Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Discussion Between Piper and MacArthur

This past Friday evening John MacArthur spoke at the annual Desiring God national conference. After his message, he and John Piper sat down for an interview about their friendship, their fathers, their ministries, families, struggles, and many other things. You can watch or listen here.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Facebook Song

This about sums it up for me. If you don't understand, then you are either really uncool...or really, really productive in your real life. Which, these days, makes you uncool. So...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some Baptism Resources

This Sunday I will preach the third sermon in our series on Baptism from Peter's Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:36-41. Here are some great baptism resources and links from our friends over at

Understanding the End in terms of the Beginning

I just finished Cormac McCarthy's excellent (though very violent, and not recommended for the faint of heart) book , No Country for Old Men. I believe the Coen bros. will be releasing their film adaptation of the book sometime this fall (again, I'm sure it will be violent and most likely full of profanity). Here is a great sampling from the narrative of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell,

Here a year of two back me and Loretta wen to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talking about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that's a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.


The Gospel According to Francis? Indians?

The Boston Globe reports on the latest debate at Dartmouth. Democratic candidates responded to questions about their favorite bible verse and whether they were rooting for the Yankees or Red Sox. Here's what they came up with:

Joe Biden: Christ's warning about the Pharisees from the gospel according to John; Yankees.
Hillary Clinton: The golden rule from the gospel according to Luke; Yankees.
Chris Dodd: The parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke; Sox.
John Edwards: Christ's admonition to help the least among us from the gospel according to Matthew; Sox.
Mike Gravel: Love as the most important value, apparently from Paul's letter to the Corinthians; Sox.
Dennis Kucinich: St. Francis's prayer to make us instruments of peace; Cleveland Indians.
Barack Obama: Sermon on the Mount from the gospel according to Matthew; White Sox.
Bill Richardson: Sermon on the Mount from Matthew; Sox.


Tim Challies Reviews McLaren's Latest

For a great examination of McLaren's latest foray into all things heterodox, 'revolutionary', and emerging go over to Challies' review of Everything Must Change. This may serve as a great introduction to the problems of the so called postmodern paradigm and emerging church consciousness.


Woody Allen and Billy Graham

A Helpful Site (and blog)

Reclaiming the Mind - Reclaiming the Mind Ministries was created to impact individuals, the church, and the culture with the glory of God and the majesty of Christ by presenting the truths of the Christian faith in a fair and balanced way. Whether taking classes through The Theology Program, listening to Theology Unplugged, or engaging with top Christian scholars on Converse with Scholars, the student will be encouraged to understand the issues at a profound level in order to make informed decisions on the most important topics of life.

You can visit the blog of Reclaiming the Mind (C. Michael Patton and Daniel Wallace)- here's a provocative and helpful first glance.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Emerging Friendships Along the Road to Hell

I encourage you to go over to B2W and check out Justin's post on the emergent distaste for doctrinal statements.

John Piper's response will help you understand why he is one of my (non-dead) heroes.


Surely? Shirley?

This little girl wins 'Cutest of the Year'.

HT: Girl Talk

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Good Question - on the ESV translation

One of our faithful college students at Four Oaks asked this question in preparation for writing a class paper on our church:

"[I] was wondering why the change came about switching from the NIV version to the ESV. My professor wanted me to write more about why we use the version that we do. . ."

A good question, and I did blog a bit on it over here.

Or you can check out an adequate answer from the ESV blog here.

Here's my brief(est) answer:

Bottom line- we believe there are a variety of strong and good translations of the Bible in the English language, such as the New American Standard, New King James, King James, New International Version, as well as others. We felt that because of Zondervan publishers' decision to move toward a 'gender neutral' bent in translation philosophy we would make the move to the ESV (English Standard Version) and away from the TNIV (and it's forbear the NIV). This wasn't really 'reactionary' due to a single issue, but also was driven by the excellent translation work represented in the ESV (which is based on the old Revised Standard Version). The NIV uses what is called a 'dynamic equivalence', or thought for thought, philosophy and approach to translation (read about it on the page linked above) while the ESV uses what they call a more 'formal' equivalence, or word for word, approach to translation. As leaders of the church we wanted to encourage people to a more word for word and 'essentially literal' bible translation.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

This Vaporous Life

I just realized, it takes me a while to do the math, that Dr. Kennedy was 28 when he began preaching and teaching at Coral Ridge.

I was 28 when I came on here at Four Oaks. What a joy and blessing it would be to lead this fellowship for 48 years! (I know that for some of you this might seem frightening.)

I'm sure that in that last week for Dr. Kennedy, he could look back over those 48 years with incredible thanks and praise. And, I'm sure, they seemed to fly by like so many quick fleeting breaths. One day you are 28, the next you are settling into your bed for your last evening on this earth.

Don't waste your life.

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D. James Kennedy in Glory

I am sad to say that I just found out that Dr. D. James Kennedy died earlier this month.
What a glorious joy for him to be with Christ, what a sadness for us that he has left us behind.

Dr. Kennedy was a champion of reformed theology, evangelism, the engagement of the public realm by the Christian, and a committed bible teacher in a local church for 48 year. That last accomplishment alone makes him my hero.

Read more here.

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The Indescribable Glory

I have been filled with joy all day. This morning's worship in Word, Praise, Creed, Prayer, and Fellowship was one of the sweetest, most powerful Lord's Day celebrations I've experienced at Four Oaks. Last week after the Lord's Supper, I thought, "Could there be a more incredible morning of worship (on earth!) than this?" And this morning God said yes.

Last night as Tori and I were praying and preparing for this morning's celebration with our family at Four Oaks, I gave special praise and thanks to God for the privilege of leading God's people week after week. I don't thank him, or you, enough for the blessing of this labor. I think there are few privileges and callings higher, and I say this not with pride. The weight of the calling is sometimes overwhelming - but it always returns joy and blessing to the Braun family.

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!' Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!" (Psalm 122:1-2)


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pulpit Correctness

There is a phenomenon in the evangelical church I like to call 'pulpit correctness'. It is a term of course borrowed from the concept in broader cultural experience we call 'political correctness'- defined aptly over at Wikipedia,

"Political correctness (PC or politically correct) is a term used to describe language, ideas, policies, or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to racial, cultural, or other identity groups. The term is also used in a broader sense to describe adherence to any political or cultural orthodoxy. Conversely, the term politically incorrect is used to refer to language or ideas that may cause offense; or that are unconstrained by orthodoxy."

Now, our pulpits must be 'constrained by orthodoxy', so this definition can't directly correspond to what we might try and define as pulpit correctness. So, I'll try and get us going.

I think of 'pulpit correctness' as the broad sanitization of preaching and pulpiteering so as to have maximum appeal in the broader evangelical consensus (whatever that may be, but a trip to your local 'christian' 'bookstore' might give you some ideas).

Pulpit correctness is preaching to the choir.

Pulpit correctness is preaching exactly what your people expect you might say about a given topic or passage (of course 'topic' mostly these days). It is failing to communicate the truth of Scripture in a bold, exciting, and fresh way while maintaining faithfulness to the text. It is missing out on power by minimizing risk in preaching.

Pulpit correctness is pulling your prophetic and pastoral punches (sorry for the alliteration).

Pulpit correctness is peddling and pandering (more alliteration) to the median expectation at the cost of direct application where such is due.

It's embodied in this fictional, yet weirdly familiar, preacher guy:

Pulpit correctness is the fulfillment of Paul's prophecy, evident in many a pulpit today, "but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Tim. 4:3-4)


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why Expository Preaching? #10

Because it is a source of biblical learning and growth in understanding for the preacher.

Topical sermons and series are often issues brought up by the preacher based on his knowledge of the topic and used to simply uphold his current understanding of it. It will be much more difficult for me to preach on the issue of the gifts of the Spirit with a preconcieved opinion, an established bias, or a pet agenda- and not be led and instructed by the Word before even preaching it. Why? because I will be moving expositionally through 1 Cor. 12-14 in the context of the entire epistle, relating each part to the whole and to the whole counsel of God's Word as well. If I exclude one thing, or put an emphasis on another, my manipulations and ommisions will be obvious from the text in front of us as well as by assumptions of the expositional method that is by now so familiar to the congregation. I fully expect to grow and learn from 1 Cor. 12-14 in a deep way as a disciple, through expositional preparation- before I even begin to address these passages from the pulpit as a preacher.

Mark Dever says it this way, "If preachers do not in practice regularly preach expositionally, I'm convinced that they will never preach more than they knew when they began the whole exercise." (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, p.27)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why Expository Preaching? #9

Because it is the method best suited to faithfully emulate the Apostolic ministry commended to the church in 2 Corinthians 4:2:

"Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."

Here's a great exhortation to expository preaching based on this passage.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Gender Specific Warfare

A couple of weeks ago I made a point of application from the pulpit directed at men and women respectively. I said that men need to beware of the idols of lust and pornography, and slavish attention to status, reputation and power in the workplace (etc. and so forth). I said that women need to beware of the idols of greed, financial security and autonomy, and immodesty (etc. and so forth). I then said that I was being 'gender specific' in my exhortations because Satan is gender specific in his attacks. Some folks have gently asked me to further draw out this point.

Because I am a complementarian and not an egalitarian, I believe that men and women, while equal in being, are unique and distinct in their gifts, abilities, and functions in the home, church, and society at large. This sort of a complementarian distinction between the sexes, reaching beyond mere physiology, means that we have unique weaknesses and pitfalls as a result of the fall. Satan utilizes these weaknesses and struggles that are particular to our creative and fallen make-up alike in his warfare against humanity. Because he does so, it is wise for believers to strategically fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. To do so, we must be gender specific in our pastoral, prophetic, and brotherly (pardon my chauvinistic, albeit biblical, terminology here) love for one another as we struggle against sin.

Because I am a complementarian, I do believe we have a duty as men and women to see the opposite sex as uniquely different, yet critically necessary to the other in this warfare. Wives and sisters are critically necessary in the fight of husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in the fight for sexual purity. Husbands and brothers are critically necessary in the fight of wives, mothers, daughters and sisters in the fight against immodesty and sexual oppression and manipulation. This lesson of 'gender' and sin-specific warfare can be applied to a variety of struggles and battles in a variety of contexts. Does it mean that we don't struggle with common weaknesses and temptations? No. Let's consider a simple analogy from warfare itself: a sharp shooter has much in common with the infantryman, but this shouldn't lead him to overlook his specific strengths as well as unique weaknesses. And so it goes...

In our battle for our purity, marriages, homes, churches, and God's glory- we do well to be wise, strategic, and tactically precise and specific. This takes courage, strength, wisdom, and most of all a very sharp sword and skilled soldier.


Why Expository Preaching? #8

Because the inductive method of study that is integral to the proper study, interpretation, and application of the Scriptures is best suited to biblical exposition (as opposed to 'topical' methods). A pulpit ministry sets the example for the local body as to how the Scriptures are to be studied, explored, interpreted, and applied. Therefore, a preacher should be teaching not only the content of the Word in his preaching but also how this content is rightly handled (2 Tim. 2:15).


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Daughters of Song

My Mom, Susan Braun, has begun blogging! Many of the women of Four Oaks this summer have discovered what a great teacher of God's Word she is, now you can keep up with her insights, musings, and exhortations in the blogosphere.

Here's her bio and blog description:

I am a 64 year old wife and mother of 5 adult children, grandmother of 13 grandchildren. My only claim to fame is my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ for 43 of these 64 years. The Lord has allowed me to be involved with the women of his local churches in bible studies, women's ministries in California, Illinois, Florida, Cambridge, England, Nevada, New Jersey and back to Florida in our retirement years. My husband is a pastor, teacher of the word of God, director of Project Hungary - a translation project for Hungarians, and just plain wonderful man. We are members of Four Oaks Church in Tallahassee, Florida. I want to make this a shared blog with my daughters, Robin St. Denis and Kristen, and daughters-in-grace, Karen, Tori and Rachel.

Enjoy and be edified, encouraged, and strengthened through my Mother's work in the Word.

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