Who? The lack of recognition of Christian leaders explored Saturday, Apr 14 2007 

I was reading through the Willow Creek Association magazine the other day and found an article titled Major Christian Leaders Are Widely Unknown, Even Among Christians. Quickly running down the list of facts I found the following appalling statistics:

57% of Americans have never heard of James Dobson
67% of Americans have never heard of Joel Osteen
68% of Americans have never hears of T.D. Jakes
72% of Americans have never heard of Rick Warren
73% of Americans have never heard of Tim LaHaye

It is amazing to me that even if you are the author of the best selling non-fiction hard cover book in American history (Rick Warren) or the co-author of the best selling fiction series of all time (Time LaHaye), or pastor of a church that is larger than most athletic stadiums most people still do not even recognize your name. Even among Christians the only name that the majority of people had heard of was James Dobson. Aren’t these statistics amazing?

*The research for this was done by The Barna Group (www.barna.org). The results of much of their other research is available at their website also.

Easter, the suffering of Jesus, and Victory Sunday, Apr 8 2007 

This past Wednesday my friend Michael Ingram shared on the Stations of the Curse during Chapel at Gordon College. His words were deep and effectual, glorifying the name of Jesus while calling all to marvel at his selfless and humble life. Michael graphically portrayed the suffering of Jesus blended with Christ’s ultimate victory at the cross in a way that could do nothing but leave one knowing the greatness of our Lord. I was deeply moved by his speech and know that you will be too. This Easter I encourage you to read and receive the words of Michael Ingram.

John Donne: Holy Sonnet XI
“Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoff, scourge, and crucify me,
For I have sinned, and sinned, and only he
Who could do no iniquity hath died:
But by my death can not be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews’ impiety:
They killed once an inglorious man, but I
Crucify him daily, being now glorified.
Oh let me, then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came clothed in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainful intent:
God clothed himself in vile man’s flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe.”

Few poets whet our appetite for Christ quite like John Donne… (more…)

post modern evangelism with Ed Stetzer Wednesday, Mar 28 2007 

if_i_were_to_die1.jpgEd Stetzer, Missiologist and Research Team Director at the North American Mission Board, has just posted an article on The Resurgence about the interplay between evangelism and postmodern culture. As someone with a heart for evangelism and exploring how to best present the Gospel to people in our postmodern culture this article has been very insightful. Ed Stetzer does the research and presents the facts, even the surprising ones, behind culture today then tracks back to how we can use the facts to reach people there they are at. I remember seeing Dr. Stetzer speak at the Reform and Resurge Conference last year where he said something to the effect of, “As Christians we need to seek out the questions that our culture is asking to which Jesus is the correct answer.” What he meant by this is that by examining culture we can gain insight into where people’s hearts and minds are. Then, once we find out what people care about we can show them how Jesus answers their deepest and most important questions. One example of this are the results of the surveys he has done (which are presented in his article) which show that while people do wonder about eternity, even more people wonder about meaning and purpose. As a result we can do street evangelism by asking people, “Do you long for a deeper purpose in life?” rather than, “If you were to die today…” This is not to say that asking about death and eternity is wrong but that it is not as important to people as finding more meaning.

“The Big Debate” James Dobson and Jim Wallis Tuesday, Mar 20 2007 

In a response to James Dobson’s (along with others) letter to the National Association of Evangelicals addressing the issue of NAE vice president Richard Cizik’s “relentless campaign” on global warming Jim Wallis has “invited Dobson to a debate on the question, ‘What are the great moral issues of our time for evangelical Christians?’ and suggested that a major evangelical Christian university should host it.”

I heard Richard Cizik speak at Gordon College on February 16, 2007. He showed a video called The Great Warming, a film about global warming, its effects, and our need to act to stop it. While I think that he did a fair job of talking about the need for stewardship and creation care, Richard went over the top when he said that there has been no evidence to the contrary of global warming. He did not mention that many respected scientists do not believe in global warming. I believe that we should live responsible lives of stewardship, but telling people lies in order to convince them of your opinion is a terrible way to make your point. I look forward to seeing this debate between Dr. Dobson and Jim Wallis and would love to see it take place at Gordon College.

Matt Chander, pastor of the Village Church – Family Traits 2.0 Monday, Mar 19 2007 

Matt Chandler, the pastor (who I love) of the Village Church in Highland, Texas is preaching through what their church has called Family Traits. They did this series a couple of years ago and have come back to it a second time to solidify their church once again around those things which they are closest and most important to their church as a family. Matt is an amazing preacher with depth that I have heard in very few others, never mind the fact that he is so young. He exalts Jesus, condemns sin, and encourages true life. I would encourage everyone to subscribe to this podcast, it is available at www.thevillagechurch.net.

Some quotes from Pastor Chandler from the third sermon in this series, Christian Spirituality:

“The church begins to boast in what is not ours to boast in. The truth of the Gospel, if it is anything else is this it is not about you…If it was a movie we have a seven second role in it…we are not they story, the story is the redemption and restoration of the world.”

“My call as a believer in Christ is not to built a coffee house in the church and tell everyone they should come to it, but rather to walk outside of these walls and be in coffee houses around town.”

Tim Keller Resources Monday, Mar 12 2007 

thebigcity.jpgI just saw that Kevin Cawley has posted that there are new Tim Keller resources available online. Tim Keller is an authority for anyone with a passion for seeing the church grow in size and influence in the United States and the world. In the Winter 2007 Cutting Edge Pastor Keller answers questions about cities, culture, Jesus, and the impact of the church, especially in the cities.

Charles Spurgeon’s Testimony Monday, Mar 12 2007 

Reading Sam Storms’ book Chosen for Life I came across a testimony of Charles Spurgeon that sums up a much of what I have experienced over the past two years. Spurgeon writes…

One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, “How did you become a Christian?” I sought the Lord. “But how did you come to seek the Lord?” The thought flashed across my mind in a moment- I should not have sought him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, I thought, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all. And that he was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”
–Charles Spurgeon, in his Autobiography

National New Church Conference – Interview with Mark Driscoll Friday, Mar 9 2007 

Even better! I just found a very recent interview with Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, done by none other than Ed Stetzer, Director of the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board. This interview covers everything you could imagine and is sure to be a help to everyone who takes the time to listen to it. You can get it as part of the 2007 National New Church Conference podcast which is available at http://exponentialconference.org/podcasting/. In addition to this interview there are mp3 available from Dave Ferguson, Ron Sylvia, Dan Smith, Bob Roberts, John Burke and many more. This is sure to be an amazing conference April 23-26 in Orlando, Florida.

Mark Driscoll Interview Tuesday, Mar 6 2007 

It is amazing to me how many people attack men of God because they take a stance on issues and contend for the Gospel. One of these men who I greatly respect is Mark Driscoll, pastor and founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I first came across Pastor Mark about two years ago as a student at Maryland Bible College and Seminary. I downloaded a few of his sermons and have been hooked since. He teaches the Bible in a practical, honest, relevant way that holds to the truth of the scripture while reaching out to the lost culture we all live in. Through his ministry thousands of people have come to know the Lord as his church has grown from just a few people to over six thousand just ten years later. In addition to this he has founded the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and has been crucial in helping to plant churches across America and the world. Below is an interview (done April 2, 2006) I came across between Adrian Warnock and Mark Driscoll. I hope it will work to clear up some of the questions people have about Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. (more…)

Martin Luther on sin and temptation Tuesday, Mar 6 2007 

Michael Foster posted this great quote from Martin Luther…

Luther said it well, “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we prohibit and abolish women? The sun, moon, and stars have been worshipped. Shall we pluck them out of the sky.”

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