first reports on Desiring God conference

the first reports are trickling in about the Desiring God fall conference on the power of words.

Mark Driscoll just completed his session entitled: How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words.

It was one of the best messages I have ever heard, and one that needs to continue to be spoken. Driscoll was assigned the very difficult task of discussing the use of harsh, offense, and controversial language in the Christian church. “I have never been more troubled by a message then this one” – Driscoll

I do not expect to do what was spoken justice here in this post, but I will do my best.

He then proceeds to do so. It sounds like a good talk.

here is the page where audio and video are being posted. I have downloaded the Driscoll talk and will listen to it this evening and/or tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: more here.

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Ligonier West Coast Conference

Outlines of various talks given at the Ligonier West Coast Conference are posted on the Ligonier Ministries blog. As you would expect, there is some challenging and excellent material being presented.

The one on Postmodernism by Ligon Duncan caught my eye.

Here are the three reasons Ligon gives for a Christian to “be informed” about post-modernism:

1. It is pervasive in our culture today. We need to know what is out there.
2. If someone truly embraces the tenants of postmodernism, it makes it more difficult to hear the claims of Christ that are being addressed in the gospel. For believers that dabble in the ethos of postmodernism, it weakens their discipleship at critical points.
3. Many church leaders today believe that in order to speak into a postmodern milieu, the church needs to itself embrace aspects of postmodernism.

and here are the ways that Ligon believes postmodernism affects Christianity if it were embraced by the church:

1. Would assert that all religions boil down to the same thing (since we cannot make absolute truth claims, all theologies must be alike).
2. All truths are relative. [Many young people are reluctant to believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation for everyone.]

[See Chris Chrisman Goes to College by James Sire — excellent book which explores how today’s college students are faced with postmodernism in college, both in the classroom and in their relationships.]

3. All religious systems followed sincerely will lead to the same end.
4. No religious assertions can claim to be absolutely true. All are subject to revision.
5 . Making truth claims are about attempts to impose our assertions are others.
6. Religious truths are important only in so far as they help everyone to live in harmony. If you hold some idea to be true that preferentially favors one group over others, watch out. For example, if you think that homosexuality is immoral, that is divisive and unhelpful.

Molly’s surgery

here is a link to Steve McCoy’s updates regarding his lovely wife Molly’s surgery. It sounds like everything has gone well so far.

excellent Newbigin quote

Todd Hiestand has an excellent quote from Newbigin up this morning.

Here is the second half, but be sure to go read the first half too.

And we can also see that wherever the missionary character of the doctrine of election is forgotten; wherever it is forgotten that we are chosen in order to be sent; wherever the minds of believers are concerned more to probe backwards from their election into the reasons for it in the secret counsel of God than to press forward from their election to the purpose of it, which is that they should be Christ’s ambassadors and witnesses to the ends of the earth; wherever men think that the purpose of election is their own salvation rather than the salvation of the world; then God’s people have betrayed their trust.”

morning sun

messing around this morning.
welcome to the day
morning grass in autumn105mm sunstarI love taking pictures.

on doubt

Here is a post from C.J. Mahaney talking about Os Guiness and his book In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt and How to Resolve It (IVP, 1976). This book is now sold as God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt.

as I have said before, Mark 9:24 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it so accurately captures faith as I experience it.

I agree with Mr. Guiness that anyone who has ever believed anything has experienced doubts. Doubts have to be named and faced. Doubt only becomes destructive if it is swept into a closet for dealing with later.

As quoted by C.J. Mahaney, here is a clip from the first chapter of Os Guiness’ book on the proper role of doubt in a believer’s life.

“Christianity places a premium on the absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness of God, so understanding doubt is extremely important to a Christian. Of course, faith is much more than the absence of doubt, but to understand doubt is to have a key to a quiet heart and a quiet mind. Anyone who believes anything will automatically know something about doubt. But the person who knows why he believes is also in a position to discover why he doubts. The Christian should be such a person.

Not only does a Christian believe, he is a person who ‘thinks in believing and believes in thinking,’ as Augustine expressed it. The world of Christian faith is not a fairy-tale, make-believe world, question-free and problem-proof, but a world where doubt is never far from faith’s shoulder.

Consequently, a healthy understanding of doubt should go hand in hand with a healthy understanding of faith. We ourselves are called in question if we have no answer to doubt. If we constantly doubt what we believe and always believe-yet-doubt, we will be in danger of undermining our personal integrity, if not our stability. But if ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger still. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more deeply.” (pp. 15-16).

here is the way that I put it in an email last fall.

I would say that as I have gotten older I have experienced a change myself in how I view and experience God. I have become less and less sure of some things and more and more sure of others as I have grown older.

I am much less sure of many of the specific doctrinal things about which I used to be certain. I am much more certain of the reality of a personal, living, loving, relational God because I have experienced the wonderful joy and privilege of spending time with Him getting to know Him and letting Him get to know me.

Based on my experience, I can confidently assert that God is real and that He loves you right where you are in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

Recently I read the book Blue Like Jazz. [] You should definitely get a copy and read it. It is like no other book I have ever read. Donald Miller says the following on page 51:

            “The goofy thing about Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real.

            Until.
           
            When one of my friends becomes a Christian, which happens about once every ten years because I am such a sheep about sharing my faith, the experience is euphoric. I see in their eyes the trueness of the story.” (emphasis added)

I know exactly what Don means in that quote. The only thing I would add is that when I spend time with my God, my Savior and my Father in Heaven, the experience is euphoric. To be known completely and yet still completely loved is liberating. I personally feel the trueness of the story.

hat tip to Challies for the link to C.J. Mahaney.

fireproof

Julie and I and some friends of ours went to see this movie last night. It was really good. Not in the usual way. There wasn’t any great acting accomplishment and the script was kind of wooden. But the story was absolutely true to life. The review I link above explains the attraction of the movie this way:

What they [the movie’s makers] do want is for their earnest project to turn your marriage upside down.

You might notice that some of the lines in Fireproof feel a little wooden. And you might notice that the script indulges more dialogue (most of it spiritual) than you’re used to hearing in movies about firemen. But the honest truth is that you don’t really care by the time the credits roll, because you’re too busy feeling your own feelings and thinking your own thoughts about your own relationships. This is the kind of movie that succeeds, sometimes despite itself, because it does a superlative job of digging into serious issues that so deeply affect so many of us every day.

so many couples have so much pain in their daily lives together that can be avoided if they just surrender their selfishness at the door and follow God’s plan for marriage as I tried to outline it here.

I especially liked the way the movie made it very clear that each spouse’s obligation to obey God with regard to their mate is independent of the other mate’s actions. In other words, the husband needed to learn to love his wife regardless of whether she respected him (and she very much didn’t).

Most importantly, the film made it clear that the basis for love in a marriage and the only way that a truly loving marriage is even possible is if the spouses experience true love in Christ. The selfless sacrificial love that He exhibited and gives to us is our example as we try to love one another.

Anyway, go see the movie with your spouse. Here are some related resources for further exploration afterward.