Worth reading

Matt’s friend Devin, who we link to on this blog, has an excellent post that is quite lengthy but full of great thoughts on ministry, church planting, and theological education. Read it here.

(Devin is on the far left…the picture is taken at a Grace Point Baptism ceremony)

Here is one part I found especially interesting.

It is common among young church planters today to shun seminary. I understand this temptation had have chuckled along with others as some mega-church pastors took shots at “cemetery” trained pastors. I agree that it usually takes a few years to get the seminary out of guys before they are really ready to make an impact. Yet I am not sure it is a wise move to completely write off seminary as unnecessary. I think we live in a culture where theological preparation and knowledge is a must. A young church planter needs to be grounded in the gospel. You have to deal with a hodgepodge of spiritual thought today and it is vital for a church planter to know what they believe and why they believe it. The “I just believe the Bible” paradigm of yesteryear will not cut it in our culture of religious mayhem.

 

But I am bias since I am going to seminary right now, and have often wondered if seminary was an experience that was becoming out-dated. As I am getting closer to the end of my time I would answer with a resounding no, and argue that the time spent in seminary pays dividends that can not otherwise be had. Yet I would agree completely with Devin, that it is not a must for all to pastor. But those who can thrive in ministry without seminary, are more often the exception than the rule.

ryan

ADDENDUM BY MATT

Neither Ryan or I have ever invaded each others posts to respond. Normally I would write this in a separate post, but I didn’t want my response to leapfrog Ryan’s.

For some reason I have managed to be one of the guys Devin emails when he has an article of interest. Most of the time he sends out a heads up when he has a article up on Monday Morning Insight. He sent one out for the article Ryan links to. Below is my response that I emailed Devin:

I would think that he was speaking to guys like me, not guys like you. Guys like me, who chose to plant with their own vision and purpose becuase they were too prideful to come under another seasoned man’s vision. Guys like me, who chose to plant becuase they were to prideful to realize they were too young to gain the respect that comes from caring for the church the way you did in seminary. Guys like me, who think they are the next Mark Driscoll and don’t give credence to the value of seminary, even though we really need it. Guys like me, who haven’t learned how to love and care for the flock, and yet think they could do it better than the next guy. Almost all of these come from carrying for the church that exists, and that through that God might prepare me to reach thousands of lost people. Lost people turn into church people, and they need the gospel daily just as the lost do. I think I sorely neglected this due to the hubris of young zeal.

I add this only to show the multiple sides to this issue. I strongly believe in Devin’s wisdom, and feel ever pressing conviction in Dr. Mohler’s words, at least at this point in my life.

matt

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Challies on Brian McLaren’s new book

We just got Brian McLaren’s new book in at the book store I work at. I have a copy and will probably be reading it in the next few weeks. I think that McLaren is usually at his strongest when he talks about social issues and how Christians should engage the world around them. His writings are often frustrating and irritating because he purposely wades in ambiguity just to ruffle feathers.  And since Brian functions as the elder statesman of sorts, for the Emergent Church I think it is important to be aware of his writings and ideas, regardless if we might find some of them difficult to swallow.

But since I can not read at the same rate as Tim Challies I would point you toward his review of the book. His review is well written and very thorough. Tim is more conservative than I am but he is also a good thinker and able to give a good summarization of a book, especially considering he is a professional book reviewer (my dream job).

The Cross and Marriage

I finished reading an excellent book this morning that will probably require me to go back through it and mine for more of its treasures. Its entitled “Grace in Practice” by Paul F. Zahl.

Here is a passage on Marriage that was especially compelling;

The feelings leading to marriage are aroused by the physical and romantic ecstasy resulting from being discovered, in one’s true hidden existence, by another person. This is the thesis concerning grace in relation to marriage: Being known in weakness is the origin of marriage. Marriage, in other words, depends on a theology of the cross rather than a theology of glory.

If you are married or were married, remember the origin of your marriage. The root and foundation of the relationship was the discovery by another of your true but hidden self. You disclosed yourself. The disclosure lit a fire that gave off a lot of heat. A “purely” sexual relationship did not have this fire. But the sexual relationship that accompanied the disclosure did. It led to your desire to be married.

 

Sometimes when asked about marriage I say the one thing that I was truly not ready for, or could not have understood beforehand, is the exposure. In marriage there is just a light shown into every corner of your life, and the faults that you gloss over as a single person are suddenly brought out into the open like never before. I think in fact before marriage I thought I was somewhat kind, generous, patient, humble, and considerate. I guess I did not listen to closely to my four roommates from college! But when you get married your spouse truly sees you for who you are good and bad. I could not imagine going through this experience without endless amounts of grace. My wife has been ever so gracious to me over our years of marriage and I am a better man for it. But it is in this intimate relationship of giving and receiving grace that I have understood the Cross more, and also been truly known by another person.

The Women at Mars Hill Church really know how to blog!!

I Came across this post at the Mars Hill website written by Nadia, it is hilarious and is to often the way blogs work. Especially if you are talking about Mark Driscoll, Emergent Village, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Homosexuality, or the New England Patriots. Yet at the same time this is exactly the way Matt and I have built this blog into a juggernaut!  I hope you can tell I am full of it.  Seriously though, I really liked this post because on our old blog I had a post I had written about blogging etiquette that shared many of these ideas. Anyway I pasted the whole thing below so read it and enjoy.

A Concise Guide to Sensational Blogging

OK let’s get edumacated!

1. Google someone or something you know little or nothing about. Or go to Technorati and click on the first blog that pops up as popular, but you still know nothing about.

2. Cut and paste 2-3 sentences from one large paragraph of their writing to kick off your entry. Make sure not to read the whole paragraph – just select and copy at random and as quickly as possible so that you don’t accidentally pick up the context of the article.

3. Froth yourself into a vehement misinterpretation of what was said.

4. Begin writing, keeping in mind points 5-11.

5. Question your new object of fury’s credentials at every possible turn, but make sure to glibly ignore your own lack of experience. This can be done with a classic Emperor’s-New-Clothes maneuver: emphasize that your readers and the general public obviously will think the way you do.

6. Keep focused: you don’t actually want to be involved in a solution, or learning something yourself, or create good relationships. Your job is to just to shout loudly and use the original 2-3 sentences as a springboard for whatever it is that has been irritating you lately.

7. Cite other peoples’ blogs for solid reinforcement. After all, if the hearsay is published, even if it’s entirely in lower case and written by a sixteen-year-old dropout on myspace, it must be credible.

8. By no means indicate that you may not have the whole perspective.

9. If you can find a dot-com blog or newsreel that has one to two keywords that matches your subject, reference it as a link within your text, and people will be impressed that you read the Big Journalists and Bloggers AND that they fully support your opinion. They won’t have time to notice that the article is pretty much unrelated altogether.

10. Remember people want a human connection – transparency. However, sarcasm is the only medium for this transparency. Say things like “Apparently I’ve been terribly mistaken, but” or “Obviously my opinion is completely invalid, but” to preface your inflammatory paragraphs. This is the best way to grab your reader’s heart without actually having to be vulnerable or teachable.

11. Hand out LOTS of advice to the person you are trashing – remember, no regard as to whether that person is well-read or may have more experience than you on the debated topic.

12. After giving your entry a once-over, feel the power surge through your fingertips as your mouse lingers over the smite button. Oh did I say smite? I meant submit.

13. Wait for your 3 back-up singers to sign in with “word!” and more yes-man comments.

Wait… So “Bro” is the new “Dude”

Gotta love the YouTube revolution. And you really gotta love the “Don’t Tase Me Bro” crazy John Kerry supporter/conspiracry theorist.

Let’s be honest. This video would not be funny if the guy did not add the word “Bro” to the end of each of his sentences.

This has got me thinking, have U.S. Americans replaced “Dude” with “Bro”. This blogger portrays “Bros” in a less than favorable light. I still say “Dude”, am I out of touch with culture? I feel like the guy at the office that was still using “Man” when everyone switched to “Dude” 15 years ago. And I feel like I’m getting old and out of touch because every time I hear someone say “Bro” I think they sound stupid. Undoubtably, this is how many U.S. Americans felt 15 years ago when punks like me said things like, “Don’t tase me, Dude” when being silenced at a political rally.

I am officially torn. I want to connect with todays culture, but I don’t want to sound like an idiot. What should I do?

matt

Has Bill Hybels been reading Charles Spurgeon?


What do these two guys have in common? I mean besides the killer tans? Well maybe more than one would think.

If you have any exposure to Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek Association I am sure you have heard one of Bill’s classic sayings, “the local church is the hope of the world.” I have heard him speak on the topic quite a few times from Leadership Summits to interviews, to sermons. Bill’s talk that goes along with the point is inspirational and moving, not to mention I think dead on. The local church is the hope of the world. Nothing else can bring redemption and the gospel to a hurt and broken world. So what does this have to do with Charles Spurgeon? I mean Hybels is a classic Arminian and Spurgeon was well, quite Reformed.

As I sat down tonight to do some studying I cracked open a Charles Spurgeon sermon as I do on occasion. The sermon I was reading was on the topic of the feeding of the 5000. Spurgeon draws the illustration that like Jesus’ disciples then, we often think the Great Commission is too much, and how can the Church ever meet the needs of the entire world, well here is what Charles Spurgeon says.

And let the entire body of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ–instead of looking to societies for evangelization, or to commerce, or to governments– remember that she is the sole saviour of the world.”

Wait it gets better.

As Christ was the world’s hope, so is the Church the world’s hope, and she must take up the charge as if there were not another.

 

So maybe Bill Hybels reads a little Spurgeon for his quiet times? Or maybe the Holy Spirit works sovereignly to reveal this immense and life changing truth to Godly men throughout the generations. Either way I say Amen the local church is the hope of the world, and it is not us who will build it, but Jesus. We are simply called to obedience and faith. That is it. Doesn’t that sound simple? I’m just kidding I know its not, but if Jesus can feed 5000 with a few stale loaves and some minnows imagine what he can do with a new creation in Christ like you and I?

 

 

Chicago Cubs why?

Most people who are reading this (all three of you) do not care about the Cubs. So I will not make this post a long one. I just want to say that after their horrible start, I basically wrote them off.

C’mon don’t you want this guy running your team?

I thought they were incapable of coming together and Lou was a horrible fit as manager. Then they had a an amazing comeback to take first place. Now they are in the worst division in baseball and they just refuse to close the deal. It is like they just want to screw with me. All of this to say that I am not sure why I am a Cubs fan, until I remember the name of this blog. I am an eternal optimist, you could feed me nasty meat everyday for a year and I would be convinced that the next day you would serve me a medium rare Porterhouse. So as long as the Cubs keep playing, I will keep cheering, because by nature I am that dog that loves his owner even if he beats me, or makes me fight other dogs, or… Well you get the point. Sorry I just can’t stop with the Michael Vick references.

ryan