“Christian piety is a sweet flame”

Here are a few quotes seen on Provocations and Pantings (all the quotes in his post are good, but these few stood out to me):

This one will make you think. It makes me wonder if we should re-think what it means to “belong to a denomination”.

If you can assume that merely showing up at church is a minimum indicator of spiritual life then it is not too much to conclude that over half of our denomination’s 16.3 million members are spiritually dead.

Tom Ascol

And, for an “amen x a million” moment:

Well Christian blogs should not be for self-promotion. It is disturbing that far too many Christian blogs are shamelessly pushing self and not seeing the potential for kingdom expansion via the blogosphere. Everything from personal agendas to personal stuff is being pushed. But here, as everywhere else, we must shape our interaction in the public square by humility.

Nor are blogs a place for covertly forgetting the Christian duty to be gentle. Far too many blogs are rude and full of vitriol. And all in the name of boldness for Christ! God forbid that Christian blogs be like such. As Jonathan Edwards—no wimp!—once said, Christian piety is a sweet flame.

Michael Haykin

Did I mention that D.A. Carson is a hoss?

“Most people go through life concerned that others will think too little of them. Paul was concerned that others would think too much of him.”

– D.A. Carson (via Naselli)

And this one, oddly enough, brightened my day 🙂

Tech researcher Gartner Inc. reported earlier this year that 200 million people have given up blogging, more than twice as many as are active.

Ted Olsen

The missing ingredient

Jared Wilson continues his glorious practice of taking nail, hitting with hammer:

The Missing Ingredient

I really think it may be joy.

I’m just speculating here.

When I weary of a doctrinal compatriot’s constant knocking of the Church to the extent that it essentially becomes their raison d’blog, I stop seeing “prophet” and start seeing “scrooge.” I see the pervasive unhappiness with the spiritual quality of fellow believers not as indication of the blogger’s properly calibrated prophetic barometer but as indication of their thinly veiled joylessness.

Remember: only God gets to vomit people out.

Read the whole thing.

Holding aloft the 3-cent candle of hope

I’ve got lots of post ideas. I just haven’t found the time (or the guts, frankly) to post them. But here are some thoughts and links while I while away my lunch hour.

Remember the old cliche’ “it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness”? My candle is not that bright and I feel sometimes that I’m walking through the inky-black darkness of the blogosphere holding aloft one of those little sparklers you find on a cupcake. But, doggone it, I’m going to grit my teeth and continue to do so. Yes, we need our Jeremiah’s, our weeping prophets. And, of course, all is not well, in our country or in our churches.

But sometimes I think people can’t see the light of hope for the darkness they’ve chosen to focus on.

Maybe I’m wrong. But, for those of us living in the western world at least, we live in an age of unparalleled material blessing and freedom. Even our poorest are rich by history’s standards. And, if that wasn’t un-PC enough to say, though the church in America is badly in need of reform, discipline, and a re-focusing, it is also full of some very, very fine Christians and some brave, stalwart pastors and leaders. And many churches are holding onto the truth, while simultaneously doing honorable work among our poor and dispossessed.

Am I whistling through a graveyard? The Bride is beautiful. And much maligned, even by those who are part of her.

There’s a balance to be achieved. I’m not speaking against Godly criticism of our church culture. I have recommended (and heck, I will again) Gospel-Driven Church as an example of how to do this right. The Internet Monk is also a site I highly recommend, though he is no stranger to dark nights of the soul and confessional blogging (and getting mercilessly slammed for both). Yet he tenaciously holds on to the truth, to orthodoxy, and hope.

So I’m reading this passage in a new way today. Do you see it too?:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:31-39

Also, apropos of (almost) nothing, check out this quote by J.D. Hatfield:

The New Testament is centered on Christ, and its exhortations on the holiness of believers. This is not a simple call to obedience, but to holiness. Holiness is not righteousness, righteousness flows from holiness. Holiness isn’t simply obedience; it is being set apart for God and depending on God by drawing your boundaries, as God would have them. Obedience flows from holiness, and holiness is cultivated by a right understanding of God and what He has done for us in Christ. To understand Christ more fully is to be made more holy in practice.

That’s something for me to chew on, definitely (HT Transforming Sermons).

Finally, from the aforementioned Gospel-Driven Church, It’s Not About Programming; It’s About Culture. The final few paragraphs are below:

It is wearying trying to sell our churches on the notion that what they’ve been selling for so long doesn’t work. It is difficult suggesting that the service-centered approach to reaching the lost has failed. It is a delicate thing to suggest that we have not exalted Christ and we have not glorified God and therefore we haven’t really served the people we’ve claimed to.

And yet for some of us inside this culture, slogging away at discipling the culture into a more vital discipleship, it is incumbent upon us to, in our hearts and minds, say “Here we stand. We can do no other.”

I rather like that, and I’m inspired by efforts to change the church that flow from sincere love and concern for the Bride and devotion to her Lord.

So I’m going to hold my candle aloft. And you can blow it out, but it’s the frustrating kind that bursts back into flame without having to be relit [Bill makes his “booyah” face].

And I’m also going to attempt to start policing what I read on the Blogosphere and who I link to in my Bloogroll.

It’s either that or Prozac . . .


Sorry for the long absence. Everything’s been very good, just busy.

A few quick notes:

What do you think of the new theme? It is a port of a WordPress theme called Red Train. I’ve been working on new Bloo themes lately. If you’re a Bloo blogger interested in spicing up your blog (or if you’re just interested in seeing the available themes), you should check out the Bloo Themes site.

Also – happy birthday Andrew!

And, finally, Jared suggests 11 church innovations:

1. Sing hymns.

2. Preach through a book of the Bible.

3. Talk about sin.

4. Celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently.

5. Have a Scripture reading in the service.

6. Transition creative content from aping popular commercials and other media to creating your own, wholly original content.

7. Read, study, and teach theology.

8. Put as much effort and resources into men’s ministry as you do women’s. On the flipside, pair up younger women with wise, older women in mentoring relationships with the same conviction you have about men being in accountability and mentoring partnerships.

9. Hire from within.

10. In promotional material, use actual photos of actual people in your community.

11. Preach the Gospel.

New to the Bloogroll

. . . Tales from Middle Earth, which is blog written by a church planter and humanitarian worker who has utilized the neat trick of referring to the places where he works by Middle Earth names.

And it’s just good writing and a neat Kingdom attitude. A taste:

I arrived in Edoras in Rohan in 1996. There were a couple of guys working there already. They had a big fight that Spring. I didn’t know much about it. There was some girl named Finuel who had accepted Jesus and wanted to follow Him as Lord and Saviour. The rub came in that her parents found out about it and refused to let her meet with any foreigner or study the Bible. Young Short Term guy said forget the parents meet in secret and teach her anyway. The Team Leader said no. Finuel’s defining characteristic was rebelion. If Jesus had made a difference in her life then we dare not encourage her to continue to be rebellious. I didn’t know her or what to think so I did something truly remarkable. I kept my mouth shut.

Young Short Term guy left after a few months. Spring turned into a blisteringly hot summer. 115 or so in the shade, and precious little of that. There was only one building in town that had air conditioning and it was a fancy hotel built by Southrons and then abandoned. The local authorities picked it up and it was a decent place to hang out. It was cool and quiet. I found a guy who worked there and we did language lessons a few times a week. Yes, in spite of all appearances I am not a complete fool.

One day as I was standing in the hotel lobby waiting for my friend to come in, a beautiful woman came up to me and started talking to me. I was concerned for two reasons. One we were in a hotel and a strange beautiful woman that I had never seen was suddenly talking to me. I was concerned what my friend would think if he walked up just then. Secondly, the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Do you ever feel that God has left you?’ Rohan is not like Gondor, where I live now. They are very hostile to any display of any faith. So, I said something insightful like, ‘I guess maybe.’ Then as she began to pour out her troubles I suddenly realized that this must be Finuel. I didn’t know her but since there were only four expatriot families in town (Edoras was around 600,000 folks) she could easily guess who I was. My brain kicked in then. I listened to the Holy Spirit. Spoke words of encouragement and even got to pray for her before my friend showed up. I saw her one time more before I left Rohan the next year.

So, what happened? Well, her parents were astounded at her transformation. She was obedient and respectful. After a year they allowed her to study the Word and meet with a few Christian women. Much later some in her family came to faith also. A house church was started. Another house church. Then she got married to a Christian man and they felt called to go to Mordor.

Read the rest. It’s good.

[Hat tip: Brian over at the BHT]

Getting Spammed

The spammers have discovered Bloo and spam is starting to trickle into my comments (and those of other alpha testers).

I wish the guy developing Bloo would hurry up and get his remote blacklist snapOn done. The lazy bum!

Oh wait, that’s me . . .