Monday, April 28, 2008

Finding what others aren't reading

Joe Carter points out that “linkers” (which describes mostly what I do on this blog) are valuable because they “provide the value-added services of sifting through dozens or even hundred of blog posts, news updates, and magazine articles and sharing the handful that are worthy of attention.” He then goes on to suggest ways linkers can increase the worth of what they do, one of which is to “Read outside the circle” and “find what other people aren’t reading.”

I think Joe’s points are well taken, and in the spirit of trying to be helpful, here’s information concerning material I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else.

Previous to this week I had never heard of Norm Wakefield, or his ministry, Spirit of Elijah. A friend from church commented how much he had benefited from a series from Norm’s newsletter, titled Curse of the Standard Bearer.

I have to admit that at first I was thrown off by the series title, Curse of the Standard Bearer—it sounded like something from the more imaginative side of the charismatic movement. Not only that, but standard bearer sounds like such a positive concept—how could a curse be attached?

Following the link my friend sent me, I discovered, however, a fine series about what is more commonly called moralism, legalism or Pharisaism. None of those terms exactly describe, though, what Wakefield is getting at. His premise is that instead of relying on the grace of God to transform us, we let our identity be formed by the concept of being a “Standard Bearer”. The curse part of the title refers to the fallout created in our lives and the lives of our children.

To enrich your understanding of the all-too-human tendency to spurn grace for rule keeping, check out The Chariot. The five uppermost links on the page point to this series.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

T4G and Radical Brain Reorientation

Together for the Gospel was last week, but I still haven’t recovered. Not from jet-lag, travel, catching up with work or anything like that, but rather from brain detonation. The teaching was so powerful as to disallow normal thinking for some time to come.

Reflection on the conference is now everywhere on the Christian blogosphere. As Tim Challies helpfully suggests, check out what a Google Blogsearch reveals.

To save you some time wading through all the comments, however, allow me to recommend just one thing. Do yourself a huge favor and listen to R. C. Sproul’s message, The Curse Motif of the Atonement. Not one of the messages at the conference was anything less than stellar, but R. C.’s message was off the charts important, edifying, and transformative.

At the outset of his talk he notes that he has been reading and reflecting on the meaning of the cross for over 50 years without fully plumbing its depth of meaning. I think this talk represents a pinnacle of explanation and understanding from one our generation’s finest thinkers and explainers of theology. And not only is the content of the highest caliber, his delivery is as compelling as I've ever heard from him.

If listening to this doesn’t make you love Jesus more, check your pulse.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On the road to Together For The Gospel

This past week I attended one of the best conferences I’ve ever experienced, Together For The Gospel. The Lord willing, I will post on it when I get another free moment.

Driving from Richmond, VA to Louisville, KY you experience what seems like endless views of spectacular scenery. I especially enjoyed the mountain cuts between Beckley and Charleston, WV, having never traveled that stretch of highway before. A close second in appeal were beautiful agrarian vistas consisting of everything from small farms nestled in mountain hollows to expansive fields of bluegrass around Lexington and toward Louisville proper. (Note to self: next time bring camera. Build in time to stop and wonder.)

Present in all the scenery was the constant juxtaposition of God’s handiwork and man’s. Undulating roadbeds dissected massive and lofty mountains. Bridges vaulted tumbling waters at strategic intervals. Marvels of ingenuity and engineering were somehow set in the midst the created beauty of the natural landscape without too much damage to either.

All of this caused me to glory in our creation in God’s image and our reception of the mandate to have dominion over the earth. Created, we are creators. I stand in awe of the creativity of God and its reflection in men.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

So much web...

In a comment to my last post, Boyd Moore wrote, “So much little time....”

Somebody say Amen.

One of the purposes for this blog (as if the world needs another blog) is to help me focus on matters consistent with the apostle Paul's admonition in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

One such commendable thing is from a series on C. J. Mahaney’s blog where he interviews Sinclair Ferguson. (Hat tip: Justin Childers)

In one exchange, C. J. Mahaney asks,
“So without in any way minimizing the doctrine of sin—because you opened by saying it’s only by seeing our sin we come to see the need and the wonder of grace—how can we effectively expose sin and yet ultimately unveil and apply grace?”

Sinclair Ferguson replies,
“At least for myself it’s returning to a principle with me: Make sure you have gone back to basics. Make sure that you think back from first principles.

Part of the first principles of the gospel are these categories, sin and grace. I think the thing that I am trying to get at here is the correlation between my ability to grasp the grace, grace of grace and my grasping the sin, sin of sin (what Ralph Venning calls the “exceeding sinfulness of sin”). The sin is mine and therefore natural for me to see. It’s grace that isn’t natural to me and therefore difficult to see. Therefore I am going to struggle to bring the sin I am so familiar with to the grace I am unfamiliar with. And therefore I need to find ways given to me in Scripture of discovering the graciousness of God.”

As they say, read the whole thing.