Monday, April 30, 2007

Driscoll on Daily Sex

After I saw Driscoll's video today (see previous post) I found this post from Internet Monk that gives a friendly critique on Driscoll's "style of maleness" and his particular assertion that men want to learn how they can have sex with their wives at least once a day. While I think that particular remark was not really the point of Driscoll's message, I.M. uses it as a launching pad to articulate a fear that many seem to have about Driscoll, namely that he may be presenting Christianity "primarily as a way to great maleness."

With Driscoll's emphatic - and often brutally brusque - call to male leadership in the church, I can see how many may not be able to see past this. Yet, his read on the culture is accurate, at least in my experience; both within the Church and without, we generally have men who are practically neutered and passive or irrelevantly hyper-masculine. I appreciate Driscoll's frankness regarding the issues with which he is passionate. I like that he walks a fine line between the overindulged secular culture and the oversheltered church culture. I like that he addresses sex in the context of Christianity (I laughed when he talked in the video about dudes "banging their girlfriends." Not because that is funny, but because the 2 times I have heard sex referred to by the pastors at my church, it is called "physical intimacy" - two very different approaches, methinks. I find it sad that most of us have learned way more about sex from wherehaveyou than from the church.)

I think, like myself and everyone I know, Driscoll falls at times into imbalance with the issues he pushes. But at the end of the day, I think this dude loves Jesus more than his issues.

If you know much of Driscoll or have comments regarding the video, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

A Good Soldier

Here is a link to Mark Driscoll's video "A Good Soldier" that he put together for a church planting conference. Bill Hybels apparently banned the video from the conference,* however, as Driscoll neglected to mention women church planters. The eight-minute clip is worth a look though. I like when he says Jesus is not a gay hippie in a dress.

[HT: Off the Wire]

*Addendum | In doing some more reading after I posted this, I realize that to say Hybels banned the video is misleading. Ben Arment, a pastor and church planter here in No. Va., was apparently at the conference and gives a less-dramatic account. Hybels apparently just made a very brief comment regarding the video, and the folks who sponsored the conference made the decision to pull the plug on passing them out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Sovereignty of God & the Virginia Tech Shootings

I invited my good friend Dave Doyle to speak to our young adults group last night regarding the sovereignty of God over tragedies like the Virginia Tech shootings. Dave was already scheduled to speak on the will of God, but graciously agreed to change his topic last-minute in light of the recent events at VT. Dave is not only one of my favorite people, but one of the smartest guys I know - he is a black belt theologian and an excellent pastor. His teaching was excellent and I have posted it below - click the green button to play it, or the link to download the mp3.

The Sovereignty of God in the Virginia Tech Shootings
by Pastor Dave Doyle

Dave Answers Some Questions

Why doesn't God just stop sin and evil in the world? Answer

If God created everything, did He create sin? Answer

What is the difference between God causing and allowing things to happen?

How can I really worship God in the midst of suffering? Answer

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings

What does one do in the face of such tragedy as today's shootings at Virginia Tech? Several of our church staff spend much of the afternoon contacting parents who attend our church who have VT students enrolled. We praise God that this event - at least as far as we know up to this point - has not directly resulted in the death or injury of anyone within our church community. But certainly, this is far from true for at least thirty three families who are now dealing with the pain of great loss. Beyond that, there are countless individuals emotionally impacted by these shootings.

How should we respond? How can we best comfort the mourning and exalt Christ in the midst of such circumstances? How does one answer the questions that surely follow tragedies such as this?

I found the following list, originally published by John Piper after the Columbine shootings, encouraging as I seek to comfort others in such a time as this. I have copied Pastor John's main points below, as well as the link to his full article:

21 Ways to Minister to Those Who Are Suffering

(Scripture references to accompany each item on this list are available in the full article.)

1. Pray. Ask God for his help for you and for those you want to minister to. Ask him for wisdom and compassion and strength and a word fitly chosen. Ask that those who are suffering would look to God as their help and hope and healing and strength. Ask that he would make your mouth a fountain of life.

2. Feel and express empathy with those most hurt by this great evil and loss; weep with those who weep.

3. Feel and express compassion because of the tragic circumstances of so many loved ones and friends who have lost more than they could ever estimate.

4. Take time and touch, if you can, and give tender care to the wounded in body and soul.

5. Hold out the promise that God will sustain and help those who cast themselves on him for mercy and trust in his grace. He will strengthen you for the impossible days ahead in spite of all darkness.

6. Affirm that Jesus Christ tasted hostility from men and knew what it was to be unjustly tortured and abandoned, and to endure overwhelming loss, and then be killed, so that he is now a sympathetic mediator for us with God.

7. Declare that this murder was a great evil, and that God's wrath is greatly kindled by the wanton destruction of human life created in his image.

8. Acknowledge that God has permitted a great outbreak of sin against his revealed will, and that we do not know all the reasons why he would permit such a thing now, when it was in his power to stop it.

9. Express the truth that Satan is a massive reality in the universe that conspires with our own sin and flesh and the world to hurt people and to move people to hurt others, but stress that Satan is within and under the control of God.

10. Express that these terrorists rebelled against the revealed will of God and did not love God or trust him or find in God their refuge and strength and treasure, but scorned his ways and his Person.

11. Since rebellion against God was at the root of this act of murder, let us all fear such rebellion in our own hearts, and turn from it, and embrace the grace of God in Christ, and renounce the very impulses that caused this tragedy.

12. Point the living to the momentous issues of sin and repentance in our own hearts and the urgent need to get right with God through his merciful provision of forgiveness in Christ, so that a worse fate than death will not overtake us.

13. Remember that even those who trust in Christ may be cut down like these thousands who were in New York and Washington, but that does not mean they have been abandoned by God or not loved by God even in those agonizing hours of suffering. God's love conquers even through calamity.

14. Mingle heart-wrenching weeping with unbreakable confidence in the goodness and sovereignty of God who rules over and through the sin and the plans of rebellious people.

15. Trust God for his ability to do the humanly impossible, and bring you through this nightmare and, in some inscrutable way, bring good out of it.

16. Explain, when the time is right, and they have the wherewithal to think clearly that one of the mysteries of God's greatness is that he ordains that some things come to pass which he forbids and disapproves of.

17. Express your personal cherishing of the sovereignty of God as the ground of all your hope as you face the human impossibilities of life. The very fulfillment of the New Covenant promises of our salvation and preservation hang on God's sovereignty over rebellious human wills.

18. Count God your only lasting treasure, because he is the only sure and stable thing in the universe.

19. Remind everyone that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

20. Pray that God would incline their hearts to his word, open their eyes to his wonders, unite their hearts to fear him, and satisfy them with his love.

21. At the right time sound the trumpet that all this good news is meant by God to free us for radical, sacrificial service for the salvation of men and the glory of Christ. Help them see that one message of all this misery is to show us that life is short and fragile and followed by eternity, and small, man-centered ambitions are tragic.

[HT: GCX, DGblog]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

If No One Hears

Yesterday, I read a very interesting article in the Washington Post about Joshua Bell, who is an internationally acclaimed violin virtuoso. By "acclaimed," I mean he is indisputably one of the best classical musicians in the world. This year, he was the recipient of the Avery Fischer prize as the best classical musician in the U.S. (an award so prestigious, apparently, that one has not been awarded in three years.) This guy earns roughly $1000 a minute playing packed-out concert halls. He is just that good.

Back in January, the Post arranged for Bell to play during the busy morning at the L'Enfant Plaza stop on the D.C. Metro "as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?" Bell donned jeans and a baseball cap, put a couple dollar bills in the violin case at his feet and played for about an hour as commuters went their busy ways.

Playing his $3.5million violin (handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari himself), Bell played classic masterpieces "that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls." Of the nearly 1,100 people who passed him as he played that hour, a few stopped to listen for a bit, twenty tossed some change his way, but most were so wrapped in up their commute they ignored him completely (I'm sure I would have done the same - talk about pearls before swine...) Interestingly enough, only one person out of over a thousand recognized him.

The article itself is fascinating - but equally interesting was Off The Wire's insight that this is "An Exquisite Picture of the Gospel." Bell was playing next to vending machines where folks would line up to buy lottery tickets, even during their busy commutes. Wireman observes:

As the article says, lotto tickets are hot items in the metro area. People spending their money on a chance to win a million or two, while a chance in a lifetime plays right before them. Hundreds of people walk by without even hearing a note. It is quite astounding.

One person recognized him and knew the worth of what she was hearing. One.

Friday, April 06, 2007

On Suffering

"It is a strange and terrible perversion of the gospel to say that since Jesus suffered for me, therefore I don't have to suffer—I can be comfortable and prosperous. The stumbling block of the cross is removed if we say he became homeless that I might have the finest of houses. He was rejected by men that I might be admired among men. He lived in poverty that I might live in luxury. He endured suffering that I might enjoy ease. Jesus taught just the opposite: "If any man would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me." If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21)." - From Into Thy Hands I Commit My Spirit, a Good Friday meditation by John Piper.