Category Archives: article

When should a girl let a boy kiss her?

The San Jose News answers this question in the below 1930 advice column.

I am going to be the worst dad ever.
Source: (QuestionableAdvice)


When telling the truth costs half a million dollars.

Brian Davis told the truth. He knew that no one probably would know the difference but he told the truth anyway.  He committed a penalty while competing for first place in the Verizon Heritage tournament this past weekend.  No one saw it. But he knew he did it so he told the judges and it cost him a two stroke penalty and a likely first place finish in the tournament. The difference between first and second place is about $500,000.00.  That is impressive.

(Granted, if the penalty for telling the truth is ONLY getting half a million dollars in one weekend, he shouldn’t be applying for sainthood just yet.)

Read the whole story.

Misguided Christian Outrage

While I usually hate reposting an entire post, this one was worth it.

I’ve been asked several times in the last couple of days about whether I’m upset about the new remix of “We Are the World.”
The Christians contacting me about this are disturbed by what they see as a startling omission from the ’80s-era song in its 21st century update, performed by artists in support of Haiti relief. Willie Nelson’s line “As God has shown us by turning stone to bread…” is gone. These Christians are outraged, and they wonder if I am too.
Well, yes, I am outraged. Willie Nelson should have been invited to participate. He’s still every bit as talented as he was in 1985, and if Nick Jonas can be invited, then certainly Willie should’ve been too.

Oh wait.
That’s not what these folks are outraged about. They’re afraid this is indicative of the secularization of American pop culture, and that there should be a Christian backlash.
But wait, again.
God didn’t turn stones into bread. 

It was Satan, not God, who suggested our Lord Jesus turn rocks into bread (Matt. 4:3-4). God sends bread down from heaven (Exod. 16), a Manna he ultimately gives to us in the body of Jesus (Jn. 6), signified in the communion meal (1 Cor. 11).

Misguided Christian Outrage

These Christians mean well. They don’t want to see the gospel disrespected. But there’s something parabolic here, I think. It’s the same sort of thing we see when Stephen Colbert interviews a U.S. Congressman who wants to legislate the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses but can’t name them. We’d almost rather have the affirmation than the revelation.
Why are we so desperate to see “God” affirmed by the outside culture, even when the “God” they’re talking about more closely resembles Zeus (or, as in this case, Lucifer) than Yahweh? When we reach this point of perpetual outrage, are we closer to identity politics than gospel proclamation? I’m afraid so.
Could it be that the problem is we really want the reassurance that we’re “normal”? We’d like a shout-out in our pop culture and our political speeches to signify that we’re acceptable, that Christianity isn’t really all that freakish. But, if that happens, apart from submission to the Cross, is it really Christianity anymore (Jas. 4:4)?

Preaching vs. Product Placement

What if, instead, we loved the world the way God does (Jn. 3:16), and not the way the satanic powers ask us to? What if we loved the world through verbal proclamation and self-sacrificial giving, not by seeking product placement for the Trinity? Rather than expecting our politicians and musicians and actors to placate us with platitudes to some generic god, let’s work with them where we can on “doing good to all people” (Gal. 6:10). Let’s proclaim the God of a crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus. And let’s teach our kids and our converts the actual content of the biblical revelation.
That project is more difficult than signing Facebook petitions. But it’s more Christian than pouting when our culture mavens misspell “Elohim” on the golden calves we’ve asked them to make for us.

Reposted from

Helpful Outline of a Difficult Book

This excerpt is from a post by Bob Thune:

In preaching through the book of Colossians at my church, we have come to Colossians 3:5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” Precious little is written or taught these days on how to put sin to death. But thankfully, our forebears spent some ink on this issue—the most notable work being John Owen’s marvelous treatise On the Mortification of Sin.
Even the most educated scholars find Owen’s writing style to be dense. J.I. Packer states that Owen is “heavy and hard to read;” and an earlier biographer observed that Owens “travels through (his subject) with an elephant’s grace.” I pray that some of the more daring will read Owen’s work firsthand, because despite its cumbersome nature, it is some of the finest theological writing in the English language. But for those who don’t wish to do so, I am posting below my summary outline of Owen’s treatise. This outline was organized for preaching, so it is not exactly correlative to Owen’s layout. However, it does preserve the general logical flow of the original.

To read the full post and read the outline of this puritan classic, click here.

Internet Usage and Depression

After a recent article describing a study claiming a relationship between depression and internet usage, Dr. Pam Spurr related her observations of one of her patients.

The study found “the longer people spent on websites, the more unhappy they were.Those worst affected are both depressed and addicted, possibly because they are substituting the net for normal social activities.”

Look at the doctor’s observations:

So, when I saw the Daily Mail report last week on new research linking addictive internet use with depression, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised.

The study found that spending too long online can expose a ‘dark side’. Those who didn’t previously suffer from depression were made to feel gloomy and vulnerable, and those who did often logged off feeling worse.

Sadly, it confirmed a growing trend I’ve witnessed first-hand over the past ten years in my work as a life coach and agony aunt.

Because, in line with this research from the University of Leeds, I too have discovered that people slip into the murky realms of ‘chasing’ after a life – of sorts – by surfing the internet for longer and longer periods until it dominates their moods, behaviour and life.

There appears to be a direct relationship between spending more time online and feeling less happy about life, as well as an increased risk of addiction to the internet.

Let’s be honest, though, when most of us think of the stereotypical sad and lonely person who gets addicted to surfing the net, we think of a geeky man who probably doesn’t have refined social skills or a high ‘desirability’ rating…

It soon became obvious to me that [Anna, my patient] was spending too much time on the internet. She confessed that the more time she spent on social networking sites, the stronger her desire grew to keep up with how everyone else was spending their time.

With complete honesty, she said it seemed a darned sight more interesting and fun than what she was up to.

The irony was that she wasn’t contacting these people but, instead, compulsively following them. Anna said she hadn’t wanted go out with friends because she feared she’d bore them by droning on about her break-up.

Unfortunately, by isolating herself, she compounded the root of the problem, further damaging her fragile self-confidence.

The further irony is that you can never trust the way people depict their social lives on such sites.
Yet someone vulnerable like Anna will fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

 I’m glad you are reading this on the internet and not me.

Great Thoughts from Martin Lloyd Jones (via my big sis)

My sister recently quoted MLJ in her blog.  I love his conciseness in both the following quotes.

“Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings.
Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central.”

” Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you
are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself. 
Sometimes my self-awareness leads to incredible selfishness. My responses ooze from wounded pride.  Bitterness ferments in violations of my self-proclaimed rights.  Anger, depression and discontentment loom like storm clouds over the egocentric paranoia of my often-too-tiny world.    

But close observation of Jesus’ example of sacrifice, service and suffering sets me free.  Forgiveness and gratefulness are divine tools of repair for my despairing heart. 
Try not to think about your feelings. They are rarely truth and often wrestle the joy that is easily within your grasp.

What is "Missional"?

“The word “missional” is kind of the “in” word today. And a church that is missional tends to be a church where everything is thought about in terms of making an impact on people around the church who are not Christians. You design everything to think that way. And I think that is a good thing.”

John Piper — here.

What is Contextualization

The Principle of Contextualization (Acts 16:1-5) This is the third crucial principle of ministry for the 21st (and the 1st!) century.
1. What does contextualization mean? To use this word could get me into a mine-field. Contextualization can, unfortunately, be used to mean that one’s interpretation of Scripture is as valid as any other. Or, it could mean that every interpretive community has a perspective that helps us see aspects of God’s self-disclosure that other communities cannot in themselves see or hear. That’s better. But as a practitioner of ministry, I see contextualization is adapting my communication of the gospel without changing its essential character.

2. Examples in Acts: Acts 13:16ff and Acts 14:14-17. Examples of how Paul adapts to new cultures abound in Acts. They are literally everywhere. Even Jay Adams, fairly rock-ribbed conservative in everyway, wrote a book Audience Adaptations in the Sermons and Speeches of Paul. In Acts 13 we see Paul sharing the gospel in a synagogue to those who believed in the God of the Bible, and in Acts 14 we see him sharing the gospel to a pagan, blue-collar crowd. The differences and similarities are striking. a) His citation of authority is very different. In the first case he quotes Scripture and John the Baptist. In the second, he argues from general revelation–greatness of creation. b) They differ in emphasis of content. Hard to miss that with Jews and God-fearers he ignores doctrine of God and gets right to Christ; with pagans here and Acts 17, he labors the very concept of God. c) Finally, they differ in even the form of the final appeal–how to ‘close’ with Christ–is different. In Acts 13:39 Paul speaks of the law of God and says, essentially: “you think you are good, but you aren’t good enough! You need Christ to justify you.” But in 14 he tells them to turn from “worthless things”–idols–“to the living God” who he says is the real source of “joy”–he, not material things–is the real source. So he is saying, in effect: “you think you are free–but you are not! You are enslaved to dead idols.” d) Despite all these very profound differences– (1) Both audiences are told about a God who is both powerful yet good (13:16-22; 14:17), (2) in both he tells the hearers they are trying to save themselves in a wrong way (moral people by trying to obey the law 13:39 and pagans by giving themselves to idols and gods that cannot satisfy 14:15), and (3) both tell hearers not to turn to some scheme of performance, but that God has broken in to history now to accomplish our salvation. Even the speech of chapter 14, which was a spontaneous outburst, though it doesn’t mention Christ directly, still points to the fact that salvation is something accomplished by God for us in history, not something we do.
Acts 16:1-5. Another fascinating example of contextualization is Paul’s circumcision of Timothy so as not to offend those he was trying to reach. The juxtaposition can’t be accidental. Though Paul has just fought vehemently against mandatory circumcision for believers, he circumcised Timothy out of sensitivity to the culture of the people he was trying to evangelize (v.3) It is a remarkable case of discerning between abiding principle and cultural practice. If anyone would have felt circumcising was intrinsically a wrong thing for a believer to do, it would have been Paul–who just fought a crucial battle for the gospel itself. Yet immediately he shows the difference between abiding principle and cultural practice. He knows that while the gospel of grace is an absolute–the practice of circumcision is culturally relative.

3. There is no ‘non-contextualized’ Christianity. Jesus didn’t come to earth as a generalized being–by becoming human he had to become a particular human. He was male, Jewish, working-class. If he was to be human he had to become a socially and culturally-situated person. So the minute we begin to minister we must ‘incarnate’, even as Jesus did. Actual Christian practices must have both a Biblical form or shape as well as a cultural form or shape. For example, the Bible clearly directs us to use music to praise God–but as soon as we choose a music to use, we enter a culture. As soon as we choose a language, as soon as we choose a vocabulary, as soon as we choose a particular level of emotional expressiveness and intensity, as soon as we choose even an illustration as an example for a sermon–we are moving toward the social context of some people and away from the social context of others. At Pentecost, everyone heard the sermon in his or her own language and dialect. But since Pentecost, we can never be ‘all things to all people’ at the very same time. So adaptation to culture is inevitable.

This is not relativism! “No truth which human beings may articulate can ever be articulated in a culture-transcending way–but that does not mean that the truth thus articulated does not transcend culture.” (D.A.Carson) It is important to keep the balance of this statement! If you forget the first half you’ll think there is only one true way to communicate the gospel. If you forget the second half you’ll lose your grip on the fact that nonetheless there is only one true gospel. Either way you will be ineffective in ministry. Paul does not change the gospel–but he adapts it very heavily. Sure this opens the door to abuses, but to fear and refuse to adapt to culture opens to abuses of the gospel just as much! The balance is to not, on one hand succumb to relativism nor, on the other hand, think contextualization is really avoidable. Both are gospel-eroding errors.

More of this post by Timothy Keller at

Principles for Better Contextualization

Augustine implemented the great missiology he received from Gregory. That missiology, as Tim Tennent has pointed out, can be summarized with three words: Adaptation, Gradualism, and Exchange.

  • AdaptationAdopting a cultural form for Christian purposes. In Augustine’s case, he adopted heathen temples and turned them into church buildings. Gregory wrote to him: “Detach them from the service of the devil and adapt them for the worship of the true God.” Many Christian leaders and Christians would frown on using a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall for a church building because their conception of church is so narrowly conceived. Since my first day in Austin, I began praying that God would give us the abandoned male strip joint called La Bare for our church. We are currently meeting in a downtown theatre where we frequently pick up beer bottles off the floor before people arrive. The bathrooms are covered in graffiti and smell terrible, but the aroma of Christ fills the Hideout Theatre every week and is slowly changing that part of the city. Not only have we detached the theatre from less than admirable ends, we have also boosted sales in the adjoining coffee shop, ministered to the homeless outside, and adapted the space for the worship of the true God. Adaptation isn’t about being cool; it’s about adopting cultural forms, creating common cultural space for mission, and using these forms for Christ-honoring purposes.
  • GradualismImplementing Christian ideals slowly, recognizing that individuals are undergoing an entire worldview shift. Don’t expect radical holiness from your new converts. If they have embraced Christ but still smoke pot or occasionally drink too much, don’t beat them up for their behaviors. Instead, shepherd their hearts, lead them into the gospel, and allow their inner joy to transform their outer joys. Gregory wrote: “If we allow them these outward joys, then we are more likely to find their way to the true inner joy… It is doubtless impossible to cut off all abuses at once from rough hearts, just as a man who sets out to climb a high mountain does not advance by leaps and bounds, but goes upward step by step and pace by pace.” Allow for the gradual transformation of the gospel, especially in post-Christian contexts. What you think is normative holiness, probably isn’t the norm. It’s not about leaps and bounds, but steady advance in grace.
  • ExchangeCreating an entirely new cultural form in exchange for an existing idolatrous one. It is one thing to use pagan temples for church buildings, it is quite another to participate in pagan sacrifices. For example, if your people consistently go to happy hours to get wasted and have a social life, create a more God-honoring context for socializing. Gregory wrote: “People must learn to slay their cattle not in honour of the devil, but in honour of God and for their own food…”


Context is King

If we have learned anything from the history of missions, surely it is that God uses a variety of methods to bring in the lost sheep of his kingdom. Jesus himself attracted large crowds through preaching and feeding multitudes. Jesus told organic, mustard seed parables about the growth of the kingdom of God. He spent time with a few disciples and with crowds of thousands. What about the church? Consider the church beyond America. Small house churches are immensely effective in China, and large attractional churches are incredibly effective in South Korea, both reaching hundreds of thousands of people. It would seem that, when it comes to methods, context is king. Communist China calls for house churches; Christianized South Korea calls for big churches. This is a simplification, but the point remains that context is king—unless your contextualization compromises gospel integrity, in which case it is no longer contextualization but syncretism. But how do we discern between church methods that are syncretistic and methods that are contextualized? We must have a clear understanding of the gospel.

Perhaps we need to be debating the strength of the gospel that is being preached, taught, shared, and shown in our churches. Are we incarnating and attracting people to a diluted gospel or a strong gospel? Are we incarnating kitsch gospel or kerygmatic gospel? In the end, what are we calling people to? Is our gospel both missional and communal or inward and individualistic? If it’s the latter, then something is wrong with our gospel. What would happen if we stopped debating methods and started debating gospel—winsomely and charitably?

 From Jonathan Dodson at (My new favorite