Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Watch this video! It is such a simple and profound presentation of the gospel of grace!


321 from Jeremy Poyner on Vimeo.

3...2...1...Go (and share it with someone)!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mark Dever on Mark 12:13-17 "Jesus Paid Taxes"

Some months back (maybe a year?), I listened to an excellent sermon by Mark Dever on Mark 12:13-17, the passage where Jesus makes the statement, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." In preparation for this past Sunday, I listened to it again. On Sunday, I recommended it as I addressed the issues of our dual citizenship as Christians. Here is the link I promised to Dever's message entitled, "Jesus Paid Taxes."

What Am I Doing When I Vote?

While I'm on the topic of voting, I found this post by Kevin DeYoung helpful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Am Going To Vote

I want to publicly say "Amen" to John Piper's post, "I Am Going To Vote." I hope you all at Bethel will also say (in word and deed), "Amen."

See also his "Why Vote If You Are Disillusioned?" (from 2004)
And his "Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting" (from 2008)

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Believe In Big Government

Jesus for is president!
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
"Your kingdom come." 

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Trampoline and Ten Grand...For Adoption

I ran across this encouraging story of God's miraculous provision in a recent edition of our school newsletter.

Miracle in Franklin: Part 1 from Generous Giving on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gospel Growth: What Do You Expect?!

Dave Kraft:
A man applied for a new job. On the questionnaire, he was asked how many years of experience he had. He wrote sixteen. During the oral interview, this question was put to him, "Do you really have sixteen years of experience, or one year repeated fifteen times?"
I've been a follower of Jesus Christ for fifty years, and I could ask myself the same question: Do I have fifty years of leaning and growing in Jesus, or on year repeated forty-nine times? Am I moving forward or treading water? Am I different today than I was last year? What specifically has changed? What am I doing differently? What have I stopped doing, and what have I started doing with God's grace? What habits have I developed or broken?
-- Dave Kraft, Leaders Who Last (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 112-13.

Friday, October 5, 2012

When God Harasses You

I was feeling particularly overwhelmed one day last week. As I headed out for a walk to pray, I knew I needed some targeted grace. My mind went to 2 Corinthians 12, so I pulled it up on my phone and read it as started to walk.

[A little quick context for those of you not familiar with what's going on in the letter to this point:

Paul's apostolic credibility had been torpedoed by some so-called "super-apostles" (see 2 Cor 11:5; 12:11). They boasted impressive resumes and undermined Paul by saying he was unimpressive. They were healthy and wealthy. He suffered too much. They spoke with eloquence and rhetorical flourish. His speech was plain and weak. They boasted of visions. He was always preaching that bloody cross. Etc. Etc. And some of the Corinthians were buying it. THAT bothered him (see 2 Cor 11:28-29). So, he decides to do a little boasting of his own. He hates to do it, but for the good of the Corinthians, to get their attention and redirect it down the narrow Calvary road, he does a little boasting of his own.

He speaks in the third person of a man who was caught up to the third heaven, who heard things that cannot be told. He is speaking of himself, but he can't stand to boast of anything except the cross of Jesus Christ. Yes, it happened. But it's not something that can bless and build up the Corinthians. He has always refused to "play this card." The goal is not to impress them with his unique and visionary celestial access. The goal is to impress them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives them access to the throne of grace!]

Here's what I read (2 Cor 12:5-10, emphasis added):
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses--though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
My mind got hooked by the word "harass" and I started meditating on Paul's divinely inspired logic. Yes, it was a messenger of Satan that harassed Paul, but God had that messenger on his leash. It was not Satan's goal to keep Paul from becoming conceited. That was God's goal. So, God ultimately ordained that Paul be harassed.

I think I got stuck on the word "harass" because it seemed to resonate with how I felt. (Disclaimer: I'm not trying to throw a pity party here. I know you don't want to be on that invite list. I am sharing this because the barrage of needs and responsibilities I couldn't keep up with felt like harassment.) I'm guessing you've felt the same way. So, I'm sharing this with you, fellow harassed struggler, because there is a lot of grace for you in this passage, just like there was for me that day.

Back to the logic of the text. God ultimately harassed Paul, to keep Paul humble. It was encouraging to realize that God intentionally harassed Paul, in order to help Paul.

God harasses Paul, to help Paul? What kind of twisted plan is this?!
No, this is not a twisted plan. This is a loving plan. Think of the alternative. God gives you gifts and blessings. And then he gives you no harassment. And then you slowly and subtly get conceited, thinking how special you must be to have such gifts and blessings. And then you get self-sufficient. And then you feel no need for all-sufficient grace. And then, you become weak -- terribly weak in your self-reliant pride. Thinking yourself strong, you are cut off from true strength. That would be a twisted, unloving plan.

So God harasses. He harasses us into weakness so that we see our utter need for his all-sufficient grace. And seeing our utter need for his all-sufficient grace, we do not begrudge or resent the harassment in our lives that keeps us weak and humble. We will welcome it. And welcoming our weakness and depending on all-sufficient grace, the power of Christ rests on us. We become content with harassment, for when we are weak, then we are strong.

That was grace to me last week. Maybe it will be grace to you this week. One of God's modus operandi: harassment, to humble you, to help you with all-sufficient grace, that you might be truly the strength of his might.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Good Guide For November 6...And Beyond

Justin Taylor provides here a great little summary of how we, as Christians, are dual citizens. As we approach November 6, we need to understand this. Go read the whole thing, but he summarizes the paradox and tension of our dual citizenry by highlighting texts like these:
Here we have no lasting city” (Heb. 13:14). Like Abraham, we look “forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
And yet, as “sojourners and exiles (1 Pet. 2:11) we are commanded to “seek the welfare of the city . . . and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jer. 29:7).  ...
We are not to be of the world—but we are sent into it (John 17:15-16; cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-10).  ...
We are to keep ourselves “unstained from the world” (James 1:27)—and yet we must taste and shine like “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16) to a dark and rotting culture around us (cf. Phil. 2:15).
We need to grasp firmly this dual citizenship dynamic, so we can wisely navigate this election season, and beyond.