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Best Links of the Week

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The End of Church Planting?  Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title.  Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.

How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).

Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps.  The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf.  I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget.  If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them.  I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.

The Decline of the Nuclear Family.  Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.

Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)

Mortgage companies are still ‘robo-signing’

Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’

77 year old Congressman confronts gun wielding intruder

An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument

There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

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I wanted to re-post something that Chuck DeGroat wrote earlier this week on his blog, The New Exodus.  I think this is a pretty important discussion that needs to happen amongst the New Calvinism.  Reductionism is dangerous and it hurts people.  Legalism is dangerous and it enslaves people.

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

Maybe you’re like the many men and women who I’ve talked to.  Having been through Sonship (a fairly well-known discipleship program in conservative Reformed circles) or having digested the writings of Keller or Powlison or Tripp, your still struggling.  Or, maybe your version of “believing the Gospel” came from a preacher who told you that the answer to your lifetime of guilt was greater “Gospel depth” or deeper “Gospel transformation.”  And so, you searched high and low for that newer and better way, the Gospel way, only to try to believe better and repent better and be less guilty.  And that, too, didn’t amount to much.

Just recently, I was talking to yet another person whose digested all the writings and listened to all the sermons and read all the tweets, and ‘Gospel repenting and believing’ isn’t working.  He went through Sonship.  And each time he talked to his Gospel phone coach, he’d confess his latest idol.  “I’m justifying myself through my attempts to repent better, and repentance is now my idol.  So, I’m repenting of my repentance, but I’m still neck deep in feelings of guilt.  What’s wrong with me?”

“Gospel Tweeting” is the latest phenomenon.  The answer to all our problems is this:  Just believe the Gospel!  If it was that easy. This seems to me to be the newest quick fix, the most recent Christian cliche, and I’m growing weary of it.  I’ve counseled people who’ve done the full Sonship workout only to be more racked with guilt than ever.  They are repenting of their failed repenting and repenting of their failed attempt to confess their failed repenting.  They’re more twisted in guilt than ever.  And the ‘Gospel Twittersphere’ isn’t helping.

This is oversimplified Calvinism.  Period.  It doesn’t take the complexity of sin seriously enough, though it claims to in every way.  It doesn’t take it seriously because it oversimplifies the remedy, leaving troubled and struggling people feeling even worse.  Gospel counselors tell people that their troubles amount to a failure to believe the Gospel.  Freedom is available, we’re told.  Just repent and believe! Over and over, preachers are trying to boil this down to 140 characters on Twitter.  And I think it’s Gospel arrogance.

The problem is that we’re far more complex and psychologically broken that we’re often aware of.  It’s not just “unbelief” that bears down on us.  It’s a whole host of things – neural pathways grooved by years of living a certain way, a “divided heart” that thrives on its habitual polarities, weakness of will, and the extraordinary brokenness manifesting in the systems we inhabit, whether in our families or workplaces or churches.  And if I’m not being pessimistic enough, consider John Calvin’s words:

“But no one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength to press on with due eagerness, and weakness so weighs down the greater number that, with wavering and limping and even creeping along the ground, they move at a feeble rate. Let each one of us, then, proceed according to the measure of his puny capacity and set out upon the journey we have begun. No one shall set out so inauspiciously as not daily to make some headway, though it be slight. Therefore, let us not cease so to act that we may make some unceasing progress in the way of the Lord. And let us not despair at the slightness of our success; for even though attainment may not correspond to desire, when today outstrips yesterday the effort is not lost. Only let us look toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal; not fondly flattering ourselves, nor excusing our own evil deeds, but with continuous effort striving toward this end: that we may surpass ourselves in goodness until we attain to goodness itself. It is this, indeed, which through the whole course of life we seek and follow. But we shall attain it only when we have cast off the weakness of the body, and are received into full fellowship with him” (Institutes, 3.6.5 or pp. 1:689)

But the problem extends beyond understanding the complexity.  It’s the cure that is far more difficult.  Having counseled too many men and women who beat themselves up for not growing fast enough by repenting and believing, I’m convinced we do many people a disservice (and harm!) by oversimplifying both the problem and the cure.  Those fearful of modern psychology need to begin listening at this point, because what we’ve found is that growth and maturity isn’t found in a method or a discipline or a repentance exercise.  In fact, growth is harder, longer, more painful, and more puzzling than many of us care to admit.  People who we serve in the church would like microwavable strategies, but the fact is that growth and maturity isn’t microwavable.  It defies programs and methods.  It frustrates the most competent pastor or therapist or spiritual director.  And, it can’t be captured in a tweet, even a well-formed Gospel tweet.

I admire the hearts of my friends out there who attempt to tweet Gospel cures.  They mean well.  Most are pastors, and you know who you are.  And I really do like you a lot.  But, hear me when I say that people are suckers for your 140 word fixes.  Why do you think you get re-tweeted so much?  We’re suckers for remedies and methods.  We love a sound byte.  But I’m asking you to step back and consider the complexity.  Do you really see people growing that quickly in your churches?  Do you really see ‘Gospel transformation’ happening in a “repent and believe” moment?  I’m prone to think that this is where we need a good dose of those old stories, like Pilgrim’s Progress, that highlight the long and difficult journey.  Because most people I know don’t find that the methods work.  Most people I talk to struggle day to day just to believe, just to utter a one word prayer, just to avoid another outburst of anger or another deluge of cynicism. Most people find that it takes a lifetime to believe that they are the prodigal who is lavished with a Father’s prodigious love.

Gospel tweeters:  Relax.  You are far more screwed up than you think.  And your cure is far too simplistic to help.  This journey requires more than a 140 characters of Gospel happy juice.  A big and good God requires a long and difficult Exodus journey for real change to happen.

Best Links of the Week

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Chuck DeGroat has one of the best pieces I have read in a long long time called, “What’s Wrong With Your Pastor?”  Orthodoxy without orthopathos is orthoworthless.

Tim Tebow writing a memoir about ‘faith, family, and football’ entitled Through My Eyes, and can be pre-ordered in hardcover and Kindle.

Marvin Olasky is resuming full-time duties at World Magazine.

Kansas State nutrition professor loses 27 pounds over two months while eating a diet of Twinkies and Nutty Buddy Bars, while lowering bad cholesterol by 20% and raising good cholesterol by 20%.

Company creating an app and cell phone plug-in device to test for STDs.  I am not sure if this is exceedingly strange or a good idea… or both.

iPhone app of the week:  MileBug – creates IRS compliant travel logs simply and easily and you can email yourself the reports in both Word or Excel formats.  If you don’t want to pay the $2.99 they have a Lite version that allows you to create 10 trip reports before having to email yourself.  Also, it allows you to take notes and add parking, toll, or food expenses to each mileage report.

Pretty crazy trick play in a Middle School football game:

Women solves Wheel of Fortune puzzle with just one letter:

Best Links of the Week

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"I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure..."

WSJ Article:  How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire and Why They Should Add the Gospel Back to Their Good Works.  In this vein Desiring God had a great series re-thinking short-term missions as well as the Chalmers Center.

White House Spent $23M of Taxpayers’ Money on Fight to Legalize Abortion in Kenya

Man squatting foreclosed home tells judge in his defense that he “bought it from Yahweh.”  You can’t make this stuff up.

Someone else has finally put into words the frustration of the script of the USPS mandatory upsell.

Man attempts to smuggle 18 monkeys through security and onto plane by hiding them under his shirt.

Ed Stetzer has an insightful post at Challies on “rockstar” pastors.

Black parents give birth to blond haired and blue-eyed baby.

How to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Some of the craziest pools in the world.

Old Spice Voicemail Generator.

The man claiming ownership of 84% of Facebook may actually have some merit.

ESPN mocks itself and the ridiculousness of the “Lebron Decision” special with the help of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd:

HT:  Kevin DeYoung

Best Links of the Week

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Al Mohler reflects on the life and death of former atheist turned theist, Anthony Flew.

Norway makes “Most Humane Prison.”  Flat screen TVs.  High end design…

22-week Italian baby survives abortion and lives for two days.

Christian preacher arrested for saying that homosexuality is a sin.

Inflation up 2% in March 2010.

Fascinating BBC reader write-in article on 40 ways people still use 3.5″ floppy disks (including the Mexican, Romanian, Panamanian, and British governments).

Ligon Duncan’s  6 exhortations to the pastors of the next generation. (HT: JT)

All of the audio from last weeks Advance 2010 conference.

The Supreme Court might be “Protestant-less” for the first time ever.

Dollar re-designed by a graphic designer… its pretty awesome.

How to Survive a 35,000 Foot Fall.”

Find out how wealthy you are compared to the rest of the world.

We are Wall Street and We are More Vicious Than Dinosaurs.”  Well-written, pardon the authors triumphalism.

Infographic about where all our tax dollars go.

MIT Unveils Solar Cells Printed on Paper

Iconic photos from the Vietnam War. (HT: Challies)

12 most awkward family photos Mother’s Day edition. 5, 6, 8, and 9 are particularly awkward… and what is that animal in #8?

Tim Keller Responds to the Big 5 Questions Facing the Western Church

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Earlier, I posted on Tim Keller’s analysis of the “big 5 questions facing the Western church.”  To summarize Keller, those 5 issues identified were:

1.  The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S

2.  The rise of Islam

3.  The new non-western Global Christianity

4.  The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

5.  The end of prosperity?

Keller has followed up on these in an excellent little post well worth your reading.

Your thoughts?

Lovely Day for a Guinness

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Os Guinness that is...

Justin Taylor has a wonderful little interview of Os Guinness, where he peppers him with insightful questions regarding on old book, The Gravedigger File (in anticipation for his forthcoming book The Last Christian on Earth).  For those not familiar with Guinness, he is the great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, brewer and founder of Guinness beer.  He is a keen analyzer of evangelicalism and a necessary read for developing both a Christian worldview and philosophy of ministry.  He is well-travelled, well thought out, cogent, and prescient in his thinking.  1983’s Gravedigger put forth the idea that Christianity was the major force behind modernization and capitalism in the West and what Christianity created it also uncritically adopted, thereby undermining Christianity.  Undoubtedly true.

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