N.T. Wright duels with John Piper and Piper Instructs on the Beauty of Heaven, plus

Weekend Links

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

.          I played my first 9 holes of golf in two years. Struck the ball well, putted horribly, scored about average. And in the end came to the realization that I will probably have to give up golf. My back simply can’t take the stress. Life moves on.

My back reminds me that I’m not 20 years old anymore. It also reminds me that I am closer to seeing Jesus face to face. With Paul, I delight and “count it as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:7-8)

Enjoy the links.

Bible and Doctrine

Dealing with an Epidemic of Biblical Illiteracy in both Church and Culture  (One of the startling things about this age is that people think they know what the Bible teaches and yet they rarely read their Bible. Huh? Our churches need to saturate their people with the Word of the Living God.)

Is the Hope of Heaven Beautiful or Boring?  ––John Piper  (Short video and worth every minute.)

N.T. Wright Continues to Plug for His New Perspective on Paul  (The interviewer is more than a little interested in fueling the debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright. Still it is helpful. Though I am unconvinced, I will continue to read. One question I have is, why should we pit the “old perspective” and “new perspective” against one another? Could they not be compatible and complementary?)

6 Principles of How Established Churches Grow  (If your church is plateaued or declining this is worth a read.)

Pop Culture

How Two Penniless Korean Immigrants Launched an Apparel Empire Worth Billions  (Success stories like this show that with a vision and a lot of hard work, it is still possible to accomplish great things.)

Sexual Abstinence and God’s Gift for Unmarried Lovers  —(Parents who raised their evangelical, church-going offspring have been broken to the core at the trend of sexual promiscuity of their children. Here’s real help and perspective on what to pray and say.)

Why Porno Shops Don’t Have Windows  —John Piper via Justin Taylor (Nature, outdoors, starry nights, and endless skies tell us something about God. Romans 1 and the Psalms declare it over and over.)

What You Can Do to Empower Dissent to Same-sex Marriage

WEEKEND LINKS

You cannot Save PeopleThese are challenging times for Christians who hold to the authority of Scripture. But that is not without its joys and opportunities. As one of my friends said, “Marty, when it get’s darker, the light always appears brighter.” Amen. Let’s shine all the brighter for Jesus and let’s remember to love everyone, including and especially those who will say the most bitter and unfair things about us now that the lid is off and same-sex marriage has been ruled constitutional. 

We can disagree with the ruling, we can say that SCOTUS has overstepped its boundaries, we can complain all we like, but the numbers are against us and we will have to lovingly take our lumps while we seek to give alternative, counter-culture testimony to the wisdom of the biblical teaching on human sexuality. The weekend links this week give some solid ways to think about how that conversation might be shaped and the texture of how it might proceed. To God be the glory.

Theology and Apologetics  (Believe these things)

Why the Church Should Neither Cave Nor Panic about the decision on Gay Marriage  —Russell Moore  (As the culture gets darker, the light of Jesus and the Gospel will shine all the brighter. Let not your hearts be troubled.)

Gay Marriage Still doesn’t Exist No Matter What the Supreme Court Says  —Matt Walsh  (Blunt, clear and helpful.)

An Open Letter from John MacArthur to Preachers  (You don’t have to be a MacArthur fan to recognize the wisdom and timeliness of this counsel for preachers and Christians in the post Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.)

Tim Keller on “Making Sense of Scripture’s Inconsistency”  —Tim Keller  (Media pundits, Talk Show hosts, anti-Christian bigots don’t always play fair. [To be fair, some Christians don’t either, and that is a scandal and blight on the name of Christ.] But Tim Keller does a good job of showing why it is not “picking and choosing” nor inconsistent when Christians follow some Old Testament texts and not others.)

Practice and Ministry  (Do these things)

Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn to Live as Exiles in Their Own Country  –Rod Dreher (Don’t miss this article.)

What Your Church Needs to Know and Do about the Supreme Court Decision —Erik Stanley and the Gospel Coalition (Very helpful article with a link to a great 22 page free downloadable manual on how to protect your ministry from legal challenge in the future.)

Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church —Trevan Wax  (This article was actually written in 2013 but it has proven prophetic and continues to be helpful.)

7 Reasons Why High-Profile Leaders Like Tullian Tchividjian Fail  (Helpful, timely, sadly needed. Pray for pastors people.)

Pop Culture and Politics

TurningPointUSA.net  (Exciting young Illinois 21 year old who is making an extraordinary difference on the campuses of the entire country. Politics is NOT the answer, Jesus is. But politics cannot be abandoned and this young man is doing his part to change the status quo. Check him and his organization out [TurningPointUSA.net].)

5 Mistakes that Will Lead to the Fall of America  —John Hawkins  (All five have economic dimensions, at least three have religious dimensions, one relates to immigration policy.  All of them are important to digest.)

Book Resources

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?  Kevin DeYoung

Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope.   Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality   (Wesley Hill)

The Meaning of Charleston; SCOTUS ruling; John Piper; the DRESS back in the news; Parenting and much more

Weekend Links

Arabic symbol for Nazarene (Will SCOTUS ruling lead to the marking of Christians in America?)
Arabic symbol for Nazarene (Will SCOTUS ruling lead to the marking of Christians in America?)

This promise is still true:  

“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The United States is not Israel; but believers still dwell here. They are the people of God, the “Israel of God”, according to Galatians 6:16. And God is still looking to bless those people in any nation that humble themselves, seek His face and turn from their wickedness. Today, after the SCOTUS ruling, we have much more to turn from but our God is still ready to bless when we do.

Theology and Apologetics (These Things Believe)

Trinity Awarded $3.4 Million Templeton Grant to Develop the Christian Doctrine of Creation within Evangelical Theology (This is a great opportunity to think hard over what does the Bible actually teach about creation and what are the implications for life and ministry. Pray for the faculty and staff of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield.)

Pastor John Piper’s Response to the Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage  (Dr. Piper is just a man. A man that makes mistakes and struggles just like the rest of us. But he is also a godly man whose heart and mind are saturated with the Bible. This response is both amazing and helpful. Post also includes a brief commentary from Michael Cantrell at Young Conservatives.)

Ten Resources to Help You Talk Biblically about the Same-Sex Marriage and Homosexuality Debate  (Some very good short video’s in this series.)

Practice (These Things Do)

“Why is it so hard to see black and blue” Salvation Army Uses “the Dress” to Shine a Spot Light on Domestic Abuse Against Women  (Great to see Christians using media in a way that tackles real problems in the world.)

Politics and Pop Culture

The Meaning of Charleston  —Elder  (Such an unspeakable tragedy in Charleston and yet the godly response of the congregation to the hatred of the perpetrator has been an inspiration. What we shouldn’t lose sight of is the differences between the situation in 1960 and today. There is so much more to be done, so much more progress to be made in race relations, and would should grieve and repent that more has not been accomplished in the last 55 years. But we should also rejoice in the progress that has been made. Let’s commit ourselves to three things, always repenting, always rejoicing, always praying and working for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.)

What Dad’s Play Does for Kids  —Sue Shallenbarger    (New research on the importance of what a Dad’s presence does for children. Be encouraged men. Ladies, let your men do it differently than you.)

Israeli Company Turns Trash into Gas  (Great idea for the environment, for the people of the middle east, and for relations between Jews and Arabs.  Fantastic innovation. Wish I had one of these.)

Democracy is Dying Persecution is Inevitable  —Rod Dreher   (Actually, Dreher’s title said “is coming” not “inevitable.” Anaylsis of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of gay marriage.)

Proving God; White Privilege; Elisabeth Elliot; Rachel Doezal, Tim Keller, D.A. Carson; and a Review of Pixar’s “Inside Out”

Weekend Links

New Rain Barrel Setup Compliments of My Ingenious Son-in-Law
New Rain Barrel Setup Compliments of My Ingenious Son-in-Law

Twenty miles on the bike today and then a good hour long phone call with my brother. What a refreshing conversation to cool down with after a windy ride. Spent yesterday working in the garden and on the lawn.

It was a relaxing day off but I miss my wife who returns in a little over a week after a good visit with her mom in West Virginia. So glad for the way Steph’s mom raised the daughter I fell in love with.  Here are the weekend links. Enjoy.

Theology and Apologetics

Hell is Other People  —Margaret Manning Shull  (Good reflection on hell and much more. The author is part of the writing and speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministry)

Carson, Keller and Piper on Churches Thriving in a Hostile Culture  —Gospel Coalition  (Great video about how to not panic and be the church in a post-Christian world.)

Former Atheist Astrophysicist Converts to Christianity and Explains Her Long Journey  (A very well written testimony of the relentless and gentle pursuit of God of a woman who had no interest in Him.)

30 Proofs for the Existence of God  —ThePoachedEgg  (Short, abbreviated arguments for the existence of God to encourage faith and cause unbelievers to reconsider.)

7 Reasons it Takes Great Blind Faith to Reject the Deity of Christ  —Historical Jesus Studies  (Filling up your toolbox to defend the faith and sharpen your faith.)

A Tribute to Elisabeth Elliot  —John Piper  (Elisabeth Elliot was one of hte most influential women of the last 50 years. Not most influential Christian but most influential women. She and her life, not just her books about her husband’s life, have been an inspiration to me. She lives with Jesus now. She will be missed. But she has gained and that is the hope and joy of the gospel for all of us who believe.)

Church Health 

Is a “Club Culture” Killing Your Church?  (There are so many threats to church health and flourishing but this is one that more churches need to analyze with some real honesty and no defensiveness.)

Culture and Politics

Pixar’s Newest Movie (Inside Out) is a Must See  —(So glad my friend Keith Plummer posted this review. I want to see this movie. I think every parent might NEED to see this movie.)

My Shuffle-footed Neighbor  (Poetic whimsy about a four-footed neighbor)

What Riding My Bike has Taught Me About White privilege  —(An interesting analogy with some thought provoking points. As a fellow bike rider, I can testify that many of his observations about drivers are on point as well.)

71% of MSNBC Viewers Think Rachel Doezal is Black  —Jerome Hudson  (Please people, stop the insanity of political correctness.)

Facebook Self Censored; Former Lesbian on Olympian Jenner; Tony Campolo; The Church in Exile;

Weekend Links

An excerpt from a previous post earlier this year to introduce the weekend links.

All loves, all joys, all pleasures are given as momentary gifts to lead us to long for greater love, fuller joys, unending pleasures, all of which can only be satisfied in God himself. God wants us to long for more than we experience. He wants us to long for Him. The greatest being in the universe can only give the greatest gift. He must give Himself.

Perfect LoveHe did.

He does.

He will.

And that, nothing less than Him, is our greatest hope.

Theology and Apologetics

An Open Letter to Tony Campolo and His New Position on Homosexuality and Same-sex Marrriage  —Dr. Michael Brown  (Good letter with some important points that are often overlooked in the debate.)

Stage 2 of Exile: Are We Ready?  —Steve McAlpine  (“The biggest problem the church had, according to Exile Stage One thinking, was that no one was talking about us anymore.”  Things are changing rapidly in stage 2 of the church’s exile from culture.)

Christians, are You Ready for Stage 2 of Your Exile? —Justin Taylor  (Justin Taylor’s take on Steve McAlpine’s article. Understanding the times we live in is critical making our impact our that time so that future generations will have a faithful witness.)

Practical

Christians, Be Careful What You Say on Facebook  —(Wisdom, sober wisdom in this short article. Especially be careful about what you say about the Bruce Jenner controversy.)

Former Lesbian Jackie-Hill Perry Responds to Bruce Jenner Sex Change  —David Daniels  (Interview with former lesbian on the whole controversy. Short video at the end of the article as well.)

Can Gardening Change Convicts Lives?  —Washington Post  (Good article with some good ideas that says too much. Being engaged with wholesome, productive things is always good but real change is linked to Jesus and salvation is only through Him.)

The Rise of Evangelical “Nones”  —Ed Stetzer  (This is a very good article that drills down behind to give a better, fuler, more accurate picture of what is happening in so-called “demise of the church” in America. All is not doom and gloom, but there are some cautions.)

Pop Culture Trends

Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme  —Paul McHugh  (John Hopkins research professor weighs in on the concept of “born this way” from his 40 years of research and observation.)

5 Olympian Jenner Facts  (There is so much tragedy in this whole story. Let’s not forget the real person involved.)

As Promised—-Back by Popular Demand: Weekend Links: John Piper, Trevan Wax, Jared Wilson, Kevin DeYoung, School Pension Reform, Seth Godin

Weekend Links

New Compost Setup
New Compost Setup

For years I have trained others to be “theologically driven and pragmatically informed.” I was seeking to develop disciples who who be able to fight the bent of much of the pop-church culture of being “pragmatically driven and only slightly theologically salted.” 

Training my students at the seminary and disciples in the church was a reminder to me to develop my own views of ministry from the Scripture out rather than from culture or tradition. It still is.

That’s part of what I hope happens for you as you come back and read the weekend links I post here. The Church needs theology. I’m going to try to be more focused on three broad categories: Theology, Practice, Pop-Culture. My hope is that you will be both encouraged and challenged by the offerings here.

On a personal front: I crossed the 200 mile mark for the Spring on my 40 pound department store bike. One mile today was my fastest this year at 16.2 miles per hour. Building strength and hoping to do a 60K in June and a 60 mile trip in July or August. Think I’m going to need a faster bike though. Trying to keep both body and mind sharp as I enter my 7th decade. Never thought I would live this long.

Theology

What is Your Capacity for Mystery?  —John Piper   (Twelve minute video that is powerful in its simplicity and profound in its implications.)

A “Solution” to Same-Sex Marriage that Solves Very Little  (Interesting article on what is happening down in Mississippi. This gets the state out of marriage licensing but does nothing to protect marriage as something that happens between heterosexual couples only.)

Was the Holy Spirit Not on Earth Before Pentecost?  —Jared Wilson (A great illustration about what happened at Pentecost and what was made possible because of Pentecost.)

Thinking Theologically about Memorial Day  —Kevin DeYoung  (These issues are not just memorial day issues but Veterans Day, Labor Day and issues like having flags in sanctuaries. Some good thoughts. “Allegiance to God and allegiance to your country are not inherently incompatible” [but they could be].

New Rain Barrel Setup Compliments of My Ingenious Son-in-Law
New Rain Barrel Setup Compliments of My Ingenious Son-in-Law

Practice

Journaling in Your Bible  —CrossWay Books  (I like a Bible with wide margins. I want to write my observations, prayers, questions, puzzles, quandaries, historical background notes and have them in front of me as I work my way through a book to help me interpret it. These two options from CrossWay Books are a good alternative for you if you are like me. The New Inductive Study Bible [NASB Update] is also good and includes book introductions to books and other helps for study.) 

Seven Reasons I Wrote a Book on Prayer —Edmond Sanganyado   (I have preordered this book purely on the motives of the writer and my own crying need to learn how to pray better.)

Encouraging Christians in Pakistan  (A bold business man builds a 140 foot cross in downtown Karachi.)

Where You Live Changes What You See When You Read the Bible  —Trevan Wax  (I think Trevan overstates the particular case and understates the value of listening to alternatives, but it is worth noting and being careful about your biases when you study the word of God. I make a similar point in the essay I wrote for A HEART FOR THE COMMUNITY (John Fuder and John Costellanos, editors.)

Pop-Culture and Politics

A Modest Proposal on School Pension Crisis from a Former Teacher (Some interesting ideas here on fair pension reform for school teachers in Illinois.)

Seth Godin and the Tribes We Lead  —TED talk  (Helping leaders to think conceptually about how to connect to tribes of people, people who live for the things you live and think about all the time.)

Ebola and Links to Inspire, Provoke, Inflame, Encourage and Instruct

Weekend Links

Read and grow but pray for the nation that seems to be coming apart with irresponsible actions by many in authority from Washington D.C. to Ferguson, MO, to Los Angeles, CA.  Pray for peace. Pray that fear dissipates and love predominates.

fallharvestBetter Engagement with Ministry

7 Ways to Kill a Prayer Meeting  (Tim Challies—very helpful.)
Author Suggests 9 Reasons We Can be Certain Christians Won’t be Raptured Before the Tribulation  (Some things to think about.)
13 Differences between American Christians and Biblical Christianity,  Joseph Mattera
How Should Christians Respond to Ann Coulter’s Article on the Ebola Doctor? (Gospel Coalition–beyond the fact that Ann Coulter delights to tweak people, she misunderstands the gospel.)
What We Learn from Nude Reality TV  (This is an important and reflective article for our time. An intelligent push back against the prevailing shamelessness of the public intoxication with nudity.)

The Fundamental Flaw in Courtship  (Good article on the mostly modern phenomenon related to courtship and dating.)
Matt Walsh on the Tragedy of Robin Williams Suicide  (I would change the title. Matt has already received his share of criticism by people who only read the title. But this is more helpful to the survivors of suicide, the ones left behind then almost anything else you might read out there right now.)

The Church and the its Exile from Public Culture  (Carl Trueman with an important article for all Christian leaders as we seek to prepare our people to live in exile.)
Carl Trueman’s Total Surrender (For an alternative view of what is going on in our culture and Christianity, there is this from American Vision writer, Dr. Joel McDurmon)

When God Messes with Your Life Plan  (Stephen Altrogge–A good reminder of who is really in control)
Lies Young Women Believe: Struggling with Same Sex Attraction  (Good article offering hope.)

Better Engagement with Politics and Culture

Hamas was Building Tunnels to Attack Schools in Israel
Keep Politics out of Our Pulpits  (Scary things being planned by politicians.)
Iraq … It’s Personal  (Very helpful. Wondering how to think, where to get accurate information, what to do?)
Science Explains Exactly How Your Phone is Ruining Your Relationships  (Is there anyone, ANYONE, who owns a “smart-phone” who couldn’t benefit from this article?)

For Health, Fun and Recreation

GoPro Camera  (Go anywhere camera and video)