Archive for April, 2009
What is meditation, according to the Bible (Psa. 119:15, 27, 48, 78, 148)? Sam Storms, one of the speakers at this weekend’s Clarus conference, answers the question like this:
Meditation begins, but by no means ends, with thinking on Scripture. To meditate properly our souls must reflect upon what our minds have ingested and our hearts must rejoice in what our souls have grasped. We have truly meditated when we slowly read, prayerfully imbibe, and humbly rely upon what God has revealed to us in His Word‚ all of this, of course, in conscious dependence on the internal, energizing work of the Spirit.
Later, Dr. Storms distinguishes Christian meditation from New Age or Eastern meditation:
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates emptying the mind, Christian meditation call for is to fill our mind with God and His truth.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates mental passivity, Christian meditation call on us to actively exert our mental energy.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates detachment from the world, Christian meditation call for attachment to God.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates visualization in order to create one’s own reality, Christian meditation call for visualization of the reality already created by God.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates metaphysical union with god, Christian meditation calls for spiritual communion with God.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates mystical transport as the goal of one’s efforts, Christian meditation calls for moral transformation as the goal of one’s efforts.
- Unlike Eastern meditation, which advocates an inner journey to find the center of one’s being, Christian meditation calls for an outward focus on the objective revelation of God in Scripture and creation.
It’s been a few days since, but in case you missed it, The Albuquerque Journal wrote a nice piece about our Clarus conference.
In it, Tom Lambelet, Pastor of Faith Church in Rio Rancho, gave us some props (or cred or … whatever the kids call it these days):
Pastor Tom Lambelet of Faith Church in Rio Rancho is bringing a group from his church for the second year in a row. The church provided tickets for those in leadership positions. “We see this as a real rich opportunity to hear deep teaching and theology,” he said. “It’s a real quality thing (Desert Springs) is doing.”
Thanks, Tom! Looking forward to seeing you and others from Faith.
The rest of the article is available online here if you’re interested (FYI: it’s free, but you have to click on “Trial Premium Pass” and watch a brief ad, then you can “Enter ABQ Journal” and read the article…if you’re not already an ABQ Journal online subscriber).
Now available online for free:
- Tim Keller: The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry
- John Piper: Feed the Flame of God’s Gift: Unashamed Courage in the Gospel
- Phil Ryken: The Pattern of Sound Words
- Mark Driscoll: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
- K. Edward Copeland: Shadowlands: Pitfalls and Parodies of Gospel-Centered Ministry
- Bryan Chapell: Preach the Word!
- Ajith Fernando: Gospel-Faithful Mission in the New Christendom
- Panel Discussion: Tim Keller, John Piper, Ligon Duncan and Crawford Loritts
- Ligon Duncan: Finishing Well
- Don Carson: That By All Means I Might Win Some: Faithfulness and Flexibility in Gospel Proclamation
- Buster Brown: Preaching in a Christianized Culture
- Graham Cole: Homosexuality and the Bible: Texts, Hermeneutics, and Pastoral Wisdom
- Joshua Harris: Ministering in a Church-Hopping Society
- C.J. Mahaney: The Pastor‚Äôs Charge
Clearly, the Lord is at work. He is creating new conditions for the future. In the 90s, we had nothing of the magnitude of The Gospel Coalition, Together For The Gospel, Acts 29 and other obvious indicators of a new movement of God. We did have, say, Promise Keepers, which helped many. But PK was not explicitly gospel-centered, not aggressively theological. Its impact was unsustainable. But now the Lord is giving us something new, something better. Let’s be thankful to him. This doesn’t come along every day. Let’s steward the blessing well. If we bungle this, I doubt we will see it again in our time. But if we are wise, not intruding our own self-centered complications but humbly keeping Christ first, the blessing will grow. And maybe, in the mercy of God, we will see awakening in our time.
I was privileged to be in a small meeting in Chicago this week where Ray said something very similar to this (and he said it with tears). I thought then, Ray is in such a unique position to make a comment like this: he has dozens of years of ministry experience in various ministries and denominations, and has been thinking about and praying for revival through it all. I certainly don’t have the length of experience or depth of thought that Ray has, but, for what it’s worth, this is absolutely consistent with what I’ve seen in just 13 years of being in the ministry. Things have indeed changed. There is a new inter-denominational cooperation in the gospel of the reformation and partnership in ministry and hope for revival that seems to be a special gift from the Lord.
Just a reminder that, though we normally have our Lord’s Supper on the last Wednesday of every month, this month it is one week earlier. We do this in April so as to avoid an overloaded week with our Clarus weekend.
So, that means that the next Lord’s Supper is tonight (at the usual time, 6:30 PM). Zach Nielsen will be switching hats,preaching on and leading in Communion. Hope you can make it!
Tomorrow morning a handful of DSC leaders will, Lord willing, leave for The Gospel Coalition‘s national pastors’ conference in IL. The speakers include Don Carson, Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Bryan Chapell, Phil Ryken, and Ligon Duncan. The messages will expositionally work through the whole text of 2 Timothy, in addition to the smaller break out sessions on more practical topics.
Please pray for us while we’re there. Pray for refreshment, growth, and fellowship in Christ and in his Word.
Let me add a few comments more financially related, while I’m at it.
Normally, we would take almost all of our staff and elders to an event like this (20+ people). It’s in our budget to do one big conference together a year. Or at least it was. With the giving being what it has been, and budget cuts being unavoidable, conferences were one of the first places we started “trimming.” We’ve cut the overall number of conferences we attend, and cut how many will attend. I don’t know the numbers, but I know it’s a significant change from a year or two ago. This may be the only conference any of us attend this year.
Why do I tell you that? Well, not at all so that you’ll feel sad or guilty for our conference hardships! It’s not even a subtle reminder that “parentheses are bad” …and the parentheses are growing. I tell you that so that we remain above board with you about your giving and our spending – especially in these fiscally-tight times. Your giving will send a handful of us away for a conference this week. Yet, with that in mind, please know that we are constantly trying to wisely make cuts toward a budget that more closely reflects our present state of giving.
On the one hand, we want to be wise and careful stewards of what the Lord gives us through you, and not presumptuous that the Lord will do tomorrow what he has done yesterday. But, on the other hand, we’re not doing the church-equivilent of cashing in your bonds and burying the cash in the backyard. We’re in a recession — as a country and as a church — but, praise God, the gears are still turning, and oil on those gears is still needed. This conference is the equivalent of some oil applied to the gears of our church leadership. That benefits you; it is ultimately (under God’s glory) for you, the church at DSC.
We go with that firmly in mind. You sent us (even if you didn’t know it until now!). We go to hear, talk, grow, and learn so that we’re better equipped and more refreshed to serve you in and through Jesus Christ. We take none of that for granted. Please know that. And thanks for sending us.
Yesterday I preached “A Seven Mile Walk through the Old Testament: What Jesus Might Have Said to the Emmaus Disciples” (Luke 24:25-27). Shortly after, at our family lunch, my ever-wise wife suggested that, in light of the message, we should go back through The Jesus Storybook Bible (which is, really, a Biblical Theology for kids). So, at dinner last night, Autumn, our 10 year old, read us the first chapter. It ends with these great words about God’s plan (p. 17, emphasis added):
The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this story — it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child on which everything would depend.
Since I began my sermon by saying how the Bible is like a puzzle that needs putting together and has Jesus at the center, some of the kids wondered if I had gotten parts of my sermon from The Jesus Storybook Bible (I think the quote was, “Hey, wait a minute, you said the Bible is like a puzzle with Jesus in the middle!). Well, I hadn’t consciously “borrowed” from the kids’ book, but that wouldn’t have been such a bad thing. It’s such a great book.
Other similar, great “Biblical Theology for kids” are:
P.S. I hope to add some further “Biblical Theology resources for the older crowd” here on the blog in the next day or two.