White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

WHI-1039 | Discipleship in an Age of Mission Creep

Take a visit to your local Christian bookstore and you’ll likely find numerous books on discipleship that encourage spiritual disciplines such as journaling, solitude, silence, or fasting. You’re also likely to find books that focus on discipleship at home, or work, in financial decision making, or in the area of personal relationships. But you will probably be hard-pressed to find books on becoming a disciple through learning the Christian faith in all of its dramatic and doctrinal splendor. What are the keys of effective disciple making? That’s the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Life Together
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Pearl of Christian Comfort
Petrus Dathenus
Communion with God
John Owen
The Gospel Sonnets
Ralph Erskine

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David Hlebo

The Bandwagon of My Own Uncertainty

Continuing on with the preaching theme this week, here is a great YouTube clip featuring Taylor Mali from Def Poetry Season 2 on our being “the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since, you know, a long time ago!”

Sadly, the “tragically cool and totally hip interogative tone” that he mocks here occupies too many of our pulpits and public speech about God.

(ht Jason Stellman’s Creed, Code, Cult)

The Sermon and the Academy Award

UPDATE: Another great meditation on the connection between The King’s Speech and the act of preaching from our friend William Willimon over at The Christian Century. What a gift Willimon is!

An interesting reflection from the Lutheran Church of Canada (ht Gene Veith’s Cranach Blog) on how the Academy Award winning motion picture The King’s Speech parallels the Ministry of the Word.

As is often the case, Martin Luther explains it best: “If we hold the Word of God in high regard, then we would be glad to go to church, to listen to the sermon and to pay attention. But if you look more at the pastor than at God; if you do not see God’s person but merely gape to see whether the pastor is learned and skilled, whether the pastor has good diction, then you do not have eyes to see the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb…. For a poor speaker may speak the Word of God just as well as he who is endowed with eloquence.” Of course, this recognition does not excuse pastors from their duty to become better preachers, trained in the art of rhetoric and public speaking. But Luther does well to remind us where a congregation’s focus should be in the midst of preaching: on God and not the pastor.

God speaks to us through pastors. “Would to God,” Luther writes, “that we could gradually train our hearts to believe that the preacher’s words are God’s Word and that the man addressing us is a scholar and a king.” For it truly is the “King’s speech” a pastor is trying to communicate. And we, clergy and laypeople alike, must listen attentively to hear what He says.

Read more.

Keller on Hell

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s recent book on hell, The Gospel Coalition has posted a nice article from Tim Keller on the importance of hell. The conclusion is outstanding:

The doctrine of hell is crucial-without it we can’t understand our complete dependence on God, the character and danger of even the smallest sins, and the true scope of the costly love of Jesus. Nevertheless, it is possible to stress the doctrine of hell in unwise ways. Many, for fear of doctrinal compromise, want to put all the emphasis on God’s active judgment, and none on the self-chosen character of hell. Ironically, as we have seen, this unBiblical imbalance often makes it less of a deterrent to non-believers rather than more of one. And some can preach hell in such a way that people reform their lives only out of a self-interested fear of avoiding consequences, not out of love and loyalty to the one who embraced and experienced hell in our place. The distinction between those two motives is all-important. The first creates a moralist, the second a born-again believer.

We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history, “I am less barbaric than you, Jesus–I am more compassionate and wiser than you.” Surely that should give us pause! Indeed, upon reflection, it is because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus’ proclamations of grace and love are so astounding.

Read the rest here.

New Video From Ken Jones

Did you miss Ken at the CrossLife Conference with Steve Camp in south Florida? The video of his session, “Who do men say that I am?” is now online!

Video streaming by Ustream

WHI-1038 | Lost Tools of Discipleship

Jesus tells his followers to “make disciples of all nations.” But what does it mean to become a disciple, and what are today’s churches doing to fulfill this mission? Is this something for new converts only, or is it something we all participate in and pass on to our children? On this edition of White Horse Inn, the hosts will interact with these question and more as they discuss “The Lost Tools of discipleship.”

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton
Letters to a Diminished Church
Dorothy Sayers
Creed or Chaos
Dorothy Sayers

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David Hlebo

Sacrificing the Sacred Cows of Evangelicalism

Our friend, Tullian Tchividjian, has a follow-up post to his great article last week, “Why I Hate Accountability Groups.” In it he quotes Mike Horton’s article, “Does Justification Still Matter?” (Modern Reformation Sep/Oct 2007). As you read both Tullian’s post and Mike’s article, ask yourself when was the last time that “doctrine” played a significant role in understanding your life in Christ? When was the last time your sanctification was grounded in the work of Christ for you rather than your work for Jesus? People often ask me exactly how Reformational theology is different from what they might hear in a run of the mill evangelical church. The difference is clearly displayed whenever we consider who we are in Christ as the foundation for what we do, how we behave, and how we deal with the sin that still remains within us.

Not Lost in Translation–Amen!

This year the White Horse Inn and Modern Reformation are going through “The Great Commission” and its implications for the church’s mission in the world. The upcoming March / April 2011 issue is titled “For You, Your Children… and All Who are Far Off.” Throughout the past few centuries there have been missionaries going to many remote places in the world bringing the Gospel to every “tribe, tongue, and people.” Quite often these men and women take the time to learn the language of the peoples and do the hard work of translating the Old and/or New Testament into their own language.

Lest we forget, all of our modern translations were at one time handed over to our forefathers in the faith and I am sure there was much praise and rejoicing. With the passing of time and the availability of the Bible to Western Christians we take for granted the blessing it is to have God’s Word in our own language.

As a reminder of this blessing take a look at this video that documents the delivery of the New Testament to the Kimyal people of Indonesia. To God be the glory for the good things he has done!

“’I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.’ Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands” (Isaiah 42:7, 12).

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.

A Picture of Mercy?

The New York Times published a post today on their “Lens” blog titled “What Does Mercy Look Like?” For obvious reasons this title piqued my interest enough to follow the link and to “see mercy.” The post is a response to a book by James Whitlow Delano where he asked photographers from around the world to send him photos that, to them, embody the word “mercy.” This project was a result of the author’s experience of his sister’s death and the hospice care she received, which was in his words “merciful.”

Mercy or being merciful is not a foreign concept in the secular world. Non-Christians can be merciful simply due to the fact that they are created in the image of God. Despite the fact that mankind fell into sin and depravity with the fall of Adam (Gen 3) that does not mean that unbelieving men and women do not carry with them some vestiges of the imago Dei, such as being merciful that can manifest itself in everyday “secular” life. Therefore, a book and photographs such as this can be a great opportunity to see that merciful desire (fallen, depraved and sinful as it may be) play itself out in ordinary human life.

The blog highlights 15 photographs included in the book, and to be honest many of them are puzzling as to why that particular photographer would choose that photo to image mercy. As Delano commented, “Everyone’s interpretation is absolutely different. I didn’t challenge. I didn’t ask. If you say that’s mercy, that’s all I need to know.” Delano continues, “Sometimes it’s hard to see the mercy being shown.” As nebulous as a definition seemed to be for these photographers and as elusive for Delano to see, Christians have a very firm definition when it comes to God’s mercy and his grace. The amazing thing too is that we have been given “pictures” of God’s grace and mercy towards his children in the cross and the empty tomb of the Son of God, Jesus Christ revealed to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. Moreover, Christ instituted two sacraments that are visible signs and seals for us to see the promise of the Gospel. As Christians this is the true portrait of God’s love, grace, and mercy that always need to be at the forefront of our minds.

WHI-1037 | The Strategic Plan

In the Great Commission, Jesus did not merely tell his followers to “go into all the world,” he also gave us specific instructions for the mission of the church. He said we are to preach, baptize, and make disciples. Sounds pretty simple, but are these elements high on the priority of the average Christian church? How about in your own Christian life? White Horse Inn: know what you believe and why you believe it!

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PDF Document

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton
Water, Word & Spirit
J.V. Fesko
A Better Way
Michael Horton

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