Monthly Archives: June 2008

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The Greatest Rivalry in Baseball

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There are several historic rivalries in baseball. One can think of the Yankees and the Red Sox, or the Cardinals and the Cubs. These both go back for longer than a century. They are unique because they pit regional rivals who have a long history of struggling against one another. Then there are the new rivalries created by inter-league play in 1997.
One can think here of the Mets and Yankees, the Angels and Dodgers or the Giants and the A’s. All of these are intriguing and interesting match ups, with the New York teams getting the most national press attention.

But to my mind ESPN got it right when they decided to cover the White Sox and Cubs games over the past two weekends. This "cross-town" series has become intense, loud and very, very big here in Chicago. Most fans love one team

By |June 30th, 2008|Categories: Baseball|

51 Birch Street

51birch003Documentary filmmaker Doug Block believed that his parents had always enjoyed their marriage, which lasted 54 years. When his mom suddenly died he began to ask questions. He read her journals and discovered things that led him to doubt a lot he had assumed and even led him into counseling.

Only three months after his mom’s death his father went to Florida and remarried. The woman he married had been his secretary some thirty-five years before. Doug grew even more suspicious. He read and asked a lot of questions and interviewed his two sisters again and again, as well as one of his mom’s best friends. What he discovered was shocking, something that he never expected. What results from his journey is a riveting personal, human documentary that reveals the pain of life, the expectations of an earlier era, and the loss that children suffer when their parents are emotionally withdrawn from them in their childhood.

This brilliant independent film

By |June 29th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Citizen King: The Non-Partisan Power of the Prophet

Over the course of 2008 the issue of race has become a subject of conversation for many Americans. The political candidacy of Senator Barack Obama has guaranteed that this would happen. And the preaching segments of Dr. Jeremiah Wright, seen for days on national television, forced us all to have a "brief" conversation about race once again. After saying that he would not disown Wright Senator Obama then chose to do exactly that. Wright responded by reminding us that Obama is a politician and that this is what he knew he would eventually have to do. My guess is that he meant that in a mostly positive way but I am not sure.

What I am sure of is that all prophets, of all colors and types, cannot be good politicians. I watched the PBS video, Citizen King,Dvd
this weekend and was made aware of this by rethinking the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. The video covers a five-year period

By |June 28th, 2008|Categories: Race and Racism|

Does Political Partisanship Help or Hurt the Mission of the Church?

Partisanship
There has been a long debate about the role of partisanship in American politics. I often tell people that I am non-partisan politically. I happily vote in every election and I hold decided (“strong”) opinions about a number of political and moral issues. I would describe my overall political philosophy as conservative, if this term is understood as opposed to the Left and/or radically progressive, even Socialistic, positions. But even the term conservative has become virtually meaningless in the present context. (Maybe this should be fodder for a blog on another day but I actually think President Bush has done as much to set back principled conservatism as any modern president! This is why Libertarian arguments, many of which are appealing to conservatives, have become appealing to many who voted for President Bush in the previous elections.)  Because I have an interest in politics, and good government, I write and think about these subjects a lot. But I will not endorse or promote a

By |June 27th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Was A. W. Tozer a Calvinist?

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A question was raised about whether A. W. Tozer was a Calvinist when I quoted him last week in several of my blogs. I have several responses to this statement and the supposed objections that come with it.

1. Who cares? Seriously now, must we who are Reformed in our understanding of divine revelation always use this “label” to prove a point or to discredit the contributions of another Christian thinker who is not precisely where we are on some doctrinal points? Can’t I be a Reformed minister and still count the confession of this particular historical understanding of faith as much less important than the simple fact that I am a Christian? If I must rank these commitments, as labels are generally used to judge others, then I am a mere Christian first and a catholic Christian second. Beyond that I would call myself a Protestant catholic Christian. Only then would say that I am a Reformed Protestant catholic Christian. My order

By |June 26th, 2008|Categories: Reformed Christianity|

Why A. W. Tozer Has Been a Great Blessing to Me

I mentioned in my June 24 post (yesterday) that I would address A. W. Tozer’s views of the sovereignty of God. I will still do that in the next few days, God willing. But today I want to tell you several of the reasons why I respect A. W. Tozer.

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First, he was a plain preacher. I have heard a number of his sermons on audio, and read some others. They were simple, clear and prophetic. I feel this is one of the truly great needs of our time. Most preaching today is predictable, political, dull, doctrinally pedantic, a rigid exposition of words without engagement with the soul, and generally heavily manuscripted. People are unmoved. Thus both their emotions and minds are left untouched. Tozer spoke to both and did so with pathos. He didn’t seem to care all that much about what you thought about his sermon either. It may surprise some of you to hear this but he was very unpopular

By |June 25th, 2008|Categories: Spirituality|

Tozer (Again) on Conditions to the Knowledge of God

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Last week I wrote several posts on A. W. Tozer. I cited his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy. Several have questioned me about this post and one reader noted that my quotation, upon which the premise was established, was not in the text where I cited it. I went back to the book and read this material again today. As I read it I realize that I had made one very minor mistake. I said the quotation was from the preface to the book but it was not. It is in the final chapter (Chapter 23), titled "The Open Secret." The quotation I cited is as follows:

As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them

By |June 24th, 2008|Categories: Spirituality|

The Mission of Jesus and Our Persecution

Today, in the West, is the sixth Sunday after Pentecost. Liturgical churches, who follow the Church calendar, pay attention to these seasons of worship and remembrance. One way they do this is to use a lectionary of biblical texts which are read in their services on the Lord’s Day. The texts read in my own church setting today are: Genesis 21:8-21; Romans 6:1-11 and Matthew 10:24-39.

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So today I preached from the Matthew text. It is an account of Jesus telling his disciples to expect that they would face opposition and persecution in their mission. It comes in a section of the Gospel that we rightly call “Matthew’s Missionary Discourse” (cf. 9:35-37). The central point of my text is that following Jesus in mission will bring opposition, even death. But when opposition comes Jesus promises to be with his disciples to help them do through the fire.

He does this by telling his disciples that “a disciple is not above

By |June 22nd, 2008|Categories: Personal|

God Made Man in His Image

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One of the most important doctrines in the Christian faith is creation. And the most important part of the biblical doctrine of creation is not the length of the seven days in Genesis or the method or manner by which God created all things. The fact is what matters—God is the sovereign creator. This too is an article of faith and the creed rightly places it in a prominent place when it speaks of God the almighty.

Not until the late 19th century did the various debates about how to understand time in Genesis 1-3 become a divisive issue. These debates arose in response to the claims of evolution. But centuries ago great theologians, such as St. Augustine, were quite sure that issue was not that important to a correct understanding of what really mattered in the Genesis account. Like so many debates carried on by modern conservatives, especially by fundamentalists, the forest is often lost to the trees. To listen to

By |June 22nd, 2008|Categories: Biblical Theology|

Are There Conditions to Salvation: Part Two?

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I have been considering the thought of the late A. W. Tozer for several days. I have personally been reading Tozer for well over thirty-five years. I even had the privilege of knowing the man who best knew Tozer and his work, for several years, prior to his death. He lived only a mile from my home in a retirement village. I once called this dear brother and said, “I have a Tozer quote in a book of mine and no data for where it came from. The publisher insists I document this two sentence quotation. Can you help me?” In three days he called me back and knew precisely where it came from. Quite amazing! We had more than one conversation about A. W. Tozer.

Anyway, we have seen that Tozer spoke of seven “conditions” for coming to the saving knowledge of a holy God. I have listed three. I will now list the other four.

Step Four: As we

By |June 21st, 2008|Categories: Spirituality|
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