It’s All The Reward You’re Gonna Get

February 29, 2008

Satire is always funny because it’s laced with so much truth.

(HT: World From Our Window) (Thanks Brandon for the tip!)

Now, more seriously:

If we entertain people, our church will grow. If we lead in worship, our church may shrink until it is composed of a group of people who want to worship. Then the church has a chance to grow based on the precedent of worship. The church that worships will have many visitors who never come back, and a few who cannot stay away.

— David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, I betcha mine would be bigger. I betcha if the Apostle Paul had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. In fact, I betcha people would be leaving their churches to come to mine. Because I don’t call them to the same commitment that Jesus called them to. Jesus would have a crowd of thousands of people, and by the time he’s done preaching, there’s, you know, a few left and he goes, “You guys wanna leave also? ‘Cause I’m gonna walk out here and you gotta leave your father, your mother, your wife, your kids, and there might be a bunch of crosses out there, and we’re just all gonna get crucified together. You wanna come with me?”

That wasn’t real popular. I think, man, I’m more popular than Jesus. I can keep a crowd. I can keep ’em interested. I can say some interesting things. I can make ’em laugh. I can keep ’em coming. And it just bugged me, because I think, wait a second, that’s not right. Am I really willing to say whatever Jesus called me to say?

— Francis Chan

(HT: Jared)


A Great Man Is Gone

February 28, 2008


William F. Buckley, Jr. was a man of immense interest to me. I find myself more sorrowful for his recent passing than I expected I would, and it has been certainly more than I have felt for anyone else’s death, among those I never knew personally.

His political genius is renown, his influence is immeasurable, and his contribution to American culture and politics is enormous – reasons enough to pay attention to him. While each of those qualities of Mr. Buckley have evoked a great deal of admiration, respect, and sheer gratitude for him from me, there is yet another characteristic of Mr. Buckley that has drawn me to him more than nearly any other: his speech. That’s right, the way he talks.

Both his inimitable pattern of speech and the very things he said can hold me mezmerized for hours. It is for this very reason I have at times spent hours combing the web for audio and video clips of Mr. Buckley being interviewed or giving a speech. I just enjoy hearing him speak. So much so that when I was ready to buy his book, Miles Gone By, which was a bit of an autobiography, I opted for the audiobook when I found out he had read it, unabridged, himself. Sheer aural pleasure!

His mind was absolutely brilliant, a fertile landscape of ideas and acumen in which there seemed to be no horizon. And his vocabulary and wit famously matched the immensity of his mind. But it was his frequent use of long or obscure English words that make reading and listening to him almost irresistible.

The New York Times wrote:

Mr. Buckley’s vocabulary, sparkling with phrases from distant eras and described in newspaper and magazine profiles as sesquipedalian (characterized by the use of long words), became the stuff of legend.

Yes, and the stuff of learning for a curious mind like mine. He has played a part in fertilizing my own love for learning in general, and of words in particular. He has done more to give my dictionary an eager workout than any other.

It is a thorough delight to watch, listen to, or for that matter, read him, which I often do while trying to imagine hearing the way he would say what I’m reading, which I must admit, is half the reason I read his columns.

He was eloquent, funny, mischievous, gracious, and entirely affable. He was an interesting man with few rivals – certainly no social boor or intellectual bore. Ocean sailor, piano and harpsichord player, television debater, Alpine skier, U.N. delegate, mayoral candidate, and author of over 50 books (including novels) and enough articles to fill another 50, all make him a fascinating figure. I wish I had had the pleasure of meeting him.

William F. Buckley, Jr. will be missed. I, for one, already do.

Why Christians Trust The Bible

February 27, 2008

If you’ve ever struggled with that issue, I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the talk John Piper gave at the recent Resurgence Conference in Seattle.  You can listen here or download the mp3 here. As is typical of him, Piper is very thoughtful and free from the superficial kind of answers you sometimes get from those addressing issues like these.

Piper’s notes are also available at this link: Why I Trust the Scriptures. Within these notes are embedded a ton of links to further resources for investigation.

If this is an issue you have questions about, this is a great place to begin getting some intelligent answers.

New Mars Hill Audio Journal: Volume 89

February 21, 2008


Volume 89 of the Mars Hill Audio Journal is now available! The primary issues discussed this month revolve around two themes: Psychiatry and Normal Life, and Philosophies in Film – very relevant themes, to say the least.

In case you are unfamiliar with it, the MHAJ is “a bi-monthly audio magazine of contemporary culture and Christian conviction.” Think of it as Christian NPR.

Download a free edition here. Download free bonus tracks here. They also offer a great podcast called Audition. The host is Ken Myers, who is also the author of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, which you should read.

This is what is on this new edition:

  • Jerome C. Wakefield, on how psychiatry began ignoring symptoms of mental suffering and so defined sadness as a disease
  • Christopher Lane, on the complex characteristics of anxiety and the tendency to treat the absence of ease with drugs
  • Dan G. Blazer, on why psychiatric disorders require attention to the story of patients’ lives
  • Fred Turner, on 1960s dreams of countercultural change and the rise of the Whole Earth Catalog
  • Barrett Fisher, on the films of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc.)
  • Thomas Hibbs, on the theme of the possibility of redemption in film noir, “neo-noir,” and similar films
  • Jerome Wakefield (bonus track), on the role of drug companies in promoting new views of human well-being

As I’ve said before, this is an absolutely indispensable subscription for me. I never fail to be stretched in my thinking and understanding of the issues discussed. The fact is, I could write paragraph after paragraph of how much Mars Hill has enriched my life. It has been sheer pleasure to listen in on the conversations Ken has with his guests and be drawn in to a world of thoughts, ideas, and issues that I would otherwise have never thought about, much less though about well or Christianly, all for only $30 a year. I hope you’ll check them out. (This is a non-paid advertisement!)

High Quality Bibles

February 6, 2008

When I became a Christian, I immediately began to have a reverence for the Bible. My attitude for the Bible was not just reverence for the message of God itself, but also respect for the Bible as an object. Because the Bible is the printed record of God’s Word, I have, since my conversion to Christ, sought to treat my copy of the Scriptures with special care.

This respect for the physical copy of Holy Scripture led me early on to want a nice, quality, well-designed copy for myself, which I could read and study for years to come. So, within a year of coming to Christ, my father told me to pick a new Bible for myself, and he’d buy it.

So, when I was 15 years old, I started doing research on what I wanted to get. I knew I wanted a black wide margin KJV with no study notes or red letters. And most of all, I wanted a quality leather cover that would last me for many years. And I found all of the details I wanted in a Cambridge Wide Margin in Berkshire leather – thick Berkshire leather.

That was 1986, and more than 20 years later, I still have and still regularly use that Bible. It was my preaching and reading Bible for most of those 2 decades. Although I have had to reattach the cover 3 or 4 times over the years, the cover itself is still amazingly tough. So good is this cover that this Bible will never see another. In fact, it’s at the rebinder’s shop right now getting it reattached, I suspect for the last time it will ever need it.

My love for quality Bibles has not subsided, in fact it has grown more intense. As nit-picky as I ever was, I have now become even more so when it comes to a Bible purchase. As a pastor, the Bible is my life, so to speak. It is my main tool for ministry that I use every day. Because I do, I am no longer happy with just any Bible, or with just a few Bibles. Like a mechanic, I want good quality tools that will last a long time, and I want a bunch of them.

The problem is that you have to hunt the far reaches of the earth to find really high quality Bibles, and when you find them, you usually have to pay a premium for them. But I’m OK with that. I don’t mind doing the searching, and I don’t mind saving up for a purchase I know I’ll be happy with for a very long time, especially when it comes to a copy of Scripture.

Unfortunate is the fact that you have to search so hard for high quality Bibles. Bible publishers today have not been very prone to offer editions with high quality leather covers and sewn bindings. As time passes, the “leather” covers have gotten thinner and stiffer, and the bindings have gone from sewn to glue. And most of what they market and sell only comes in these inferior bindings.

I’ve got a few of these lesser-quality Bibles, but usually it’s because someone has given it to me, or there’s something else unique about it like it’s study notes or it’s format. But, to be honest, I tend to use them a lot less. In fact, you’ll never see me carrying one. They live on my shelf until they’re needed.

I like to hold a quality Bible in my hands, to smell and feel the supple leather on the palms of my hands, and enjoy the way it lies flat in my hand, due to the limpness of the cover and spine. I like to hold a Bible that is a pleasure to hold.

To me, it is a matter of pleasure and respect for a book that is much more than a mere book. It is a quality-crafted, carefully adorned pleasure to both body and soul. In this way, it becomes an object of beauty and delight in more way than one. And I think that’s the way it ought to be. At least, that’s the way I want it to be.

bible-stack.jpg greek-nt.jpg

I’ve shared a picture and comments on my humble collection and a review of my Greek New Testament I had rebound in calfskin over at my friend Mark Bertrand’s Bible Design and Binding blog. Mark’s in-depth reviews and photos have begun to rally a nice little community of people who share the same passion for high quality Bibles. You’ll also find there information on where to find the best Bibles as well as the best rebinders.

A Little Theological and Philosophical Humor

February 5, 2008

2 videos to make you smile today.

First, for you users out there of Wayne Grudem’s behemoth volume, Systematic Theology, you’ll appreciate this “Grease” style video done by some Brits.

Why this man is thematic, he’s charismatic, he’s systematic,
Why he’s Wayne Grudem! (Wayne Grudem)
He did not author Scripture but provides a clearer picture – Oh Yeah!
(Keep reading whoa keep reading)
Wayne may not be Jesus but he writes mean exegesis- Oh Yeah!
(I’ll buy a copy, I’ll kill to buy a copy)
You put it on the flo-or and it props open your door,
Or if you need to sit- you can climb on top of it – With Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Go Wayne Grudem with your intellectual writing style,
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
Go Wayne Grudem you make ha-rd doctrines less of a trial
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
You are extreme, but God’s supreme, oh Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
(There are) many heresies which we-e now clearly see- Oh yeah!
(oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Despite him being bald, hundred-thousand copies sold – Oh yeah!
(oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
His six appendice-es leave you praying on your knees.
Although he’s not inerrant he’s a heresy deterrent – Wayne Grudem
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Go Wayne Grudem with your intellectual writing style,
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
Go Wayne Grudem you make ha-rd doctrines less of a trial
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
You are extreme, but God’s supreme, oh Wayne Grudem
Go Wayne Grudem with your intellectual writing style,
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
Go Wayne Grudem you make ha-rd doctrines less of a trial
(Wayne Grudem go Wayne Grudem)
You are extreme, but God’s supreme, oh Wayne Grudem
Grudem, grudem, grudem, grudem
Grudem, grudem, grudem, grudem yeah!

(HT: thebluefish)


For those of you who’ve had seminary training or have studied any philosophy, this Monty Python clip is tops.

(HT: Chris Ross)