Search This Blog


Kind of a Book Review

Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Re:Lit)I just finished reading "Death by Love: Letters from the Cross" by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. I first became acquainted with Mark Driscoll after seeing him speak on a video from a Desiring God conference a few years ago. I, being perpetually cautious, decided to look him up on his blog and youtube to learn more about him, his church, and ministry. Well, I can't agree with all of his methods (call me old fashioned, but I hate pragmatism in the church), but his theology and doctrine seem really sound.
In this book, Mr. Driscoll presents a collection of letters written to various people he has encountered through witnessing and counseling as a pastor, and they are used to describe different aspects of Christ's atoning death on the cross and how it works for believers. *Warning* This book is not for the faint of heart. There is a brief description of the individuals to whom the letters are written just prior to them, and some of the backstories are not only honest, but disturbing, as is all sin. However, they are not graphically described, nor is any undue attention placed there.
There are a few times where I've cringed at Mr. Driscoll's choice of words (though they aren't vulgar or crude). It's just that some of his descriptions, though accurate and honest, are very blunt and I could see how some could be taken aback by it and even be somewhat offended. Though overall I wasn't offended by them, just wished he had chosen a different way to say some things.
Each chapter is a real letter to a real person, suffering from real sin. And I was very impressed and convicted and challenged while reading each one. Mr. Driscoll uses alot of scripture in counseling and handles the Word of God very aptly, yet in a way that is simple enough for anyone to understand the gospel. And one of the most touching letters is one he wrote to his youngest son, explaining the gospel.
3938_medium_imgAt the end of each chapter is a very useful question and answer section from Gerry Breshears, detailing the theological and doctrinal issues that have been brought up in the letter, reiterating the Scriptural basis for each. This is also a very good resource for an introduction to theological terminology, and gives very easy to understand definitions along with their scriptural references.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the openness and honesty portrayed throughout to be not only refreshing, but reassuring. There is no better way for us, as those redeemed through Christ's atoning death, to glorify Him than to proclaim His supremacy and live victoriously in Him. It was encouraging to read something where issues that often don't get talked about openly were addressed in an honest, loving, and biblical way. Mr. Driscoll does a wonderful job of showing true compassion and love through the gospel without compromising truth in each of the letters, and is honest in his own struggles when dealing with some of the people. (He even tells of how hard it was for him to share the gospel with one older man who had abused all of his various wives and children every possible way and had lived a disgusting life in depravity.)
I think this would be an excellent book for teenagers and their parents to read together, because in his honest counseling we encounter many people broken by the lusts and sins of their youth, but the cross of Christ is lifted up and shown to be able to both propitiate the wrath of God and expiate us of our sins. For example, you won't find many other books where a child molester is given the gospel or a rape victim, and yet those are realities of the sinfulness of our world.
3841_medium_imgI was greatly convicted while reading, and often saw my sinfulness in each of the letters. I would recommend that, regardless of how you feel about Mark Driscoll's ministry, reading this book.  Mr. Driscoll is often criticized for addressing topics that are seen as inappropriate, but I disagree, and wish that more pastors and teachers, in an appropriate setting of course, would speak more openly and biblically about many of the things young people especially are dealing with and facing each day. There are topics that we don't like to think about, but we should and have to address all sin through the Bible. 


We're Not So Weird ;)

*Sigh*  Maybe I am just being lazy (I have a good excuse though), but I am putting up a link to another blog that I have been following lately, because her honesty so makes me feel less covetous of those families and parents and children who always seem to portray perfection in all they do. And her writing reminds me that my family is a blessing, even though we aren't picture perfect, most of the time, okay, all the time. She also reminds me that others probably aren't as perfect as they would like me to think they are. And honestly, I wouldn't change a thing about our lives.
This is a peak into Shelby's "rocket".
She didn't know I took her picture ;)
I love that my daughter is so creative and imaginative, even when it is messy or looks strange to others (I let her pick out her own clothes, and, yes, we do go out in tutus some times, but that's okay).
My hubby's favorite chair doesn't face the
t.v., but he can reach lots of books ;)
I love that my husband would rather sit with us and read aloud or talk with us than be with his friends or watch t.v. (he doesn't follow sports teams, just theologians).
My view of Lil' Feller in his Mei-Tai carrier
 I love that my baby boy wants to be continuously in my arms, and cries without me, even though it can prevent me from being as productive.
So, without further adieu, click here  to read the Headmistress and Zookeeper's post at The Common Room, and I hope you enjoy it :)


The Extinction of Religion or A Call For Missions?

An interesting article I read recently was claiming that from the results of census data from nine countries(Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.) over the last century shows that religion will soon be extinct there. (For the full article click here .)
Before we get into the debate about the difference between social religion and true religion, may I say I don't think this survey is showing that people are dumping "religion" for a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. That being said, I do think it shows that people are fleeing the false hope of "religion" defined as a social/political grouping filled with empty traditions and no passion or real commitment to doctrines or creeds or to God and the pursuit of His glory. Instead these results, based on mathematical deduction, are more in line with Romans 1:18-25

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

People have always sought to do away with God. I find it interesting, though, that in this survey and when you speak to individuals, the true findings are that they aren't against religion, as everyone worships (even atheists, who claim their own superiority over any possibility of deity are only worshipping their own intellect and lusts). No, instead you find that these kinds of surveys are always targeting Christianity in particular. You won't find studies suggesting people are giving up yoga, because they are turning away from religion as a society, nor will you find articles detailing why nations are leaving Islam (perhaps out of a justifiable fear for their own safety in this case), or abandoning Hinduism, Bhuddism, Shintoism, Voodoo, Druidism, Witchcraft, New Age, or any pagan and false religious practice. And even the cults that have sprung from unorthodox and extrabiblical groups aren't addressed in this manner by most mainstream media (i.e. like tv shows "Big Love" and TLC's "Sister Wives" that promote the perversion of the gospel propagated by the apostate Mormon church of Latter Day Saints). In fact, the world at large has no problem with evangelicals promoting a liberal theology, such as universalism, open theism, and the "re-interpreting" of literal scripture. After all, who would disagree or be angry with a god that has no power or judgement. (Don't forget though, if you abandon the wrath, judgement, and omnipotent sovereignty of God as revealed in scripture, that you cannot claim His love, justice, mercy, and grace; as God is a composite of all of His attributes all the time).
Everything is exactly as God said it would be. The fact that people are abandoning biblical Christianity in favor of pursuing their own lusts through anything but, proves the authenticity of both scripture and the One True Living God as He has revealed Himself in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and it is only there that we can have any idea as to what God requires of us (Ecclestastes 12:13-14 , Ephesians 2:20 , 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ).
So, how should we, as Christians, react to news reports and studies such as this one? Should we thank God we are saved and not like them and retreat to our group/congregation waiting for the return of Jesus Christ? 
Yes and no. Of course we should be grateful for our salvation and that Christ has defeated sin, death, and Satan. However, we have to be careful not to become as the Pharisee of Luke 18:10-14.
""Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed [fn] thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.""
We don't want to have too high a view of our false righteousness (Romans 12:3 ) which can lead to hypocrisy being the witness we bring to the unbelieving and lost world on their way to eternal judgement and justice in hell at the hands of Jesus Christ, God Almighty.
What does this have to do with missions?
First, we cannot ever forget the fact that we were once "dead in our tresspasses and sins" (Colossians 2:13-14 ), and were following our own desires and lusts, worshipping everything, but God, including making idols out of ourselves. We are no better than anyone. We are as deserving of eternal torment in hell as anyone who ever lived. The only thing standing between someone who dies and goes to heaven and one who goes to hell is that the one who goes to heaven has went there on the merit of another (2 Corinthians 5:21 ), the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ has taken the Father's wrath in our place and has cleansed and expiated us from our own filthiness and uncleanness, allowing us to stand before God and be unashamed (Romans 3:25 , Hebrews 2:17 ).
Second, we cannot forget the great commission: "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15 ). People groups aren't only unreached in exotic and foreign cultures, but often around us, and they are included in "all the world" and the "whole creation".
Thirdly, and related to the second, is from Jesus' teaching of the Good Shepherd in John 10 . Verse 16 speaks of "other sheep" that are "not of this fold". To His audience there, it was a direct reference to ourselves, the Gentiles, and to us it should remind us that Jesus didn't just die for us or people like us or even people that we like and understand, but for people from " every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9 ). going back to John 10, Jesus died for them, ransomed them with His own life's blood, the least we can do is proclaim the gospel to them and pray diligently for their salvation.
The fact that people are rejecting "religion" in it's stereotyped form can be an open door for authentic biblical Christianity. I've found that many people, even here in the "Bible belt", may have grown up with more of a social Christianity, and don't actually know the gospel. They often aren't hardened to it, but are ignorant of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, I leave you with this from Hebrews 13:12-14.
"So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."
Let us leave our comfort zones and reach out to the lost all around us. You will find that no matter how different they may seem, they are in the same sinful state you were and still would be apart from Christ's atonement for your sins being applied to you.
For a good sermon about this check out John Piper speaking at the 2000 Ligonier National Conference here , and his book, "Let The Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions" 
"Now, go serve your King!"-Todd Friel


"A Young Mother's Prayer" Jonah Elisha is here!!!

Our sweet son, Jonah Elisha was born March 1st, 2011!

A Young Mother's Prayer
Occasioned by an expression uttered
by a mother, over her firstborn
By James Smith, 1865

"Lord, bless my babe!" the youthful mother cried,
And fondly pressed her infant to her breast;
Then offered it to Him, who loved and died,
To give poor suffering mothers peace and rest.

It was her first-born, and she loved it well,
Admired each feature, full of strange delight;
Then turned the kindness of her God to tell,
Whose tender care had blessed her with the sight.

Perhaps she thought, "Ah! If I had been blind,
And felt my loved one on my bosom lie,
But could not see its face — my God, how kind
To let me see my baby's lovely eye!

Its little head had slumbered on my breast,
Its velvet cheek awakened sweet surprise;
Its ruby lips a mother's bosom prest,
Who longed to see it with her poor blind eyes.

"Or, if I had been deaf, and could not hear
Its little voice which thrills through all my soul.
How often would I have shed the bitter tear,
And found it hard my feelings to control.

"To know it prattled, pleasing all around,
And calling Mother with an angel's voice.
Unable to drink in the charming sound,
How could I with a mother's joy rejoice?

"But I have eyes to see my darling child,
And ears to listen to its feeblest cry;
My heart has danced already, while it smile,
And I have seen strange beauty in its eye!

Or, had my babe been blind, and could not see
Its mother's face, or nature's beauties bright;
How painful and distressing unto me,
Its sightless eye-balls destitute of light!

"Or, if it had been deaf, and could not hear
My voice, which seeks to soothe and hush its cries;
That were a burden I could scarcely bear,
Though to complain, in me, would be unwise.

"But my sweet babe has sight and hearing too,
Its senses and its members are complete;
The goodness of my God in this I view,
And lay my loved one at my Savior's feet.

"I do feel grateful, O God of love!
Accept the praises of my thankful heart;
And let me, though a sinner, daily prove,
The peace Your presence only can impart.

"Lord, bless my babe! Your daughter let it be;
In early life convert it by Your Word:
Oh, may it soon Your great salvation see,
And own You as its Savior and its Lord!

"This youthful mother offers up her child,
Savior, accept and fill it with Your love.
May it be holy, gentle, loving, mild,
And all the riches of Your mercy prove.

"Teach me to train it in Your holy ways,
And early lead it to Your gracious throne;
Oh, let my babe show forth my Savior's praise,
And by it, may Your holy will be done!

"I would not nurse it for the world or sin.
Or see it prove an enemy to Thee;
I'll early try its little heart to win,
And pray that it may consecrated be.

"It was Your gift, I love it for Your sake,
And hope to see it live Your name to fear;
Mother and babe into your keeping take,
And all through life, oh, may we find You near!

"Nor let my child assume my Savior's place;
To Him, my warmest love is ever due;
Blessed Spirit, daily fill my mind with grace,
That Jesus' glory I may still pursue.

"Lord, bless my babe, and spare it to me still,
Healthy and strong, to comfort my fond heart;
Oh, may it walk by Your preceptive will,
And in Your service, all its powers exert.

"Tis Yours, created by Your power alone,
As Yours, I wish to treat it day by day;
Oh, may Your precious blood its sins atone,
And from its spirit purge each stain away.

"Accept my feeble praise for mercies given,
And keep me near your side through all my way;
Conduct and teach me until I enter Heaven,
Nor let me from Your holy precepts stray.

"A mother's heart, before a Savior's throne,
Would thus my fondest wishes now express;
To me be all Your tender mercy shown,
And do, dear Savior — do my baby bless!

"You had a mother once, when here on earth:
You know how anxious is a mother's heart;
Oh, grant, do grant my child a second birth,
Your Holy Spirit to her soul impart.

"A mother's tears, are precious in Your sight,
A mother's prayers, You surely will receive;
Oh, fill a mother's breast with joyous light,
And to my darling girl, Your blessing give!

"You, You are worthy — honor to receive,
The highest honor earth or Heaven can raise;
Let all who from your fullness, grace receive,
In one harmonious anthem sound your praise!"