Saturday, September 23, 2017

Logos crashes while highlighting

I have MacBook Pro with Logos 7.  Which version, I will look up in 15 minutes when it reloads.  I have Now account which uses latest.  This happens ever couple of days and it seemed to have started about the  time I switched to Now. I don't know why that would have anything to do with this.  It is very aggravating because it takes several minutes to restart the program.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  



September 23, 2017: Matthew 24:36 Is Proved Right Again

It is Harold Camping all over again. Once again someone has gained notoriety for predicting the return of Jesus. This time it is a fellow named Gary Ray. Continue reading →

sample of review article for JIRBS ’17 – “The Majesty of Mystery”

The Majesty of Mystery:

Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God,

A Review Article

Cameron G. Porter*

 

 

The modern theological landscape is such that most people in the pews, and many preachers in their pulpits, could not articulate what divine incomprehensibility is, nor could they comment on the historical significance of the doctrine [1; numbers in brackets indicate endnotes]. Nevertheless, it is a doctrine necessary to teach, preach, and uphold. A presupposition at the outset of theological inquiry, divine incomprehensibility is grounded in God’s own self-revelation in the Holy Scriptures, and confessed by the church throughout her history. Confessing God as incomprehensible is not to concede he cannot be known. God can be known, in fact, he has revealed himself unto that end. The confession rather is that God cannot be comprehended—he cannot be circumscribed within the confines of human contemplation. The positive affirmation of and proper approach to this essential component of theology keeps us on an orthodox path, preventing us from wandering into the forests of error on either side. Epistemic humility is the posture of the orthodox.

 

The Thesis and a General Overview of the Book

 

In The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God [2], author K. Scott Oliphint endeavors to spell out what divine mystery is in Scripture, what we are to believe regarding it, and how Christians are to worshipfully respond in light of it. Employing Romans 11:33-36 as a locus classicus, he presents the subject matter reasonably well in the first two chapters, acknowledging the priority of divine incomprehensibility in the order of theological discovery (4), highlighting the link between incomprehensibility and doxology (4-5), and dealing with two excesses associated with mystery—rationalism (6) and mysticism (8). Oliphint suggests a proper balance to these, noting divine mystery recognizes God’s loftiness in contradistinction to our lowliness, and that it does not militate against the Christian responsibility—truly the joy—to understand and know God.

In chapter three, “The Mystery of the Three-in-One,” however, Oliphint begins to drift into what appears to be the purpose of the book: setting his covenantal properties thesis [3] within the larger locus of divine mystery, and using mystery as the medium to propose his theological agenda. In the course of his proposals, he not only packages his arguments within the wrappings of mystery but, ironically, unravels divine mystery in attempts to uphold it. The scope of this review article will not be to analyze each chapter, providing counterarguments for every element of Oliphint’s presentation that is deemed objectionable. Instead, focusing on chapters three through five, I will offer a critical assessment of Oliphint’s approach to the mystery of divine condescension, and how he presents the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation of Jesus Christ in light of this.

The question governing Oliphint’s discourse for the chapters in question is: “How can the Infinite One relate to finite creatures?” (95). The resolution provided by him is the cause of our present concern:  God’s “covenantal condescension” (102). In the third chapter Oliphint begins to lay the groundwork for this, his principle interest, writing “there are truths about the Trinity that pertain to creation (and redemption) that do not pertain to the Trinity, in and of itself” and “we confess the Triune God as God, and . . . the Triune God as related to, and involved in, creation” (47, italics original). Using conventional language of “ontological” and “economic,” and seeking to distance himself from charges of presenting “two trinities” (48), Oliphint suggests that the expressions of God in creation are “not [the] expression[s] of the ontological Trinity” (48) but newly acquired and expressed attributes or characteristics of the economic Trinity that the ontological Trinity prior to creation had “no need or occasion for” (48-49). Though repeatedly disclaiming that he is positing mutability in God, no amount of qualification can dismiss the charges that Oliphint’s conception of the economic Trinity ascribes new things to God. For Oliphint, though remaining what he always was, God begins-to-be that which he was not before. Maintaining his eternal mode of existence, he unchangingly takes on what can only be deemed a temporal mode of existence in the execution of the economy. Oliphint believes it enough to maintain an immutability where the ontological Trinity does not change into the economic Trinity so as to lose anything of what he is prior to creation. God “in Himself” (49) does not change, but God “in creation” (49) has occasion to express himself in new ways because of his interaction “in and with His creation” (49). This language of Oliphint should strike the attentive reader as presenting a problem. If the ontological Trinity needs to take on a particular existing state by which he can engage with his creation, then his creatures are not in relationship with the eternal God but with a temporal version of that God marked by new and extraneous properties. Besides presenting a dilemma for Christian worship [4], this is not the classical view of divine immutability intended when our forebears, with the propriety and sanction of the Scriptures, echoed “in Him there is no Change” [5]. All that God is, he is essentially—“the Begetter may not undergo change . . . He may not be God first and God last, nor receive any accession” [6].

This distinction by Oliphint is further developed in chapter 5, “The Majesty of the Mystery of God’s Relationship to His People.” After only setting the stage in previous chapters, Oliphint arrives at the terminus to which those other chapters tend—God’s covenantal condescension whereby he takes to himself temporary and permanent characteristics in order to be in relationship with us (105). Labeling this condescension “the model of majestic mystery” (75, 102), Oliphint distinguishes between “essential” and “covenantal” characteristics (102) [7]. The former are those God has “whether or not there is creation . . . without which God would not be God,” and the latter are those God has because of “creation, and the entrance of sin.” The former are “primary” characteristics that “God has and is,” “as God”; the latter are “secondary” characteristics that God has “as he relates himself to us” (101) [8]. This should also strike the attentive reader as presenting a problem. If a distinguishing mark of the essential characteristics are that God has and is them as God, then as whom does he have the covenantal characteristics? If not as God, then it must be as creature. If, however, he has these characteristics as divine then was there lack in God as God prior to the acquisition of these characteristics? Or can he incur addition? If we accept Oliphint’s “model of majestic mystery” we are forced by necessity to confess that God can be, in some way, augmented or made better. However freely he may decree and actualize this ontological newness, if God as God does not change into but instead, by the acquisition of properties, becomes God in relation (which is still change), Oliphint is faced with a timeless quandary. Either the new reality is

 

for the better or for the worse. If for the better, then he must not have been infinite in perfection prior to the change, and therefore was not God. If for the worse, then he would no longer be infinite in perfection after the change, and therefore no longer God [9].

 

Oliphint would do well to resolve with Ambrose: “nothing can be added to Him, and that alone which is Divine hath He in His nature” [10].

These retooled ontological-economic and absolute-relative distinctions are given Christological precedent in chapter 4, “The Majesty of the Mystery of the Incarnation.” In this chapter, Oliphint employs the incarnation as a theological lodestar par excellence for understanding divine condescension. Labelling it the “substance” (205) and “climax of covenantal condescension” (76), Oliphint proposes that in the incarnation there is a “biblical distinction that is crucial to recognize, as it informs the way we must think about all of these biblical mysteries” (72). The stated distinction is the union of the two natures—divine and human—in the one person of Christ. Oliphint employs this distinction in order to draw parallels between it and the ontological-economic, absolute-relative distinctions that bookend this chapter. The doctrine of the incarnation is for him “an explanatory key” [11] to understand how God transcendent can also be God condescended. The argument goes like this: just as the Son of God freely took to himself human nature in the incarnation, so too has the Triune God since creation freely taken to himself certain properties in order to relate to his creation. In asserting the liberty by which the Son assumes humanity and for the express purpose of equating it with the voluntary condescension of God in essence becoming also God in economy, Oliphint writes:

 

There are significant and important differences, then, between the two natures in Christ. What is central in the incarnation is not the two natures, but the Person. It is the Person of the Son, even while He remained fully and completely the Son of God, who took to Himself a human nature in order to accomplish the salvation that we could not accomplish. The divine “nature” of the Son of God, therefore, is essential to who He is; the “nature” of man is who He is only because He freely decided He would take it. (73)

 

For Oliphint, the one person of Christ is to the divine and human natures as the one God is to the divine nature and acquired covenantal characteristics. Or, put another way, God-in-relation is God-in-Himself plus acquired characteristics in order to relate, just as Christ in the unity of his Person is “very God and very Man, yet one Christ” (2LCF 8.2) in order to redeem. The reader is encouraged to inquire whether or not this sort of formula has ever been put forward in the history of the church, prior to our modern theological climate. Oliphint’s proposal, inescapably, suggests that new things were added to God either essentially or according to some existential acquisition distinct from the divine nature. Isn’t it mysterious? Though God is unchangeable, he still changes. Though he is simple, he is still complex. Though he is independent, he still relies upon himself for decreed actuality. Though he is eternal, he still endures succession in relation.

In the service of this construct, Oliphint bridges the gap between Old Testament theophanies and the incarnation when he writes that “the Son of God had been appearing to the saints throughout redemptive history . . . by temporarily taking on various qualities and characteristics in order to be with his people” (74). Theophanies are, for Oliphint, not only God manifesting himself, or a revealing of the Son of God, but also and primarily instances of the Son assuming non-essential characteristics in order to reveal and to establish relational correspondence with his people. Similar to the permanent acquisition of characteristics that he keeps for eternity, the acquired temporary properties provide the existential parameters for God to properly relate to his people. This tends to inordinately maximize the nature of theophanies while simultaneously minimizing both the mode and uniqueness of the incarnation. This becomes most apparent when Oliphint writes that the Son of God

 

never permanently took on a human nature until the point of His conception. This helps us recognize both the continuities and the discontinuities of the incarnation throughout redemptive history. One of the continuities is in the truth that the Son had been condescending really and truly, but temporarily and partially, in types and shadows all throughout covenant history. One of the discontinuities is that the incarnation was a complete and perpetual addition of a human nature to the Son. It was the climax to which the rest of covenant history had been pointing to all along. (74-75; italics original)

 

Unless there needed to be some editorial corrections to the way in which that was written, Oliphint appears to be arguing that the pre-incarnate theophanic manifestations of the Son of God were marked by an incomplete and temporary addition of human nature to his divine nature. They were, it seems, prognostic dress-rehearsals for the main event. Additionally, rather than the incarnation being that exclusive and unrepeatable event “when the fullness of the time was come” (Gal. 4:4), Oliphint attaches to it a progressively unfolding character, suggesting that the incarnation is co-extensive with redemptive history—the temporary and anticipatory instances of the acquisition of properties on the part of the Son in pre-incarnational Christophanies prefiguring the permanent and climactic assumption of human nature in the incarnation. Though he qualifies the Christophanic assumptions as temporary and the incarnation as permanent, and while he gives the incarnation greater redemptive-historical significance than previous divine assumptions, Oliphint’s assertion that “the Son of God had been assuming, temporarily, certain characteristics . . . ever since creation” (74) justly incurs the charge of rendering the hypostatic union a common thing. However elevated in its quintessence it may be in the mind of Oliphint, if the assumption of human nature by the Son is in fact “another instance when God . . . assumes certain characteristics . . . in order to relate Himself to His creation and to us” (73), then the incarnation is no longer the “new and ineffable mystery” [12] confessed by the church catholic, but simply the greater anticipated stoop of previous divine condescensions.

 

Reformulations: A Price too High to Pay

 

We must conclude that the price of Oliphint’s reformulations is higher than the truth can afford. . . . [13]

 

____________________________

 

* Cameron G. Porter is an elder at Free Grace Baptist Church, Chilliwack, BC.

 

[1] The doctrine served the patristics well in combating the Christological heresies of the first six centuries of the church, and served the Reformed well in opposing the Socinians and anti-Trinitarians of the seventeenth century.

[2] K. Scott Oliphint, The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[3] In God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), Oliphint proposes that God “takes on characteristics that determine just how he will interact with us, and with creation generally” (12). For a good critique of Oliphint’s thesis see James E. Dolezal, All that is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books; 2017), 91-97.

[4] For an examination of the serious implications for worship in light of Oliphint’s “covenantal properties” thesis, see James Dolezal, “Objections to K. Scott Oliphint’s Covenantal Properties Thesis,” Reformation21, July 2014, http://ift.tt/1mweYWf. Accessed 21 August 2015.

[5] Augustine, De Trinitate, in NPNF, First Series, vol. 3, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (1894; reprint, Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2012), 5.16.17. Taking their cues from the truths contained in passages such as Num. 23:19, Mal. 3:6, Heb. 6:17-18, and James 1:18, orthodox theologians have consistently upheld an essential, ontological immutability.

[6] John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, NPNF2-09, I.8.

[7] Also referred to as “absolute” and “relative” (101).

[8] God does not relate himself to us; rather, God relates creatures to himself, either by nature or by grace (or both, in the case of the elect).

[9] Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, two volumes (reprint, from the 1853 edition by Robert Carter & Brothers; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1979, Eighth printing, February 1988), 1:331. Charnock was not the first, nor was he the last, to employ this biblically informed formula.

[10] Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith, NPNF, Second Series, vol. 10, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (1894; reprint, Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2012), I.16.106.

[11] See James E. Dolezal, “Eternal Creator of Time,” Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies (2015): 138.

[12] Alexander of Alexandria, Epistles on the Arian Heresy, ANF, vol. 6, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (1886; reprint, Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2012), VI.

[13] This is less than one half of the review article.



How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home - Romans 8 (YouTube)

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Audio and Multimedia
Chapter 08
Gospel
Perseverance of Saints
Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Derek Thomas


Christ and Him Resurrected (YouTube)

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Resurrection
Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Derek Thomas


A Holy Nation - Sojourners and Exiles (YouTube)

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1 Peter - Chapter 02
Christian Life
Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Derek Thomas


Saving the World (YouTube)

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Audio and Multimedia
Ecclesiology
Sanctification
Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Derek Thomas


Before Light, Darkness

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Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Derek Thomas


How Then Should I Live in This World? (YouTube)

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Pluralism & Relativism
Culture
Pluralism & Relativism
1 Corinthians - Chapter 06
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Derek Thomas


THE BOOK OF REVELATION - Clarence Larkin - Cuts Missing

THE BOOK OF REVELATION - Clarence Larkin - Cuts Missing

The Following CUTS on pages 108 - 110 are missing from this book:

2. The Vision of the FOUR BEASTS:

There are 4 cuts under this heading that are missing. When you click on DANIEL'S FOUR WILD BEASTS, it takes you to THE FOUR-HORNED GOAT. When you click on THE FOUR-HORNED GOAT, it takes you to THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT. But the cuts for DANIEL'S FOUR WILD BEASTS are missing; they are no where to be found. Here are the 4 cuts:



On How To Read the Puritan Paperbacks

If you’ve followed this blog in the past, you know that I enjoy the little Banner of Truth book series called “The Puritan Paperbacks.”  To be honest, the first time I read one of these Paperbacks (I forget which one), I didn’t really enjoy it or appreciate it.  I thought it was too tedious, detailed, and old-school.  That was over 15 years ago; now I have about twenty-five of them and have benefited from them in many ways.  Nine years ago here on the blog I wrote a few things that have helped me read the Puritan Paperbacks with profit.  I’ll repost my blog below.  (This list also applies to other Puritan books, for sure, but to keep it shorter, I’m thinking primarily of the Paperbacks.)

Puritan Paperback Set

To read the Puritan Paperbacks with profit,

1) Know your systematic theology.  You don’t need a Ph.D. in systematics to benefit from them, but if you know your basic systematics (i.e. the attributes of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of Christ, the ordo salutis, etc.) it will be easier to read the Paperbacks.  For example, if you know the Westminster Standards well, or study Louis Berkhof’s Manual of Christian Doctrine, it will make reading the Paperbacks more enjoyable – you’ll be able to see that when the Puritans do “go deep,” they’re staying in the Reformed categories.  When I realized this, it made it easier and more edifying to read the Puritans on sanctification, because (just for one example) I knew that even when they were quite detailed, they were not blending it with justification.

2) Stick with it.  The archaic language and grammar is tough at first (you may need a dictionary!), but after a few Paperbacks you get used to it.  Remember that these authors wrote several hundred years ago, so the language and illustrations will be different (I still chuckle when I come across a word like “compunction”).  And as with all books, don’t be surprised when there are a few sections here and there that are less helpful than others.   Be patient and start by reading a chapter/section or two a week.  One good Paperback to start with is Thomas Watson’s Repentance because it is short, clear, and very helpful – it won’t overwhelm you.  Don’t read the longer and harder ones until later.  For example, wait quite awhile until you read The Sinfulness of Sin, A Lifting Up for the Downcast, and others that are detailed and over 200 pages or so.

3) Take notes.  When I read a Paperback, I have a pencil and highlighter in hand to mark the best sections.  I also make my own index in the back cover so that when I study a certain topic later I can just pull the Paperback off my shelf, turn to the back cover, find the topic and page number that I wrote, and turn there to find it highlighted/underlined.  You may want to do the same for certain Scripture references since the books don’t have scriptural indexes.  Basically, you’ll profit from reading these books by making your own topical or scriptural index so you can use these books often in your future studies and devotions.

4) Approach reading the Paperbacks differently than you do other books.  The genre of these books is quite different from other things we read from day-to-day, so read them when you’re in the mood for deeper subjects.  If you approach the Paperbacks realizing that they are not newspaper articles or trendy Christian books filled with buzzwords and Christian-eze, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to read.  I also find that I profit best from these books when I space them out a bit.  For example, I read one last week (on my “vacation week”) and I won’t read another for over a month or so.   Reading them too often can be something like too much of a good thing.

In summary, I think with some time and effort, most Christians who are “readers” will be able to understand these books, profit from them, and learn to appreciate the Puritans at least to some extent.  Though I don’t elevate the Puritans above other writers/teachers, the Paperbacks have given me a deep respect for the Puritans.

By the way – one other great thing about these Paperbacks is that they are usually priced well under $10.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian (OPC)
Hammond, WI




Last Things First (Video Series)

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Genesis
Eschatology
Genesis - Main Page
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J V Fesko


Gospel Deviations, Gospel Basics, Gospel & Law, Gospel Centered (Video Series)

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Derek Thomas


The Mortification of Sin (5-Part Video Series)

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Sanctification
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Carl Trueman


Word, Water & Spirit: The Doctrine of Baptism (5-Part Video Series)

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Baptism
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J V Fesko


Old Testament Stories: God's Present Word (5-Part Video Series)

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Audio and Multimedia
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Bibliology
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Carl Trueman


Grace and Judgment (YouTube)

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Judgment
2 Kings 01-02
Author(s)/Speaker(s): 
Carl Trueman


True Triumphalism (Video)

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1 Corinthians - Chapter 01
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Carl Trueman


Who is Jesus? (6-Part Lecture Series)

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Jesus Christ
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J V Fesko


The Practicalities of Preseverance (7-Part Video Series)

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Rev Danny Hyde


Knowing Christ (4-Part Video Series)

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Jesus Christ
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Mark Jones


The God Of Promise: Understanding Covenant in God’s Plan (6 Part Video Series)

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Audio Multimedia (Covenant Theology)
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Derek Thomas


Verbum and Logos logo in Menu Ribbon

Good morning all,

I was wondering if anyone knows why Verbum is showing up on my home page rather than the Logos logo next to the search bar. Also, can anyone tell me how to switch the logo from Verbum to Logos on a Mac? 

Thanks in advance



Fear, Anxiety, and Growth in Godliness // Ask Pastor John

EPISODE 574 // APRIL 14, 2015 // http://ift.tt/2wcRdjn For more Ask Pastor John episodes, visit http://ift.tt/2li8UbK

Duncan completes ‘Finish Well Ride’ in Canada

Duncan, left, and Cynthia Lopez, right, pose at the finish line in Red Deer, Canada with Murray Edwards, a Bet Shalom supporter, second left, and Rose Cavanagh, a founder of Bet Shalom ministry, second right.

From the plains of Oklahoma to the mountains of Canada, and all 2,700 miles in between, it can most assuredly be said that Alisa Duncan finished the “Finish Well Ride” exceptionally well.

Duncan started her journey at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) on July 20 and completed her trek on Sept. 9 in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Previously, Duncan has ridden her bike from Guerrero, Mexico, where she lives as a missionary, to Oklahoma City.

“We just saw how God was directing us the right way, even just directing us along the path that would delight us,” said Duncan. “We were able see the total eclipse in the path of totality because of our unexpected route change, so we saw some beautiful things.” Duncan also saw the northern lights, which was a prayer request of hers to the Lord on her journey.

The Lord provided in countless other ways on the Finish Well Ride for Duncan and Cynthia Lopez, a graduate of the seminary in Guerrero, a partnership mission of the BGCO, who rode alongside Duncan for the 53-day journey.

One day, when Duncan and Lopez were going west, 30 mph winds were in the forecast, which would make for an extremely difficult ride. But they prayed for the Lord to stop the wind, “and I kid you not, five minutes down the road the wind was calm. God showed us so many things about just His interest and care for us in the little things. Since He is the one whom the winds and waves obey, why not ask Him?” Duncan said.

When asked how she and Lopez were able to do this long distance bike ride, Duncan said, “Really we were just doing things one day at a time, and I think that’s how the Christian life is. You are doing things one day at a time and don’t think you’re getting that far, but you look back and see all that you’ve accomplished, and it’s amazing.”

All proceeds from the Finish Well Ride benefit the Bet Shalom ministry. For more information visit http://ift.tt/2uaR2E4.



Notable Voices and the Week in Review: September 23, 2017

Earlier this week at ThomRainer.com:

 


7 Surefire Ways to Kill Momentum in Your ChurchChris Hefner

I’m afraid that churches today often either can’t get traction or keep the momentum of God’s movement in their lives. Momentum in the life of the church can come in several ways. Maybe several people have recently been baptized. Maybe you’ve completed a necessary building or renovation project. Maybe you’ve hired a new staff member or pastor. Maybe God has given you a season of repentance and revival. Maybe you’ve just completed an influential preaching series in the life of the church. Maybe you’ve witnessed the benefit of a program or ministry that has had a great impact. Whatever the momentum builder, don’t fall prey to these surefire momentum killers.

 


10 Indicators You’ve Stopped Growing as a LeaderChuck Lawless

Leaders who stop growing lose their edge as a leader. They become stale, even if others may not readily recognize it. See if your life reflects any of these indications that you’ve stopped growing as a leader:

 


7 Good Reasons to Leave a ChurchBrett McCracken

In our consumer society, where prevailing wisdom says we should be loyal to products or brands only insofar as our needs and tastes are satisfied, it can be easy for churchgoers to have a very low threshold for leaving a church. The preaching loses some luster. The children’s ministry isn’t as fun as it could be. The worship leader’s hairstyle becomes bothersome. There are lots of bad reasons for leaving a church. But what are some legitimate reasons for leaving a church? Here are seven:

 


Pastors Must Increase Activity on Social Media — Chris Martin

Christians should not avoid using social media entirely out of fear just because some people abuse the tool. In particular, pastors and church leaders must consider what they lose when they refuse to engage with their communities in the digital space.

 


5 Pastoral Emergencies That Aren’t EmergenciesCarey Nieuwhof

One step you can take is to decide whether something is actually an emergency. Just because it’s an emergency to them doesn’t mean it has to be an emergency for you. While there are some pastoral emergencies that are true emergencies, here are 5 pastoral emergencies that may not be.

 


The Biggest Hindrance to a Leader’s GrowthEric Geiger

Ben Franklin wrote, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Will Mancini, who serves on our team at LifeWay and leads Auxano, recently told me that a lack of self-awareness is the biggest hindrance to a leader’s development. When we are not self-aware, we greatly hinder our own growth for three reasons:

 




Marvel’s Defenders [Saturday Morning Reviews]

Marvel's Defenders [Saturday Morning Reviews]

If you are a fan of Marvel or binge watching television shows on Netflix, let me introduce to you a series you probably already have heard about called the Defenders. Seriously, Netflix has been touting this series for at least a month with television commercials and YouTube ads and now feature it on the homepage of their site.

I wanted to give you guys a quick review of the first season in case you were interested in jumping on this series.

Strength: It’s Short
First, let me acknowledge the series is 8 episodes long so if you have a spare four hours between church and dinner next Sunday while the family is taking afternoon naps, you will have this completed. This also has forced the writers to progress the storyline faster than the four story arcs that lead up to this series with Daredevil 1 & 2, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Always a hallmark of Marvel movies.

Weakness: They finally group up… In Episode 3
Yes, as fast as character development goes for the whole plot line, the Defenders do not actually meet up until Episode 3 where they do their popularized fight you can see on all of the trailers. Unfortunately, the next episode is dedicated to the expected bickering and in-fighting before they finally agree to team up (sort of).

Strength: It’s not a final boss fight scenario
I feel like most Marvel movies have a final boss for each movie that must be conquered. You come in and this person somehow is welding near limitless power and it takes most of the story for the heroes to figure out how to finally come together to defeat them. While the Defenders definitely feel this from their viewpoint in the movie, we actually see significant holes in the bad guys that add complexities to the whole story arc and give more reality to the development of the movie.

Weakness: It’s very much rated R
You will not be watching this with your children. It was, in fact, hard for me to watch it myself. The nitty-gritty super hero movies are somewhat lost on me. I did not like Superman V Batman and hated Watchmen. So the overly inferred sex scenes, cursing, and gore actually made me want to turn it off fairly quickly.

Strength: You get great fight scenes
Luke Cage and Iron Fist both struggled with this, but Defenders does not disappoint. Maybe it’s the addition of Daredevil, honestly, but this has redeemed the roles of Iron Fist and Luke Cage for me that felt like B-level heroes before hand.

Weakness: Nearly no spiritual components
I loved Daredevil 1 & 2 because of how fully and well they incorporated spirituality into Daredevil’s character development. Amazingly, this nearly completely drops off for the series.

Overall, it was better than all the other Netflix movies except for Daredevil season 1, though do not expect the caliber of the Marvel movies you see on the big screen.

Do you think I’m being too harsh on the series or not critical enough?


Marvel’s Defenders [Saturday Morning Reviews] first appeared on ChurchMag and is sponsored by ChurchMag Press.



Visual Media ratio

Can someone show me how to either open one of the slides in 300 Quotations for Preachers XXX in the Visual Media window so I can change it from 16:9 to 4:3 ration, or, how I can change it directly myself to send it to PowerPoint? When I right click on the image, it does not give me the option of opening that same design in Visual Media.

For example, I want to change the ratio of the following quote from a Kempis:



Bug: Focus not returned to panel text

This is a minor bug that has long frustrated me.

As a keyboard warrior, I tend to use the PgUp and PgDn keys to read Logos resources onscreen. But it's very frustrating that after clicking any of the panel's UI elements, keyboard focus from the panel is lost, and you have to click on the text to be able to use PgUp and PgDn again.

The worst annoyance is the 'back' button, but the links in the locator bar are also an issue. After clicking any of those, focus should do back to the resource text (as it does when you click 'back' in your web browser, for example).



7 Surefire Ways to Kill Momentum in Your Church

Momentum can be an amazing thing. As a sports fan, there is little more interesting during the course of a game than changes in momentum. Momentum can level the playing field between teams that are not evenly matched. Momentum can take an evenly matched game and turn it into a blowout. Coaches preach changing momentum or keeping the momentum. Momentum is not just for sports fans. It exists in the life of the church.

After the Exodus, the people of Israel had the momentum. God had orchestrated their redemption through a series of miracles. They plundered the Egyptians as they left. They even received the Law from God in the wilderness. Everything that had happened behind them should have encouraged them to move forward and enter the Promised Land. But unfortunately, the people of Israel stopped. They took a look into the land and paused. They lost the momentum and forgot what God had done to redeem and protect them. Losing the momentum cost many of them their lives and forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

I’m afraid that churches today often either can’t get traction or keep the momentum of God’s movement in their lives. Momentum in the life of the church can come in several ways. Maybe several people have recently been baptized. Maybe you’ve completed a necessary building or renovation project. Maybe you’ve hired a new staff member or pastor. Maybe God has given you a season of repentance and revival. Maybe you’ve just completed an influential preaching series in the life of the church. Maybe you’ve witnessed the benefit of a program or ministry that has had a great impact. Whatever the momentum builder, don’t fall prey to these surefire momentum killers.

1. You kill momentum when you take the credit for success.

Momentum can be found in biblical movements throughout the Old and New Testaments—Joshua leading the people into the Promised Land or the gospel multiplying disciples in the book of Acts. As we are warned by countless biblical examples—David being in the wrong place at the wrong time when he saw Bathsheba—we must be careful not to take credit for the momentum. If you have the right kind of momentum, God gave it to you. Give God credit. Use the momentum to point people to him. Anything less than giving God credit is sure to squelch momentum.

2. You kill momentum when you fall into a spiritual lull.

Closely akin to the previous example, we must be cautious not to live off of the spiritual energy of the mountain top moments. Momentum encourages. But the experience of momentum alone cannot sustain you spiritually. Elijah experienced discouragement after the glory of the encounter with the prophets of Baal. Guard yourself carefully after momentous experiences so that you don’t fall prey to discouragement.

3. You kill momentum when you become discouraged by the grind.

While momentum ebbs and flows in the life of the church, pastors experience the day-to-day grind of ministry. “The tyranny of Sunday” as someone coined the phrase referring to the constant need to study, write, and preach every week could become a momentum drain. Ministry is often distant from the public perception of success and momentum. Don’t become discouraged by the daily grind. Rather, realize that momentum is stabilized and even grows upon the fertile soil of consistent ministry.

4. You kill momentum when you give too much attention to the critics.

While momentum can minimize disappointments and criticisms, it often necessitates change. Change creates criticisms. If we allow the critics to dictate ministry, then the status quo or decline ensues. Nehemiah refused to listen to the critics in his day, and the wall around Jerusalem was built. To keep momentum, we must refuse to be afraid of the critics.

5. You kill momentum when you lose sight of the mission by basking in the success of the past.

Momentum itself is never the goal. Seeing people come to faith in Jesus, making disciples, and worshiping Jesus are the goals, and momentum can help us with those goals. But we must guard against the tendency to live in the experience of the momentum and somehow sanctify that experience. Churches that idolize tradition or nostalgia once had momentum, but instead of building upon it, they idolized it and stopped moving forward by glorifying the past.

6. You kill momentum when you lose sight of the success of the past and run past the vision of your people.

Opposite number 5, the tendency here is to think so far ahead and move too quickly for the momentum to bring everyone else along. Momentum certainly aids vision. But there has to be a clear path between the reality of the present and the vision of the future. Often that path can be found by learning from the past and even using the stories of the past to capitalize on momentum and bring actualization to a vision.

7. You kill momentum when you ignore the wisdom of the body.

We must be careful to avoid an overestimation of our individual importance. Momentum only really matters in the body of Christ as it helps the church glorify Christ, make disciples, and build up the body. During and after momentum-building experiences make time to listen to suggestions, ideas, and thoughts of others. God does lead through the pastor no doubt, but he also gives wisdom and insight to others. Listening might just be the key to keeping momentum and involving others in God’s vision for your church.

What other momentum killers can you think of?

The post 7 Surefire Ways to Kill Momentum in Your Church appeared first on LifeWay Pastors.



6 Days Left to Get the ECPA Bible of the Year for 20% Off

Seeing Scripture through the eyes of its original readers takes effort. It’s not enough to read the text and consult a few cross-references. To enter the world of the original audience, we must peel back the layers of history and reveal the culture, beliefs, and history that shaped the world they lived in.

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Notes simplifies that complex process, putting the insights of two experts on Biblical backgrounds right beside the biblical text. Drs. John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener have teamed up to bring you fascinating insights that illuminate the biblical world—so you can apply its principles to your modern life. And in Logos, you can pair these notes with your favorite translation—you’re not limited to the NIV!

Pre-order in the next six days and you’ll get it for 20% off the regular price. When this resource ships on September 29, discounted Pre-Pub pricing will disappear. Get it for 20% off while you still can.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible highlights

Few study BIbles have received such high praise. It was the 2017 ECPA Bible of the year, and N.T. Wright said, “How I wish someone had put a book like this into my hands 50 years ago.” New Testament scholar and blogger Scot McKnight raves, “I cannot recommend a study Bible any more than this one: Five stars!”

Every page is packed with expert insight. These fascinating explanations on the biblical world will clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforce your confidence, and bring difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus. Discover new insights from even the most familiar Bible passages and take behind-the-scenes tours of the ancient world.

Don’t wait. After this resource ships on September 29, the price goes up. Get it for 20% off now.

The post 6 Days Left to Get the ECPA Bible of the Year for 20% Off appeared first on LogosTalk.



Weekend A La Carte (September 23)

Today’s Kindle deals include a few titles you will want to check out.

For some reason there has been a surge of interest in my book Do More Better. Here are some recent links: the Waiting Tables podcast, aimed at ministry leaders, interviewed me; so did indoubt which targets students. Dan had a brief review while Jonathan focused on the system the book teaches.

Seven Lies I Once Believed about Missions

This article might be interesting no matter who wrote it, but it’s especially interesting coming from Conrad Mbewe whose nation and continent have largely been on the receiving end of missions.

Should I Force My Teen to Go to Church?

R.C. Sproul provides a brief but helpful answer.

The Term “Gospel-Centered”

Alastair Roberts has taken to answering questions from interested individuals. I particularly enjoyed his response to his opinion on the term “gospel-centered.” “Terms like ‘gospel-centred’ typically function in the same way as terms in the science section of shampoo commercials. It isn’t entirely clear what they mean, if they mean anything at all, but they create a desired psychological response in the hearer.”

This Changed Everything

If you are looking to grow in your knowledge of the Reformation, you may enjoy This Changed Everything, a video series that does quite a good (and professional-quality) job of presenting it.

Think about Your Welcome

The first and last elements of your service are often the make or break for visitors. Know your context and prepare to do those elements well.

The Cheap Way To Bless Your Pastor

Kevin DeYoung speaks on their behalf.

Flashback: Are You Going to Hurt Me?

Strength that was given to protect has been used to destroy, what was meant to bless has been used to harm. It has left this trail of fear, this trail of hurt, this trail of devastation.

3 Pivotal Questions on the Reformation and the Doctrine of Justification

My thanks goes to Zondervan for sponsoring the blog this week.

The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances. —Elisabeth Elliot



Will Jesus Come Back Today, Sept. 23? Don’t We Wish!

Written by: Scotty Smith

     Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on themLuke 12:35-37

King Jesus, through the years we’ve suffered plenty of speculative pontifications about your second coming. Most of them are generated by fear-mongering and Scripture-twisting, political agendas or financial angles. That’s hardly what you had in mind when you charged us to watch and wait for your return. But this morning, as I meditate on this astonishing passage, much of that theological rubbish and rubble is cleared away.

Jesus, I’ve never been less anxious, and more-ready, for your return. Mainly because I'm "dressed for the occasion." Through the gospel, I’m outfitted in the wedding garment of your perfect righteousness. I’m no longer afraid of your return. In fact, I very much want you to come back, so much I wish the guy that set Sept. 23 as your return was right. The oil in my lamp will never run dry--not because I've been busy picking and pressing olives; rather because you’ve sealed me with your Spirit, and have sent the Him to dwell in my heart forever.

Because the gospel is true, I’m ready for service in two ways. The first is rather mind boggling. According to the Scriptures, when you return, you'll have us, your bride, “recline at the table,” and you will come and wait on us. Jesus, this is almost too much goodness to take in. You're coming back to serve us, and make all things new. You're not going to annihilate this globe, but renew it and restore it. As Peter said, in keeping with your promise, we are looking for the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-22:6).

Oh my... all you’ve ever done is serve us, Jesus--in creation and by your incarnation; through your life of perfect obedience and your death of sin-bearing suffering; by your resurrection from the dead and your ascension into heaven; through your heavenly intercession and by your sovereign rule. And it's not going to stop. Hallelujah!

Secondly, the gospel--this gospel, gives us freedom, passion and joy to serve you. Whose feet do we wash today, Lord? Whose burdens do we bear? How might you use us to be a means of your love becoming real and irresistible to others? How can we give our communities a small but real foretaste of life in the new heavens and new earth? Show us, Jesus. So very Amen we pray, in your great and grace-full name.



Dictionary of Christianity and Science

So the resource shipped this morning, and I've been waiting for it. I'm happy that it's there now, but I'm also mildly disappointed.

Just as in the Exegetical Summaries series, tagging is incomplete:

http://ift.tt/2wIQNFJ

References and recommended readings are not linked to Logos resources, but just tagged with bibliographic information.

It clearly does not fulfil the advertising claim: "Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library."



"Should I Force My Teen to Go to Church?"

Being a parent is one of the most difficult and thrilling experiences that any human being ever has the privilege of going through. Exercising discipline over our children many times requires the wisdom of Solomon. I know this sounds like terrible theology, but sometimes I think raising children is 10 percent skill and 90 percent luck. It’s very difficult to discern how much pressure we can apply before we are provoking our children and making matters worse. I’ve dealt with young people whose parents are so pushy and demanding that their very harshness is the thing driving them away from the church.

The general answer to your question is that when you have children, you have a responsibility under God to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In my church we baptize infants, and when we do, as a congregation we make a promise before God to raise these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Even if you don’t practice infant baptism, that responsibility is still there. The Bible tells us that we ought never to neglect the assembling together of the saints, which is corporate worship on Sunday morning. I take that to mean that it is my obligation as a Christian, as a member of the covenant community, to be in worship on Sunday morning with my household. So it is my responsibility to see to it that my children are in church. It is also my responsibility to be sensitive and gentle and not tyrannical, so I have to somehow find that fine line of being firm but loving, gentle, and kind in that firmness. Again, I am accountable to God for their being there for the nurture and instruction of the things of God on Sunday morning. So my answer to the first part of your question is yes.

I don’t like the word “force” because to some people that means baseball bats and child abuse. That’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about parental leadership whereby the authority resides in the parents and you see to it that the authority is carried out. You asked to what age: I would say as long as the children are under your roof and under your authority as part of your family unit. I would encourage you to make it a special point of concern to do everything in your power to get your kids to church and to make it an attractive time for them rather than a bad experience.

My teenagers are beginning to resist going to church. Should they be forced, and if so, to what age? and other questions can be found in our Questions Answered section.



Weekend reading (9/23)

Weekend Reading

How Many Christians Were There in 200 A.D.?

Philip Jenkins:

At first glance, the Christian world was impressive in its scope and geographical range, to the point where it seems to constitute almost a parallel to the Roman Empire – almost a shadow Christian Empire in waiting. But then we turn again to the likely numbers, with just 250,000 believers in that wide world. Without any firm basis for such estimates, let me propose some possible figures for the largest communities, remembering that these would incorporate all churches and sects combined. Rome itself would likely have been by far the largest, with (say) 40,000 Christians. We might then estimate communities of 10-15,000 for such regional capitals as Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage, 5,000 for Jerusalem and Ephesus. Those numbers do not seem very high, but if they are even close to accurate, those six centers alone would account for 100,000 people, or 40 percent of the world Christian population. That leaves just 150,000 to fill all those smaller cities and towns, from Britain to southern India.

What We Know about Arius and His Heresy

Brandon Smith shares a few insights from David Wilhite’s book, The Gospel According to the Heretics.

Living With Financial Integrity

Ryan Rice:

It was at this church that I first heard the pastor say, if you are a guest, feel no pressure to give. This was a breath of fresh air for me as it removed any thought in my mind of a lack of integrity within the ministry.  Yet, this all came from the leadership of the church taking a stand that “it is better to live a life of integrity than shame.”

3 Places Where Leaders Must Be AT LEAST Average

Eric Geiger:

The longer I lead, the more leery I am of bringing people to the team who dismissively shrug off their weaknesses because their strengths are so pronounced. For example, the person who says, “I am a big picture guy, an idea guy, but that means I am not really good at the details” still needs to be able to answer email and knock out some tasks. The person who says, “I am a task-oriented leader; just load my plate with work and I knock it out, but people can get in my way at times” needs to be able to connect with the team relationally. One doesn’t have to be stellar in everything, but there is a bare minimum of competency in all of the critical things or one just cannot function on the team.

Does Your Social Media Outrage Bear False Witness?

Gaye Clark:

What we post on social media can take on a life of its own. The matter feels urgent, so we hastily type rebuttals. Veiled as zeal for truth, we run to our computers and phones to adjust error and admonish the man who got it all wrong. Any public misstep can be called out to legions of our followers who, in turn, can pass on the public rebuke to their followers.

With so many people agreeing with us, confidence grows that we have chosen a worthy battle.

Career Idolators (And What to Do About Our Jealousy)

Sean Nolan:

A friend of mine recently shared that he was nearing completion of his fifth book. While I outwardly feigned excitement, inwardly I recognized an old acquaintance: jealousy. If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time—and if you’re honest—you’ve experienced this as well.


Art as Idolatry

A favorite from the archives:

I have a love-hate relationship with the “creative” world. On the one hand, human creativity, in whatever expression it manifests itself, is a wonderful gift from the Lord. Because God is THE Creator, we imitate Him in our small-c creativity. On the other hand, I really hate the “culture” of creativity. While attending the 2012 Story Conference in Chicago, the impression I got of what the creative ideal could be summed up something like this: A true creative is a non-linear thinker; someone who doesn’t like rules (or in some cases logic), and is driven by a passion to just “create.” They want their work to matter—and in many ways, they themselves want to matter.

The post Weekend reading (9/23) appeared first on Blogging Theologically.



2 Samuel 19; 2 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 26; Psalm 74

Written by: Don Carson

2 Samuel 19; 2 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 26; Psalm 74

"I MUST GO ON BOASTING," Paul writes (2 Cor. 12:1), though of course he has been doing so only in the most ironic way (see yesterday's meditation and the one for September 21). But now he faces a new dilemma. Apparently his opponents have been boasting about their spiritual experiences. They may even have been saying something like, "Well, of course, Paul had that Damascus Road experience, but that was a long time ago. What has he known of God since then? Yesterday's grace grows stale." In this case, of course, Paul cannot simply deploy irony and boast about the opposite of all that his opponents judge important, as he did in chapter 11. For the opposite of having various spiritual experiences is not having them--and in Paul's case, to deny that he has enjoyed such experiences would not be true. So reluctantly he goes on "to visions and revelations from the Lord" (2 Cor. 12:1). But he cannot bear to talk about himself in this regard, so he retreats to a literary device: he speaks about himself in the third person: "I know a man in Christ," he writes (2 Cor. 12:2), though clearly he is talking about himself (2 Cor. 12:5-6).

Even in this case, Paul offers three emphases to turn the focus away from himself and strip any virtue from the habit of boasting.

First, in his case, he says, the spectacular experiences of heaven he enjoyed fourteen years earlier he was "not permitted to tell" (2 Cor. 12:4). The "third heaven" (2 Cor. 12:2) is the abode of God; "paradise" is where God dwells. Some of what he saw was "inexpressible": people who have not enjoyed such visions do not have the categories to grasp them. More importantly, these visions were meant to strengthen Paul; he was not permitted to talk about them. Hence his silence.

Second, Paul is afraid people will think too much of him (the opposite of our fears), so as a matter of principle he dislikes talking about inaccessible matters. If he must be judged, he wants to be judged by what he does and says (2 Cor. 12:6), not by claims of visions and revelations that are inaccessible to public scrutiny.

Third, Paul recognizes that along with the great advantages he has received, God has imposed, through the agency of Satan, a "thorn in [the] flesh" that is not going to be removed, despite his most fervent intercessory prayer (2 Cor. 12:7-10). It was given to keep him from becoming conceited, to keep him "weak," so that he would learn that God's strength is perfected in our weakness, and he would therefore never rely on or be puffed up by the extraordinary grace he had received. In this fallen world, it is a mercy that great grace is accompanied by great weakness, as well as the other way around.

2 Samuel 19; 2 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 26; Psalm 74 is a post from: For the Love of God



Feeling Unwanted, Left Alone.

Was hoping to join the M102 Faithlife group so I could get the Course Readings document.  But, it won't let me join.  

1. Why can I not join? 

2. How do I get the document for the course?



HCCP Parenting E-Book Sale

Family Publisher Header Image

In this grab bag we have 12 e-books from HarperCollins Christian Publishing which were written by various authors. The prices that our source has provided are under each ebook cover.


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$3.99


Click the following post title to view these deals with the purchase links: HCCP Parenting E-Book Sale