Redeemer’s Church Planting Reading List

Redeemer City to City’s church planting reading list was just released a few weeks ago. If you’re already convinced that church planting is “the most effective means of reaching people with the gospel” (especially in an urban context), then check out the titles. This is the best list I’ve seen thus far in terms of scope, breadth, and depth.

An interesting omission: there is not one Acts 29 inclusion (i.e. nothing by Mark Driscoll, et al).

Time for a Tech Detox?

From a recent WSJ article:

10 Signs Your Devices Are Hurting Your Relationships:

1. You can’t get through a meal without emailing, texting or talking on the phone.

2. You look at more than one screen at a time, checking email while watching television, for example.

3. You regularly email or text, other than for something urgent, while your partner or another family member is with you.

4. You sleep with your phone near you, and you check your email or texts while in bed.

5. You log onto your computer while in bed.

6. You have had an argument with a loved one about your use of technology.

7. You text or email while driving.

8. You no longer go outside for fun.

9. You never turn off your phone.

10. When you spend time with your family—a meal, a drive, hanging out—each person is looking at a different screen.



Keller: Postmortem on Post-modern?

In a recent blog post, Tim Keller suggests that overemphasizing postmodernism poses unhelpful challenges.  Instead, he refers to what some label ‘late’ modernity or even ‘liquid’ modernity.  Presently, he sees more continuity between modernism and postmodernism as opposed to discontinuity.

And why should you care? Isn’t this discussion relegated for academics or pastors? If you’re a Christian living in the United States (particularly in an urban area), as Dylan is fond of saying, “the time they are a changin.’  A failure to recognize these shifts will only thwart our ability to better understand our culture, hence thwart our ability to ably communicate the gospel into these ‘liquid’ times.

Knowing Versus Knowing About

In the previous post, I boldly exclaimed I don’t know God. I don’t say this for mere shock value, as I believe it to be true. I really don’t know God.

How do I know I don’t know him? In Knowing God (please pardon the redundancy) Packer asserts that “when people know God, losses and “crosses” cease to matter to them; what they have gained simply banishes these things from their minds” (p. 27). He then lists four effects that knowledge of God has on a person:

  1. Those who know God have great energy for God;
  2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God;
  3. THose who know God show great boldness for God;
  4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

I confess I’m lacking in these effects. I’m spiritually lethargic, have rather little thoughts about him, am afraid to take biggish steps forward, and am restless. Mind you, I once had the effects Packer describes. But 2009-2010 have proven to be watershed years for me, with unexpected highs and lows that have shaken me to the core. I won’t get into all the sordid details except to say a fair bit of suffering was/is involved, resulting in equal amounts of humility. Prior to my world being rocked, I thought I knew God. But I admit that I often excercise on the gerbil wheel of replaying what happened, fixating on what I’ve lost, dwelling on my “crosses.”

Perhaps I’m not alone in my predicament? May God grant me grace to move from knowing about him to knowing him.

I Don’t Know God

I admit, it sounds a bit alarmist. How do I know I don’t know God? Rereading Packer’s Knowing God, I’m sadly convinced of it. Mind you, I know about God. I can tell you what one must do to be saved. I can spout off various biblical/theological/doctrinal truths on a whim. I regularly recite the historic Christian creeds. I take the Lord’s Supper (weekly even!). I enjoy reading solid Christian books. (And as Packer mentions, theology used to be a hobby of gentlemen in previous generations). I even own some fantastic bibles. Moreover, I’m employed by various well-known Christian ministries. That said, one may conclude all is well under the hood of my soul.

And yet as I examine my life, is it marked by “gaiety, goodness, and unfetteredness of spirit” (p. 25)? Sadly, no. Instead, I all too often “brood on might-have-beens; [I] think of the things [I] have missed” not of what I’ve gained (p. 25). But wait, there’s more: “…interest in theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing him.” (p. 26). Ouch. That one hurts, Jimmy P. Yet he’s right: I need to face myself and deal with this present reality: I don’t know God.

So what does Packer assert are evidences of knowing God? More on that early next week.

An Apologetic for Smaller Churches

I used to be a member (for quite a few years, actually) of a Calvinist-leaning church with an internationally known pastor. He officiated our wedding. My wife and I had a fair number of relationships. The first three of our five children were dedicated there. Even then it was biggish, averaging just under a thousand people each Sunday. But that was in 1999, when I left to go to seminary. Today, that same church is averaging a weekly attendance of 5,000. I’m often asked why my family is not presently there, as we share much in common theologically and have a considerable history with this church. For context, I was pastoring a church in Minneapolis until I resigned a year ago today due to elder conflict. In the aftermath of my resignation, we needed of a local church that wasn’t only theologically substantive but also a place where we could decompress, heal, and basically receive needed pastoral care. With that backdrop, Carl Trueman’s recent post captures my sentiments. He concludes:

Of course, if the Reformed mega-church is the only gospel preaching place in your area, you may have no choice but to attend there; but where possible, go to a church where the pastor and elders can really get to know you and you can roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty (sometimes literally).   That is simply closer to the NT model.

I strongly concur. Read Carl’s post here.

“I Missed My Old Brain”

Nicholas Carr, author of the recently published The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, writes:

Over the last few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory….I’m not thinking the way I used to think….Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do.

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Sometime in 2007, a serpent of doubt slithered into my infoparadise….But my brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting. It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it–and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became. Even when I was away from my computer, I yearned to check e-mail, click links, do some Googling. I wanted to be connected.

I missed my old brain.

Doubt and Remembering

The theme of remembering, with its twin truth of giving thanks, is inseparable from faith in the Bible. The man or woman of faith is the one who gives thanks. Unbelief, on the other hand, has a short and ungrateful memory.

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For doubt–full-grown–is not a lapse of memory, but a willful refusal to remember.

When a person’s doubt is well-developed, it needs a special confrontation, one designed to disturb complacency and strike a blow at self-sufficiency.

—Os Guinness, God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt (pp. 45; 51-52)