Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to Discipline

My friend Rob Flood, who along with his wife mentored us on how to parent a young child, wrote this article on how he disciplines his children.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For that someone special

For the ladies that are a little late on getting their men something special for Valentines day...

Puritan Challenge

This year I've taken on the Puritan Challenge. A few friends and family members have also joined me. The "Puritan Challenge" is this: Reading one book a month by a Puritan author.

Here's a list of the books we're reading:

January: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
February: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel
March: The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson
April: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks
May: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan
June: The Mortification of Sin by John Owen
July: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge
August: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
September: The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton
October: The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie
November: The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter
December: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

You can get all of these books for $65 here.

If you're interested in joining us, you can read more by clicking the button below:

More on unChristian

David Kinnaman talks about his new book unChristian

He summarizes the book this way, “The main thesis of the book, the kernel of the findings, is that the younger generation believes Christianity no longer follows the example and teachings of Christ.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Father Son Reading Club

D.A. Carson noted that Phil Ryken discussed his involvement in a father-son reading group on his blog. You can read ideas for starting such a club here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two Books

A friend of mine recommended having more book reviews on the site. To honor him, here is an un-review and a pre-review:

Glenn Beck’s New Book
If you enjoy Glenn Beck’s radio program, then don’t waste your time reading his new book. I read about fifty pages this weekend and found it to be lacking in humor, style, and overall writing quality.

Robert Lewis' New Book
I also picked up Robert Lewis' new book,The New Eve. It's a book for women and it looks solid so far. In fact, I predict this may be one of the most important books published for Christians this year. Why am I reading a book written for women? If you have to ask (men) then you need to read it as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Making Glass in China

One of the more moving parts of the Desiring God conference for me was the emphasis on missions. No coincidence that I came home and attended an all-day missions class. One of the speakers for the class works with World Venture. He showed this video of an innovative approach to missions in China. This guy runs a glass making company and has a 99% conversion rate among his employees.

John Piper's son writes a letter

I was particullary moved by this letter Abraham Piper read before his father's talk. It was both honorable and funny at the same time.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Desring God Audio

Over the last few days, I have posted some quotes from the 2008 Desiring God conference for pastors. I plan on posting more quotes over the coming weeks. You can listen to all of the talks here.

Livingstone’s parenting advice

Greg Livingstone (founder of Frontiers) gave the missions talk at the Desiring God pastor’s conference. In the midst of his talk, he offered the following parenting advice:

“I have three grown boys, and two of them are not walking with the Lord. And they were the two that were the easiest, they always obeyed, never gave me any trouble.

“So be careful about the ones who don’t complain… because I found out years later that they felt like they couldn’t compete with God. They later said, 'Dad, if you said God was telling you something, how could we could compete with that?' Get to know them and find out what they are struggling with. Find out what they are feeling.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christians in Politics

Here are some quotes From the book unChristian on the way non-Christians feel about the Christian involvement in politics:

“Christians don’t even follow what the Bible says; why do they try to tell everyone else how to live morally?”

“They do not seem to prioritize the poor and needy in their political agenda, as Jesus commands.”

“Christians do a lot of complaining about the society and how bad things are in politics, but they don’t do much more than complain. The point is that you have to offer more than an opinion.”

“Christians talk about being driven by family values when they vote, but a lot of their families are in bad shape too.”

“They run the risk of turning people away from the cause they are trying to promote by losing sight of real people. Christians do not show grace to people. They judge their actions without walking in their shoes.”

These may be overly characterized, but whether you find these statements to be true or not, recognize that this is the public perception of Christians in politics.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Piper on Adolescence

John Piper gave a biography on his father Bill this afternoon (who died last year). He said the following about him and the age in which he was born:

“People grew up much faster those days. My father was married at 19 and establishing his family. At 20 I wasn’t even sure If I would ever be married. I couldn’t figure this out - why such a difference in generations? Then my wife reminded me that adolescence had not yet been created. Frank Sinatra was born 4 years before my father, and he was the first teenage idol. The word teenager did not even occur in the English language until 1941. The overlap between children and parents and what they enjoyed together was much greater than it is today.”

Answering Fools

While serving with the Campus ministry, the following verses often came to mind when engaging in evangelistic conversations:

Do not answer fools according to their folly,
or you will be a fool yourself
Answer fools according to their folly,
or they will be wise in their own eyes.
-Proverbs 26.4-5

Scott M. Gibson offers the following explanation of the seeming contradiction between the two verses:

“Plainly, these two proverbs are on the surface contradictory of one another and give conflicting advice. Which one is correct? The answer, of course, is that both are correct. Sometimes one must answer fools according to their folly (with shouting, sarcasm, berating, and so forth) because that is the only language that they understand. A sergeant does not get through to a group of lazy, ignorant recruits with polite suggestions. On the other hand, speaking in this manner can get to be a habit, and the person who does so may soon be as pigheaded as those he shouts at. Neither proverb gives the whole picture. Together, they tell us that sometimes harsh speech is necessary but that the use of such language endangers the speaker himself.”

DG Pastors Conference

This week I have the fortune of attending the Desiring God conference for Pastors in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My dad was able to join me in enjoying the focus of the conference on “The Pastor as Father and Son.” D.A. Carson, the main speaker, has just finished a biography on his father, a pastor in French Canada. He had this to say about his Dad:

“I never heard my father put his wife down once. In fact, he was never good at putting people down except on a prayer list. Then she came down with Alzheimer’s and I never heard him say, not one time, ‘this is NOT the woman I married.’ Instead, I often heard him say, ‘she cared for me for so many years, it is my privilege to get to do the same now for the woman I love.’”

I'm priveleged to say that I can say the same of my dad, and my mom as well, that they have always honored one another in front of me.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Church Planting

A word on church planting from the book unChristian:
(Note especially the last paragraph)


I went into church planting with the traditional mindset: meet in rented facilities until you can buy or build a church building. Then God strategically positioned National Community Church in the middle of the marketplace. NCC started meeting in the movie theaters at Union Station. Not only is Union Station the most visited destination in the nation’s capital – approximately twenty-five million people pass through the Station every year – it also has 125 retail shops, a food court, a train station, a metro stop, and movie theater.

In our early days, well-meaning pastor friends would ask me when NCC was going to get a “church,” as if a church without a church building isn’t a legitimate church. Part of me wanted to say, “Have you seen our church?” After all, not too many churches have their own subway system or food court. Why build a church building when you can meet in Union Station?

As NCC began to reach unchurched and dechurched twenty-somethings in DC, there was a moment when I realized that even if we could buy or build a church building, there was no way we could vacate such a strategic spiritual beachhead. And doing church in the middle of the marketplace became part of our spiritual DNA. Our vision is to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area. NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Ebenezers opened for business on National Coffee Day – March 15, 2006. In 2007, it was voted the #2 coffeehouse in the metro DC are by AOL CityGuide.

So why did we build a coffeehouse instead of a church building? Because Jesus didn’t hang out in synagogues. He hung out at wells. Wells weren’t just places to draw water. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells. To borrow the sociological term, our coffeehouses is a third place where the church and community can cross paths.

Along with serving coffee day in and day out, the performance space at Ebenezers doubles as a sanctuary for two Saturday night services. And most of the attendees are neighbors and customers.

Too many churches expect unchurched people to come to them, but the church is called to go to unchurched people. The church is called to compete for the kingdom in the middle of the marketplace.

Mark Batterson
pastor , National Community Church

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Basically Good?

I recently read The Starfish and the Spider. This book explores the benefit of decentralized organizations versus centralized organizations. The authors observed that eBay attributes much of their success to the foundational assumption that "people are basically good."


This explains why eBay needs to have a separate "Paypal" system which protects the financial information of the buyer from the seller.

And of course this also makes perfectly clear the need for a "seller feedback" system (which 'ranks' the dependability of a seller), since everyone is basically good and honest and would never want to take advantage of anyone.

The Puritan writer Richard Sibbes, in his book The Bruised Reed (see 'currently reading' sidebar) noted almost 400 years ago that "everything natural resists what opposes it; so the corrupt will labour to bear down all laws, and counts it a noble thing not to be awed..."

There is something in everyone of us that bucks up against the law. Deep down inside, none of us wants to be ruled by another. We are all control freaks at some level. Sibbes' concluding observations are closer to the truth than those in the Starfish and Spider:

"Thus the desperate madness of men is laid open, that they would rather be under the guidance of their own lusts, and in consequence of Satan himself, to their endless destruction, than put their feet into Christ's fetters and their necks under his yoke; though, indeed, Christ's service is the only true liberty."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Confusing Children

Teachers in the U.K. have been instructed to avoid using the words 'Mom' and 'Dad' to to avoid “homophobic attitudes," since all parents may not have heterosexual parents.

They are also saying it is a bad idea to tell a boy to 'act like a man' because it will result in the “bullying of those who do not conform to fixed ideas about gender.”

It is amazing how adults can justify ignoring the obvious in order to push their own agenda. Any three year old knows that boys have equipment that girls do not. "Fixed ideas about gender" start with the equipment, but are also deeply rooted in the way they are wired.

For instance, One author says you should avoid summer camps with war games because they "teach boys to fight." But boys don't have to be taught how to fight. They will do it no matter what games you play. What they need to be taught is how to figure out which things are worth fighting for, how to fight with honor and chivalry. They need to be taught how to determine when to "answer a fool according to his folly" or when to "not answer a fool according to his folly." (Proverbs 26.4-5)