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Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Thought I’d start posting reviews here along with on my GoodReads account…

The Courage To Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David Wells

An excellent read and challenging critique.  This book is a summary of Wells’ previous 4 volumes, so at times I wished I could have gone deeper into some of his arguments in order to fully understand them.  But nonetheless, a very challenging, edifying, and refining read for me.  Wells challenges the church “Let God be God” in the church and cling to the solas of the reformation.  Here is a quotation that is close to capturing both the thesis and the tone Wells uses throughout the book.

“In practice, many evangelicals – especially those of a marketing and emergent kind – are walking away from the hard edges of these truths in an effort to make the gospel easy to swallow, quick to sell, and generationally appealing.  They are well aware of the deep cultural hunger for spirituality in the West, and they are trolling these waters.  The problem, however, is that this spirituality is highly privatized, highly individualistic, self-centered, and hostile to doctrine because it is always hostile to Christian truth.  Evangelicals gain nothing by merely attracting to their churches postmoderns who yearning for what is spiritual if, in catering to this, the gospel is diluted, made easy, and the edges get rounded off.  The degree to which evangelicals are doing this is the degree to which they are invalidating themselves and prostituting the church.” (p. 237)

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I’ve been re-re-reading Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy lately.  It is easily a favorite of mine.  The point Willard makes very clearly is that the heart of the gospel is discipleship to Christ.  In Chapter 8, Willard focuses on the topic of practical discipleship.  I’ve pasted below some great quotations from the chapter, also with the intention of capturing the flow of his theme throughout:

Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church.  It is not the much discussed moral failures, financial abuses, or the amazing general similarity between Christians and non-Christians.  These are only effects of the underlying problem.  The fundamental negative reality among Christian believers now is their failure to be constantly learning how to live their lives in The Kingdom Among Us.  And it is an accepted reality.  The division of professing Christians into those for whom it is a matter of whole-life devotion to God and those who maintain a consumer, or client, relationship to the church has now been an accepted reality for over fifteen hundred years. (p. 301)

Disciple defined:

A disciple, or apprentice, is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is.

He lives in the kingdom of God, and he applies that kingdom for the good of others and even makes it possible for them to enter it for themselves.

The disciple or apprentice of Jesus, as recognized by the New Testament, is one who has firmly decided to learn from him how to lead his or her life, whatever that may be, as Jesus himself would do it.  And, as best they know how, they are making plans – taking the necessary steps, progressively arranging and rearranging their affairs – to do this.  All of his will, in one way or another, happen within the special and unfailing community he has established on earth.  And the apprentices then are, of course, perfectly positioned to learn how to do everything Jesus taught.  That is the process envisioned in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. (p. 291)

Then how do we make disciples?  Willard says we must first be a disciple (see above quotations).  Then we must actually intend to do so.  How do we then do it once we are ourselves a disciple and have made the conscious decision to do so?

Lead people to become disciples of Jesus by ravishing them with a vision of life in the kingdom of the heavens in the fellowship of Jesus.  And you do this by proclaiming, manifesting, and teaching the kingdom to them in a manner learned from Jesus himself.  You thereby change the belief system that governs their lives.  (p. 305)

To enable people to become disciples we must change whatever it is in their actual belief system that bars confidence in Jesus as Master of the Universe.  (p. 307)

We must study our friends and associates to see what they really do believe and help them to be honest about it.  We understand that our beliefs are the rails upon which our life runs, and so we have to address their actual beliefs and their doubts, not spend our time discussing many fine things that have little or no relevance to their geniune state of mind. (p.309)

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Weekly favorites in…

Evangelism: A two part article from Grace Community Church (John MacArthur) called “Evangelizing Children.”  Part 1, Part 2

Historical Theology: An essay titled What Happened at Nicaea by Fred Sanders, covering the early church Arian controversy.

Science:  The illusion of the curve ball.  Does it really curve?  (HT: Abraham Piper)

Historical Theology 2: Another set of essays from Fred Sanders at the Scriptorium Daily called Why Protestants Should Read Thomas Aquinas (4 Parts)

Biography: I’ve read a lot about this guy in Runner’s World and TIME Magazine, but never actually read his book “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner” .  Last night at Barnes and Noble, I spotted it on a shelf and started reading…before I knew it I was nearly 3 chapters deep.  This is guy is incredible.  He completed 50 marathons in 50 days straight, ran a 200 mile relay race solo, and completed a 350 mile run.  Here’s his Wiki.

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What is an Evangelical? The answer according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  Part 2, and Part 3 from Kevin DeYoung

Tactics.  Greg Koukl discusses his new book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions with Issues, Etc radio broadcast.

Is Global Warming on hold? An article from Discovery News.

Snow in the Northeast. A beautiful satellite photo of the snow cover from Monday’s snownstorm.

ESV Online free for the month of March. Check out the best selling study Bible.

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If you have not done so and are looking for an excellent read, purchase/checkout/borrow a copy of Timothy Keller’s The Reason For God.  I am about halfway through it have found it to be well-written, timely, and a thorough response to our culture’s doubts to Christianity.

Here is a piece that I read recently that is worth sharing.  In the chapter “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?”, Keller first explains this question is based upon a cultural bias and offensiveness to the existence of hell.  He states, “Westerners get upset by the Christian doctrine of hell, but they find Biblical teaching about turning the other cheek and forgiving enemies appealing.”  He continues,

In traditional societies the teaching about ‘turning the other cheek and forgiving makes absolutely no sense.  It offends people’s deepest instincts about what is right.  For them the doctrine of a God of judgement, however, is no problem at all.  (Chapter 5, p. 72-73)

So when Westerners make those assertions, they are really operating on the assumption that their “culture is superior to non-Western ones,” which most people would not want to admit to.

The second part of Keller’s answer to the chapter title was what I found as gold.  He says, “I found no other religious text outside of the Bible that said God created the world out of love and delight.”  What does this mean?  This means that when skeptics claim that “they can’t believe the God of the Bible, who punishes and judges people, because they “believe in a God of Love” they are, contrary to their understanding, believing in the Bible.

What makes them think God is love?  Can they look at life in the world today and say, “This proves that the God of the world is a God of love”?  Can they look at history and say, “This all shows that the God of history is a God of love”?  Can they look at the religious texts of the world and conclude that God is a God of love?  By no means is that the dominant, ruling attribute of God as understood in any of the major faiths.  I must conclude that the source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself.  And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgement who will put all things in the world to rights in the end. (Chapter 5, p. 82-83)

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Best Places to Raise Farm Kids: Hamilton County, Nebraska. Progressive Farmer Magazine’s top 10 places to raise kids, with my hometown being the winner!

The Bible and Archaeology.  An article from Talbot School of Theology on what archaeology can and cannot do for understanding the Old Testament.

Have you seen Antarctica? A great photo from NASA.

CT’s review of The Fray’s new album.  Agreed.

Desiring God Pastor’s Conference 2009, The Need for Evangelism.  My weekly plug for John Piper and Desiring God.

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McDonalds Unsnobby Coffee Commercial.  An excellent commentary from McDonalds on the coffee shop culture.  Funny because it is so true, and I’m just as guilty as the next guy.

Swords Are For Killing.  Some weighty words from John Piper on the sword of the spirit.

Global Cooling Reason For Putin Shutting off Gas Pipeline.  Very interesting article/theory from an Accuweather forecaster about Putin’s politics and climate change.  Even if you are not interested in the global warming debate, this is worth the read.

An incredible conversion to Christianity from Islam. Pray for this brother’s safety and his story to be heard.

Daily and Weekly productivity routines.  Trying to be more efficient this year?  Matt Perman’s two posts on creating and keeping productivity routines.  If you are interested in efficiency in your daily life inside and outside of work, I suggest subscribing to this blog.

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