Taking a Break from the Blog

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Because I will be packing up and moving in the next couple weeks (I’ve accepted a call to be Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Sarver, PA.  See pic), this will be my last post until sometime in August.  Hope you enjoy!

“A man can with confidence boast in Christ and say: ‘Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did…’  Everything which Christ has is ours, graciously bestowed on us unworthy men out of God’s sheer mercy, although we have rather deserved wrath and condemnation, and hell also…  Through faith in Christ… [his] righteousness becomes our righteousness and all that he has become ours; rather, he himself becomes ours…  This is an infinite righteousness, and one that swallows up all sins in a moment, for it is impossible that sin should exist in Christ.”

Martin Luther “Two Kinds of Righteousness

Take a Load off Pastors

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

-Romans 1:16

Pastors, let’s take a moment to collectively remember that it’s the gospel (the story of God’s one-way love) that is the power of God for salvation not our visions, strategies, sermons, relevance, voices, influence, counseling, hype, blogs, tweets, websites, dynamic worship services, illustrations, CEO leadership, numbers, outreach, in-reach, programs, missions, impact, success, music, counsels, meetings, vision casting, politics, impact, presentations, strength, morality, visibility, looks, testimonies, wish-dreams, theology, brains, missional-ness, buildings, family, or whatever other million things we put our hope in other than what Jesus has already done.  Breathe, take a load off.  God is doing the heavy lifting here.

Tullian Tchividjian on Contemporary Preaching

“Preachers these days are expected to major in “Christian moral renovation.”  They are expected to provide a practical to-do list, rather than announce, ‘It is finished.’  They are expected to do something other than, more than, placarding before their congregation’s eyes Christ’s finished work, preaching  a full absolution solely on the basis of the complete righteousness of Another.  The irony is, of course, that when preachers cave in to this pressure, moral renovation does not happen.  The focus on how I’m doing, more than on what Christ has done, is Christian narcissism–the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our livesContinue reading

Keller on Idolatry and Gospel Preaching

“So if the root of every sin is idolatry, and idolatry is a failure to look to Jesus for our salvation and justification, then the root of every sin is a failure to believe the gospel message that Jesus, and Jesus alone, is our justification, righteousness, and redemption…

Our failures in actual righteousness… generally come from a failure to rejoice in our legal righteousness in Christ.  Our failures in sanctification come mainly from a lack of orientation to our justification.  We will never change unless we come to grips with the particular, characteristic ways our hearts resist the gospel and continue their self-salvation projects through idolatry. Continue reading

Gene Veith on Preaching

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“Whether preaching the need to conform to society, reform it, or separate from it, all these options are theologies of the Law, not Gospel.  They reduce Christianity to rules, behavior, and codes of conduct–neglecting the fact that human beings are in such bondage to sin that they cannot fulfill the Law.  More profoundly, they neglect the fact that Christianity is about God’s grace, the atonement of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins.  Put another way, in their ambitious kingdom-building, they exhibit the theology of glory, rather than the theology of the cross.”

Gene Edward Veith, Jr.  “The Spirituality of the Cross

David Crowder Nails It (well mostly…)

I have to admit up front that I have a complicated relationship with Mr. Crowder.  On the one end of the spectrum, Crowder can make music that’s so honest and inspired that it brings the most hardened Christian to tears.  On the other end of the spectrum, some of his songs are so full of a sugary bubblegum like substance that you’re left nauseous upon listening to them (personal opinion of course).

Such is Crowder’s first solo-album “Neon Steeple.”  Amazing songs sprinkled a midst a folktronic mess.  This said, those gems are the reason I will continue to purchase his albums until he’s old and gray (and hopefully has put away his “beat-making” software). Continue reading

Rock Bottom with Gerhard Forde

“Theologians of the cross… operate on the assumption that there must be–to use the language of treatment for addicts–a ‘bottoming out’ or an ‘intervention.’  That is to say, there is no cure for the addict on his own.  In theological terms, we must come to confess that we are addicted to sin, addicted to self, whatever form that may take, pious or impious.  So theologians of the cross know that we can’t be helped by optimistic appeals to glory, strength, wisdom, positive thinking, and so forth because those things are themselves the problem…  The cross does the ‘bottoming out.’  The cross does the ‘intervention.’  The addict/sinner is not coddled by false optimism but is put to death so that a new life can begin.”

Gerhard Forde “On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518

Martin Luther “Heidelberg Disputation