Dluxe's World

Friday, March 30

Whitefield for the Weekend [23]

Give me leave, then, to address myself to several sorts of persons; and O may God, of his infinite mercy, bless the application! There are some of you perhaps can say, Through grace we can go along with you. Blessed be God, we have been convinced of our actual sins, we have been convinced of original sin, we have been convinced of self-righteousness, we have felt the bitterness of unbelief, and through grace we have closed with Jesus Christ; we can speak peace to our hearts, because God hath spoken peace to us. Can you say so? Then I will salute you, as the angels did the women the first day of the week, All hail! Fear not ye, my dear brethren, you are happy souls; you may lie down and be at peace indeed, for God hath given you peace...

Have you closed with Christ? Is God your friend? Is Christ your friend? Then, look up with comfort; all is yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Everything shall work together for your good...

But then, my dear friends, beware of resting on your first conversion. You that are young believers in Christ, you should be looking out for fresh discoveries of the Lord Jesus Christ every moment; you must not build upon your past experiences, you must not build upon a work within you, but always come out of yourselves to the righteousness of Jesus Christ without you; you must be always coming as poor sinners to draw water out of the wells of salvation; you must be forgetting the things that are behind, and be continually pressing forward to the things that are before. My dear friends, you must keep up a tender, close walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me, therefore, exhort you that have got peace with God, to take care that you do not lose this peace. It is true, if you are once in Christ, you cannot finally fall from God: "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus;" but if you cannot fall finally, you may fall foully, and may go with broken bones all your days. Take care of backslidings; for Jesus Christ's sake, do not grieve the Holy Ghost you may never recover your comfort while you live. O take care of going a gadding and wandering from God, after you have closed with Jesus Christ.

George Whitefield, The Method of Grace


Wednesday, March 28

Ninja! Wuh-Wau-Wednesday


Tuesday, March 27

You got me feelin' emotions...

I promised an early week reflection on what's up in the Christian blogosphere... So, here it is. On Friday, I linked to John Piper's excellent article regarding hearing God speak through Scripture. As I mentioned when I posted the link, the article had already spurred some interesting and positive discussion throughout the bloggin' world.

The discussion has continued and has blossomed into that great, age old debate regarding - as TeamPyro so eloquently put it - 'da gifts' (R)(c).

Just a couple thoughts:
  • I'm on record as being a 'continuationist'. Reformed though I am, the same reading of Scripture that lead me to embrace the Doctrines of Grace leads me to see no convincing case for the cessation of the so-called miraculous gifts. I've hashed this over before, so no need to revisit it now.*
  • What's most interesting about this discussion (starting on Adrian's blog and moving to TeamPyro) is that I don't know how we got here from there. Piper's point in the post has precious little to do with the charismatic experience. Indeed, I am confident that all Biblical cessationists would add a hearty "Amen!" to Piper's sense of God speaking through Scripture. If God isn't powerfully speaking to us through His Word, we aren't just losing the 'charismata', we're losing Biblical Christianity. Without Spirit-illumined truth from the Bible we're adrift without a sail or anchor.
  • Since we have landed in talking about the gifts again, I want to clarify my position thusly: I have no interest in making emotional experience or emotionalism the foundation or ongoing support for our faith. Our emotions are fickle and guided/controlled by a wayward heart that still bends towards sin all too often. However, if all I have is a cold, distant, intellectual faith that never results in real joy, kindness, and love then I have an issue. On Pyro, someone said this in the comments:
    Honestly, I've never even considered "how" I should "feel" in my walk with Christ. Ever since God reached into my dead heart and gave me life I've continued to deepen in the "true knowledge of Him who called [me]", resulting in power over sin, richer gratitude, stronger faith, passionate praise, and sincere love for others.
    As it relates to EXPERIENCING the living Christ through the Spirit, Paul, in Ephesians 3:14 – 5:21, focuses almost entirely upon mind renewal and true character change rather than any emotional or sensory perceptions.
    My point is only this... While we mustn't go seeking after (and thus idolizing) experience, we know that real faith does work itself out in experiential ways. As this person said, we find "passionate praise and sincere love for others" welling up in us where there was deadness before. Those things have at their core an emotional expression. So, let's not make emotions the enemy here! However, let's rightly call emotionalism idolotry of experience over truth.
Thoughts, folks?

*Just a note: I continue to challenge myself on this issue by interacting with the best cessationist cases I can find. Most recently, I've been reading through Nathan Busenitz's paper delivered at a previous Shepherd's Conference. So, I'm not trying to be an ostrich with my head in the sand...

Labels: ,

Monday, March 26

Mainly Manute

Ok... Can someone please tell me what Manute Bol has been up to lately? I know he's from Sudan... Has he been on a speaking or TV tour or something?

Why do I ask? Because for the past week my traffic has been up significantly and almost all of the 'extra' are people doing Google image searches for Manute.

We're one of those 'off the grid' families... So will someone 'on the grid' please fill me in?


Starting the week off right

If you're not reading Tominthebox News Network regularly, you should repent and read. Well, at least read and enjoy the giggles.

And don't forget to pre-order your ePhod for someone you love.

My favorite headline? New Orleans Saints Seek to Draft Benny Hinn.

Friday, March 23

Wisdom for the Weekend

A brief departure from our Whitefield posts, but this article gripped me this week and I wanted to share it. I don't doubt that some of you will have read it already. If so, read it again. If not, read and be blessed:

John Piper wrote: "Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o’clock. God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness..."

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, March 21

Zen WWWednesday

[sorry this is up late]


Tuesday, March 20

Context and the Cross

Near the end of February, the blogs were buzzing about an address Ed Stetzer gave at the SBC's "Baptist Identity" conference. The iMonk and centuri0n decided to have a back and forth discussing Stetzer's address that was particularly interesting.

For me, the issue of contextualization hits close to home. After all, I'm interested in church planting... So, how would I envision 'doing church' in a way that's contextually genuine and yet biblically faithful above all else? As if on cue, I got a copy of Stetzer's Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age (thank goodness for birthdays and Amazon Wishlists).

So, here are a couple thoughts on the whole missional church/contextualization issue...

I'm completely for recognizing that style of dress, musical forms, room decor, and any number of other details are open for variation based on cultural context. In San Francisco I might wear untucked shirts and Birkenstocks while in Maine I might wear flannel and a down-filled parka. I might play the latest Sovereign Grace songs in a college town but find myself singing Fannie Crosby [ick] as we minister in a retirement community.

Underneath all these cultural contexts needs to be the same, solid, bedrock Gospel truth that was 'delivered once for all to the saints'. To borrow a phrase from Stetzer, we must study the culture of our mission field and learn what questions they are asking to which the Gospel is the answer. We can tell the story different ways (consider the 3 synoptic, but not idential, Gospels) but the ending must be the same.

The real challenge in all this is idolotry... Sounds strange, right? But I'm serious. We elevate ministry style far above simply contextualizing and quickly start setting Scripture aside in favor of our methods. The simple fact is that I don't need to be just like the people I minister to. I do need to understand them and their struggles. As soon as you find myself clinging to my style of dress or music as key to your ministry, I think you better take a step back and reconsider.

Far too many young pastors are looking at the birth of the postmodern church to validate their failure to think through their ministry methodology in light of transforming grace. Perhaps an equal number of older pastors/churches have moved their own preferences to the point of dogma. Still, I think arrogance is characteristic of youth and so we need to be watchful.

The Gospel is key. And the Gospel transforms. If we reach people with the Gospel and they are the same, we better ask ourselves what's wrong. I don't mean that I expect a tribesman in Africa to start wearing a western suit to Sunday meetin'. But I expect their behavior, attitude, practices, and perhaps even elements of their dress to change in response to the work of Christ.

If we look just like the world, the reason is probably because we are just like the world. We need to be in the world enough to connect with people for Christ's glory while at the same time not being worldly. Paul labored with all means he could to save some... But he labored to save, and we must remember that above all.

My half-hour, and then some, is up.


Monday, March 19

... we now rejoin our regular programming.

Well, I've been saying that I'd like to get back to posting some meaningful content on here. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy posting the WWWednesday stuff, too... Still, not exactly high-brow stuff. As Travis noted previously, there's only room in the world for a handful of superhuman, Al Mohler-esque people. Believe me, I'm not trying to be him... Just want to be more than I've been for the last couple months.

I tend to function best with a routine, so I'm hoping to establish one that's more productive. The goal from here on will be to devote 20-30 minutes to blogging 'real' content on Monday, Thursday, and the occasional weekend (in addition to the regular WWWednesday schtick and Whitefield morsels). My hope is to use the two days for two different kinds of posts:
  • I hope to use Mondays for some reflection on some 'current issue' that is bouncing around in my head. Since I spend most of my time in front of the computer or reading books, you'll probably see me tracking with the rest of the God-blogosphere or whatever I read in Grudem the previous couple days.
  • Thursdays will focus directly on Scripture. God's Word is, to put it plainly, awesome. Every day, I find some verse that really shakes me up. Lord willing, I'll be able to present some of those to you so you can share the wonder and challenge my exegesis*.
Now, I'm not a gifted thinker or writer... So constraining the time I spend blogging means that none of this content is going to be earth shattering. Feel free to tune out. However, it's my prayer that something said here will, by God's amazing grace, edify you personally or begin a conversation that challenges all of us to think a little deeper.

So, we'll pick up tomorrow with the first 'Monday' post - A brief musing on cultural relevance.

*I'm writing a little ditty about questionable exegesis... Listen for it on your local radio station right after the "Joel Osteen Best Advice Today" segment.

Friday, March 16

Whitefield for the Weekend [22]

Once more then: before you can speak peace to your heart, you must not only be convinced of your actual and original sin, the sins of your own righteousness, the sin of unbelief, but you must be enabled to lay hold upon the perfect righteousness, the all-sufficient righteousness, of the Lord Jesus Christ; you must lay hold by faith on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and then you shall have peace.

‘Come,’ says Jesus, ‘unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ This speaks encouragement to all that are weary and heavy laden; but the promise of rest is made to them only upon their coming and believing, and taking him to be their God and their all. Before we can ever have peace with God, we must be justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be enabled to apply Christ to our hearts, we must have Christ brought home to our souls, so as his righteousness may be made our righteousness, so as his merits may be imputed to our souls.

Did you ever feel that peace that Christ spoke to his disciples? I pray God he may come and speak peace to you. These things you must experience. I am talking of the invisible realities of another world, of inward religion, of the work of God upon a poor sinner's heart. I am talking of a matter of great importance, my dear hearers; you are all concerned in it, your souls are concerned in it, your eternal salvation is concerned in it. You may be all at peace, but perhaps the devil has lulled you asleep into a carnal lethargy and security, and will endeavor to keep you there, till he get you to hell, and there you will be awakened; but it will be dreadful to be awakened and find yourselves so fearfully mistaken, when the great gulf is fixed, when you will be calling to all eternity for a drop of water to cool your tongue, and shall not obtain it.

George Whitefield, The Method of Grace


Wednesday, March 14


What do you get when you mix Rick James, Bruce Hornsby, and Ricky Skaggs? Well, it appears you get this:

What do you get when you cross a D&D nerd with the noble law enforcement officers of Reno 911? Hilarity, I think:

How do you pick the best Ralph Wiggum moments? You don't. Roll them all into one video.


Friday, March 9

Whitefield for the Weekend [21]

But then, before you can speak peace to your souls, there is one particular sin you must be greatly troubled for, and yet I fear there are few of you think what it is; it is the reigning, the damning sin of the Christian world, and yet the Christian world seldom or never think of it. And pray what is that? It is what most of you think you are not guilty of — and that is, the sin of unbelief. Before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be troubled for the unbelief of you heart.

But, can it be supposed that any of you are unbelievers here in this church-yard, that are born in Scotland, in a reformed country, that go to church every Sabbath? Can any of you that receive the sacrament once a year — O that it were administered oftener! — can it be supposed that you who had tokens for the sacrament, that you who keep up family prayer, that any of you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? ...

I am persuaded the devil believes more of the Bible than most of us do. He believes the divinity of Jesus Christ; that is more than many who call themselves Christians do; nay, he believes and trembles, and that is more than thousands amongst us do. My friends, we mistake a historical faith for a true faith, wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God. You fancy you believe, because you believe there is such a book as we call the Bible — because you go to church; all this you may do, and have no true faith in Christ. Merely to believe there was such a person as Christ, merely to believe there is a book called the Bible, will do you no good, more than to believe there was such a man a Caesar or Alexander the Great.

My dear friends, there must be a principle wrought in the heart by the Spirit of the living God. Did I ask you how long it is since you believed in Jesus Christ, I suppose most of you would tell me, you believed in Jesus Christ as long as ever you remember — you never did misbelieve. Then, you could not give me a better proof that you never yet believed in Jesus Christ, unless you were sanctified early, as from the womb; for, they that otherwise believer in Christ know there was a time when they did not believe in Jesus Christ. You say you love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. If I were to ask you how long it is since you loved God, you would say, As long as you can remember; you never hated God, you know no time when there was enmity in your heart against God. Then, unless you were sanctified very early, you never loved God in your life.

It is the peculiar work of the Spirit of God to convince us of our unbelief — that we have got no faith. Says Jesus Christ, of the sin of unbelief; 'of sin,' says Christ, 'because they believe not on me.' Now, my dear friends, did God ever show you that you had no faith? Were you ever made to bewail a hard heart of unbelief? Was it ever the language of your heart, Lord, give me faith; Lord, enable me to lay hold on thee; Lord, enable me to call thee my Lord and my God? Did Jesus Christ ever convince you in this manner? Did he ever convince you of your inability to close with Christ, and make you to cry out to God to give you faith? If not, do not speak peace to your heart. May the Lord awaken you, and give you true, solid peace before you go hence and be no more!

George Whitefield, The Method of Grace


Wednesday, March 7

... I have kept the faith.

No WWWednesday post today.

William Piper, father to Desiring God's Pastor John Piper, passed away yesterday. Pastor John has posted these reflections on his time with his father, watching his dad slip into eternity. Everyone should read them...

Now ask yourself this, as I am: When our time comes to leave this world, what will be the legacy you leave behind? What will your children say and think of while at your side? What impact will you have had on the people around you? And I don't mean just in 'the now', since we know that will be blown away like dust, but for eternity...

First, Al Groves. Then Bruce Metzger. And now, Bill Piper. May we use their passings to remind us of what really matters and celebrate lives that fought the fight for Christ.

Monday, March 5

How the mighty blog has fallen...

Hi everyone.

I was exchanging emails with someone I've met through some church planting contacts this week. In one of the messages he asked, "You used to post some thoughtful stuff... What happened?"

I don't know that I've ever posted anything that would rate as thoughtful. However, the things I used to use as filler (WWWednesday posts and other net oddities) have become the major source of content 'round here. Still, even if my older post series were 'inane drivel', I'm certain that the recent stock - Whitefield stuff excluded - has no doubt descended to 'unconscious drooling'. The reasons are pretty simple:
  • Try to learn a dead, foreign language on your own. Better yet, try to learn it while standing on the foundation of my tenuous grasp of English grammar. I'd ask that you not consider learning biblical Greek since I'd then have one more person learning Greek better/faster than me.
  • Surround yourself with wonderfully heady friends who constantly ask 'conversational' questions that are far more intellectually stimulating than flash-card practice for said dead language.
  • In the midst of that, also be trying to read an average of 75-100 pages per night in varied textbooks while praying to retain at least 50% of what you read.
  • Add a wife who deserves way more than you could ever give her at your best, and try to figure out how to honor her in the midst of everything else.
  • Work a 48hr/week job that turns your brain into overcooked steel-cut oatmeal by the time you get home.
Anyway, you get the idea... All this is to say that I want to try, really try, to get things back on track here. The simple fact is, however, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon - at least not the way I'd prefer.

So... Bear with us and someday something profound will issue on these pages. After all, you've heard about the million monkeys, right?

In the meantime, I'll try to pass along particularly interesting articles... For starters, read this wonderful article by Al Mohler (what a blessing it is to have him blogging again).

Thursday, March 1

Whitefield for the Weekend [20]

I know this is longer than a usual Whitefield post, but it's too good to snip...

Further: before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must not only be troubled for the sins of your life, the sin of your nature, but likewise for the sins of your best duties and performances. When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then the poor creature, being born under the covenant of works, flies directly to a covenant of works again. Says he, I will be mighty good now — I will reform — I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me.

But before you can speak peace to your heart, you must be brought to see that God may damn you for the best prayer you ever put up; you must be brought to see that all your duties — all your righteousness — as the prophet elegantly expresses it — put them all together, are so far from recommending you to God, are so far from being any motive and inducement to God to have mercy on your poor soul, that he will see them to be filthy rags, a menstruous cloth — that God hates them, and cannot away with them, if you bring them to him in order to recommend you to his favor.

My dear friends, what is there in our performances to recommend us unto God? Our persons are in an unjustified state by nature, we deserve to be damned ten thousand times over... We can do no good thing by nature: ‘They that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ You may do many things materially good, but you cannot do a thing formally and rightly good; because nature cannot act above itself. It is impossible that a man who is unconverted can act for the glory of God; he cannot do anything in faith, and ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’

After we are renewed, yet we are renewed but in part, indwelling sin continues in us, there is a mixture of corruption in every one of our duties; so that after we are converted, were Jesus Christ only to accept us according to our works, our works would damn us, for we cannot put up a prayer but it is far from that perfection which the moral law requireth.

I do not know what you may think, but I can say that I cannot pray but I sin — I cannot preach to you or any others but I sin — I can do nothing without sin; and, as one expresseth it, my repentance wants to be repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer. Our best duties are as so many splendid sins... The pride of our heart will not let us submit to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. There are a great many now who may say, Well, we believe all this; but there is a great difference betwixt talking and feeling. Did you ever feel the want of a dear Redeemer? Did you ever feel the want of Jesus Christ, upon the account of the deficiency of your own righteousness? And can you now say from your heart, Lord, thou mayst justly damn me for the best duties that ever I did perform? If you are not thus brought out of self, you may speak peace to yourselves, but yet there is no peace.

George Whitefield, The Method of Grace