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Greeings all!

For some time now I’ve been posting on two websites: This one and another entitled “Gentle Reformation.”  Beginning now I’m only going to post over at Gentle Reformation.  The content will remain largely the same (audio reviews and recommendations), so no need to panic🙂

I’ll keep this site up for a while, so as to preserve older posts for your consideration.

So come on over!  Follow me at Gentle Reformation.  There are a number of excellent authors (pastors and professors) who will undoubtedly feed your soul.

www.GentleReformation.com

See you there!

Anytime two figures like John Piper and R.C. Sproul sit down to discuss and reflect on their ministries, one must surely perk up and pay attention.  During this hour-and-a-half Q and A session a wide array of issues are broached.  I thought the entire interchange was delightful, but I especially enjoyed the segment where glory and holiness were examined and related to one another.  Ministry Reflections with John Piper and R. C. Sproul

 

Just today I began a ten hour seminar on spiritual warfare by Dr. Gerry Breshears.  The first two hours are a little slow going, but the third session (“Biblical Worldview”) is very interesting.  His exposition of the “gods” in the OT is not only perceptive, but more than a little interesting.  I’m presently looking forward to hearing the rest.  Spiritual Warfare

 

Highland Theological College has an impressive catalog of past guest lecturers (Sinclair Ferguson, Paul Helm, Ted Donnelly, and Doug Kelly, to just name a few).  It is worth your time to at least peruse the list.  For myself, I especially enjoyed the following three lectures:  Gordon Wenham’s FF Bruce Lecture (2008) on the Psalms, Richard Gaffin’s 2004 John Murray lecture on the doctrine of Union with Christ, and Howard Marshall’s 2004 F.F. Bruce lecture on the atonement (while perhaps a bit been there done that for some, is nevertheless clear and solid).  I would also heartily recommend Sinclair Ferguson’s 2006 John Murray lecture on Christus Victor (which I have already done elsewhere).  Highland Theological College Lectures

Not long ago, Justin Taylor highlighted a lecture by Sam Williams, saying, “This is the best one-hour introduction [to the psychology of homosexuality] you can find.”

I agree.

Here are some of the questions raised and addressed (as aptly outlined by Taylor) in this presentation.

What causes homosexuality?
Can we be responsible for that which is not consciously chosen?
What is the difference between having same-same attraction, same-sex orientation, and being “gay” or “lesbian”?
How many people self-identify in these ways?
Do people with same-same attraction actually change?
How can they change?
What does the gospel have to do with this issue?
How can we promote change in the church for those who struggle?

Must Listen Factor: Quite High

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 1 Hour

To Download: Left click picture (The lecture was given on 10/18/11).

While reading the twentieth chapter of Acts, meditating again on Paul’s farewell address to the elders at Ephesus, I was struck by Paul’s emphasis in verses 33-35.  Listen again to him,

“I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Remarkable words!  Paul purposively worked hard with his hands in order to set an example.  He wanted the saints to see his concern for the weak.  He wanted them to know, to truly know, that it is more blessed to given than to receive.  It is a sober reminder.

My reading this passage was aptly timed.  Not long ago, I listened to a short, but powerful message by Tim Keller entitled “Generous Justice.”  In a winsome but convicting way, he wove together the doctrine of justification with the Christian’s duty to care for the weak and poor.  In the usual hustle and bustle of life, working on different projects and what not, it’s easy to forget the concerns of the poor.  This message grabbed me, looked me in the eye, and said, “Don’t forget to walk as your Lord walked.  Remember the poor.”  The conviction lasted for about an hour before it was swallowed up with other thoughts.  Reading the passage out of Acts resuscitated my memory.  I feel as if the Lord is getting my attention.

Perhaps you could be reminded as well?  How about taking thirty minutes sometime soon in order to give it a listen.  You won’t regret it.

Must Listen Factor: High

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 30 minutes

To Download: Left Click picture.

Every now and again, I swing over to Alpha and Omega Ministries to see what James White is up to.  If you didn’t know, he webcasts a show called The Dividing Line.  Its primary thrust is apologetic in nature.  He interacts with debates, critiques heretics, takes questions from listeners, and keeps you up to date with the current happenings in the theological world.  I’m not a regular listener, but I do enjoy the program.

More recently, he put together a special podcast, a 2 ½ hour introductory session on Christology.  It’s excellent!  If you’d like to walk through things like the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed, as well as get a handle on terms like Nestorianism, this is the place to go.  His approach and style certainly keeps you awake, so don’t feel the need to preemptively down a five hour energy drink.

Must Listen Factor: Moderate (High if you’ve never thought through these issues before)

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

To Download: Click picture to follow link

For Bio: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/jwhite.html

I just finished listening to this year’s Desiring God National Conference, and I must say that it was excellent!

While each speaker spoke with passion and shed light upon the church’s present mission, I was particularly moved by Michael Ramsden’s message Courage, Christ, and Finishing the Mission.  It was vibrant, engaging, and a-typical.  Mr. Ramsden has been the European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust since its foundation in 1997.  He is also Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Lecturer in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.  But more importantly, he is an experienced evangelist and a servant of Jesus Christ.  His challenge should be heard.

Regarding the other sessions, I would encourage you to listen to the interview with Greg Livingston and David Sitton.  Anytime you can hear from a veteran missionary, you need to do so.  Doubly so with two missionaries!

Lastly, the panel discussion was good and should find its way on to your IPod.  Piper’s message was excellent as well, but if you are only going to listen to one message, do download Michael Ramsden’s.

All of the messages can be obtained here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/by-conference/2011-national-conference

P.S.  A Caution: Listening to these messages may cause you to suddenly pack your bags, leave the country, and die for Christ.

In the Exodus account, a book brimming with God’s sovereignty- not least of which includes Paul’s citation of 9:16 in the ninth chapter of Romans- one is nevertheless confronted with a startlingly powerful affirmation of the viability of human volition.  The curious passage reads thus:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.  And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle” (Exodus 13:17-18).

Here we’re confronted authentic human choice; the kind of choice that genuinely affects the outcome of history.  Had the Israelites passed through the land of the Philistines, they would have changed their minds and returned to Egypt, something the Lord didn’t want to happen.  So in light of this volitional reality, God circumvented the problem by steering them in another direction.

Reading this reminds me of the brilliance of the Westminster Confession of Faith, particularly the first point on God’s eternal decree.  With near poetic flare, the Westminster divines carefully, even masterfully, capture the balance between God’s sovereignty and human freedom.  Allow me to quote it:

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Here the sovereignty of God is unabashedly extolled.  God has ordained “whatsoever” comes to pass.  That’s everything.  But note the qualification “yet so.”  Here the Confession goes on to explain how this foreordination works, especially with regard to humans.  Two things are especially highlighted.  They want us to know that (1) human freedom isn’t trampled, and (2) the liberty (freedom) or contingency (what if-ness) of means isn’t ignored or repudiated, but rather established.  Simply put, God sovereignly works through means.

So let us be clear here.  Calvinism upholds both God’s sovereignty and human freedom.  Both are true.  Now how they exactly go together, well, that’s ultimately mysterious.  I like to think of it in terms of a young child trying to understand an algebra problem.  The youngster, having just learned his ABCs and 123s, happily affirms both letters and numbers.  But when presented with the following problem: X+4=7, he cannot imagine how in the world a letter could be a number.  His mind simply cannot wrap itself around the issue.  So it is with God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.  The answer to the problem is like the letter X.  The solution is certainly intelligible, but it isn’t intelligible to the child.

If you’re curious what the confession goes on to say, check it out here: Link. (See Chapter III).

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