[NOTE: Summer is a time for leisurely reading and I have made it a practice over the years of publishing short lists of recommended books for men and women. I hope to do that later this week. Until then, below is Albert Mohler's annual summer reading list, which invariably leads to me to annually blow out my book budget--Pastor Jeff.]
We are making some necessary repairs and changes to the blog and will return to blogging around June 1. Thanks for your patience as we address some technical issues that will enable to blog to function well again.
By Justin Taylor
The Gay Marriage Campaign and the Despotism of Conformism
Journalist Brendan O’Neill, who is an atheist (in terms of religion) and a libertarian (in terms of politics), recently wrote about “the peculiar non-judgmental tyranny of the gay-marriage campaign, which judges harshly those who dare to judge how people live.” He writes, “Opponents of gay marriage are now treated by the press in the same way queer-rights agitators were in the past: as strange, depraved creatures, whose repenting and surrender to mainstream values we await with bated breath.”
He thinks this
Jim Crow began to die a slow, stubborn and protracted death in America on April 15, 1947. On that day, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson took the field as the starting first basemen for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the team’s season opener against the Milwaukee Braves. On that day, Robinson became the first black man to play in a Major League baseball game. On that day, the curtain that had barred hundreds of talented baseball players from participating in big leagues on the basis of skin pigmentation was torn in two.
Today, President Obama will give a speech at Planned Parenthood Federation of America's 75th anniversary gala, making him the first sitting president to address the group. Here are nine things you should know about the nation's largest abortion provider.
Some of you may have heard the horrific story that has emerged out of a Philadelphia abortion mill operated by the butcher/madman also known as Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The video link below will access a powerful and horrendous expose of Gosnell's shop of abortion horrors, unveiled when FBI and detectives raided the clinic in February of 2010. What you will see is almost unthinkable and illustrates that holocaust going on in the abortion mills that murder 5,000 children per day in this country.
By the very definition of their new identity, a Christian must be a God-centered being. If you ar in Christ, it’s what happened at regeneration: God took your heart and changed it so that you no longer love and long for your glory supremely, but are now enabled to love God’s glory and seek it supremely. This is the way a genuine Christian ought to increasingly think and live. Why?
[NOTE: Below is an excerpt from John Piper's farewell sermon at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, this past Easter Sunday. Piper, one of my heroes as many of you know, served as pastor at Bethlehem for 33 years. Please click on the link below to read or hear audio of the full sermon.--Pastor Jeff]
Today, Good Friday, we mark the day the central act in human history began to unfolded, the events that separate B.C. from A.D.: Jesus Christ, after he was found guilty of trumped up charges by a kangaroo court, was nailed to the cross at the hands of sinful men.
But why? Why did he suffer so much? Why did he come and die? For whom did he die and what does this have to do with me and what does it all mean? The men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 grappled with the same questions in the wake of our Lord’s first Advent nearly 2000 years ago.
Why did Jesus Come to Die? Inevitably the mainstream news media asks the same question twice each year during Christmas and Easter: Who is Jesus and why did He come? For followers of Christ, Holy Week is the most important week of the year for it celebrates the central event in human history, the even which delineates the way we divide the ages B.C. from A.D.—the death and resurrection of the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
One of the theological questions I have been asked most often during my first 24 months as pastor at PBC (Yes, it has been that long!) has been some version of this query: Do Baptists believe Covenant Theology or is that just a Presbyterian thing? My answer (which is consistently “Yes, Baptists have historically believed Covenant Theology”) has puzzled some and made others curious enough to launch your own study of my conclusion.
[NOTE: Below is a compelling article by Carl Trueman on the Roman Catholic Church that is especially pertinent in light of the recent appointment of a new pope by the Catholic church. It is important for our Gospel conversations that we be able to distinguish for others the differences between evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism.--Pastor Jeff]
By Carl Trueman (Originally published on the Gospel Coalition's blog)
[NOTE: Below is an excellent blog on cultivating a gracious climate in the local church body. This is precisely what the elders are aiming to see take root and grow here at PBC. Since we believe a theology of grace, we must also be typified by graciousness in our lives together here at PBC. Jared Wilson's article, which appeared today on the Gospel Coalition blog, hits the bull's eye. May it please God to make PBC a body that is truly the "church of brotherly love."--Pastor Jeff]
[NOTE: Below is an excellent article by my friend David Prince, a former Birmingham-area pastor who now shepherds a congregation in Lexington, Ky. His article expresses several of many reasons why my family loves baseball like the Kennedys love politics. It sounds a welcome note as Spring Training gets underway in Arizona and Florida. Only 30 days till opening day, a day that should be a federal holiday.--Pastor Jeff]
What happens when a nation begins to love and embrace what God hates and rejects? What happens when such thinking infiltrates the church? The Israelites learned the answer to this vital question the hard way: God poured out his judgment on his ethnic people for their veneration of idols and their intermarrying with the pagans of the surrounding cultures. The prophet Isaiah in 5:20-23 pronounced a woe on God’s people when they wander away from the fold of God and lose the needle on their moral compass such that darkness becomes light and light darkness:
Pop worship music. Falling in love with Jesus. Mission trips. Wearing jeans and T-shirts to church. Spiritual searching and church hopping. Faith-based political activism. Seeker-sensitive outreach. These now-commonplace elements of American church life all began as innovative ways to reach young people, yet they have gradually become accepted as important parts of a spiritual ideal for all ages. What on earth has happened?
Gossip is a deadly poison in a local church. So deadly, in fact, is this cancer, Paul includes it among many of the catalogs of sin that populate his New Testament epistles. And gossip is like kudzu along North Georgia roads: it is everywhere, in every church.
[NOTE: The following post is part of CBMW's continuing coverage of the U.S. armed forces' decision to scuttle ban on women in combat. The following post is a roundup of links to stories and biblical/cultural analysis on this critical issue and was published this mornign on CBMW's Gender Blog for which I serve as editor--Pastor Jeff].
By now most of you are aware that our government last week lifted the ban on women serving in combat. Along with the genocide of 50 million dead babies in the wake of Roe v. Wade and the wholesale redefinition of marriage and gender presently afoot in our nation, this news is nothing less than another devastating cultural earthquake that threatens to shake our culture from its foundations. The Bible makes clear that when women go to war, society has reached a treacherously low ebb.
When it comes to human origins, are science and the Bible at odds? Where did we really come from? My neighbor believes Darwinian evolution is true, how should I begin to share the truth of God's Word with them? Did the dinosaurs really exist and if they did, what happened to them?
Missionary and martyr Jim Elliott (1927-1956) may have been slightly ahead of his time when he wrote: “The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” Hard to believe, but Elliott penned those words long before the advent of the omnipresent Internet, before the ubiquitous presence of the smart phone, decades previous to the invention of time-swallowing social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Below is an excerpt from post-Puritan era Puritan pastor James Smith's diary. Smith penned it on the final day of 1855. Taken from today's Grace Gems e-mail devotional, Smith's thougths represent an excellent example of biblical mediation and self-examination. Free from frothy sentimentality, Smith's words are the fruit of deep theological and biblical reflection. I commend it and the prayer that follows to you as a model of substantive,self-aware biblical reflection.
[NOTE: In light of the elders Bible reading challenge, below is a helpful post today from Justin Taylor, providing lots of help and resources for this glorious pursuit. See you all Wednesday, DV.--Pastor Jeff
[NOTE: Yes, Christmas 2012 has passed, but let us continue to meditate on the incarnation during this holiday season and every day in every year. I am on an extended visit to family in Georgia and will resume blogging the week of Jan. 1. Have a blessed and safe week and do not be remiss in sharing the Gospel with lost family and friends as you spend time with them this week. Below is a few excellent quotes from great Christians in church history posted by Justin Taylor on his blog. They are excellent fodder for meditation on the Incarnation of Christ.--Pastor Jeff]
NOTE: As promised yesterday, here is my recommended reading list for the reading challenge. I will post Pastor Wallen's tomorrow. There are three categories: Church history/biography, Theology and Christian living.--CJR]
Note: Below is a challenge the elders are issuing to the body for the New Year--to read through the Bible in systematic fashion in 2013. We are also encouraging the body to read at least three substantive books in the New Year. In addition to the challenge, I will post two lists of recommended reading tomorrow from Pastor Wallen and my myself.--Pastor Jeff]
You plant an apple tree. You water it regularly, you fertilize it, you prune it and you make certain that it receives plenty of sunlight. It grows into a full-grown tree in terms of size, but something is wrong: it does not bear any apples. Eventually, the leaves begin to turn brown and the limbs appear to be withering. Ultimately, there is only one conclusion you can draw: the roots are dead. This tree is not a living, healthy plant. So it is with the Christian faith.
[Note: Below is a review on Mark Dever's excellent new book on Baptist ecclesiology written by my dear friend, Nathan Finn. The review was originally published on the Gospel Coalition website. I commend the book for your serious consideration.--Pastor Jeff]