OK, seriously, seriously, people. RUN, do not walk, over to Pulpit-Pimps.org right now. Melvin Jones, site-owner, former Word of Faith/Prosperity church member and, from what I can tell, all-around incisive theological black-belt, is mad as Hell and he is really, no for rilz, not gonna take it anymore. His excellent site is dedicated to exposing the heinous lies, distortions, and perversions of the Gospel that characterize the "ministries" of Word of Faith preachers. Get your heinies over there and read up. You'll learn, you'll mourn, you'll be amazed. Lord willing, you'll repent and be strengthened in the Gospel. You will definitely be motivated and equipped to kick some righteous tail (metaphorically speaking) the next time somebody suggests that Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn are ok dudes.

Just a note: those with no sense of humor or appreciation for satire will probably find it offensive. But send the link to your TBN-watchin' friends anyway. ;)

Look, I gotta include an excerpt from a comments thread. Just imagine. If the comments are this salient, this on point, this compelling, what must the posts themselves be?

Christians in the Sudan are getting tortured and killed by Muslims in the 100s of thousands. Christians in China are forced to go underground because of the tyrannical government. Christian persecution is very alive and well in the world. My question is where is their dominion? Why does the Pastor in the underground Chinese Church only have tattered clothes and MAYBE a complete bible seeing that most are confiscated?

When the Sudanese Christian cries out to the Lord Jesus while his head is getting severed by a Muslim why doesn’t God give him a way out?

Why are Churches NOT speaking out against Homosexuality, abortion, murder, and drug use. Why are the Churches NOT teaching fear of the Lord, repentance of sin, crucifying the flesh, and giving to less fortunate Christians? How many Sudanese Christians could have been sponsored and allowed to come to America with the 10s of millions of dollars spent on the mega churches?

How many Bibles could have been made and sent to China for 10 million dollars instead of the purchase of a new plane? How many Christian mouths could have been fed with the Bentley Paula White purchased for TD Jakes? How many people in American churches may actually sincerely repent if they heard the word of God rather than a feel good whooping and hollering dance session.

When was the last time people left a Church and left with tears of conviction of their sins? When was the last time you felt the awe of such a righteous God in light of your sinful flesh? What are the young in Churches today doing on the weekends? Answer: Living just like the world.

When was the last time a preacher said NO! to sinful behavior and YES! to living a righteous life? When was the last time you taught God was God versus YOU are a little God (Blasphemy)? When was the last time a preacher said that worldly possessions are idols and that these idols of Big homes, cars, planes, and fine suits will one day vanish. When will a Preacher speak up against this vanity which will rot and decay just like our mortal bodies will some day. When?

Well, what are you waiting for? Get over there!!



If you don't already know, Sojourn is dually affiliated with Acts 29, Mark Driscoll's outstanding church planting network, and the Kentucky (Southern) Baptist Convention. We've been extremely blessed in our cooperation with the KBC, who have supported us without reservation with finances and countless other intangible resources. Both Mike and Daniel, our longest-standing elders, have nothing but glowing praise to say about the support the KBC has given us. They've attached no strings to the Cooperative Program money we've received, despite the fact that we've done some pretty, um... let's say "unconventional" things over the years.

Our brethren in Missouri, as of today, can say quite the opposite.

Apparently, this week, the Missouri Baptist Convention's executive board passed the following motion:


Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.

While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to NOT provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.

Motion as amended passed by a vote of 28-10

Good grief, y'all. Seriously. What have we come to as believers when we shun the partnership in the Gospel that we have with careful, theologically-minded, passionate church planting organizations like Acts 29?

Honestly, I'm pretty fired up about this. For the love of God, are there not even pragmatists enough in the ranks of the Executive Board to see the folly of cutting off partnership with one of the most successful church planting groups in the nation? According to NAMB statistics, fewer than 70% of NAMB church plants are still around four years later. Compare that with A29's record: only one church of its hundreds of plants does not exist today, and only because it merged with another regional A29 plant.

There's been some suggestion that MBC churches who disagree with this resolution ought to pull their CP dollars and fund dually-aligned A29/MBC plants directly. I consider this the wisest course of action, since it kills two birds with one stone. Obviously, the primary concern is funding the preaching of the Gospel, which is certainly taking place in A29 churches! But the ripple effect of direct, inter-church support is that it sends a loud message to the MBC: we don't like what you're doing, and you didn't give us a chance to let our voices be heard, so we're voting with our wallets.

One blogger today prayed that the Lord wouldn't remove his hand from the MBC because of their refusal to partner with other believers in the work of the Gospel. I pray the same.

(HT: Timmy Brister, Tom Ascol)


Yet Another Reason to Love Bob Kauflin

Most of us young reformed types are pretty familiar with Bob Kauflin, one of the worship leaders at Covenant Life Church, who now also heads up Worship Development for all the Sovereign Grace Churches. He's written a lot of helpful and insightful material over the years. Check out this snippet from a recent article on his website (ht:PureChurch), based on the command in Scripture to sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to one another:

Practices that Hinder Horizontal Awareness in Worship

Over the years, most of us have developed a few practices that can hinder any benefit we might receive from addressing one another as we sing.

1. Singing songs that lack biblical substance or doctrinal depth. If the songs we’re singing are primarily subjective, and focused on how we feel, what we’re doing, or some other subjective element, we’re not going to have much to say to each other.

2. Thinking that “worship” means closing my eyes, raising my hands, and blocking out everyone else around me. I’ve had many profound moments like that, as I’ve focused in an undistracted way on the words I’m singing and the Savior I’m singing to. But being Spirit-filled should actually make us more aware of others, not less. Many of the songs we sing aren’t even directed towards God. Crown Him with Many Crowns, Before the Throne of God Above, and Amazing Grace, are a few that come to mind. So when I lead I probably have my eyes open more than half the time. I’m looking around, addressing others, celebrating the fact that we can glory in Jesus Christ together. I do that even when I’m not leading, sometimes turning to someone beside me to rejoice in God’s grace. I want to benefit from the fact that I’m with the people of God.

3. Singing alone. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with praising God on my own. But in the age of iPods, earphones, and Internet downloads, it’s easy to lose our appreciation for singing with the church. The Spirit intends us to join our hearts to each other as well as to Christ when we sing.

After I preached the message this past Sunday, I wanted to apply the message in a memorable way. So I had everyone stand up and told them we were going to sing Amazing Grace a cappella. Only I didn’t want anyone closing their eyes. I wanted people to look around the room as they sang, rejoicing at God’s mercy in each other’s lives. It was a little awkward at first, but eventually we were singing with all our hearts, unashamedly “addressing one another” in song, reminding ourselves of how amazing God’s grace truly is, to save wretches like us.


Why Why Why

...do I have the greatest friends in the universe?

Listen, let him who boasts boast in the Lord, and I'm fixin' to -- the Lord is so gracious, so generous, so merciful, to give me friends like my friends. I just don't deserve them. He provided everything I need in Christ! He wasn't obligated to provide me with a loving family. He reached down into darkness and saved me from the death I deserved for my sin. He didn't have to bless me beyond measure with people who love me despite my flaws.

Sometimes my heart just wants to explode. I was praying with one of my friends tonight and started to cry thinking about the joy we look forward to -- the joy of being in unbroken fellowship with our brothers and sisters, working together in the presence of God when our Savior returns to make all things new. Imagine! Relationships unmarred by sin! Love perfectly reflecting the Father's love for his bride! Oh Lord, speed that day!


The Sum of Their Parts

Wow. Wow. This op-ed in The Australian is so insightful that it gave me chills (ht:Craig). Check it out:

Too many girls are trying to imitate half-starved celebrities and airbrushed models in a quest to be hot and sexy. We have allowed the objectification and sexualisation of girls in a culture that is becoming increasingly pornographic. The embedding of sexualised images of women in society has become so mainstream, it is hardly noticed. Everywhere a girl looks, she sees sexualised images of her gender. She's expected to be a walking billboard for the brands of the global sex industry.

But while redolent of truth about sin working itself out on our young women growing up in an over-sexualized culture, the article turns to the wrong place for its solution. The author suggests:

Positive body image programs in schools should be mandatory, teaching media literacy skills that help young people recognise damaging messages from popular culture.

Unfortunately, no school program could ever hope to address the underlying issue of sinful hearts. We live in a world so fallen that our very culture is an emissary of darkness, and our only hope of restoration comes on the whip-torn back of a bruised and bloody Savior, the God-Man who stood in our place, dying to purchase his bride and rising to conquer sin.

When our Warrior-King returns to set His world right, there will be no need for "body image programs" or campaigns against Botox and crash dieting. Come, Lord Jesus, and restore your perfect Bride!

EDIT: Here's a link to a video entitled "Evolution" that shows in a pretty fascinating way the deceptive nature of the "beauty industry."


The End of a Good/Weird, Weird/Good Day

It's official. As of 9:04 pm, I am 26 years old.

Today was both good and strange. I went to work this morning, where we had a productive (if long) meeting, our monthly "strategic planning" time. The minutes we spent in prayer were especially sweet. It feels like we haven't been together as a staff for months -- and, indeed, we were missing someone today, John Dostal, whose pregnant wife just got out of the hospital where she had spent a few days being treated for pneumonia!! (Which reminds me of Dr. House: "I know we have a word for that... what is it? Moo-nonia? Noo-mania?")

Millie was decorating the office when we finished the meeting, so I busted out the Christmas Cocktails CD, which is the BEST for decorating. Peggy Lee! Dean Martin! Nat King Cole! That "Man With the Bag" song from that Macy's ad two years ago! How can you not feel festive when that stuff's playing? I helped Millie for two minutes but couldn't take too long a break... no complaints, though; I really enjoy it when the office is bustling, the phone is ringing, and I'm busy with projects.

Most everybody wished me happy birthday, which was super nice. It's also Mike and Sarah Cospers 8th (can you believe it? They're my age) anniversary today, and I also almost had an excitement-induced stroke thinking about little D's first Christmas. She's so precious... The folks who stuck around after 3:30 or so stood in the main office and sang to me. It was great.

At the end of the work-day, Jenn, my sweet sister-in-law whom I love SO much I can hardly stand it, called me up, and she and the kiddos sang happy birthday to me over the phone, with Jacob in his sweet little boy soprano in perfect pitch, and Jenn singing wildly off-key at the end to be silly... And then I had the most delightful little conversation with Jacob. He really is getting so big. I can't believe he's five and a half already! I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family -- Lord, may I never take them for granted!

Anne and Angela took me out to dinner at Ramsi's, where we had good food and good wine and a really lovely chat. It's nice to spend time with the girls, just the three of us. The funniest part was picking up my phone after dinner and finding that I had five voicemails! Angela said I'm the most popular girl she knows. Eat that, Stacie Plank from elementary school! ;)

After we had spent a few minutes wandering around the fairly posh "Old Town Liquors" (on your old street, Sarah!!) looking for a nice gift for Angela's supervisor at Whole Foods, we came home, and I went over to Scott and Carrie's... now, let me tell you, that was a bad birthday present. They decided all of a sudden that they were going to move back to Arkansas at the friggin' end of the week. Well, Carrie and the kids are; Scott's staying behind to pack the place up. Pray for them. It's a time of transition in a BIG way. Plus, crazy Carrie got freaked out about some numbness in her neck and drove herself to the ER tonight... in the middle of House... while I was on the phone with my grandma... Weird.

And now I'm sitting in my pajamas, kinda watching Law and Order: SVU, reflecting on this good day. I'm grateful for God's faithfulness -- his amazing, inconceivable, stubborn faithfulness over the last year. He has blessed me beyond my ability to imagine, blessed me creatively and abundantly, with more than I could ever ask. Most of all, when I have been faithless -- and, God forgive me, those times have far outnumbered the obedient times -- when I have been rebellious, fleshly, bitter, fruitless, untrusting, and selfish, God has refused to violate his word to me through his Son, who has promised that no one will snatch me out of his hand. Praise God!

The love of Christ who died for me
is more than mind can know,
His mercy measureless and free
to meet the debt I owe.

He came my sinful cause to plead,
He laid His glories by,
for me a homeless life to lead,
a shameful death to die.

My sins I only see in part,
my self-regarding ways;
the secret places of my heart
lie bare before His gaze.

For me the price of sin He paid;
my sins beyond recall
are all alike on Jesus laid,
He died to bear them all.

O living Lord of life, for whom
the heavens held their breath,
to see, triumphant from the tomb,
a love that conquers death.

Possess my heart that it may be
Your kingdom without end,
O Christ who died for love of me
and lives to be my friend.