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September 2011

September 27, 2011

Our guest on this week’s Connected Kingdom podcast is Rico Tice who founded Christianity Explored. Because I am on the far side of the continent, David took the lead in interviewing Rico. Be sure to give it a listen!

Rico Tice is Associate Minister of Evangelism at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. He is also Founder of Christianity Explored, the evangelistic introductory course to Christianity. This week on the Connected Kingdom podcast, Rico talks about the impact of John Stott upon his life and ministry, how his previous singleness made Christianity Explored possible, and how he keeps his own evangelistic fervor alive. US listeners can find Christianity Explored resources here.

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September 27, 2011

It was an interesting and full yesterday. I’m still out here on the West Coast doing quite a lot of speaking. Yesterday began with preaching at chapel at The Master’s College. I realized as I was sitting there, just before the service began, that this is the first chapel service I’ve ever been to. It was a really nice service complete with great worship music and students who seemed really attentive while I preached on the importance of speaking truth with love, especially in the midst of all the communicating we do in this digital world. I really enjoyed the experience.

After chapel was complete I spent an hour in a class taught by Professor Grant Horner (he of the Bible-reading plan). Greg Koukl happened to be there as well and we spent the time talking to the students and answering their questions. 

Later in the afternoon Lukas Van Dyke took me off to the middle of nowhere (almost literally) to do a photo shoot. There’s a magazine that is doing an interview with me in an upcoming issue and my friends have been mocking me that in every interview I do, there’s always the same old photo of me. I took this as a sign that it was time for some new ones. Lukas got all creative, setting me up in a field with a desk and chair. Weird but fun. I’ll show you the shots when they’re ready.

September 27, 2011

Unpragmatic Pragmatism - Bob Glenn: “If it works to achieve our ends, then it’s right. The logic goes like this: We want more people to hear the gospel. People will only come to hear the gospel if you dress up like a Transformer or ride a white horse. Therefore, dressing up like Bumblebee or becoming Will Rogers is a perfectly legitimate way of doing church.”

180 - 180 is a new documentary from Ray Comfort. Just 33 minutes long, it’s worth watching. Comfort does battle with moral relativism on the issue of abortion. (On the critique side, I sure wish he did a better job of getting to the gospel)

Galatians and Gospel - This is kind of a neat post from Thabiti Anyabwile. You’ll just have to read it because I can’t quite explain it.

The Lost Girls - “China’s One-Child policy is an epic disaster. Why does it have so many cheerleaders?This grisly reality is behind the Associated Press’s happy talk about China being a paradise for girls. The relative scarcity of girls has meant that women are prized and treated exceptionally well by parents, who can devote all their resources to them, and suitors who want to marry them. Things really are great for Chinese girls—if they survive until birth.” (HT)

Is the Reformation Nearly Over? - Carl Trueman: “Medieval Catholics liked to obtain the body, or even just a fragment, of a saint for their church building in order to make it an authentic church, or a better church than the one in the neighbouring town (see. the undignified fight for the corpse of St. Anthony of Padua; today we need a virtual piece of a famous preacher in our locale to have access to the magic.”

No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. —Charles Spurgeon

September 26, 2011

Last week I spoke to Bob Kellemen about the difficult subject of spiritual abuse. We worked toward a definition of the term and looked also at what shouldn’t rightly be classified as abuse. I had more questions and Bob was kind enough to answer them (and, in my opinion, to answer well). Here’s the rest of our discussion. I hope this helps people who are suffering spiritual abuse or who are wondering if that is what’s going on at their local church.

TC: How are we to react to genuine spiritual abuse? Is this a time to begin a web site to expose abuse? Is this the time to leave a church?

BK: I want to address that question in a two-fold way: how do we respond to spiritual abuse internally—in our own hearts, and how do we respond to spiritual abuse “externally”—in our relationship to the person hurting us, in relationship to the church, and in relationship to the wider Christian community. 

Internally, I always encourage the person who is experiencing spiritual abuse to step back and seek the help of a trusted, objective third party. We discussed in our first post the fact that the term “spiritual abuse” can be misused or misapplied so we don’t have to respond to loving confrontation from a spiritual authority. As a counselor, I try to raise this possibility to the person in a loving, kind, supportive way. The last thing they need is to sense that the “victim is being victimized.” Still, it’s vital to have someone help you to assess what is actually occurring. 

Let’s assume that the outside assessment concurs (that sounds more clinical than it is in real life): spiritual abuse is occurring. I then encourage the person who is experiencing spiritual abuse to avoid two extremes. One extreme is denial and minimizing. In God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting, I build a biblical case for candor and lament—honesty with self and with God about life’s losses. It is a very painful loss to have someone you trust as a shepherd use that shepherding role to harm rather than to help. 

September 26, 2011

eBooks and Reading - Here’s an interesting ramification of the move to ebooks: “If the transition to eBooks is complete — and with libraries being among the most significant buyers of books, it now seems inevitable — the flexibility of book ownership will be gone forever. Knowledge, in as much as books represent it, will belong to someone else.”

Incredible Eyes - Here are some amazing photographs of eyes. Yes, eyes. And not just human eyes, either.

Google Ruins Memory - “If you think your memory has fallen off a cliff over the past ten years or so, it might not be memory loss due to aging. It might be due to the way Google restructures how our brains archive knowledge.”

Broader Interests - Ed Stetzer writes about pastors who give up pastoring a local church to dedicate their time to broader interests (like writing and speaking).

The X-Factor - The doctors advised Pamela Cook to abort her baby when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She refused. See the rest of her story above.

[Believers] have joy and comfort—that joy that angels cannot give, and devils cannot take. —Christopher Fowler

September 25, 2011

Well, I made it safely from Boston to Los Angeles. One thing I neglected to realize when planning my travel is that arriving in L.A. at 10:30 PM is a lot later than it seems when coming in from the East Coast. So I arrived at 10:30, but of course it was really 1:30 AM in the east. Thankfully I slept soundly and was in pretty good shape to speak at Grace Community Church this morning. I spoke before a group of a few hundred thirty-somethings and then before what must have been 1,000 college students. I spoke from Genesis 3, tracing redemptive history through the cherubim that the Lord placed outside Eden to guard the way to the Tree of Life. What a thrill it was to be able to travel right across the continent and preach God’s Word.

Coming from quite a small church, it was an interesting experience to be on a campus with thousands and thousands of people milling about. I guess it would be simple enough to be just a face in the crowd, but it certainly seemed like there was lots of true fellowship going on there. It looks like the church does a good job of allowing people to be part of something small, even with such a huge congregation.

And that was that. We swung by the church quickly to say hello to Dr. MacArthur and then had lunch with Travis Allen and his family (Travis is involved in running the GTY web site and blog).

Somehow, in the middle of it all, I began to think of this quote from Michael Emlet. I want to remember this one in the midst of studying and speaking and preaching. It is a good corrective; a good warning.

A temptation in ministry is to think that just because we prepared a Bible study, a sermon, or a discipleship appointment (or wrote a book like this!), we are deeply engaging with the God of the universe. But that’s not necessarily true. It’s easy in ministry to live more as a ‘pipe’ than a ‘reservoir.’ That is, it’s easy to live merely as a conduit to others of the transforming truths of God’s Word, rather than as a changed and transformed reservoir who overflows with lived-out gospel truth. You wouldn’t imagine cooking meal after meal for your family without sitting down to enjoy that nourishment, would you? To paraphrase James 1:22, let’s not merely be hearers or speakers or counselors of the Word, but doers, first and foremost.

Those are words I need to remember.

Tomorrow I’m off to The Master’s College to lead chapel and do a few other things. Should be fun!

September 24, 2011

I’m writing today from West Boylston, Massachusetts (I’ve never managed to spell Massachusetts without using spell checker), at the site of the Psalm 119 Conference. Yesterday I spoke on desiring discernment and a few minutes ago on how to be discerning without being a complete jerk (a.k.a. speaking truth in love). It’s been great to connect with some people in this neck of the woods, though such Christian fellowship requires overlooking the fact that the folk around here are Red Sox fans. 

The plane I flew in yesterday was small enough that it had an open cockpit and we could see the crew going about their business. As I watched them do what they do to get us from Toronto to Providence, I was struck by one very simple fact of life—we all want to live, or at least, we all want not to die. Obvious, I know, but significant. I sometimes think of this as well as I hurtle down the highway at 60 or 70 miles per hour, surrounded by hundreds of other drivers doing the same thing. We all stay in our lanes, we all drive straight, we all brake at the right times and we all keep alert. It would just take one or two people to completely alter all of that—one or two people who just stopped caring whether they lived or died.

The same is true in the air. When we fly, we just assume that the pilots at the front of the plane care about life as much as we do, that they have as strong a desire as we do not to die. The alternative is almost unthinkable.

September 23, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Baker Books. Baker has just published the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook and they’d like to give away some copies of it. I received a copy not too long ago and have quite enjoyed it as a reference volume. According to the publisher,

Baker Illustrated Bible HandbookThe Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook offers the most up-to-date evangelical biblical scholarship in a format that is colorful, informative, and easy to understand. This book-by-book guide brings the Bible to life with more than:

  • 1,100 full-color pages
  • 500 color photos and illustrations
  • 80 maps and charts
  • 100 articles by leading evangelical scholars

You will discover how each part of the Bible reveals God’s overarching purposes, giving you a clearer understanding of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation. And you’ll learn how to more effectively interpret the Bible and apply it to your life.

Baker has five prizes to give away today and each prize will contain 2 copies of the Handbook—one for you and one for a friend or for a church library; you’ll be able to put it to good use, I’m sure.

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

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