangelism, but because this can happen only at the expense of something else, it never happens. Rethinking evangelism as relationships rather than events radically changes this. Evangelism is not an activity to be squeezed into our busy schedules. It becomes an intention we carry with us throughout our day. The same is true of church. If church and mission are redefined in relational terms, then work, leisure, and family time can all be viewed as gospel activities. Ordinary life becomes pastoral and missional if we have gospel intentionality.”

Calvin Symposium on Worship & Marva Dawn on Revelation

In loving jesus on February 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

This past weekend, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship hosted their annual Symposium on Worship. I had the opportunity to serve at the conference and  it was a pretty incredible experience. I learned a ton and met a lot of really cool people from around the world. Best of all, Jesus was made much of.

I was the host for two sessions with the brilliant author and theologian Marva Dawn (Regent College), and in one of her lectures, “Preaching to Encourage Weakness” (a lot of Luther in there), she summarized the book of Revelation in three sentences:

  1. Jesus is Lord.
  2. Satan thinks he is and tries to be.
  3. Hang in there baby.

Awesome.

Jeremiah Burroughs on contentment with life circumstances

In books, prayer requests, quotes, recommendations, reviews, theology on January 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Right now is just about the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking time of my entire life. I am graduating from college in May, getting married to the most beautiful woman on the planet in July, and I’ve been accepted to seminary. Evidences of God’s grace are found everywhere in my life. However, there are so many decisions that we have to make in the next few months that I often feel bogged down with stress and anxiety. It is far too easy for me to focus on what is uncertain instead of focus on what is. I think a lot of my friends are in the same boat.

I’ve been reading an incredible book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by an old Puritan named Jeremiah Burroughs. His purpose in the book is to help believers find peace and contentment during difficult times. Today I came across a quote that was a very helpful word of grace that I just wanted to share with you:

“You should labour to bring your heart to quiet and contentment by setting your soul to work in the duties of your present condition. And the truth is, I know nothing more effective for quieting a Christian soul and getting contentment than this, setting your heart to work in the duties of the immediate circumstances that you are now in, and taking heed of your thoughts about other conditions as mere temptations.

…So it is with those who think, If I were in such circumstances, then I should have contentment; and perhaps they get into those circumstances, and they are as far from contentment as before. But then they think that if they were in other circumstances, they would be contented, but when they have got into those circumstances, they are still as far from contentment as before. No, no, let me consider what is the duty of my present circumstances, and content my heart with this, and say, ‘Well, though I am in a low position, yet I am serving the counsels of God in those circumstances where I am; it is the counsel of God that has brought me into these circumstances that I am in, and I desire to serve the counsel of God in these circumstances.'”

Tullian Tchividjian on “relevance”.

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, recommendations on January 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Today I started Tullian Tchividjian’s excellent (so far) book Unfashionable and let me tell you, my copy already has a lot of underlining in it. I just thought I would share a statement he makes about the church and “relevance”:

“Ironically, the more we Christians pursue worldly relevance, the more we’ll render ourselves irrelevant to the world around us. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance, just as there’s a relevance to practicing irrelevance. To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionably eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people and we dare not forget this fact in our pursuit of relevance.”

Don’t get me wrong, I (and Tullian) think it is incredibly important for Christians to be actively engaging and, as Andy Crouch puts it, creating culture, but if all we do is relate to and copy what is “cool” in whatever culture we find ourselves in, we don’t look like a people who have been changed by the sheer grace of God. If our number one goal is to be a “cool church” then we are already on the wrong track. We need to keep the gospel central, even if it means sounding completely uncool. Paul does call the cross a “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23) and Jesus says that “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). We have the best news in the world, but that news runs completely counter to the world’s way of thinking.

Besides, we tend to be pretty behind the times. If I hear one more song on K-Love that sounds like U2 circa 1987, I’m going to flip out. While U2 circa 1987 was, in my humble opinion, one of the best seasons of rock and roll, we really don’t need more worship songs trying (and failing) to sound like the intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Oh wait… did I just try to be cool by ripping on Christian rock? I still have some work to do…

Ok fine. I have to leave you with one more quote…

“We can’t engineer God’s transcendent presence; we can only fall on our faces and beg for it. In fact, we rob this world of the opportunity to see God high and lifted up–above and beyond us–when we try to program him and fit him into contemporary categories of “cool.” When the size of God grips us more than the size of our churches and leadership conferences, and when we become obsessed with surrendering our lives to God’s sovereign presence, only then will we be redemptively different and serve as God’s cosmic change agents in a world yearning for change.”

Top 10 albums of 2009!

In music, recommendations, reviews on January 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

Here it is. With great jubilation, I present to you my ten favorite albums of 2009. I think we all can agree that this was a great year for music. For serious. At the end of 2008, I had a very rough time compiling my list (and looking back there are plenty of changes I would make). There were only about five albums that stood out. While there were other very good ones, none of them had the elusive “it”. This year, I have a list of about 20 albums that could very easily make the cut. Nevertheless, here are those lucky albums to earn a spot.

1. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You


2. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

4. Wilco – Wilco (the album)

5. M. Ward – Hold Time

6. U2 – No Line on the Horizon

7. The Swell SeasonStrict Joy

8. Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome

9. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

Now I have to admit, I even had second thoughts while writing this. The number ten spot could have gone to a few other albums (Brandi CarlileJohn Mayer, and Volcano Choir among others), and I’ve been recently listening to several records that could take a spot upon further listening (Joe HenryDave Rawlings Machine, The Low Anthem), but here’s my list and I’m sticking to it.