Here, finally, is the answer to the current debates on law, grace, burdened Christians, antinomianism, and the rest. Why are you reading all those books when you could just watch this?
New books to Note:
- Tim Keller: Walking With God Through Pain & Suffering (WTS | Amazon | Kindle)
- Tullian Tchividjian: One Way Love (Amazon | Kindle) -- Glorious Ruin is still FREE for Kindle
Cheap Kindle Books:
- Christine Hoover: The Church Planting Wife ($1.99)
- Derek Prime & Alistair Begg: On Being A Pastor ($2.99)
- Jared Wilson: Gospel Deeps ($2.99)
- Stephen Miller: Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars ($1.99)
- John Calvin - A Heart for Devotion, Doctine, & Doxology (FREE | Kindle)
Jen Thorn, Joe Thorn's wife, has a new website. Bookmark it, Feedly it, read it. She's a gem.
John Wesley on the Discipline of Reading by Brian Hedges
Reading requires discipline. But the investment of time yields great dividends for our personal life and ministry. The depth and breadth that reading will add to our thinking and preaching are surely worth the effort. Fellow pastors, do not neglect reading!
10 Ways to Become a Better Preacher by Justin Buzzard
In my opinion good preaching is something that flows through the heart of a man who is excited about Jesus because he’s personally enjoying the love of Jesus. I think the single most important thing a pastor can do is wake up each day and focus his energy on enjoying Jesus and having as much fun as possible. This is the only thing I know of that will protect you from the burnout most pastors experience from the relentless strain of preaching and leading a church. I don’t think there’s much power in preaching grace if you yourself are not reveling in grace.
Is a Deacon Just a Servant? by Russell Moore
The question is not whether deacons serve or lead. Leadership, scripturally defined, is servanthood. The question is in what way do deacons lead. Deacons maintain the unity of the Body by giving leadership to the serving of temporal needs. They’re not a corporate board, nor are they a spiritual council of directors. They serve the Body by removing potential obstacles to unity by meeting human needs.
20 Great American Cities for Writers --> Go Chicago!
If you can’t live somewhere that isn’t a big, bustling city and you don’t want to pay New York City or California rent, you can’t beat the Windy City, which boasts great bookstores like Myopic in Wicker Park, Powell’s in Hyde Park, and the best place to get your weird zine/chapbook/comic fix: Quimby’s. There’s plenty of art and architecture to admire, wonderful coffee from local roasters like Metropolis, nice-sized and somewhat affordable places to live, plenty of great bars, schools like the University of Chicago, writers and poets like Adam Levin and Lindsay Hunter calling the place home, the Printers Row Lit Fest … All of which is to say, Chicago plays second literary city to nobody.
In Tim Keller's excellent expository guide to Galatians says there are four kinds of people concerning works & the law. I'll give you his categories with a very short explanation. Check out Galatians For You (Amazon, Kindle, WTS) starting on page 117 for a fuller explanation.
- Law-obeying, law-relying | "Under the law," often smug, self-righteous, superior. Sensitive to criticism despite outward confidence. "Pharisees." They go to church.
- Law-disobeying, law-relying | Strong works-righteousness, but not living consistently. May go to church, but on periphery b/c of low spiritual self-esteem. Guilt-ridden.
- Law-disobeying, not law-relying | Secular & relativistic. Vague spirituality. Choose own moral standards & insist they are meeting them. Earn salvation by feeling superior to others.
- Law-obeying, not law-relying | Understand the Gospel and living out the freedom of it. More tolerant than #3, more confident than #2, more sympathetic than #1. Still struggle to live out #4 and see the world as a #1, #2, or #3.
It's time to enjoy grace anew -- not the decaffeinated grace that pats us on the hand, ignores our deepest rebellions and doesn't change us, but the high-octane grace that takes our conscience by the scruff of the neck and breathes new life into us with a pardon so scandalous that we cannot help but be changed. It's time to blow aside the hazy cloud of condemnation that hands over us throughout the day with the strong wind of gospel grace. You 'are not under law but under grace' (Rom 6:14). Jesus is real; grace is defiant; life is short; risk is good. For many of us the time has come to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe, toe-dabbling Christianity and dive in. It's time, as Capon put it, to get drunk on grace -- 200-proof defiant grace.
Dane Ortlund in Defiant Grace, pages 13-14
Tim Keller commented on recently viewing the movie version of Les Miserables with his wife, Kathy. It's short and to the point, and I'm only giving you a snippet...
I could make this review, very, very short: It’s been a long time since Kathy and I left a theater with tears running down our cheeks.
I for one am glad that millions of viewers will be exposed to the themes of redemption, self-righteousness, and self-sacrifice. Critics uncomfortable with the unabashed sincerity with which those themes are treated have mocked the film as “risible.” The rest of us can weep tears of joy.
In the short "review" there's more good stuff. Go read it.
The general-session messages from our 2012 Pastors Conference are now online:
- Dave Harvey, “Forgiveness: Debtor No More” (Mt 18:21-35)
- Jeff Purswell, “A Call to Arms” (Eph 6:10-20)
- Ligon Duncan, “God and Your Ministerial Discouragement” (Dt 34, 1Ki 19, 2Ti 4)
- Ian McConnell, “Gospel Men on Gospel Mission” (Mt 16:13-21)
The breakout-session messages are also now available:
- Nancy Guthrie, "Pain that Can't be Prayed Away"
- Nancy Guthrie, "Learning to Walk with Each Other Through Loss"
- Jon Payne, "Union with Christ and Everyday Pastoring: Reinforcing an Important Doctrine"
- Paul Buckley, "Godly Speech - The Power of the Words We Speak, Write and Read"
- Matthew Wassink, "What Polity Can, Can't and Shouldn't Do For Us"
- John Loftness, "Evaluating Pastors: Common Mistakes, What We've Learned, and What Scripture Calls Us To"
- Craig Cabaniss, "Leading through Change: How to Address Sin, Mistakes and Growth in the Church"
- Phil Sasser, "Effective Elderships: Fostering Clear Roles, Healthy Function, and Strong Leadership"
- Dave Harvey, "What’s Our Role? Elders and the Global Mission"
- Mickey Connolly, "Discerning Holiness: Legalism, License and the Principle/Practice Distinction"
- Mark Prater, "Loving and Leading Those Who Criticize"
- Bob Kauflin, "Parenting and the Grace of God: Has Our Understanding Changed?
How To Create A Disciple-Making Culture In Your Church | Justin Buzzard
Six months ago, when our church plant was eight months old, I realized I had made a big mistake in church planting. I kept talking about discipleship and I was coaching others in how to make disciples, but I hadn’t done enough face-to-face modeling of what I meant when I told our church to make disciples. Thus, our church didn’t yet have the discipleship culture I wanted it to have.
So, I confessed my mistake and then prayerfully selected twelve men to disciple for six months in order to inject a strong disciple-making culture into our church. I created a discipleship process and then spent the last six months investing in these twelve men. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my best. I gave these men my heart, my best training, my time, my love, my prayers, my energy, etc.
I'd like to tweak a few of Steve Fogg's points, but a lot of good stuff to think about as we engage in social media.
When Biography Shapes Theology | Greg Thornbury
This is at the very heart of faith, to marvel at that great cloud of witnesses who "were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword...who went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated...of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Heb. 11:37-38).
Grace Filled Parenting | 3 Videos with Jeff Vanderstelt
Tullian Tchividjian's new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, is out today and I encourage you to buy your copy right away. He had a copy with him at Together 4 Adoption, but only one, so I couldn't talk him into giving it to me. I probably wasn't the first person asking him for it.
I got my copy of J+N=E from Crossway last week. It's one of my most anticipated books of the year (along with Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson). Here are a few endorsements for Jesus + Nothing = Everything...
“In an evangelical culture where so many of us are unaware that the gospel isn’t just what we believe to save us but also what sustains us and carries us into maturity, this book hammers home the gospel’s power for the believer. Whether you have been in church your whole life or recently converted, this book will fuel your affections for our great God and King.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Highland Village, Texas; author, The Explicit Gospel
“My friend Tullian is a loser. So am I. If we’re honest, all of us fit that description, but the good news is that Christ came for people like us. We qualify! Under the rubric of ‘Jesus plus nothing equals everything,’ this accessible yet astonishingly profound book rearranges the furniture. If you’re looking for hope instead of hype, please read this book.”
—Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“In a powerful, concise, and popular style, Tchividjian announces, explicates, defends, and contrasts the gratuitous gospel of Christ’s person and work with the oft-misheld conviction of us sinners that, if we are somehow to be justified, it will have to be a matter of ‘making up for’ our offenses and of inward improvement. Chapter-by-chapter he argues that God’s saving plan is one of grace and not one of improvement. Filled with illustrations from his life as a pastor, this is no unapproachable, academic tome. But neither, thank God, is it today’s ‘Evangelical silly!’ Tchividjian wrestles openly with demons and their central lie in order that we truly ‘get’ what the Bible is really about. From every point on the compass, he contrasts ‘moral renovation’ with a free, one-sided rescue drenched in the blood of Jesus. Good news for everyone—but especially for Christians who are worn out by trying the other way, believing the lie, somehow knowing renovation isn’t working but knowing nowhere else to turn. Tchividjian is out to convince his reader that justification before God really is pure gift, is free, is by grace and through faith in Christ. . . sola!”
—Rod Rosenbladt, professor of theology, Concordia University