Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sparks from the Tongue: Words Matter

In the past few days I have had 5 blog ideas, all of which were reactions and none of which were well thought out. Some of them could have gotten me in trouble. By the grace of God, none of them were typed out. What has come from those thoughts though, is the reminder that words matter. Read what James says in 3:1-12. It’s shocking.

The most shocking and uncomfortable verse for me and in light of our goal with this blog is 1. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” As one who’s mouth is constantly a stumbling block, that’s disturbing, if not damning. Below I want you to think with me about just two areas in which our words matter most.

The Gospel: Without words, there is no gospel. God Almighty has revealed himself to us in his Word. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The gospel is articulated in words. (Dr. Mohler’s sermon from T4G on this). People will not, and I submit cannot, come to salvation without words. Speak the gospel, and do it well.

Leading the Flock: When you get up behind the pulpit, what you say matters. When you talk to your people in the hallways of your church’s meeting place, what you say matters. When you weep and mourn as your people traverse through the valley of the shadow of death, your words matter. The way you respond to your wife, kids, brother pastors, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and enemies matter. You will be judged with greater strictness, and words matter.

There are countless other areas in which our words matter, but those two haunt me. If you’re calling is to the ministry, I hope they haunt you. I hope you think about your words and the way you articulate the gospel, doctrine, and every conversation that bounces off your tongue. For the record, I’m not writing from a viewpoint that says, “I’ve got this down.” I”m writing from a viewpoint that sees the blazing fires my tongue has sparked. So pray with me, brothers and sisters, that our tongues would speak the truth and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and not spew the fiery darts of Satan.

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Reflections on T4G

This time last week I was over an hour into a three day conference that I had no idea how much God was going to do in my life. I could probably spend a large portion of the rest of the day giving you a recount on certain things that I learned, thought, experienced, and came away with. I’ll spare you and give you just five highlights and one exhortation.

1. T4G was birthed from the relationship between Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, and Ligon Duncan. Over the course of the conference they were unashamedly outspoken and grateful for their gospel centered friendship and heart for each other. The Lord has graciously given me this in several guys, but particularly the two I share this blog with. Neither were there. Both were chastised.

2. All 9 (yes, that’s right) sermons were piercing to the core, but the Word from the Lord Ligon Duncan gave from 1 Kings 19 left me unable to stand up. Go here and listen to it.

3. As mentioned in #1, the conference came from the relationship of those 4 men, but particularly in their conversations following other conferences. The Lord blessed me with such an opportunity on Wednesday night in an IHOP with Josh Wester, Seth Woodley, and Les Hughes. They are great brothers, and we ate pancakes late into the morning discussing God, ministry, and congregations.

4. The best picture of heaven I have ever experienced was the singing of 7500 people, mostly men, on the last night of T4G. I thought I was going to be taken up into the highest heavens. Here’s Dr. Mohler’s video of it from the 2nd row.

5. I have 30 books in my bedroom floor that I got from the conference. 20 of those were free. The other 10 were 40% off. So, I spent less than $40 and got 30 books. Yes, Lord!

6. T4G 2014 will be April 8-10 in Louisville, KY. If you are a pastor, church leader, or theological student you need to make every effort to attend. There is no more encouraging, uplifting conference for the shepherd’s soul. If you want to know more, listen to this year’s audio/video or ask one of us 7000 + that were able to attend.


Harry Potter and the Gospel

I remember when the email came.

I was 12 (yes email did exist, barely, but yes…). It went something like this…

“CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE!!! Be Cautioned. A Series of Children’s Books, Harry Potter, has been released to the general public.”

The email went on, but it’s message was clear.

If you let your children read these books, you are not only inviting witchcraft and sorcery into your home, you are directly tempting your children in sin and the worship of Satan himself.

My friends, that is a bold claim. Many churches and organizations have renounced such statements especially since the end of the series. However, many Christians still are unsure, and unsettled in whether or not reading them, would be to open the door to sin or at the very least, criticism from fellow church members.

Let us look at authorial intent. If we cannot do at least that, then we are simply being lazy.

I’ll be blunt.

Harry Potter does not support witchcraft or Satanism any more than C.S. Lewis supports the idea that animals talk.

What you have in Harry Potter, is a magical realm, much like in Narnia. The difference, and perhaps confusion in Harry Potter, is that this Magical realm come in direct contact and contains consequences for the “real world”. This, however, is easily understood by reasoning that a “world in which there is also a magical world” is NOT OUR WORLD.

The magic in Harry Potter is clearly neither good nor bad. The author makes that obvious.

So with these things dismissed, we are left with quite what it was intended to be from the beginning

A STORY.

A story, that much like any other is full of suspense and action, love, intrigue. In fact, what will come as a shock to some people, the story of Harry Potter, is much more similar to the story of the Gospel than are most secular works of art. It would take a short essay or book to example out all the ways in which this is the case but I think this particular paragraph will do for now.

There once was a dark and sinful world, in the control and under siege from an evil enemy. Everyone lived in fear. But then, amid the darkness, there was a child born in a small town. The evil one came and tried to destroy him immediately but was unsuccessful. He tempted him later, trying to make the child his servant. As the boy grew, he grew famous throughout the land, and when he reached adulthood he went into an all out battle against the enemy. In the end, he laid down his life on behalf of all his friends, in order that they might live. Somehow, miraculously he came back to life and defeated the enemy once and for all, saving all the people.

Am I talking about Harry Potter or the Gospel?

My point to all this is that we should not be afraid of stories. There are of course things that are inherently evil, and you should not participate in ALL THINGS. However, we should not react in fear of something that sounds suspicious to us. We should at least be willing to interact with it. Augustine taught us that we should “take that which is good from the world, acknowledging that all good comes from our Father”. There’s a reason why Harry Potter reminds us of the gospel. J.K. Rowling was made by the same Maker that we were, and has a mind which cannot escape the thematic elements of our existence (i.e. sin, fear, saving, redemption, sacrifice).

We have a greater story than Harry Potter, but you need not be fearful of it.

In conclusion, read this quote from G.K. Chesterton.

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” – G.K. Chesterton