Showing posts from February, 2016

Spurgeon and the Unseen

In his work, Lectures to My Students, C. H. Spurgeon tells of a story he read from Father Faber. Spurgeon recounts the fictitious tale: A certain preacher, whose sermons converted men by scores, received a revelation from heaven that not one of the conversions was owing to his talents or eloquence, but all to the prayers of an illiterate lay-brother, who sat on the pulpit steps, pleading all the time for the success of the sermon. It may in the all-revealing day be so with us. We may discover, after having labored long and wearily in preaching , that all the honor belongs to another builder, whose prayers were gold, silver, and precious stones, while our sermonizing, being apart from prayer, were but hay and stubble.I like this story. It's our tendency is to take the credit for the success we see in the different areas of ministry we take a part in. We see the work we put in and sometimes we see results. Reasonably, we connect the dots between the visible effects and the individual…

Book in Review: George Whitefield

George Whitefield was the “central figure” of the Great Awakening of the mid 1700s, and quite possibly the first English celebrity. It can be estimated that he preached over 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, commonly featuring audiences in the ten, twenty, and thirty plus thousands (remember this is before microphones, P.A. systems, and online marketing). There is no question that Whitefield is a hero of the faith and a founder of Western Evangelicalism. This was a necessary biography.

Whitefield, pre-conversion, was a man of immense struggles—almost Martin Luther like. There was even a season in his life at Oxford where Whitefield felt tormenting assaults from the devil, where he could be found writhing "on the floor day and night, praying and commanding the devil to leave his body, in the name of Jesus" (430). Whitefield fasted, mourned his sin, struggled, and made penance—until God met him. Whitefield was "born again," proclaiming, "the Day Star arose in my he…

Contra Mundum

There was a very good piece by Dr. Albert Mohler today on his daily podcast discussing the “age gap for gay rights.” Both my generation (Millennials) and the next upcoming generation are far more likely to support the LGBTQ+ movement than my parent’s or grandparent’s generation. Many of us young folk know gay people, have gay friends, and cannot help but empathize with their stories. Thanks also in part to mass societal pressures for normalization, LGBT lifestyles seem far more familiar today than they were 10 years ago, let alone 50.
Proponents of the light speed revolution often argue for their traditional counterparts to get on the right side of history. On a recent anti discriminatory bill, Delegate Mark Sickles urged his colleagues, “Your kids will be looking back on what you do today and how you vote on this bill.” A question of legacy is a strong appeal to get with the times or reap the consequences. Get on the train before it leaves you behind. Compelling.
And in a modern Americ…

When God does not give you what you want

Have you ever wanted something good? Maybe it was a desire for future ministry or a longing to have children. Maybe you wanted a good job which would help you both support your family and fulfill you at the same time. Maybe you wanted your family member not to die of cancer, or your financial situation to change.
But God said: “No”
Or “not today”
Or “not you.”
How are we to respond when God does not give us the good things we want? Sometimes it is easy envision God as a cruel antagonist, giving noble desires and not allowing their satisfaction. We ask Him why. Sometimes we can even question His goodness and His love for us.
I am thankful the Bible records many such situations of people just like us getting denied incredible desires: Job with his loss, Paul with his thorn in the flesh, Joseph with his whole “sold into slavery” escapade. I think particularly of King David in 2 Samuel 7. 
David was a man after God’s own heart. He wrote hundreds of Psalms, slayed Goliath, and was perhaps the gr…

Interview with the Author: Thomas S. Kidd

Whenever I read a good book, I have a desire to sit down and have a conversation with the author over some form of hot drinks. With our world ever so connected today, this desire is nearer to being satisfied than we might think—though perhaps electronically and without the personal interaction (or hot drinks). Upon reading the latest biography on the life of George Whitefied, I took the liberty to ask author and historian Dr. Thomas S. Kidd if he would be willing to briefly answer a couple of questions—for the purpose of sharing on my blog. I am thankful he agreed.

Dr. Thomas S. Kidd is a Professor of History at Baylor University. He has written several books including: Baptists in America (Oxford, 2015, with Barry Hankins); George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale, 2014),  Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. Among his other books are The American Christian and IslamThe Great Awakening: The Roots…

The Dangerous Case of the Cerebral Christian

Meet the Cerebral Christian. Though he comes in various shapes and sizes, he is best identified by his supreme intellect. This modern academic loves the Bible and, chances are, he knows more about it than you do. He loves studying, and has likely gone to church his entire life—perhaps even to Bible School.
The intellectual Christian loves debates and theological discussions. He relishes moments where his scholarly prowess can be observed by all. He vehemently argues for his case, whether it is: the nature of the atonement, the details of election, or the minutia of prophecy. It can be easy for this brand of Christian to come across as overly opinionated or even offensive; but not to worry--he can afford to be. He is more than capable of defending his beliefs.
In his spare time the Cerebral Christian reads a lot of books. He reads books on Christian doctrines and dogmas, books on the Reformers and early Church Fathers, books on apologetics and arguments for Christianity. Let’s face it, …

Objects at Rest

I have had a local gym membership for some time as staying physically healthy has long been a desire of mine. But as I am getting married in a little over four months, let's just say the pressure is on for me to be in better shape than the twig form that I am in currently.
The problem is: I just can't get into a rhythm with the whole gym thing. I go a few days here, take a few days off there. One week on, two weeks off. Don't look at me--Life is busy. The fiancĂ© needs to hang out, and my introverted self needs down time! Maybe you can relate.
After sifting through my excuses I have concluded my problem is due to basic physics. An object at rest tends to stay at rest.
Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I was going to the gym frequently, and I was enjoying it. There was a time when I was not always on the verge of passing out when I did leg day--and I was actually setting goals for myself and gaining good weight (for us skinny guys gaining weight is a good th…

Neither Do I Condemn You

Can you remember the sweetest words anyone has ever told you? Maybe it was some encouragement you received when you were going through a rough time. Or perhaps it was that first declaration of love from your now spouse. Chances are you remember those words often.
John 8 records perhaps the sweetest words anyone can hear. They were spoken to a woman, caught in the very act of adultery--by religious leaders no less. Her sin is no longer a secret, and the man whom she was with is strangely absent.
Can you imagine the shame?
She has broken the seventh commandment. There are witnesses, and she must pay the consequences for her actions. Which of course is death. Marriage is a very sacred covenant in the Hebrew Scriptures--both in the Old Testament as well as the New. Tainting the marriage bed requires punishment, and the Pharisees are conveniently close enough to perform the sting operation. 
Imagine the scene. This naked, scorned, ashamed woman is at the mercy of the religious leaders and ther…

Book in Review: "Christianity and Liberalism"

Could a book be more relevant for today? Well, surely God's Word is--but Machen's book written nearly a hundred years ago seems pre-molded for modern America 2016. We live in the age of Creflo Dollar's gospel, Bart Ehrman's textual criticism, Joel Osteen's preaching, and Oprah Winfrey's theology. If the circumstances surrounding Dr. Machen's early 20th century world were bad--what has it come to today?!

There indeed is nothing new under the sun. The battles that were wrestled in the past are the same battles we are fighting today (though perhaps under different names). Machen iterates, "The greatest menace to the Christian Church today comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within; it comes from the presence within the church of a type of faith and practice that is anti-Christian to the core." It is therefore that menace to the precious church of Jesus Christ that Machen fights against with all righteous tenacity of a shepherd who…

Trusting in Princes(ses)

So it begins. Last night’s Iowa Caucus kicked off a string of primaries scheduled for the upcoming months, and it is only February folks! We have ten more months to go of this stuff.
And it is easy to get caught up in the constant polling and the incessant data being spewed at us. I find myself getting dragged in with the current and hoping against hope: “If only this guy gets elected, things will be different!” Or perhaps more frequently: “God help us if (fill in the blank) gets elected. It will surely be the demise of Western culture as we know it.” Such extreme, emotional sentiment is common amongst the population these days. And it is to be expected.
It is our nature to be excited about the election. The President of the United States is a significant position with a lot of power, and this election in particular comes at an especially crucial time. As citizens of the United States we need to care about the outcome and be involved in the election process.
But let’s be wary of looking …

Worst to First: Live Sports

As your standard, modern American male, I am fond of sports (maybe I will write about the consequences of this in a later post). But not all entertainment is bad, especially if we do not let it consume us.

Here are my worst to first ranking of live professional sporting events:
5. NFL. I have been to 3 NFL games and they were all miserable. For two of the games I had no personal interest in the outcome, and for one of them I was far too emotionally invested (perhaps that is what made it the MOST miserable). The problem with the NFL is TV timeouts. Every couple of minutes everybody decides to take a break. Add in halftimes, the time between plays, other stoppages--and just about 95 percent of the football game is spent watching players stand. I don't know about you, but I would rather do that in the comfort of my own home--or my parent's home (because I still live there).
4. NBA. I have been to two Pacers games in my time at Indiana. I am not the most avid NBA fan, but I can appre…