Sunday, May 30, 2010


"Trials can come in many forms: nagging health problems, financial reverses, criticism and rejection, outright persecution. Whatever form the trial takes and however severe it may be, it is intended to strengthen our character. Weight lifters and other athletes have a saying: “No pain, no gain.” The message is plain. Weight lifters know they have to endure the agony of lifting more than their muscles can comfortably handle if they want to increase their strength. So it is with our faith. Our faith and perseverance grow only under the pain of trial." Jerry Bridges in The Fruitful Life

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life

(Thomas Nelson Bloggers Book Review)
I like meaningful quotations. Call them “sentence sermons,” “pithy sayings,” or aphorisms, but they tend to compress an important truth into a memorable proverb. If you like quotations, then Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life will be a welcome addition to your collection. Edited by Bryan Curtis, this collection is narrow in its focus: it concerns mainly bits of wisdom from people who are successful in various career fields. Entries may be found ranging from Thomas Watson, John Kenneth Galbraith, and President Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Katie Couric.

This volume is very readable. It has 165 pages, yet some of these pages contain only one quotation. Its compact size makes it easy to carry in a briefcase or handbag for reading on the go.

Although the entire book is focused on the professional life, it would have been helpful to have the quotations catalogued in some more narrowly focused topical order. I also found the range of the quotations to be curious. Indeed, people like Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, and Bill Gates are people to hear in the context of success in the professional life. Others like Reba McEntire, Alice Cooper, and Arnold Schwarzenegger do not compare in the same league. It appears that Curtis has confused popularity with success.

This book would make a good gift book for a graduate or for someone who has recently been promoted. There are some very good statements in the book. There is also a lot of filler.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

James Montgomery Boice on "The Centrality of the Cross"

...if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. ...Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father (Rom 4:25); and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the 'one mediator' (1 Tim. 2:5-6), who gave himself for us.

Finally, just as there can be no gospel without the atonement as the reason for the Incarnation, so also there can be no Christian life without it. Without the atonement the Incarnation theme easily becomes a kind of deification of the human and leads to arrogance and self advancement. With the atonement the true message of the life of Christ, and therefore also of the life of the Christian man or woman, is humility and self sacrifice for the obvious needs of others. The Christian life is not indifference to those who are hungry or sick or suffering from some other lack. It is not contentment with our own abundance, neither the abundance of middle class living with home and cars and clothes and vacations, nor the abundance of education or even the spiritual abundance of good churches, Bibles, Bible teaching or Christian friends and acquaintances. Rather, it is the awareness that others lack these things and that we must therefore sacrifice many of our own interests in order to identify with them and thus bring them increasingly into the abundance we enjoy...We will live for Christ fully only when we are willing to be impoverished, if necessary, in order that others might be helped.'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coming Soon...

Bob Kauflin of Worship Matters provides a satirical video lampooning how some churches approach worship. I am absolutely sure that there is ample fodder for satire from the opposite side of the spectrum. His follow up points are well stated. Particularly insightful is the quote from D.A. Carson:

If the church is being built with large portions of charm, personality, easy oratory, positive thinking, managerial skills, powerful and emotional experiences, and people smarts, but without the repeated, passionate, Spirit-anointed proclamation of “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” we may be winning more adherents than converts…Do not think that you can adopt the philosophies and values of the world as if such choices do not have a profoundly detrimental impact on the church. Do not think you can get away with it. Do not kid yourself that you are with it, and avant-garde Christian, when in fact you are leaving the gospel behind and doing damage to God’s church. (p. 80, 84)