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for His renown

this blog exists to magnify the glory of God in Jesus Christ

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States
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  • Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    Prayer and the Knowledge of God

    "When you think about your practice of prayer and, perhaps, some of the problems you experience, do you mainly consider: what you are like as a praying Christian, or what God is like as our heavenly Father who saves us?" (19). Graeme Goldsworthy, the church’s biblical theologian, has written a beautiful little book that I hope will have as much impact as J. I. Packer’s classic Knowing God.

    To whet your appetite, here’s another statement like the one quoted above: "Unfortunately, being told that Jesus got up a great while before sunrise in order to pray, or that Martin Luther, John Wesley and C. H. Spurgeon all regarded two hours a day spent in prayer as normal, does not seem to help most of us. On the contrary, it often tends to make us want to give up altogether" (11). Goldsworthy maintains that what will stir us to prayer is not our attempts to work up faith in our own hearts but rather a sustained focus on God, the beholding of whom will summon forth a response of worship and dependence. We must be God-centered rather than man-centered in our thinking about prayer.

    In this book Goldsworthy combines deep theological reflections on the nature of the Trinity with acute sensitivity to the Bible’s salvation historical timeline. Anyone who can read can understand this book, which makes it a great book not only to read but to give to others, or to use in a discipleship/reading discussion group.

    May the Lord enable us to know him, and may knowing him give us such confidence in him that we pray without ceasing (cf. Eph 1:17).

    Monday, May 30, 2005

    A Call to Reformation: Chapter 2, The Church

    Much of evangelicalism seems to have a "take it or leave it" attitude to the Church. For some, regular attendance at a parachurch meeting counts as church membership. Is this a legitimate approach to being the bride of Christ? Acknowledging that believing Christians disagree on the nature of the church, I am convinced that there is a way to be and do church that is most biblical. That’s what I try to defend in this chapter, titled, "Being the Church the Biblical, Baptist Way: How and Why Baptists ‘Do Church.’" Here’s an outline of the chapter’s contents:

    I. Baptist, Why Bother?

    II. Church Leadership in the New Testament

    A. A Plurality of Elders Who Are Equals

    B. Deacons Who Serve

    III. The Two Primary Baptist Distinctives

    A. Believer’s Baptism by Immersion

    B. Regenerate Church Membership

    IV. Trying To "Do Church" Like the New Testament Churches

    A. Congregationalism and Elders Who Lead

    B. Church Discipline

    C. Can Anybody Here Count?

    D. Local Church Autonomy

    V. Why Bother with the SBC?

    May the Lord work in us what pleases him, that his bride might stand unblemished before him!

    Sunday, May 29, 2005

    A Call to Reformation: Chapter 1, The Bible

    The reformation we need (thanks to Mel Feldsbar for noting that this is needed across evangelicalism) will be one that returns us to the great Solas of THE Reformation (for a brief summary go here).

    I am posting the first chapter of A Call to Reformation. One of the most insidious dangers in evangelicalism is the temptation to doubt the sufficiency of Scripture. The Battle for the Bible has presumably been won among evangelicals—many people now rally to the flag of inerrancy. But when we examine evangelical ministry, we find a lot of "worship services" that seem to feature a rock band and a comedian. We find a lot of "counseling ministry" that looks a lot like secular psychology done by people that happen to be Christian (see the recent shake-up at SBTS over this issue).

    Among those who really believe that the Bible is the tool God uses to change lives by the power of the Spirit, the approach to ministry is substantially different.

    So this first chapter is on "The Nature of the Bible and How to Study It." The title describes the content of the chapter. The first 5 pages are on the nature of the Bible as the inerrant word of God written by human beings situated in particular historical contexts and using particular literary conventions. The next 5 pages are on studying the Bible. Most of this is focused on a method called "Tracing the Argument" that I learned from Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner (who learned it from Dr. John Piper, who learned it from Dr. Daniel P. Fuller). At page 10 the diagrams begin—step by step formatting for word docs, layouts of Deuteronomy 4:32–40 and Romans 5:1–11, a chart summarizing possible "relationships between propositions," and finally step by step tracings of Deuteronomy 4:32–40 and Romans 5:1–11.

    Let us unleash the mighty sword of the Word of God!

    Saturday, May 28, 2005

    A Call to Reformation: Introduction

    I have been trying to think for a while now about what is needed in the average Southern Baptist Church. I am in the process of trying to write A Call to Reformation: A Plea for Christian Teaching in Southern Baptist Churches. I am posting what I have so far in the way of an Introduction to the project. At the end there are descriptions of what I think each chapter will contain. I have the intro and the first two chapters done. More will be posted soon. . .

    Putting the Bible First

    Maybe you’re like me and you often find that at the end of the day you’ve read a lot of stuff but somehow neglected to read the Bible.

    Here’s a suggestion: Set the homepage of your Internet Explorer to the ESV’s One Year Bible Reading Plan and don’t go anywhere else on the internet until you’ve read these passages. It looks to me like the average day’s reading is about the length of the average article from drudgereport or some such site. Let’s read the Bible before we browse to anything else, so that everything else won’t keep us from reading the Bible.

    Free Will

    Thanks to Justin Taylor for bringing this interview with Dr. Bruce Ware on the nature of free will to my attention. Every student of theology should read this 4 page, easy to understand interview.

    Mother’s Day Alphabet Acrostic

    God designed marriage as a mini-drama of the relationship between Christ and the church. This is an important reason for those of us who are husbands to love our wives extravagantly. I am glad for this opportunity to publicly proclaim the virtues of my sweet wife in acrostic form (the first 6 and 1/2 lines begin with successive letters of the alphabet):

    Always bold, calmly dynamic
    Ever-flowing, grace-hysteric
    Increasing joy, kindly lavish
    Majestic, novel, original, practiced
    Quiet resounding silent tact
    Unyielding, valorous, wild xarismatik
    Your zealous love for me and Jake
    All the words of the alphabet take
    To summarize and celebrate
    Happy mother’s day from your happy mate!

    Mother’s Day, 2005

    Revived to What?

    I often hear people speak of a desire for revival and reformation. What I don’t often hear people speak of is exactly what they want revived or reformed. So what exactly are we looking for?

    My thoughts on this topic are influenced by Mark Noll’s book, The Rise of Evangelicalism, conversation with my friend Denny Burk , and an article on biblical illiteracy.

    Here are some things I think we would experience if the Spirit of God were to revive us again:

    1. A deep sense of the holiness and majesty of God resulting in godly sorrow for sin and a firm resolve to turn from it. In a word, repentance.

    2. A hunger to know God and make him known, resulting in a desperate rush to be fed biblical truth. This would take shape in Christians reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible for themselves. It would also result in people wanting to have the Bible taught to them—at church, in home Bible studies, and maybe even in a seminary.

    3. A fervent reliance upon God in all things, giving rise to ceaseless prayer. This would mark our individual lives as we constantly call upon God for help, and it would mark our corporate lives as we gather to beseech the Lord to make his name great in our midst.

    4. A marked increase in new conversions. Here is a helpful summary of some research done on evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention, and here are some suggestions for improvement. It could be that another part of the explanation as to why we are not seeing more conversions and baptisms is that Christians don’t have a deep reverence for God that produces holy living (number 1 above), they don’t nourish their souls on God’s Word (number 2 above), and they don’t pray much because they don’t feel much need for God (number 3 above). Are these things being cultivated in your church? If not, why not? What is being cultivated? Isn’t the point of church knowing and worshiping God?

    5. As lives change, lives change. Work takes on a sacred quality as vocational service becomes a living sacrifice of worship to God. Leisure is no longer lazy lounging with worldly entertainment. That waste of life is replaced by an urgency to redeem the time in relationship building and a zest for numbers 2 – 4 above. There is a place for entertainment, but let us insist on entertainment that is edifying. Conversations with friends would be changed as well. What do you talk about with your friends? We talk about what we like to talk about, and what we like to talk about is a reflection of what matters most to us—or should be. In Jonathan Edwards’ descriptions of the first great awakening, he notes that conversations in Northampton were theological—having to do with God. Imagine that!

    6. I am by no means trying to make a list of what piety looks like, but I do think that people whose lives are marked by the things described in numbers 1 – 5 above are revived. The sum total of these things is a pursuit of personal holiness in response to being ravished by the living God. If our churches become influenced by Christians who live this way, our churches might experience reformation.

    7. All of this results from God revealing himself powerfully to people such that he evokes from us a response that corresponds with who he is. If we do not see him, know him, love him, and long for more of him, none of this will happen.

    May the Lord be pleased to revive our lives and reform our churches!

    Blogging for Revival

    Why have I joined the corps of bloggers?

    As Mark Noll traces the roots of the first great awakening in The Rise of Evangelicalism he draws attention to the way that the innovative publication of what was happening around the world stimulated revival in other parts of the world.

    My hope and prayer is that the blogosphere will be one more way for Christians of like mind to share ideas and learn from each other.

    May the Lord Jesus Christ use this blog to further his renown, and may the things expressed here give rise to a revival of truth and a reformation of righteousness.