Friday, January 28, 2011

Wycliffe Bible

In preparing for Sunday School I came across this portion of the Wycliffe Bible.  See if you can tell what famous passage this is?   It is amazing how much the English Language has changed.  

Wycliffe Bible (Purvey Edition, 1388)

The Lord gouerneth me, and no thing schal faile to me;

in the place of pasture there he hath set me.

He nurshide me on the watir of refreischyng;

he conuertide my soule.

He ledde me forth on the pathis of rightfulnesse; for his name.

For whi though Y schal go in the myddis of schadewe of deeth;

Y schal not drede yuels, for thou art with me.

Thi yerde and thi staf; tho han coumfortid me.

Thou hast maad redi a boord in my sight;

agens hem that troblen me.

Thou hast made fat myn heed with oyle;

and my cuppe, fillinge greetli, is ful cleer.

And thi merci schal sue me; in alle the daies of my lijf.

And that Y dwelle in the hows of the Lord; in to the lengthe of daies.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

A few nights ago my wife and I watched "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" by Oliver Stone.  I'm still not sure what to make of this film but I find myself thinking about it often.  Stone does a praiseworthy job of exposing the empty promises of money.  Idolatry always enslaves leaving us empty and broken.  We all know this in theory yet deep down if we are honest we think that having more money will make us happier.  A good companion to this move is Tim Keller's excellent book "Counterfiet Gods".  Maybe Oliver Stone read it.  Maybe you should read it.  This movie is well acted, well filmed, well written, and clean.  Warning! If you barely passed your finance classes in college (like me) you may get confused with the Wall Street Jargon...David Farley       

Desert Island list

In Sunday School two weeks ago I (DF) wrapped up the Hermeneutics series by mentioning my Desert Island list.  What in the world is my desert island list?  If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have five books with me for the rest of my life these are the five books I would chose.  Everyone needs a desert island list.  But If you don't aniticipate being stranded on a desert Island and you are serious about understanding your Bible better these are the first five books you should purchase.     

1.  "ESV Study Bible"  This is the Gold standard for Study Bibles has no peers.  If your not convinced I dare you to read it.  

2. "The New Bible Dictionary"  This is a great tool for looking up the meaning of Biblical words and phrases.

3.  "The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology"  Not only does this resource contain key words from the Bible it also contains key theological, historical, and biographical entries.  Now admit it, this books sounds like fun.  Besides my Study Bible I pull this off the shelf most frequently.  

4. "The New Bible Commentary"  Commentaries on individual books are almost always better.  But since your stuck on a desert island and you don't have room for 66 commentaries this is the the best one volume commentary on the whole Bible.  Hats off to IVP who chose an excellent set of editors for this volume.  Make sure you purchase the most recent revision.


5. "Systematic Theology" by Wayne Grudem.   This is currently the best selling Systematic Theology on the market.  This makes sense since it is highly readable, devotional (yes I said devotional), and theologically sound.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Disappearing Marriage!

Even though hotly contested today, anyone with basic common sense will confess that marriage between a man and woman is the backbone of civilization. Break or discourage this union and the social house of cards will come tumbling down.

Recent data from the Pew Charitable Trust national survey on marriage just came out, and the trends are discouraging. Marriage is disappearing even as it is redefined. In 1968 72% of adults were married. Today only 52% are. In 1978 28% thought marriage was becoming obsolete. Today almost 40% hold that conviction. Almost 40% of births are to a single parent. This does not portend good news for the rising generation. Lacking fathers there will be a substantial collapse of self-control, capacity for compassion, and ability to defer gratification, virtues that most social research ascribes to the active presence of fathers.

Forty years ago 68% of twenty somethings were married. Today only 26% are.  Discouraged by a diminished role for men in marriage and society, single men are reluctant to pursue young ladies. "What do I have to offer?" he thinks.

The deferral of first marriage to a later age is also responsible for falling fertility rates. For our population to avoid decline, the fertility rate must be at or above 2.1 children per female. We, as well as most industrialized societies, are at or below this level.

In his book The Empty Cradle, Phillip Longman notes the lone exception to these trends...patriarchy. By that he doesn't mean abuse by tyrannical males. He means marriages where  fatherhood is valued, where men do what God created them to do; protect, lead, and provide for their families.

If this is true the gospel is the ultimate solution to these social problems. For the gospel encourages male servant leadership in both church and home.

As always, you observations are appreciated.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dallas Theological Seminary

An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American EvangelicalismJust finished reading An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism by John Hannah, long time professor at DTS. Founded in 1924 by Lewis S. Chafer, Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) has had a major and profound influence on North American Evangelicalism.

The first half of the book covers the life and influence of Chafer. Founders are usually visionaries who leave an indelible mark on the institutions they found. This well describes the impact of Lewis S. Chafer. Born in 1871, Chafer studied musical theory for two years before becoming a full time evangelist. At the turn of the 20th century he came under the influence of C. I. Scofield, 30 years his senior and the author of the well known Scofield Study Bible first published in 1909.

Lacking any earned degrees, let alone theological degrees, Chafer founded DTS in 1924. His goal was a seminary that would produce students uninfluenced by theological systems, students influenced by the Bible alone. Although a godly man, this goal displayed Chafer's ignorance. Anyone who thinks himself sufficiently knowledgeable to be a professor at a theological seminary should know that this goal is unattainable. Everyone is influence by a theological system. It is impossible to be completely objective.

However, Chafer was blind to this principle. His premillenial, pretribulational, dispenstional theological grid utterly dominated his own thoughtlife. If anyone approached the Bible with subjective bias, it was he. Nevertheless, this was the theological milieu of DTS in its early years, and the institution suffered accordingly.

However, as the decades passed and new presidents served DTS things changed. In the 50s and 60s DTS became more hardened in Chafer's excentricities, but by the end of the 20th century DTS had more fully  entered into the mainstream of theological orthodoxy.

An Uncommon Union was a thought provoking book. At times the ignorat  fundamentalism of the seminary's early years depressed me, but by the books ending my mood changed. DTS sailed into the 21st century a major conservative evangelical seminary of significant value.

I reccomend this book to anyone wanting to understand the history of 20th century evangelicalism. It is a significant contributioin to this subject.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Conference Report

Just returned from Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte, NC where Judy and I conducted a parenting conference. Christ Covenant is a large PCA congregration. The church campus is on about ten acres. The city even named the street "Christ Covenant Street." Churchwise, Charotte is a different world. The picture at the left says it all. The "worship center" seats 2500, and the size of this church didn't seem to be unusual. We saw structures like this everywhere. No wonder Charlotte is called "the city of churches."

We made friends, and were encouraged by many ardent, sincere, zealous believers. God has his people everywhere.

Charlotte feels wealthy, middle class, and conservative. Many of the old churches are merely today's monuments to past decades when spiritual vitality was the norm. Others are pregnant with gospel life. Christ Covenant Church seemed to be in the latter category. Both Judy and I felt honored and deeply priveleged to minister to these special people.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top Twelve books I read this year

My (Dave Farley) goal  in 2010 (along with Troy Evans) was to read 52 books. This may seem like a lot but I know of some people who read 300 books a year. I fell short of my goal by 1.5 book. As the year went on the books got shorter.  Thankfully we are not justified by meeting our goals. Here are the twelve books I enjoyed the most (kind of in order).

1. "Money Greed and God" This book is a fabulous mix of history, Bible, economics, humor, and well crafted sentences. After reading this book you will have strong convictions about the necessity of the free market (even if you don't care about economics).

2. "The Unquenchable Flame". This is the best book I have ever read on the Reformation. Ok, so I have only read a handful of books on the Reformation but seriously this book is that good. If you think church history is boring Reeves will change your mind.  Furthermore, If you’re a Protestant and you have not read this book you must repent and prove your repentance by reading this book (not by doing penance). 

3.   "Revival and Revivalism"  This book will not only help you understand the nature of authentic spiritual revival it will encourage you to pray for it.

4.  "A short life of Jonathan Edwards"  I thoroughly enjoyed this little book on America's greatest Philosopher/Theologian.   If all you know of Edwards is what your learned in your high school literature class you need to read this book to set the record straight.   Although Edwards had his faults his whole hearted pursuit of Godliness is inspiring.  Plus Marsden writes engaging prose that will not bore you (unless you're boring).   

5.  "Open"  Even if you are not a Tennis player who grew up watching Andre Agassi in the 80s and 90s like I did you will still enjoy this book due to its superb story telling.  "Open" shows the emptiness of glory, girls, and gold and the power of perseverance and hard work.  Unfortunately Agassi's did not find solace in Jesus Christ, although he does describe his spiritual experiences with the church and his pastor.  Caution this book has some bad language. 

6.  "Church Planting is for Wimps"  This is the story of a flawed, funny, and feisty church planter in the DC area.  The premise of the book is that God can use flawed people (wimps) to do great things as they depend on Him.   I laughed out loud often as I read this funny, entertaining, and inspiring story. 

7.  "Just do something"  Many Christians are in a fog about how to make Godly decisions.  Deyoung's book clears away the clouds.This is the best book out there (in my humble but accurate opinion) on decision making.  Plus it is a short hilarious book.  Admit it, it is hard to beat that combination.  

8.  "The Last Juror"  I don't read allot of fiction but "The Last Jurror" by Grisham makes me want to read more.  This is my third or fourth Grisham novel and now my favorite.  There were several times when I replayed (audiobook) paragraphs because the sentences were so amazingly well crafted (unlike this sentence).  By the way the narrator did a phenomenal job with all the voices.  Caution-  part of this story is about a man on trial for rape and the details of the crime are disturbing.   

9.  "The Case for the Creator"  This fall I did some teaching on the the New Atheism, Evolution, Christians and Science, Proofs for God, etc...   Of all the books I used to prepare for the series this was the most helpful.  It is well written, clear, and detailed but not overly technical.   I highly reccomend it to those struggling with doubt (which is all of us at times).  After reading it I'm not sure how, humanly speaking, one can remain unconvinced that God exists.   

10.  "Nothing in my hand I bring"  I highly reccomend giving this book to your Roman Catholic Friends.  It is a fun non technical read that exposes the errors of the Roman Catholic church in a gracious style.  The premise of the book is that the Roman Catholic system of doctrine undermines the work of Christ.  Even if you don't have Catholic friends to give this book to you should still read it becuase it will help you, yes you, understand the gospel better. 

11.  "The Deep things of God"  This book argues persuasively that most Evangelicals have no idea how important the Trinity is.  The author goes on to say that apart from the trinity we can't do anything (read our Bibles, Pray, evangelize, etc...)  I guarantee that you will love God more if you read this book.

12.   Last place is a four way tie- 


Do We Deceive Ourselves?

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
In his true story on WWII espionage, Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory the author notes a crucial ingredient that needs to be present in order to deceive a foreign power's secret service. “ Deception is a sort of seduction. In love and war, adultery and espionage, deceit can only succeed if the deceived party is willing, in some way, to be deceived. The betrayed lover sees only the signs of love, and blocks out the evidence of faithlessness, however glaring.”[1] In other words, we open ourselves to deception when we love something too much.

Paul tells us that spiritual deception works the same way. “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12).

The love of something more than the Truth will set us up for deception. In other words, idols are the root cause of all deception. We love popularity, so we refuse to believe the truths that are unpopular. We love a pet theory of God, so we reject verses that contradict that theory.

A seminary education will not insure freedom from deception. Repenting of mental idols is the best way to insure orthodoxy. Daily repentance is the best way to insure walking in the Truth.

[1] Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat, (London: Bloomsbury, 2010) pg 239

Do We Need Church Plants?

Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the LeapSome complain when they hear of a new church plant. "We don't need more churches." However, in his book Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap Thom Ranier notes that "eighty percent of the churches in North America have either plateaued or are declining in growth." It is universally acknowledged that the most effective way to evangelize is to plant new churches. In addition, that is the testimony of the Bible. Paul evangelized by planting churches. Evangelism was a church thing. It was not fundamentally one on one persuasion.

What do you think? Do we need more churches?


Monday, January 10, 2011

True Humility

In yesterday's sermon Dave Nelson exhorted us to true humility. Here is how Spurgeon it.

Christian Classics: five books by Charles Spurgeon in a single file, with active table of contents, improved 9/21/2010“What is humility? The best definition I have ever met with is, ‘to think rightly of ourselves.’ Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s-self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought…It is not humility for a man to stand up and depreciate himself and say he cannot do this and that when he knows he is lying…It is not humility to underrate yourself. Humility is to think of yourself,  if you can, as God thinks of you. It is to feel that if we have talents, God has given them to us, and let it be seen that, like freight in a vessel, they tend to sink us low. The more we have the lower we ought to lie…Humility is to feel ourselves lost, ruined, and undone. ...Humility is to feel that we have no power of ourselves, but that it all cometh from God. ..It is in fact, to annihilate self, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as all in all.”[1]
What are your thoughts? Is this how you see true humility?

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Park Street Pulpit, Vol 2, pg 566-67 (Albany, OR, Ages Software, 1997)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges - Audiobooks, MP3, M4B, iPhone Apps, Free Downloads!

The Pursuit of HolinessYou can obtain a free copy of The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges - Audiobooks, MP3, M4B, iPhone Apps, Free Downloads!. Download it to itunes, put it on your ipod, and listen while you exercise or take a long drive. This book is a winner, and this is a great opportunity.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can My Body Make Me Sin?

Some claim "My body made me do it!" Is that really the case. In this short video, Ed Welch reminds us that our bodies never cause sin, but bodily conditions can amplify temptation.

A Great Family Movie

Tangled (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy)
“Tangled”, Disney’s latest Princess installment, captured me from the start with a charm likened to “Beauty and the Beast”. “Tangled” (rated PG) tells the story of Princess Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Morre), who is stolen from her crib as a baby by Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) for the magical healing powers found in her long, golden hair. Eighteen years pass and we learn Mother Gothel has kept Rapunzel locked in a tower her entire life. Upon the approach of her eighteenth birthday Rapunzel’s one request to travel to the nearby city is denied by Mother Gothel citing lack of safety in the outside world.

A chance meeting with bandit Flynn Ryder (voiced by Zachary Levi) provides Rapunzel with the guide needed to get to the city and back before Mother Gothel returns in three days. As you can imagine, traveling with a hunted thief provides much adventure, as does being free from her tower for the first time in eighteen years.

I highly recommend this movie for the whole family (including dads and sons). Several moral messages are skillfully woven within the fun which could be seen as a helpful teaching tool: 1) eventually hidden patterns of sin are always brought to light and there are always consequences for that sin; 2) the sacrificial laying down of one’s life for another brings rewards; and 3) humility breeds joy which is sometimes found in the most unlikely of places. The trademark Disney songs are short enough to keep young children’s attention, the costumes are not immodest like some past Princesses (see Jasmine, Aerial, etc.) and Mother Gothel’s manipulations are kept short and far less scary then past villains (see Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, ect.). Rapunzel’s zeal for life is fun and infectious while humor is added not only through Rapunzel’s naivety, but also through her pet chameleon, Pascal, and the Captain of the Guard’s horse, Maximus. I give “Tangled” four out of five stars. ...Stephanie Spurgetis