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Tim Challies

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July 16, 2010

Today’s guest blog comes from my good friend Mark Tubbs. Mark has taken upon himself much of the day-to-day work associated with Discerning Reader and for that I am deeply indebeted to him. Today he writes about marriage and parenting.

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Back in May, my wife and I attended an incredibly challenging and inspiring Paul David Tripp conference on marriage, entitled What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (there is a excellent Crossway book of the same name). I learned so much about parenting.

Did I say parenting? Yes; I took away manifold parenting insights from this marriage conference. That’s not to say that I didn’t imbibe any marriage insights; I certainly did. I was chastened up and down regarding all the ways I superimpose my failings onto my wife. I was humbled to learn that the secret to our long and successful marriage is that we share a deep and abiding love for me (HT Jess MacCallum for that phrase).

It’s no secret that the Bible speaks to parenting, but it may be a surprise to you just how often it does so indirectly. At his conference, Tripp stated, “The Bible isn’t arranged by topic. If you go only to the “marriage” passages, you miss most of what the Bible says about marriage.” In his book, he elaborates in a section entitled “Using the Bible Biblically”:

July 15, 2010

Today’s guest blogger is Frank Turk, he of Pyromaniancs fame. He shares what was meant to be a recorded conference message but has instead been relegated (reduced?) to a blog post.

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Some of the massive throng of readers for this blog may know that I was nominated to speak at “theNines” this year — which is an on-line event where the speakers record 9 minutes of advice for people in ministry, and the event itself is free of change. Turns out that I have also been selected. Only the rules changed this year: instead of 9 minutes, we only get 6, and the topic has itself also changed significantly. Until there’s a public announcement about that, I’ll leave that to the chaps at Leadership Network and Catalyst to disambiguate the situation.

BUT: the changes leave me with a 9-minute talk that I drafted and now cannot use — until Tim e-mailed me yesterday and asked for a submission to help him keep his blog running for a couple of days while he’s away from his desk. So for all of you, here’s what I would have said if nothing else had changed:

First of all, to sort of throw a rock at my normal constituents, I want to strongly recommend Rick Warren’s video from last year about what the purpose of the local church is. That’s a great nine minutes on what the local church ought to be, and you should go back to the archives to watch that one again and again because he’s right.

There’s another side to what Pastor Warren said in that video, and I wanted to make that the focus of my brief time here: it’s the topic of “bigness”. See: a subtext of Pastor Warren’s talk is that a ministry is not really fruitful unless it’s big – because really: only a big church with big resources can do what Saddleback does on paper and in fact in the real world. You can’t send thousands of missionaries and planters unless you have tens of thousands supporting them – or at least as a base from which to draw all those people.

July 14, 2010

Today’s guest post comes to us from Stephen McGarvey. Stephen is editorial director of Salem Web Network (i.e. christianity.com, crosswalk.com, and so on). He tackles a subject that is near and dear to me—using discernment in real life.

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Is there ever a time man can judge another man? I can’t find it in the Bible but my friend says it’s ok to judge false teachers. 

The question above arrived in my inbox a few days ago from one the readers of Christianity.com. This is an issue that arises regularly in our little editorial corner of the world.  Typically, however, the question isn’t phrased as mildly as this member of our audience put it. The more usual way this issue comes to our attention is from an incensed Facebook comment or reader feedback post that sounds more like:

How dare you condemn this fine Christian person whom I love and their film/book/movie/actions/etc? How can you call yourself a Christian and write something so negative?

There are certainly examples of the “negativity” to be found on the Christian websites I am responsible for as well as the sites of others who look to comment on life’s issues from the Christian perspective.

July 13, 2010

Today’s guest blogger is Ed Stetzer. That’s a name that is familiar to most of you, I’m sure. I recently spoke at an event with Ed and, having enjoyed his company, asked if he’d be willing to put together a guest post. And, as you’re about to see, he was kind enough to do so.

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A lot of kids grow up wanting to be a rock star. These days the term “rock star” is applied much more liberally than the days of heavy metal. Athletes are rock stars, movie stars are rock stars, software designers are rock stars. The rock star aesthetic has been democratized.

You don’t even have to live a rock and roll lifestyle to be a rock star. These days even the most un-hip of occupations can achieve rock star appeal. Including pastors.

Somebody once said, “The Gospel came to the Greeks and the Greeks turned it into a philosophy. The Gospel came to the Romans and the Romans turned it into a system. The Gospel came to the Europeans and the Europeans turned it into a culture. The Gospel came to America and the Americans turned it into a business.” And business is booming. Millions of churchgoers file in to buildings each week, line up in rows like shelves at Walmart, and watch the stage. They come for one purpose: to see a show and hear a pastor.

This, by uncritical standards, is success. But while this phenomenon increases, I believe it can be damaging to the spiritual vitality of the American church.

July 12, 2010

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Matthew Smith. Matthew is a singer-songwriter from Nashville who takes old hymn lyrics and sets them to new music. He is a founding member of the Indelible Grace community, and tours full time, playing concerts of hymns at churches. I blogged here last week about his new song “Goodnight,” from his forthcoming album Watch The Rising Day. For this article I simply asked Matthew to writes about how he came to find such joy in setting old hymns to new music.

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When I was in high school, I loved to sing. I sang in the shower. I sang in my room. I sang while walking down the hallways at school. I sang until people told me to shut up. (They seemed rude at the time, but in retrospect, they had a point. It was pretty annoying.) By the time I was sixteen, I figured out a way to sing in a more socially acceptable way. I learned how to play guitar.

Like many high school kids before and since who’ve learned to string together three guitar chords, I was soon recruited to lead the worship singing for my youth group’s weekly meetings. (Or forced myself upon the position— my memory fails me at this point.) After leading the music, I would sit down and hear a message, whose point was often that I needed to try harder. Try harder to be a “good witness” at school. Try harder to avoid temptation. Try harder to obey God.

Somehow, the idea of trying harder carried over to worship. My repertoire consisted of praise and worship songs (none of which had an F chord— I didn’t know how to play that one), mainly ones that talked about how much I wanted to worship God. I thought that if I tried harder, was sincere enough, and really meant it enough, that I would enter into a state of capital-w Worship. The world around me would fade away, I would lose my inhibitions, and I would achieve a spiritual state of being lost in worship.

But this state of spiritual ecstasy never arrived. And, in my mind, there was only one person to blame–me. I was a failed worshiper.

July 11, 2010

Today’s guest blogger is Danielle Evans. Like me, Danielle is a member of Grace Fellowship Church. Unlike me, Danielle is a graduate of Southern Seminary. When I asked if she would like to contribute a guest post, she decided to talk to Dr. Russell Moore to ask him a few questions about adoption. (You may also like to read my review of his book, Adopted for Life)

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Dr. Russell Moore, author of Adopted For Life, shows why Christians are exhorted to take care of orphans and widows.   He has first hand experience with adoption, as he has adopted two of his sons, Benjamin and Timothy.  I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Moore a few questions regarding this important subject.

1.) Please share a little about your experience with adoption and how you and Maria decided to adopt.

July 10, 2010

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Chris Larson. Chris is responsible for the outreach and operations of Ligonier Ministries. And, as it happens, he is also a friend. Chris was kind enough to provide an article dealing with mercy.

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Peter didn’t just blow it, he blew it badly. “Though they all fall away…I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33). Peter’s resolution we admire for its confidence and bravery. But it is a statement relying on one’s own strength and it is doomed for shipwreck. A few hours go by and we find him alone and weeping (v. 75).

We can relate, can’t we? We’ve made promise after promise to the Lord, resolution after resolution, only to come to the end of ourselves. The sinking feeling churns in our stomach, our earlier words of bold resolve pour like fuel on the fire of guilt and self-condemnation.

Godly sorrow doesn’t remove the sting of sin’s consequence. Falling short of the glory of God every day in word, thought, and deed is the norm, not the exception (Rom. 3:23). We may be surprised when we blow it, but our sins do not surprise the omniscient, holy God.

So often we want to hide from the Lord when we sin. Yet after Peter’s very public failure, he doesn’t hide. He waits. Notice what Peter did when he heard it was Jesus on the beach. His exuberance leaps off the pages of the Bible when we read how he throws himself into the water and swims to shore (John 21:7).