Saturday, December 6, 2008

Introducing Jude Paul Pavlik

I haven't written in awhile for a few reasons. One of those reasons is that my wife and I have been gearing up for our second child. Jude was born December 3rd, 2008 and he already thinks he owns the place. In light of his "the world revolves around me" attitude, I went ahead and gave him his first reading assignment.

Pray for my new son. He's got one crazy daddy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day - Luther ReCap

Happy Reformation Day!

Almost 500 years ago on October 31st Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. I did some posts on this some time ago so I decided to compile them all into one post for your enjoyment. The introduction explains everything.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

ESV Study Bible - Buy It Today!

Here it is! The day all you ESV fanatics have been waiting for! The ESV Study Bible is now available to purchase on Westminster Bookstore, and will be shipped on Monday, October 13th! If you are planning on buying anything ESV oriented Westminster Bookstore is the place to go. All ESV Bibles (even the new study Bible) are 40% off. This isn't just a one time deal either. The ESV Bibles are ALWAYS 40% off. This is an incredible deal especially considering the amount of work that went into making these new study Bibles. If you would like to purchase the new ESV Study Bible click on the Bible you would like from the list below.

The ESV Study Bible (Hardcover) by ESV, English Standard Version
$49.99 $28.49

The ESV Study Bible (TruTone, Natural Brown) by ESV, English Standard Version
$74.99 $44.99

The ESV Study Bible (TruTone, Classic Black) by ESV, English Standard Version
$74.99 $44.99

The ESV Study Bible (Bonded Leather, Black) by ESV, English Standard Version
$74.99 $44.99

The ESV Study Bible (Bonded Leather, Burgundy) by ESV, English Standard Version
$74.99 $44.99

The ESV Study Bible (Genuine Leather, Black) by English Standard Version
$94.99 $56.99

The ESV Study Bible (Genuine Leather, Burgundy) by English Standard Version
$94.99 $56.99

The ESV Study Bible (Premium Calfskin Leather, Black) by English Standard Version
$239.99 $143.99

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why the mandolin will be in Heaven...

Mandolin playing by Chris Thile

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tiger Woods Walks On Water

It appears there was a glitch in the Tiger Woods '08 video game where Tiger could walk on water. For Tiger Woods '09 the game's publisher, EA, shows it wasn't a glitch after all.

Knee injury? I think not...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why singing will be in Heaven...

Outside of various scriptural references of course.

O Magnum Mysterium composed by Morten Lauridsen

I had the privilege of singing this in college, and every time I hear it I find myself in a state of reverence. Simply beautiful. Here are the lyrics with translation.

Latin text
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why the banjo will be in Heaven...

Banjo playing by Bela Fleck

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Sin of Introspection

About six months ago, my pastors and fellow leaders confronted me on some sin areas that were in my life. It was very difficult to hear, and even though I have grown in the area I was originally confronted in, pride, I have taken on a whole new issue that has just about worn me down to the point of exhaustion.

When people are confronted by others in the area of perceived sins, it is very easy for the person on the receiving end to do a few different things.

1. They become angry and accusatory
2. They accept the communicated issue, but do not agree and continue in sin
3. They accept the communicated issue, and as a result become repentant towards God and desirous for grace and restoration.

There are more responses, but it seems like these are the most prominent. I thought that I was doing #3. In reality, I had created a sort of hybrid. I wanted to be humble, and I wanted to be at peace before Christ, and yet I felt angry and frustrated. The underlying problem was that I became so focused on defeating pride that I drowned myself in my own introspection.

When all a person can see is themselves, Jesus becomes almost impossible to see and almost more impossible to hear truth from. At least, that is where I have been over the last few months. In my mind all I wanted was to follow Christ and enjoy Him alone, and yet the fear of man and the sin of introspection began to drown out truth and bog me down to a breaking point. I became so consumed with over-analytical thoughts that I began to feel like I couldn't say anything worth saying and couldn't do anything worth doing. In other words, I not only thought too deeply about my thoughts and actions, but I also analyzed every result that could come from those thoughts or spoken words.

O how terrible is the sin of introspection. It steals joy and hides all truth. Thankfully, through the kindness and steadfastness of my wife as well as much prayer and reading through scripture, I began to see the hope that lies only in the Savior. I also ran across a message by David Powlison which was no doubt a balm to my weary soul. I highly suggest that you listen to it. Powlison is a very gifted counselor and I highly recommend any and all of his materials. If you have ever struggled with introspection, or you know of someone who does, I believe this may be of immense benefit.

While I may have grown towards humility in some respects, it is clear that I cannot rid myself of pride by mere introspection alone, but by mainly trusting in Christ and constantly and consistently applying His grace in my life. What a Counselor we have in Jesus!

You can download David Powlison's message here from Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Monday, September 15, 2008

iTunes "Religion & Spirituality Barometer" - 9/15/08

Barometer Reading: 9/15/08

This Week's Winner: Joel Osteen. Interestingly enough, Focus on the Family was in the top spot a few days ago. Apparently Joel just wouldn't let that stand.

Honorable Mention: John Piper and R.C. Sproul in the Top Ten! It looks like the Desiring God podcast is just about as consistent as Oprah and Osteen. Sadly, Mark Driscoll dropped to 19! I think he needs to cuss more...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Might I suggest that if you haven't prayed for the people who will be affected by Hurricane Ike, it would most likely be worth your time to do so. Right now if possible. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How does this even happen?

It must be video day in the blogosphere. Here are two videos that I'm not sure whether to laugh at, or feel sick over. The first was featured on Justin Taylor's blog, Between Two Worlds. The second was featured on the Reformation21 blog. I'll let you judge which is worse.

Let's throw in some Rowan Atkinson for good measure...

Voddie Baucham on CNN: Sarah Palin & Women's Roles

What began as a simple discussion about Sarah Palin quickly became an impassioned discussion about the roles of women and the truth of the gospel.

Voddie Baucham = Titus 1:9

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

iTunes "Religion & Spirituality Barometer" - 9/9/08

Barometer Reading 9/9/08

This Week's Winner: Joel Osteen! I'm starting to wonder if I am going to be writing that name a lot over the next few weeks.

Honorable Mention: John Piper and Mark Driscoll in the Top Ten! Maybe John Piper needs to come out with a magazine like Oprah. Yes...I can see it now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

iTunes "Religion & Spirituality Barometer" - 9/3/08

Well, after a relaxing Labor Day I suppose it is about time I start posting again. I am a few days late on this one, but hopefully you can all forgive me.

Barometer Reading - 9/3/08

This Week's Winner: Joel "Numero Uno" Osteen. Trying to dethrone this guy is like trying to knock down the walls of Jericho. I think the Reformed podcasts need a little more cowbell.

Honorable Mention: John Piper and Mark Driscoll both moved up one spot bringing them a little closer to the land of Osteen & Oprah. Also, R.C Sproul moved from position 16 to 10! Perhaps the tides are changing...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

According to the Times: C.H. Spurgeon 1860

March 21st, 1860

June 16th, 1860

July 9th, 1860

August 22nd, 1860

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saying "No" to Some Things, "Yes" to Others

Our 19 month old son, Jonah, already knows that he doesn't want to do certain things. However, it appears that there is one thing he does want to do...

Monday, August 25, 2008

iTunes "Religion & Spirituality Barometer" - 8/25/08

Barometer Reading - 8/25/08

This Week's Winner: Joel Osteen! Again, I am not surprised. If you need any convincing as to why Joel Osteen is at the top of the list again, just remember that on the eighth day, God created Joel Osteen.

Honorable Mention: John Piper making it into the Top 10 with Mark Driscoll just behind. There is hope.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LeRoi Moore of Dave Matthews Band Dies at 46

During high school and my early college years there was only one band that I listened to. Dave Matthews Band.

DMB was a very prominent idol in my life during that time, and as a result I knew every sax and flute solo that LeRoi Moore ever played.

I haven't listened to DMB in some time, but this still came as a shock to me. I have no doubt that he will be missed by not only the members of the band, but also by millions of loyal fans across the globe. Here is the official statement from DMB's website:
We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Beauty of God's Creation - Part Deux

This is absolutely incredible. You may think this is just some ordinary bird.

It's not.

Monday, August 18, 2008

iTunes "Religion & Spirituality Barometer" - 8/18/08

I am always very interested to see what the top "Religion & Spirituality" podcasts are when I browse the iTunes store. It really is fascinating (and a little discouraging) to see which podcasts have caught the general public's interest the most. With that thought in mind, I want to start an ongoing experiment of sorts. Many people use iTunes, but not all, so the experiment isn't perfect. Regardless, I would like to post the Religion & Spirituality Barometer® once a week to see if it gives an accurate portrayal of modern day religiosity across the globe. Good times.

Here's the protocal:

  • I will show the Top 25 Religion and Spirituality Podcasts currently on iTunes.
  • That's it really. Nothing fancy.

    And here..we..go..

    Barometer Reading - 8/18/08

  • This week's winner: Joel Osteen! Not really a surprise. This guy has a board game made after his book Your Best Life Now. Once you reach board game status, you are unstoppable...The big issue here is that once people hear that they can have their best life now, there is no reason to even bother thinking about the glorious life that is yet to come. After all, who wants eternity with God later when you can have wealth and victory here and now? Three cheers for the Prosperity Gospel!

    Honorable Mention: Ravi Zacharias in the Top 5. It's great to know that this man's teaching is being listened to. Way to go Ravi.

    According to the Times: C.H. Spurgeon 1859

    January 12th, 1859

    February 7th, 1859

    February 8th, 1859

    March 28th, 1859

    October 8th, 1859

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Where Are Our Hopes and Dreams?

    I can't help but wonder if children growing up today will hold on to this thought...

    I sure hope so. You don't see too many adults walking around hoping and dreaming anymore. In such a jaded world it makes sense that most of us wouldn't feel this way. But then again, anything is possible with Christ. (Phil. 4:13)

    A world without Christ is a world where nothing is possible.

    Thank God for a perfect and sustaining Savior!

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Westminster Bookstore - Blog Partners Program

    I love Westminster Bookstore.

    Not only are they one of the only bookstores that sells books by old dead people, but now they are rewarding bloggers for linking to their site!

    Here is some info about the program:

    Got a blog? Like books and like to write about them? WTSBOOKS Blog Partners Rewards offers you the chance to earn books or other merchandise from our store while introducing your readers to quality Christian books. Participation couldn't be easier. Once you've registered for the program, simply link to our store on your blog or personal web site. Each time a total of 50 visitors to your site have clicked on any of your specially-coded links to us, you've earned a $10 Westminster Bookstore gift certificate! (Certificates are redeemable in our store or online.) Create as many links as you like—all click-throughs will be grouped together to contribute to your rewards. There is no limit to how much you can earn!

    For full details click here.

    So if you frequent this blog, please click on any of the Westminster bookstore links/banners so that I can have some free books.

    Am I absolutely shameless?


    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    A Prayer of John Calvin - Commentary on the Book of Jonah

    I was reading through Calvin's commentary on Jonah and came across this prayer. I hope it blesses you.
    Grant, Almighty God, that as thou sees us implicated in so many errors, that we often fall through want of thought, and as thou also sees that the violent emotions of our flesh wholly blind whatever reason and judgment there is in us, — O grant, that we may learn to give up ourselves altogether to obey thee, and so honor thy wisdom as never to contend with thee, though all things may happen contrary to our wishes, but patiently to wait for such an issue as it may please thee to grant; and may we never be disturbed by any of the hindrances which Satan may throw in our way, but ever go on towards the mark which thou hast set before us, and never turn aside from thee, until, having gone through all dangers and overcome all impediments, we shall at length reach that blessed rest, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy Son. Amen.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2008

    The Truth Project

    My church will be going through the Truth Project in the Fall, and I think it will be a very beneficial time for every person involved. For those of you who have never heard of the Truth Project before, here is a short introduction from their site:

    In a recent study, the Barna Research Group revealed a stunning statistic that continues to reverberate throughout the evangelical world. Only 9 percent of professing Christians have a biblical worldview.1

    Because of this, today's believers live very similarly to non-believers. A personal sense of significance is rarely experienced, we spend our money and time on things that fail to satisfy and we begin to wonder what life's ultimate purpose really is. We are, in short, losing our bearings as a people and a nation.

    To counter this slide within the body of Christ, we are launching one of the most ambitious and powerful projects in the history of our ministry—Focus on the Family's The Truth Project.

    The Truth Project is a DVD-based small group curriculum comprised of 12 one-hour lessons taught by Dr. Del Tackett. This home study is the starting point for looking at life from a biblical perspective. Each lesson discusses in great detail the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life.

    The leaders of our church spent the previous Spring going through each of the videos, and I must admit that I was very impressed. The production is top-notch, the speaking by Dr. Tackett is inspiring, and most importantly, the Truth is presented. This isn't just what Del Tackett believes to be true, or what Focus on the Family believes to be true. This is biblical truth through and through.

    Who would benefit from this series?
    • Pastors (especially if you struggle with how to present a biblical world-view to your church, or if you are unable to teach through these topics yourself due to time constraints)
    • Small group leaders (3 months worth of solid material with a great opportunity for discussion)
    • College students (Great tool for sparking conversation on campus about truth, but more importantly, the Gospel)
    • Parents (Sit down with your children and watch these videos.  The time you spend helping your children to have a biblical world-view, the more equipped they will be in 10-20 years when who knows what people will say about truth then!)
    • Anyone (While Focus on the Family has made it a point not to use this series for evangelism, it can't hurt to show this to your unbelieving friends and family.  It is very well done and could very well lead to someone's salvation)
    Hop on over to The Truth Project site.  Whether you need it or not, it's worth your time to at least check it out.  

    Here is the promotional video for your viewing pleasure:

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    Rob Bell's Church Welcomes Female Pastors

    Get the story here.

    It is a long post, but definitely worth the read.

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    John Piper Goes Gangsta'

    One of my first blog posts contained a picture of John Piper the Mercenary. Well, looks like he is at it again...

    I'm starting to think he is faking the whole conservative Baptist thing. Get the whole story here.

    Signing Bibles: The Apex of Christian Celebrity?

    I've only seen this in person a few times, and I am just not sure what to think of it. In fact, I am really rather confused by the whole idea of it. I know that the "Celebrity Culture" exists across the Christian landscape and that it has only become more rampant since the Internet has grown.

    Nationally, many Evangelicals consider Rick Warren to be "America's Pastor". In fact, considering his global influence some even refer to him as the Pope of Evangelicalism. While I think that is a ridiculous idea, many Christians treat him as the end-all be-all of Christian leadership. How did he get to this point? He sold a few influential books, most notably the Purpose Driven Church & Purpose Driven Life, grew a massive church, and probably most important was the use of The Purpose Driven Life in the kidnapping of Ashley Smith a few years ago. He is a perfect example of a Christian Celebrity. Evangelical pastors want to be him, and many Evangelicals want to follow him. The question is, are they following his love for Jesus, or his celebrity?

    It seems that we have brought this on ourselves. Has John Piper become the Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy of the Christian world? Do we buy his books because his name is on it, or because we expect to be shown the wonders of God and the joy of following Jesus? It would seem that Dr. Piper intends the second, but I wonder sometimes if we really buy the books he writes for that reason. Maybe it's a little of both. I can definitely see that in myself a little, and I recognize the danger of it.

    Why is it dangerous? The only celebrity in Christianity is God. He is the only one who deserves to be famous. I fawn over certain authors as much as the next person, and I would like to think that it is all because of what they write, but I would be dishonest in saying so. How many of us have gone to conferences and have purchased a book because we recognize the author but in the meantime we pass over many diligent and helpful saints who are not as well known? I have. How many of us have gone to conferences for the speakers and just convince ourselves that we like the theme of the conference as well? I have done that too. However, even with my own motive issues, those books and conferences have proven invaluable. The question I suppose I need to always ask myself is, "Am I buying this book or going to this conference because I want to bring more glory to God?" There can be many motives that seem good, but blot out that "Glory Motive". Where do your motives lie when a new book comes out, or when your denomination holds a conference? Is it because of the celebrity factor or because you want to glorify Christ?

    So this brings me to the point about signing Bibles. I have seen men I respect do this and it just seems strange. A recent story about J.I. Packer sums it up well:

    "After I had my my book signed, many more pressed him. He signed books as he answered questions. The insight he provided into the Puritans in those few minutes still have a lasting impact on me. During the conversation, a young man (my age) approached Packer with a newly purchased ESV Bible (of which Packer was a general editor). Excitedly, he asked Packer to sign it and handed it to him. For a few moments Packer held the Bible in his hands, and quietly returned it to the young man. He said, "Son, this is God's book. If you want it signed you will need to ask him." - Josh Gelatt (Ephemeros blog)

    It seems to me that J.I. Packer has the right idea. Something about asking a preacher you admire to sign your Bible just reeks of the Celebrity Culture. Granted, as some of you know I had my picture taken with some of the speakers at T4G. Honestly, most of my reasoning was because I wanted to get my picture taken with someone I greatly respected. I wanted to have that memory. And seriously, if C.H. Spurgeon were walking around and you had a camera, you know you would want your picture taken too. Regardless, even in my desire to have that memory, I think that I promoted the Celebrity Culture in Christianity.

    All in all, I'm not sure I agree with signing Bibles, but at the same time it isn't a deal breaker for me. With all of the writing of books and great conferences out there the Celebrity Culture is inevitable. I see it nationally, and I even see it in the group of churches I belong to. Oddly enough, many of the old dead guys that we all love to read so much never gained fame or prominence until hundreds of years after they died. Maybe it should still be that way.

    So what do you think? Should church leaders sign Bibles or not?

    ***DISCLAIMER: I must say that I believe many of our national leaders to be pursuing the gospel first with no thought to their own fame or celebrity, but it would appear that some toss their weight around more than others...

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Mark Driscoll's "A Book You'll Actually Read"

    Looks like Mark Driscoll has written a few more books, and each one is only 96 pages long! Click here to watch an overview video.

    This series is available for pre-order and will be released on June 30th, 2008. They've made it possible to embed the introduction videos, so here they are for your viewing pleasure.

    Also, if you want to have some fun, play all the videos at the same time (after watching each one first). I just did this and it made me laugh. Four Mark Driscoll's talking at the same time may just be someone's worst nightmare. If that's you, my apologies...

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    2008 Reading List

    With the Desiring God Conference approaching in September, I thought it would be wise to look at all of the books I own, establish which ones I haven't read, and read those before I buy more books at the conference. Since I already have so many books to read, it doesn't make a lot of sense to buy more, but then again, that's part of the fun of going to a conference. It would be like going to Disney World and coming back without a t-shirt or mouse ears.

    So in lieu of the conference, I have compiled a list of books that I own that I have not yet read. On a side note, my wife was watching me write down the titles of all my books and in the most loving way said, "Are you writing down the books you haven't read? That's going to be discouraging..."

    Yes, yes it is. Overwhelming even. I don't plan on reading all of these by the conference, although that would be a fun goal. These are the books that I plan on reading for the rest of 2008. God help me.

    This list is in no particular order.

    The History of the Church

    John Stott
    The Cross of Christ
    Basic Christianity
    The Incomparable Christ

    David Powlison
    Seeing With New Eyes

    Jeremiah Burroughs
    Gospel Fear
    Gospel Worship
    A Treatise on Earthly Mindedness
    The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit

    R.C. Sproul
    The Truth of the Cross
    The Holiness of God
    Chosen By God
    Scripture Alone

    Mark Dever
    What is a Healthy Church
    The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

    Al Mohler
    Culture Shift

    Thabiti Anyabwile
    The Faithful Preacher

    John Piper
    The Future of Justification
    Battling Unbelief
    Brothers We Are Not Professionals
    Don't Waste Your Life
    Future Grace
    A Hunger for God
    Let the Nations Be Glad!
    The Pleasures of God
    What Jesus Demands from the World

    John MacArthur
    The Gospel According to Jesus

    David Wells
    The Courage to Be Protestant

    DA Carson
    Christ and Culture Revisited

    Bob Kauflin
    Worship Matters

    John Bunyan
    Pilgrim's Progress

    John Foxe
    Foxe's Book of Martyrs

    Thomas a Kempis
    The Imitation of Christ

    John Owen
    Overcoming Sin & Temptation

    Burk Parsons
    Assured By God

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones
    Preaching and Preachers

    CH Spurgeon
    Lectures to My Students

    Sam Storms
    Pleasures Evermore

    Noel Piper
    Treasuring God in Our Traditions

    John Wesley
    The Journal of John Wesley

    In My Place Condemned He Stood

    De Young/Kluck
    Why We're Not Emergent

    Preaching the Cross

    Pierced for Our Transgressions

    If You Could Ask God One Question

    Christianity Explored

    A God Entranced Vision of All Things

    Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching

    (By the way, the image above is not my bookshelf. I found this image here:

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Mark Dever: Exposition of Ezekiel 37:1-14

    I have been meaning to post this for some time, and since my posts have been sparse lately I thought I would go ahead and post this now. When I went to Louisville for the Together for the Gospel conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Dever give a chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The message was a simple exposition of Ezekiel 37:1-14 and it was just filled with the gospel. It was the first time that I had ever seen Mark preach, and to be honest, I wasn't really sure what I thought of the guy. In fact, my thoughts of him were mostly negative.

    To be clear, those thoughts had nothing to do with his theology, but his personality, or rather, what I assumed his personality was from hearing him on the 9marks website. Friends, I could not have been more wrong about Pastor Dever. The message was clear, humble, and loving. His expostion was precise and helpful and as I said before, the message made a bee-line to the cross. Enjoy and be edified friends!

    Consequently, I almost wonder if Mark Dever is becoming one of my favorite teachers in the church. While we don't agree on everything, I appreciate his ministry much more now than I did before the conference in April. The message that he gave at T4G was very helpful, thought provoking, and most likely caused the greatest stir in pastor's hearts and minds about their treatment of the gospel in ther home churches. For that, I am thankful for Mark and I find his writings and ministry to be a great and worthwhile resource to the universal church body. Please take a moment if you haven't and visit the 9marks website, and subscribe to their newsletter. Great stuff.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Augustine on the Theatre, Compassion, & Grief

    Book 3: Chapter 2

    2. Stage plays also captivated me, with their sights full of the images of my own miseries: fuel for my own fire. Now, why does a man like to be made sad by viewing doleful and tragic scenes, which he himself could not by any means endure? Yet, as a spectator, he wishes to experience from them a sense of grief, and in this very sense of grief his pleasure consists. What is this but wretched madness? For a man is more affected by these actions the more he is spuriously involved in these affections. Now, if he should suffer them in his own person, it is the custom to call this "misery." But when he suffers with another, then it is called "compassion." But what kind of compassion is it that arises from viewing fictitious and unreal sufferings? The spectator is not expected to aid the sufferer but merely to grieve for him. And the more he grieves the more he applauds the actor of these fictions. If the misfortunes of the characters -- whether historical or entirely imaginary -- are represented so as not to touch the feelings of the spectator, he goes away disgusted and complaining. But if his feelings are deeply touched, he sits it out attentively, and sheds tears of joy.

    3. Tears and sorrow, then, are loved. Surely every man desires to be joyful. And, though no one is willingly miserable, one may, nevertheless, be pleased to be merciful so that we love their sorrows because without them we should have nothing to pity. This also springs from that same vein of friendship. But whither does it go? Whither does it flow? Why does it run into that torrent of pitch which seethes forth those huge tides of loathsome lusts in which it is changed and altered past recognition, being diverted and corrupted from its celestial purity by its own will? Shall, then, compassion be repudiated? By no means! Let us, however, love the sorrows of others. But let us beware of uncleanness, O my soul, under the protection of my God, the God of our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted -- let us beware of uncleanness. I have not yet ceased to have compassion. But in those days in the theaters I sympathized with lovers when they sinfully enjoyed one another, although this was done fictitiously in the play. And when they lost one another, I grieved with them, as if pitying them, and yet had delight in both grief and pity. Nowadays I feel much more pity for one who delights in his wickedness than for one who counts himself unfortunate because he fails to obtain some harmful pleasure or suffers the loss of some miserable felicity. This, surely, is the truer compassion, but the sorrow I feel in it has no delight for me. For although he that grieves with the unhappy should be commended for his work of love, yet he who has the power of real compassion would still prefer that there be nothing for him to grieve about. For if good will were to be ill will -- which it cannot be -- only then could he who is truly and sincerely compassionate wish that there were some unhappy people so that he might commiserate them. Some grief may then be justified, but none of it loved. Thus it is that thou dost act, O Lord God, for thou lovest souls far more purely than we do and art more incorruptibly compassionate, although thou art never wounded by any sorrow. Now "who is sufficient for these things?"[59]

    4. But at that time, in my wretchedness, I loved to grieve; and I sought for things to grieve about. In another man's misery, even though it was feigned and impersonated on the stage, that performance of the actor pleased me best and attracted me most powerfully which moved me to tears. What marvel then was it that an unhappy sheep, straying from thy flock and impatient of thy care, I became infected with a foul disease? This is the reason for my love of griefs: that they would not probe into me too deeply (for I did not love to suffer in myself such things as I loved to look at), and they were the sort of grief which came from hearing those fictions, which affected only the surface of my emotion. Still, just as if they had been poisoned fingernails, their scratching was followed by inflammation, swelling, putrefaction, and corruption. Such was my life! But was it life, O my God?

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    The Bible According to Caravaggio - Part 1

    I am no art scholar. To be honest, I'm partially colorblind which pretty much disqualifies me from interpreting the use of color, or even lighting for that matter. In fact, when I was in middle school I actually failed the color wheel. My art teacher had no sympathy for me whatsoever and actually failed me. Seriously now, who does that?

    Regardless of my inability to see color, I do know what I like, and I just can't get enough of the art of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Here is some background information from Wikipedia:

    Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (September 28, 1571 – 18 July 1610) was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. He is commonly placed in the Baroque school, of which he was the first great representative...Huge new churches and palazzi were being built in Rome in the decades of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and paintings were needed to fill them. The Counter-Reformation Church searched for authentic religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate. Caravaggio's novelty was a radical naturalism which combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, approach to chiaroscuro, the use of light and shadow.

    For reference, the first painting below is known as Mannerism, and the second is Naturalism with the use of Chiaroscuro:

    Rosso Fiorentino: Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro

    Joseph Wright of Derby: A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun

    What draws me to the art of Caravaggio is the atmosphere that he is able to create, and the story that he tells so richly from just one moment in time. I wanted to use this post to look into his take on biblical subjects, not only to appreciate his ability, but also to see if he really does capture each scene correctly.

    Crucifixion of St. Peter

    Well, we really don't have a biblical record of Peter being crucified upside-down. However, we do have a reference to his death from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History which states, "Peter appears to have preached through Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia, to the Jews that were scattered abroad; who also, finally coming to Rome, was crucified with his head downward, having requested of himself to suffer in this way" (Ecclesiastical History 3:1). Regardless, this is an incredible piece of art.

    Martha and Mary

    The story of Martha and Mary is taken from Luke 10:38-42:

    Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

    I don't think that Caravaggio captured this very well at all. In fact, being the ignorant art lover that I am, I didn't see the connection at all. However, I found this explanation on Wikipedia that partially cleared things up:

    The painting shows the Biblical sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene - Martha is in the act of converting Mary from her life of pleasure to the life of virtue in Christ. Martha, her face shadowed, leans forward, passionately arguing with Mary, who twirls an orange blossom between her fingers as she holds a mirror, symbolising the vanity she is about to give up. The power of the image lies in Mary's face, caught at the moment when conversion begins.

    I'll let you be the judge of this one, but I find it to be a little bit of a departure from the biblical text.

    The Sacrifice of Isaac

    Here is the biblical reference, Genesis 22:9-13:

    When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

    I really like this one. I am not going to lie. Everything appears to be there: Abraham, Isaac, the altar, an angel, the ram, the knife. The houses in the background seem a little out of place and a little modern (for the time). The angel also has the typical "youthful" look that is common in most art, yet I doubt heavenly angels really look like that. They are probably a little more intimidating.

    Let's look at one more today.

    Rest on the Flight into Egypt

    So here we have Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a half naked angel playing the violin. Let's see what Matthew 2:13-15 says:

    Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

    Right. Good thing Joseph is holding the angel's music or this would be totally inaccurate...At this point you are all wondering why I like Caravaggio so much when he gets so many things wrong. Well, I didn't say I appreciated ALL of his art, and some of the best paintings are yet to come.

    Caravaggio's ability with a brush is impressive, but I think we can all see that textual accuracy was not the priority. Things do get better, I promise. Until next time...

    26 years ago...

    I was born. Happy birthday to me!

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    According to the Times: C.H. Spurgeon 1858

    The first article, "Spurgeon's Idea of Heaven" is really incredible. Spurgeon's ability to paint with words is simply mind-blowing. If heaven is at all the way he describes it, sign me up.

    January 15th, 1858

    July 21st, 1858

    November 19th, 1858

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    A Christian's First Song

    Last Sunday I surprised my mom by driving down to Colorado Springs for Mother's Day. She was happy, then she cried, and then smiled again. It was strange being back home without the rest of my family with me. My wife was in California with my son, so it almost felt like driving home from college, alone.

    After a delicious bowl of cereal, we drove around for awhile and then grabbed lunch at PF Changs, which was again, delicious. Now when we got back to the house I decided to ravage through my old bedroom closet for any fun toys that I could take back. You see, when Erin is not with me I can take anything I want. She is the wiser one of us, so without her voice of reason I grabbed some dumb things that I will probably never use, but the nostalgic quality is high so that is how I will justify what I brought back home. I found a marionette/puppet thing that I thought Jonah (my son) would enjoy, but in all reality it will probably scare his little pants off. I found some old computer games that a friend at church and I were discussing weeks ago that will probably just turn to dust in my modern computer. I also did what every son does, I grabbed some of my dad's old clothes.

    On my way out the door I decided to look one last place for any old stuff that I absolutely "needed" to take home. Providentially, I found something that I had almost entirely forgotten about. I found a recording of the song I wrote the day after I was brought from death to life. Amazing.

    It is funny to hear myself all those years ago, but more importantly it is a powerful reminder of the power of God to change a sinner's heart. I would not have said any of things I said in this song a week before my salvation. So, as a fun treat I thought I would let you all hear the first song I ever wrote as a child of Christ. Enjoy! ( Oh yeah, and don't expect perfection or anything...this recording was almost 7 years ago)

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Augustine on The Deceitfulness of Sin vs. God's Perfection

    For thus we see pride wearing the mask of high-spiritedness, although only thou, O God, art high above all. Ambition seeks honor and glory, whereas only thou shouldst be honored above all, and glorified forever. The powerful man seeks to be feared, because of his cruelty; but who ought really to be feared but God only? What can be forced away or withdrawn out of his power--when or where or whither or by whom? The enticements of the wanton claim the name of love; and yet nothing is more enticing than thy love, nor is anything loved more healthfully than thy truth, bright and beautiful above all. Curiosity prompts a desire for knowledge, whereas it is only thou who knowest all things supremely. Indeed, ignorance and foolishness themselves go masked under the names of simplicity and innocence; yet there is no being that has true simplicity like thine, and none is innocent as thou art. Thus it is by a sinner's own deeds he is himself harmed. Human sloth pretends to long for rest, but what sure rest is there save in the Lord? Luxury would fain be called plenty and abundance; but thou art the fullness and unfailing abundance of unfading joy. Prodigality presents a show of liberality; but thou art the most lavish giver of all good things. Covetousness desires to possess much, bu thou art already the possessor of all things. Envy contends that its aim is for excellence; but what is so excellent as thou? Anger seeks revenge; but who avenges more justly than thou? Fear recoils at the unfamiliar and the sudden changes which threaten things beloved, and is wary for its own security; but what can happen that is unfamiliar or sudden to thee? Or who can deprive thee of what thou lovest? Where, really, is there unshaken security, save with thee? Grief languishes for things lost in which desire had taken delight, because it wills to have nothing taken from it, just as nothing can be taken from thee. (B2.CH6.S13)

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Knowledge Without Wisdom = Bad News Bears

    I really needed to read this today...(Thank you Desiring God blog!)
    If a twelve-year-old makes A’s in school and generally makes wise choices, how would you help her apply this verse to herself?
    Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:16)

    You might say:

    1. It means that you gladly admit that all true wisdom is from God. It is his, and not finally ours.

    2. It means that you recognize that any sense of superiority comes from comparing yourself only with your inferiors. But the most important person to compare yourself with is God, and he is infinitely wiser than you. Not only that, there are a lot of people in the world wiser than you.

    3. It means that you feel humbled by the fact that you are a sinner deserving of God’s wrath, and that you are amazed at the grace that gives you eternal life. This humility and amazement swallows up a sense of pride.

    4. It means that you do not count yourself worthy of being served, but rather “empty yourself” and become obedient and serve others, both the wise and the foolish.

    5. It means that you are mainly not thinking about yourself at all but taken up with how admirable Jesus is and how wonderful his works are and how interesting and needy others are.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    According to the Times: C.H. Spurgeon 1857

    I thought that it would be a fun project to see how Christianity has been documented over the past hundred years or so, and somehow ended up at the NY Times website. They have archived articles that go all the way back to 1851 and they are basically scanned copies of the originals. Thus begins my new series: According to the Times. This will be a kind of on again, off again series, and hopefully over time I can develop a "Times Timeline of Christian People & Events" that will be both fun and educational...Seriously though, I'm excited. So without further ado, I give you series post #1, "C.H. Spurgeon 1857". (Keep in mind, Spurgeon was only 23 years old in 1857.)

    March 16th, 1857: Personals

    March 28th, 1857: Books of the Week

    July 16th, 1857: Moral and Religious Intelligence

    August 8th, 1857: Moral and Religious Intelligence (This article sounds like it was written about Mark Driscoll!)

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    T4G: Still Recuperating...

    T4G was in a word...incredible. On one hand I was incredibly edified, on the other hand it almost killed me. To anyone who went to T4G and survived, I salute you. The schedule was simply relentless, and I do mean RELENTLESS. The two hour time change only added to the exhaustion, but again it was all worth it.

    So here I am, a week later, still sick. Whatever I had before I left is still having fun with me in various ways that I can't explain in detail. The above picture pretty much covers it.

    For those of you who were not able to attend the conference this year, here are the links to the various talks that were given:

    T4G Conference Messages: Audio

    Also, the BlackCalvinist posted some great video clips from the conference as well. I am so glad that he captured the singing, because it was one of the highlights of the conference for me. There is really nothing like 5,000 men singing at the top of their lungs. Check out the clip to see what I'm talking about.

    Finally, you can always go to Challies blog to see a more detailed overview of the conference. I may not blog for a few days, so for the five of you that read this, sorry. Believe it or not, it is hard to blog when you don't feel well. In the meantime, enjoy the conference highlights!

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Together for the Gospel - Day 1

    After arriving in Louisville at 12 am this morning, I quickly fell asleep at my friend Eric's house only to wake up 7 hours later for Old Testament at 8:30am. The bed was more than adequate, although I seem to have an issue with causing every air mattress have ever slept on to deflate...

    It was a good night's sleep regardless, and I am very thankful for my hosts' generosity. Eric still had classes to go to down here at Southern, so I thought I would tag along and get my money's worth while I'm out here. Thankfully, it was a beautiful morning.

    Good morning Louisville!

    After Old Testament we went to chapel, where Mark Dever gave a terrific exposition of Ezekiel 37. Through the word of God dry bones become like a mighty army, and I like those bones was once dead and became alive by the word of Christ! Amen! I would highly recommend downloading the audio for this from Southern's website.

    Here is a picture of Eric and I in chapel. I am actually really happy to be here, but I could not get my camera to focus so....the result was less than perfect.

    Following chapel I sat in on Eric's last class for the day, Intro to Spiritual Disciplines taught by Don Whitney. The lecture was about family worship and it was not only convicting but incredibly motivating. We will definitely be more worship minded as a family when I get back to Colorado!

    After that it was straight to the conference. Here are some more pictures from Day 1. Enjoy!

    Old Testament Classroom at Southern

    The T4G Bookstore (This was absolutely huge. Almost ridiculous...almost.

    Everyone waiting to get into the actual conference room. There are about 5,000 people here.

    The Stage

    John Piper Sat Here...

    The crowd

    Me and C.J. Mahaney (I know, I'm absolutely shameless...) Oh and thanks to Tony Reinke from Shepherd's Scrapbook for taking the picture for me!

    Here is Joshua Harris with a typical Sovereign Grace smile on his face. Incredibly nice guy.

    And here is Eric giving his approval of a day well spent. I'll try to post more pictures tomorrow night (hopefully less blurry). Take care all, and keep praying for me as I'm still not feeling to well. Thanks!