Today in Blogworld 07.24.14

22 Facts About Sleep

I never knew sea otters were so romantic.

God Can Restore Your Lost Years

I need this. Badly.

When God Seems Silent

I also needed this. Badly.

When You Should NOT Submit to a Church

We need more articles like this. I fear that all of the scandals has put a dark cloud over the necessity of actual biblical leadership. Articles like this help to balance things.

I never knew bananas had such power:

Being Gospel-Centered Is a Bloody Mess


I still remember my white-knuckled pew grabbing. When I really wanted to go forward at service and give my life to Christ. Maybe it was a rededication—maybe it was coming to Christ for the first time. I don’t know, but I know that at that time the gospel seemed so beautiful. But I was counting the cost and it seemed so huge.

During that time in my life I wrote this rather choppy line:

Standing on holy ground
With one shoe
Caught between a life of me
And one devoted to you

I deeply wanted to listen and follow the voice calling from the burning bush but I wanted to at least keep a shoe on. Then grace caught up with me and either took my shoes off completely or just threw me into the burning bush to be consumed, accepted, loved, and cleansed. I was forever changed and smitten with the gospel.

Over time my understanding of the gospel and the work of the Lord grew exponentially. I was swept up in all of the language of being gospel-centered and pursued being a gospel-centered pastor. I still am to this day.

But somewhere along the way I forgot something…

Being Gospel-Centered Is a Bloody Mess

I’m finding that the deeper the gospel goes in my heart the more entrenched is the sin that it is uprooting. Early on the Lord was dealing with surface stuff. Things like cursing and watching inappropriate things or listening to really vulgar music.

My white-knuckled pew grabbing back then had to do with whether I wanted to follow Christ or keep driving through town blaring Eminem. It feels stupid now. I’d give that up in a heartbeat.

Now the stuff that I’m hanging onto are the things that are in the depths. Identity things. Deeply entrenched patterns of thought and action and character. But it’s no less bloody than giving up Eminem. In fact it’s probably more.

Bonhoeffer once said that when Christ calls a man he bids him to come and die. I’m coming to understand that this calling and coming and dying isn’t just pertaining to initial salvation. The whole thing is a bloody mess.

Being gospel-centered doesn’t just mean that we dance in the fields of favor with the Lord. It means that…a thousand times yes…it means that. But being gospel-centered also means that we are at times necessarily afflicted by the gospel. It is not as if the deeper our understanding of the gospel goes then the easier the bloodshed will be. No, it’s likely that the deeper the gospel goes then the deeper will be the things that the gospel is transforming.

A Particularly Bloody Mess

But there is something that must be remembered. Our bloodshed doesn’t salvifically accomplish anything. We could surrender our bodies up to flames and still be as nothing.

The only blood that accomplishes anything has already been shed and is now already applied to the account of those that are trusting in Christ. Yes being gospel-centered is a bloody mess but it’s a bloody mess that is founded upon a particular blood shedding event.

It is important to not forget this, because as a believer when we are in the midst of white-knuckled pew grabbing and we are being ripped asunder it isn’t for our salvation. It’s not an event that determines whether we are in Christ or not. It’s about our joy and growth in the Lord. Our acceptance is grounded on the blood that has already been shed.

We let go of these idols because we become convinced that Christ is more beautiful than sin. Even those deep seated things that are part of who we think we are–are forsaken so that we can grab ahold of more of Christ. And so even in the midst of being torn asunder there is a quiet joy that shines through.

For Christ is sweeter! And he’s worth this whole bloody mess.

Today in Blogworld 07.23.14

What Your Gut Feeling Is Actually Telling You

There are likely reasons why you have a gut feeling.

How Christianity Lost It’s Cultural Influence (And How to Rebuild It)

I normally don’t link to book reviews but this one is so intriguing that I have to.

7 Shortcuts to Hitting Your 10,000 Hours as a Preacher

I’m clueless as to how many hours I’d be at, but using this outline I think I’d be close to 10,000 hours.

Help Your Kids Say “No” to Porn

I wish this article was dumb and unnecessary. It’s not. It’s spot on and something worth considering.

I abhor the song Royals by Lorde simply because it hi-jacks the KC Royals hashtag (#Royals) on Twitter. So I’m happy that Weird Al has spoofed it:

How to Give the Gospel a Hearing In Your Local Library (20 Book Suggestions)


Last week I noted that Christianity doesn’t stand a chance at your local library. I also noted that this is likely not because your local librarian hates Jesus. More than likely it is simply because of the nature of how books are acquired and the type of books that are on the best-seller list.

I encouraged folks to help me come up with a list of books that would fit the criteria that was set and would help to give the gospel a hearing in your local library. I broke them up in four categories: apologetics, Christian living, helps, and Classics/Research. Here are the twenty I came up with:

Apologetics

  1. The Reason for God by Tim Keller  (some libraries will have this)
  2. Truth Matters by Kostenberg, Bock, and Chatraw
  3. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
  4. The God I Don’t Understand by Christopher Wright
  5. The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson

Christian Living

  1. Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
  2. Radical by David Platt
  3. Pleasures Evermore by Sam Storms
  4. How People Change by Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane
  5. Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller

Helps

  1. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
  2. How Long O, Lord by D.A. Carson
  3. What Did You Expect by Paul Tripp
  4. 40 Questions on Interpreting the Bible by Robert Plummer
  5. What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

Classics/Research

  1. Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
  2. The Works of Jonathan Edwards
  3. The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzaelz
  4. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
  5. The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown by Kostenberger, Kellum, Quarles

The Plan

Last week I promised to have a challenge for my readers. Here is the challenge.

Step One: Make a list of books you’d like to see in your library. You can use mine as a guide or cut and paste the entire thing.

Step Two: Contact your local library and ask if they’d be willing to stock a few more Christian non-fiction books.

Step Three: Give them your list and offer to partner with them in donating some of these books (or perhaps all of them).

Step Four: Continue to build a good relationship with your local library and encourage folks in your church to occasionally check out these books and read them as well. The more use the greater likelihood they’ll stay on the shelves.

Step Five: Retweet or Share this challenge. I believe the Lord uses good books to help Christians grow and also to help people come to know Him. I want to see many local libraries stocked with great Christian books to give the gospel a hearing at your local library.