Archive for the ‘Culture’ category

Misconception | Lecrae + Propaganda + Braille + Odd Thomas

May 12, 2012

Reaching the Lives of Those Who Have Wasted It

July 1, 2011

Eleven years ago, John Piper boldly proclaimed these words:

I was a college student then, about to embark on my life as someone called to proclaim the gospel Jesus Christ. Never had I imagined then that I would be living in the communities comprised of tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.

I live and minister 15 minutes from the place John Piper speaks (Punta Gorda, FL).  I have never been in an area that is more challenging to advance the gospel.  In a city of 165,000 people, I am told that we have less than 6,000 people who attend church on any given Sunday, meaning that roughly 5% of our city consider themselves a part of any church.

A large percentage of our city is comprised of retired people who have moved down from New England or states like Michigan or Pennsylvania.  They also bring with them their New England religion, or lack thereof.  They are a people whose hearts have been hardened through the years, jaded and disillusioned by nominal Christianity, and fortify their tragic lifestyle with gates, fences, and security systems.  They have everything this life could offer them, as Piper explains, and they will soon stand before God for a life they have wasted.

It is tempting to believe there is no hope for such people.  After all, how many old people are converted to Christ?  If they are “happy” with all that life offers them, why would they need sea shells, boats, golf courses, AND Jesus?  And all the obstacles that must be overcome to simply have access to these people . . . it seems virtually impossible.  YET, we do not have the luxury to think this way when it comes to the gospel.  We cannot live and act as though the power of the gospel is somehow incapable of overcoming the obstinate and rebellious ways of man.  We cannot surrender the Great Commission because we might have to go the extra mile or make a greater sacrifice in order to bring the gospel to those who think they don’t need it.

What a testimony it would be if God did a sovereign work among those who have realized they have wasted their lives?! What a testimony it would be if they came to treasure Jesus more than their retirement, more than their toys, more than their life of comfort and ease?  What if several became missionaries to their own people who lay aside their shell collection and instead spend their time sowing the good seed of the gospel?

Because Christ is risen, I am filled with hope for my city and Southwest Florida. Though I have very little in common with most of these people, I want to reach them with the gospel that they might treasure Jesus. I want their to be a video for Jesus’ fame that shows the lives of those who have wasted it who are now giving it away for the glory of God.  Yes, I want the tragedy of their lives to become a triumph of the gospel.

The World’s Most Typical Person

March 3, 2011

HT: Joe Holland

Where in the world are the Christians?

December 2, 2010

So check it.  “The brothers” took Paul by night from the mad mob rioting at the house of Jason in Thessalonica (Acts 17:10).  Surely that was a rather traumatic moment.  This landed him in Berea where Paul, undeterred by the riots in the previous city, kept doing what he had been doing–preaching Christ.  The mob catches up with Paul in Berea so “the brothers” send him off again “as far as Athens,” and there Paul finds himself waiting for Silas and Timothy to show up (Acts 17:14).

One the one hand, persecution drove the mission.  On the other hand, “the brothers” executed the mission.  On every account, Paul was constrained by the Spirit who testified to him to expect imprisonment and affliction in every city” (Acts 20:23).   In the middle of all this was a man possessed by Christ, stubbornly committed to preaching the gospel at all costs, and prepared to fight the good fight of faith.

Apparently Athens was not on the agenda. The brothers took him “as far as Athens”, and, as Luke explains, he is there simply waiting for Timothy and Silas to show up.  What do you do while you wait? Check your Twitter updates?  Play video games on your iPod?  Listen to your last iTunes download?  For Paul, his waiting meant listening, learning, and leading others to Christ.

(more…)

The Crisis in My County

December 2, 2010

Lee County, Florida is the county of my residence.  It has also been dubbed the “foreclosure capital of the country.”  I came here in summer of 2008 never having heard or seen a foreclosure in my life to now seeing front yards either looking like a jungle or a yard sale put on the banks who now own a large percentage of the homes here.  Instead of tourists take cruises on the beach strip, banks had started their own tours for investors to see all the foreclosed homes in our county.  Our first attempt at buying a home was a short-sale, and after two months of waiting for banks to approve the loan, we gave up.  We eventually found a home by a builder who had 125 completely finished homes at that time with no buyer and provided us with a master key to pick a house in the area at a discount of $100,000 their builder price.

My family lives on a street where there are 17 homes.  14 of those homes have been foreclosed upon since we moved in July 2008.  Several of the homes that haven’t have more than one family unit living in them because of unemployment and inability to pay the high mortgage.  The home I purchase at $100,000 off in 2008 is now worth 33% of the value that it was built for in 2007.

Along with all the foreclosures, the high level of unemployment and the report of our county being the worst performing job market in the US makes for very though times to say the least–so tough that the fire chief and policeman have asked for prayer support from pastors because of their fellow servicemen encountered so many suicides by people who have simply given up on “the good life” in “paradise.”

Dreams For Sale has put together a documentary that explains much of what has happened here.  I realize that many of you folk may not be interested in these videos, but they give a good picture of what is going on not only here but across our country as a whole.  Lehigh Acres, the city of their focus, is the location of our recent church plant.  Shawn Bergen, who pastors in Lehigh, spent almost a year making 12 offers on houses above the asking price to finally purchase a home due to deep-pocket cash investors.

In spite of all this, God has done some amazing things here, and we believe even greater days of gospel advance lie ahead.  The only hope this world has in good times and bad is in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the midst of such loss, despair, and disillusionment, I pray that God will see fit to turn eyes and hearts away from worldly pursuits and find the eternal treasures in knowing Jesus Christ!  If you think of it, please join me in this prayer.

Here are the videos:

[1/3 Dreams for Sale]

[2/3 Dreams for Sale]

[3/3 Dreams for Sale]

Tim Keller at Urban Plant Life

November 20, 2010

Steve McCoy pointed us to some Tim Keller gold last week.  Here are eight newly formatted PDFs of Tim Keller talks from the recent Urban Plant Life Conference and Consultation in London.

You can get these and three more talks from Keller on MP3 as well.

While downloading these, I was reminded of a project that I undertook last year called the “Coach K Reading Group.”  I had a hunch that other people were, or at least were interested in, reading available articles by Tim Keller.  So I compiled about 14 of them and made a Tim Keller Reader and pitched it solely on Twitter.  The result was 74 people from 24 states and 11 denominations who joined in, where I moderated a live video conference chat every two weeks.  It was a really cool time of learning from Tim Keller, encouraging one another, and focusing on the mission of the church.  Looking over these articles makes me wonder if we can do something like that again . . .

Dever on Culture

October 13, 2010

Here’s a good, short video clip where Mark Dever speaks on how culture is a reflection of humanity, both in its goodness (imago dei) and in its fallenness (depravity) and how the gospel, rightly proclaimed is both attractive and offensive at the same time.

Mark Dever’s Reservations about Cultural Transformation

April 11, 2010

I plan on blogging about this in the near future, but for now I wanted to post a video interview with Ed Stetzer and Mark Dever where they discuss Dever’s 2008 T4G talk about the “largeness” of the gospel.  The differences on defining the gospel among conservative (even Reformed) evangelicals is pretty clear and certainly controversial.  Watch the video and let me know your thoughts.

Cloaking Cowardice with Custom-Made Bushels

March 31, 2010

Don’t know who wrote this at Ligonier, but this is excellent:

Martin Luther declared that a new Christian must withdraw from the world for a season, but upon reaching spiritual maturity he must embrace the world as the theater of redemptive activity. His message was, “Away with the cowards who flee from the real world and cloak their cowardice with piety.”

Perhaps the greatest need for our day is the need to market Jesus Christ. The church must become expert in marketing, not in the slick Madison Avenue style but in an aggressive, yet dignified way. The marketplace is where we belong. It is where needy people are found. It is not enough for the church to hang a welcome sign on her door. We dare not wait for the world to come to us.

God never intended the Christian community to be a ghetto. The church is not a reservation. Yet the pervasive style of modern evangelicalism is that of a reservation or a ghetto. We can argue that it is the secularist agenda to put us there and keep us there. But such arguments won’t do. We are there because it is safe and comfortable to be there.

The secularist hates the light and is quite willing to offer us a bushel for it. Shame on us when we buy custom-made bushels and willingly place them over our candles. To hide the light or to restrict it to a reservation is to do violence to the gospel and to grieve the Holy Ghost.

Church-as-reservation, custom-made bushels, doing violence to the gospel, cloaking cowardice instead of embracing the world as God’s theater of redemptive activity–I think we can all respond with “Ouch!” and “Oh me!”  But seriously, this little devotional raises some huge issues in the life of the church as well as our personal lives that call for repentance and faith.  May God help us to never to hide from His mission in our man-made bushels while grieving the Holy Spirit!

Tim Keller, Deed Ministry, and Bridge Building

March 24, 2010

In his book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, Tim Keller gives three ways in which mercy (deed) ministry supports the evangelistic work of the church.  He says it serves as (1) a plausibility structure for the lost, it (2) builds a bridge to the lost, and (3) functions as a communication medium to the lost.

Regarding the first point, it has often been said that people don’t care about how much you know until you show them how much you care.  In other words, by your actions, you make your words more plausible.  The third point is similar in that in that the incarnational approach to evangelizing the lost means that we should do more than be drive-by Christians.  Our loving commitment to the lost is communicated meaningfully when it is demonstrated in sacrificial living and in the humble service of others.

But I want to point out the second point for the sake of this post to draw out the distinctions that Keller argues (actually from Frank Tillapaugh) regarding the lost.  He says there are basically four types of lost people:

(more…)