Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Turning Shame into Joy

Jesus’ first miracle wasn’t just about wine—it was an act of purification from the Messiah, one that saved people from generations of sin and shame.

All of us have things in our lives we aren’t proud of.

These are things that maybe you’ve done or have been done to you. Your parents’ marriage may have fallen apart, and you find yourself still feeling the effects. It may be your marriage wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It might be a sin or addiction that you are ashamed of, something that you wish you could stop. The kind of thing that after doing it, you feel dirty like you need to take a shower. Only, there isn’t really anything you can do to feel clean.

It wasn’t until working on a sermon on John 2 that I began to see the significance of Jesus’ first miracle. A miracle that, according to Tim Keller, can be seen as simply fixing a social oversight, but has so much more going on:

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. –John 2:3–11

During this time, marriage was an enormous event. The entire town would be invited and the celebration would last for up to a week. This was not simply about the couple, but was a sign of the strength of the town and community.

For the wine to run out was not a simple party oversight. This would be seen as an insult to the town and the guests. The ramifications of this happening could be felt for decades to come in terms of standing in the community, business dealings, and overall appearance. The shame heaped upon this family would be no small thing. In the same way, the shame in our lives that we carry around often comes from things in our families past. We feel the effects of an abusive grandfather we have never met or an alcoholic grandmother who is whispered about.

But Jesus didn’t just change water into wine to save this family from embarrassment and shame.

SWEETEST PURIFICATION

You see, for the Jewish people, weddings were a sign of the Messiah. Weddings were a picture of his coming, of what heaven would be like. There were also prophecies in Joel, Hosea, and Amos indicating that wine would flow freely over a barren, dry land from the Messiah (Joel 2:243:18Hosea 14:7Amos 9:3). This imagery would not be lost on the Jews who saw this miracle.

John also points out that Jesus had them fill up purification jars. This was not what they normally used for wine, as these were the jars the Jews used to cleanse themselves to worship God, to enter the temple, to purify them. Jesus, at a wedding, which is a picture of the Messiah coming, with wine. Using purification jars that are used to make one right with God, turning guilt and shame into joy.

Later in the Gospels, Jesus will bring his disciples together for a Passover meal, hold up wine and declare it to be his blood (Matt. 26:28). Then, in Revelation 21, John tells us that when Jesus returns, it will be as a bridegroom at a wedding (Rev. 21:2).

PERSONAL JESUS

It is easy for us to miss all this without the history and picture. But, we do another thing that hinders our joy. When we read in the Gospel and Epistles of John about God loving the world or Jesus taking away the sins of the world, we picture “the world,” a globe filled with people. We don’t picture ourselves.

This past Easter at my church, we had a huge cross in a service where we wrote down specific sins that Jesus died for. It was quite an experience listing sins that Jesus has forgiven me of, that Jesus died for. It was a great picture for me to see, Jesus turned my shame into joy through his death and resurrection.

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Sunday Afternoon Mind Dump…

  • Last night was simply awesome at Revolution
  • We had 1 service last night because we did a BBQ & Baptism afterward
  • We set up every chair and it was packed
  • It is unbelievable to me what God has done in 3 years at Revolution
  • I told some leaders last night that I can remember when the whole church could fit in our living room before we launched
  • I’m not sure what we will do in October when we have 1 service when Jeff Vanderstelt come and speak
  • Standing room and sitting on the floor I guess
  • I love baptisms, it was so cool hearing the stories of lives being changed
  • And it was awesome seeing leaders, other pastors and parents baptize people
  • Love that our church allows those who lead someone to Jesus to baptize them, such a cool connection
  • One thing I’ve grown to love about our community is that we know how to cook, the food is always amazing
  • I’ve been asked by a few people about the next chapter of Revolution and some of the hints we’ve been dropping
  • We’re going to have a vision casting night in a few weeks to lay out what is ahead
  • Stay tuned for details
  • If you’re curious about what I’m talking about and have missed the hints, go here, here and here
  • Last night I got to preach through the book of Hosea, what an unbelievable story about God and his love and pursuit of us
  • If you missed it, you can go here and click on the sermon title for Hosea
  • The band did this song right before I preached last night and it nailed the topic so well
  • Love when that happens
  • This week, I’m going to check out a possible Sunday morning site for our church
  • We’ll see, would appreciate your prayers as we try to figure out how to launch 1-2 sites in 2012
  • I love the idea of having Revolution’s all over Tucson
  • That’s all for now
  • So grateful for what God is doing at Revolution and how he is moving in the lives of those our community is coming into contact with
  • I’m going back to reading and then a pool party with some Revolutionaries later
  • You seriously don’t want to miss Revolution next week as we are back to 2 services: 4:15 & 6pm and we continue our series The Story of God by looking at the book of Ezekiel and how people change
  • Many people want to change, but don’t, why do some change and others don’t?
  • Those are some of the questions we’ll look at
  • Til then…

This Weekend @ Revolution: How Far Does God Love Go?

Many people have a view of God that is inaccurate. They see him as a mean, wrathful judge in the sky. While Scripture is clear that God is a God of wrath, Scripture is also clear about the extent of God’s love. I will often talk to people who will say something like, “God could never forgive me for this or that in my life” as if there is a limit to the grace that God gives.

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the one that we are going to look at on Saturday as we continue our series The Story of God, the book of Hosea. It is a story unlike any other. It is a story of marriage, adultery, sin, grace. It answers the question “Is there a sin that God won’t forgive? Can I do something to not get the grace of God? Can I be too dirty for God?”

The answer might surprise you.

I am also excited because we are doing just 1 service this week at 4:15 followed by a picnic and baptism. It is going to be a great night of celebrating what God is doing at Revolution and playing together.

We will have inflatables for the kids. Revolution will also be providing the meat, condiments, plates, etc. But we need you to bring something to share based on what your last name starts with: A – K bring sides, L – R bring desserts, and S – Z bring drinks.

If you have not taken the step to get baptized, please email Chuck Tommervik and let me him know. We’d love for you to be a part of it.

So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy way to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.

It promises to be a powerful night.

Remember, we meet at 4:15 (only this week) at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

Sunday Night Mind Dump…

  • Such a nice feeling right now
  • Katie and I got to spend the week away from our kids in beautiful Vail, CO with over 200 Acts 29 lead pastor’s and their wives
  • It was awesome
  • Love connecting with leaders from all over the world
  • And more importantly, getting away with my wife
  • If you don’t get away without kids at least once a year with your spouse, you need to start
  • So worth it
  • Last night was an odd night for us
  • We didn’t attend Revolution
  • The elders are very generous by giving me 4 Saturday’s a year where I am expected to take a break from Revolution, so last night was one of them
  • Heard great things about the message our new Pastor of Community & Care, Mike Miller gave
  • Can’t wait to hear it
  • So excited about this coming Saturday and our one gathering @ 4:15 followed by a picnic and baptism
  • I’ll be preaching on one of the greatest stories in the Old Testament, the book of Hosea
  • Many of you have been asking about the next chapter in the life of Revolution as I’ve been dropping hints for the last few months
  • In a few weeks, we will have a special vision casting night in the middle of the week to share what it ahead for our church and how we will get there and what the Spirit is telling us as leaders and how you can be a part of that
  • Stay tuned for details
  • Just confirmed this week that Jeff Vanderstelt from Soma Communities will be with us to preach on October 22nd
  • So excited about my friendship with Jeff and our potential partnership with Soma in the future
  • I believe God will do some big things in Tucson because of this
  • Read a great summer book while I was away last week, Moneyball, perfect book for summer
  • I’m heading back to relaxing in the heat

Acts 29 Boot Camp: Theology & the Surge (Wayne Grudem)

The second session of the Acts 29 boot camp in Phoenix was with Wayne Grudem and his talk was “Theology and the Surge.” The theme Surge is about moving the gospel into the city. You can follow updates from the boot camp here.

He focused on 2 verses, one in the Old Testament (Hosea 4:6) that shows why theology is important and one in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14) that shows how you teach theology in your church.

Here is some thoughts from his talk:

  • Hosea 4:6 shows us why theology matters. There is no knowledge in the land, they lack knowledge of God.
  • If you think that God created the world and will one day judge each person, then you will seek to live by his laws
  • If you think that God is eternally joyful and that God seeks your eternal good and joy in relationship with him, you will seek to know him better
  • Your only joy is running towards God, not running away from him
  • Theology changes life, regardless of what that theology is
  • The job of a pastor is to find faithful people, take what they know and entrust it to others, so they can teach it to others, that is how the gospel goes out
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14 shows how you teach and do theology in the local church
  • Be watchful for danger in the church
  • There will continually be attacks in the church in areas like the authority of the Bible, biblical standards of sexual conduct, faith is through grace and only through Jesus Christ, the idea of hell as the eternal conscious punishment, that men and women are equal but different, sexual relationships only within marriage, the idea of marriage
  • The attacks from the enemy are solely to destroy the church
  • In Acts 20:29 Paul warns the elders that attacks would come from outside of the church and from within the church
  • When attacks come be watchful so you can see them coming and stand firm in the faith (Acts 20:26 – 27)
  • Stand up and say what the Bible says and let God do the work, stand firm, teach it faithfully, even those things that will get you criticized or are unpopular
  • Men stand firm in their faith (1 Corinthians 16:13 – 14)
  • When you stand firm, do so in love
  • Sound doctrine alone with grow a church or guarantee a ministry that is pleasing to God

Book Recommendations for Dealing with Questions about Divorce and Remarriage

If tonight challenged you and you want some resources to check out, here you go:

God, Marriage & Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (Andreas Kostenberger)
This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (John Piper)
Divorce & Remarriage (An article by Mars Hill Church, this clearly communicates what tonight was about)

Vintage Jesus: How did People Know Jesus was Coming?

We started our series Vintage Jesus today. We talked about how people knew Jesus was coming. There are over 60 Old Testament prophecies concerning someone called the Messiah. We looked at 20 of those today and how Jesus fulfilled each one of those. Jesus actually fufilled all of them, but that would have taken longer to go through each one.

It was amazing to see the prophecies line up as I was writing this message. The messiah is someone who came through the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Judah (Genesis 12:3, 17:9, 49:10; Numbers 24:17). His mom would be a virgin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14). He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He would spend time in Egypt as a refugee (Hosea 11:1). He would commit no sins (Isaiah 53:9). He will go to the temple (Malachi 3:1), which is amazing because the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, so we have a deadline on when the Messiah will come. He would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5 – 6). He would be celebrated like a king, while riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9). He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12 – 13). He would be beaten, despised, rejected & he would not defend himself (Isaiah 50:3, 6, 53:7). He would be crucified through his hands and feet, even though crucifixion was not invented for another 300 years after this prophecy (Psalm 22:16). None of his bones would be broken (Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20). He would be forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1). He would be crucified with sinners (Isaiah 53:12), buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10 – 11). That after death, he would ascend to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, which is where he is today (Psalm 68:18, 110:1).

When you boil it all down, it is an incredibly detailed list. It is a short list of people who even come close to filling the list, let alone fulfilling everything on the list. And Jesus fulfilled them all.

As I was writing this week, I was struck by how involved God is in history. How much a part of the unfolding of the story of creation He is and how a part of our story He is. The power that he has for these to be true is incredible.

I think this was a great way to start off a new series, especially as we head into the holiday season.

Books to check out:
Vintage Jesus (Mark Driscoll)
The Case for Christmas (Lee Strobel)